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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dumpling Noodle Soup

I survived the reunion!! It actually wasn't as hideous as I thought it would be. Haha. Anyway, right before the turkey holiday, rain was in the forecast. It was pretty much the first semblance of fall in our perpetually sunny So Cal year. Since work was dead, my boss let me leave early and I knew I was going to go right home, get in my pajamas and make this soup. I know it can sound kind of funky to be using ramen from college days, but you toss out that nasty "flavor packet" and cook the noodles in broth. I make vegetable broth every so often so that is what I used for this, but chicken broth is fine too. This is the perfect, inexpensive way to warm up on a (slightly) colder night. It's filling and delicious and you can customize this so may different ways. I was going to add some shrimp to this, but I found the dumplings and noodles to be enough. It reminded me of one of my favorite dining out soups which is the miso ramen soup from Chin Chin. This definitely rivaled that soup in flavor and the price was way better! I'm about to head back to LA so hopefully Raul completed my farmers market list and I will have delicious, fresh recipes to bring you the rest of the week. Is it just me or did this long weekend go by too quickly?


Dumpling Noodle Soup
(Adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes about 2 servings

2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 scallions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2-inch sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
4-5 dumplings, depending on size
1 package ramen noodles (flavor is unimportant as you toss out that packet)
1 bunch baby bok choy
Toasted sesame oil for drizzling

Bring the broth, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic to a boil over medium heat. Reserve some raw scallions for topping the soup.

Add the noodles and cook for about 2 minutes or until they begin to loosen up. Add the dumplings and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until they are warmed through. Stir in the bok choy and cook for another minute.

Divide among soup bowls and top with scallions. Drizzle lightly with sesame oil.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Bakers: Caramel Cake (or Cupcakes)

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend with people you love and that you're eating too much!! It's also time for another Daring Bakers post. November's challenge was hosted by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food. Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go helped with the gluten free edition. The challenge, which I accepted, was to bake Shuna Fish Lydon's famous caramel cake with the optional challenge of making Alice Medrich's golden vanilla bean caramels from her book Pure Dessert.

Let me tell you, I was super deluxe nervous about making this recipe. Last month, I mentioned that I suck at candy making and this recipe called for caramel in several ways. There was caramel syrup in the cake and frosting, and of course, being the overachiever in the kitchen that I have been known to be, of course I was going to try making the golden caramels. My first concern was when to make the cake and how to make the cake. The original recipe called for a tall baking pan which I do not have. The other concern was deciding whether to bake the cake for myself or my friends. Luckily, JenFinn decided to host a potluck (which was one of our biggest) at the beginning of the month so the when was not so much an issue. To make this recipe more potluck friendly, I changed it a little to make cupcakes (which many Daring Bakers ended up doing). A little bit of research (and very helpful advice from my fellow bakers), turned me on to this article by David Lebovitz. I realized that my main problem when making the dreadful pepita brittle was that I was using organic sugar. In his article, David explains that one of the secrets to making caramel is to use a white, refined sugar. Lesson learned.

The first part of the recipe that I tried was the caramel syrup that was needed for the cake and for the icing. I found this to be quite easy compared to some of the other Daring Bakers. I have an intense fear of burning things, so I didn't let this syrup get quite as amber in color as others, but I also didn't burn it. I made the syrup the night before the cakes kept it in a jar in the refrigerator until I made the cakes (I still have some left!). Later that same night, I attempted the caramels. The recipe for the caramels calls for something called golden syrup. I have never heard of or seen golden syrup, but my trusty Google led me to a site that said you can use half light corn syrup and half honey to get something that resembles golden syrup so that's what I did. I cooked my caramels to 260 and then poured them into a pan to let them cool. I made two mistakes that night. 1) I really wish I had cooked the caramels to 265 to make a firmer caramel, the ones I made were very soft blobs, 2) I kept tasting the caramels (and burning my fingers) as they cooled. I could not get enough of the flavor of these things. SO INCREDIBLY GOOD! I have never been a huge fan of caramels, but if you get a chance to make these sometime, I strongly suggest you do so. Again, I wish I had cooked mine to a firmer temperature. It was kind of a bitch getting these into wrappers and they kept turning into caramel blobs instead of the lovely squares I cut them into, but all was forgiven once I popped the sugary goodness in my mouth.

The last two parts of the challenge were the cake itself and the brown butter buttercream icing. I found the cake recipe to be very straightforward and the easiest part of the recipe. The only thing I really had to modify was the cooking time because I made cupcakes instead of a full cake. The frosting was...interesting. The measurements were vague and many people were complaining of the overwhelming sweetness in the final recipe. I absolutely hate when things are too sweet so instead of the pound of confectioners sugar called for in the recipe, I only used two cups. I added the beans from a one inch piece of vanilla to give the icing some more flavor and those lovely flecks of vanilla. I also used about a teaspoon of sea salt to counteract the sweetness of the recipe. I topped each cupcake with a caramel blob and I think the flavors all complimented each other nicely.

And there you have it. These seemed to be a big hit at the potluck, but it could have been my friends lying to me, paired with the copious amounts of wine and the thrill of our monster version of Mafia, the game (to this day I maintain my innocence as a townsperson). Again, I hope you are having a most fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. I am off to my highschool reunion. GAH!! Has it really been 10 years already?!?! Enjoy the long weekend. If you would like to see how the other Daring Bakers interpreted this cake, check out the blogroll. To get the full recipes, please visit the sites of any of our hosts.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Pomegranate Cream Scones

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with candy kisses and tryptophan dreams. I enjoyed a wonderful time with family and friends and a fabulous mix of traditional Thanksgiving and awesome Ghanian dishes. A couple of days ago I got to leave work early. I cleaned and did stuff around the house (including watching Romy and Michele's in preparation for my night tomorrow), but then I was restless. I can never sit still so I decided to bake something. I realized that I hadn't made scones in a while and all of a sudden, I had a strong urge to make them. There is something about cutting butter into flour that is really comforting to me. I know, I am weird, but anyway...on to the scones. They are similar to the pound cake in that the juicy bits of pomegranate are so tasty throughout a fluffy and moist scone. This time I used lemon zest because I had a couple of lemons that were thisclose to going bad. This was a fabulously easy pomegranate recipe and I really love baking with those juicy seeds. The scones were moist and flaky and the vanilla sugar on top added a nice crunch. I really hope you are staying in somewhere nice and warm (versus being out in the crazy shopping day). If you are out and about celebrating Black Friday, I hope you are getting some wonderful deals. Happy Friday!

PS, Since I am away from my regular computer, it may take me a little longer to reply to comments, but I AM reading them and please know they are much appreciated as always!!



Pomegranate Cream Scones

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds from a POM Wonderful fresh pomegranate
1 large egg
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in lemon zest and pomegranate seeds.

In a small bowl, beat the egg and the cream together with a fork. Add to the flour mixture and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into a round, about 1-inch thick. Cut into equal sized wedges. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

BB: Mexican Chicken Soup

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Here's some...Mexican Chicken Soup? That's right. I know it's turkey day, but it's also Barefoot Thursday so this is what I am bringing you. Judy from Judy's Gross Eats picked this soup. When I first learned of this choice at the beginning of the month, it was still 90 degrees and soup sounded so not appealing. However, I think fall has finally settled in. It's hard to believe that a week ago it was so hot and fires were raging out of control. Right now, I am preparing to fly up to rainy San Francisco and wear jackets and scarves. Crazy, huh? This soup is just the kind of thing to warm you up on a cold fall day. It is so flavorful and relatively good for you. Especially if you keep your toppings low in fat like I did. I chopped my chicken instead of shredding it because I have a weird aversion to shredded meats. I also left out the tortillas and I don't feel like I was missing anything. As usual, I halved the recipe and had a ridiculous amount of food. I really don't know how these serving sizes are estimated, but this makes a lot! I hope you are all enjoying a few days off of work and spending time with people you love. When you get a chance, head over to the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see how the others fared with their soup. I'm thankful for my family and friends and all of you who read my rambles from day to day and keep encouraging me to bring more. Happy turkey day!



Mexican Chicken Soup
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 boneless skinless chicken breast tender
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 quart plus 1/4 cup chicken stock
14 ounces whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional

For serving: sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan lined with foil. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones, and chop or shred the meat. Cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt (depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock), 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with the toppings of your choice.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vibrant Greens

Here's another dish that could be a healthy addition to your Thanksgiving table. I saw this last week and knew I was going to be making it soon. Not for my Thanksgiving (I'm not cooking!), but for a tasty lunch before I leave. It's kind of a fresher take on that insane green bean casserole with the fried onions and mushroom gunk. I loved everything about this dish. The green beans were crisp and fresh reminding me of how I used to snack on green beans from my mom's garden back in high school. It took me a little longer than the recommended 7-10 to get my leeks to the crispy point. I almost gave up, but I am glad I let them get there. The only change I would make in this is to use less dill. I found 1/3 of a cup to be a bit much. I will probably do 1/4 cup next time. You can find the original recipe here. Are you making anything special for your Thanksgiving?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Garlicky Kale

I had a head of kale that I needed to use before I leave town on Thursday. Kale has recently become my favorite dark green. I really wanted to make kale chips again, but I also thought it would be nice to find another way to use them. This recipe struck me for it's simplicity. Even though I grew up in the Bay Area (among other places), I have never dined at Chez Panisse although Alice Waters is kind of a hero of mine for her philosophies on food. I have to say, this was really easy and so incredibly delicious. I probably use way more garlic than I should have, but I love garlic so I didn't have a problem with it. It's not like I had to worry about kissing anyone with garlic breath (wah wah). I loved the little kick from the red pepper flakes and the tart bite from the vinegar. If you're looking for something a little healthy to have with your Thanksgiving feast, you should definitely try this recipe. You will not be disappointed.


Garlicky Kale
(From the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook)

1 large head of kale
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
Red pepper flakes
Red wine vinegar
Pepper

Remove the stems from the kale and coarsely tear or chop the leaves. Wash and drain well, but do not dry. Heat a large saute pan and add about a tablespoon of olive oil and the kale. Cook over high heat while stirring to rotate the leaves. Season with salt, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. About 4-5 minutes. If the leaves begin to scorch, add a splash of water.

When the leaves are tender, push the kale to one side of the pan and add an extra drizzle of olive oil, the garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the bare spot. Just as you smell the aroma of the farlic, stir to combine it with the kale. Turn off the heat, add a splash of vinegar. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.




Adele plug of the week! Miss Thang was on KCRW last week. If you have some time (like half an hour), check out her performance below!

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mint Cream Brownies

I went to a birthday party last night and even though the Evite promised cupcakes, I still wanted to bring something from me. The birthday girl is a former coworker who I think I see more of now that I don't work with her. She also reads my blog so of course I wanted to make a little treat and write about it! Shout out! By the way, am I odd in thinking that a 10PM start time for a party is really late? Maybe it's just my advancing years, but I had to attempt a nap before going out! This is another recipe I spotted on TasteSpotting and knew I had to make soon. After a quick trip to The Grove, I came home and got to work. By the way, I am so glad I went to the mall now and not next weekend. It was already crazy with pre-Christmas shoppers! This was pretty simple to make, but I had to reheat the chocolate mixture because the first time I made it, it was more of a solid mass than a pourable liquid. Also, I used my new 9-inch baking pan, but I think an 8-inch pan would have been better. I barely had enough batter to cover the top, but I think the peppermint creams sticking out of the top add character. Right? These were really good. They were more cakey than I like my brownies to be, but the mint creams added a touch of the chewiness that I like. I got my mint creams at Trader Joes which are normally something I like to pop in the freezer and have whenever I have a chocolate mint craving (like every other day).


Mint Cream Brownies
(From Coconut and Lime)

Dark chocolate peppermint creams
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs


Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 9 inch baking pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and chocolate together over low heat. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla until frothy. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour half into prepared pan. Top with peppermint patties, then top with remaining batter. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing and serving.


So, like I mentioned, Tony and I went shopping yesterday. I picked up this kick ass pair of shoes that I am sooo excited about. They are so me, playful, silly, and totally fun. Dontcha think?

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

I should warn you...this post contains some serious food porn. It all started a few weeks ago when I promised my friend Tony some kicked up pumpkin pancakes. This was mostly because I have vats of pumpkin left over from Halloween (bought too much). Tony does lots of little things for me, mostly like being my taste tester for recipes on this site, so I like to reward him once in a while. Last week we settled on the kicked up pancakes...until I saw a post on TasteSpotting that I knew I had to make. I have never made cinnamon rolls mostly because most recipes I see call for the use of my non-existent stand mixer (I'm working on getting one before the new year, but there are no promises). I have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls ever since I recently overcame my fear of yeast. I made only a few modifications, mostly because of what I had on hand. I had to sub honey in for molasses, and I used a little less powdered sugar than called for in the frosting. I must say though, this is one of the best cream cheese frostings I have ever made and this may be my go to from now on. Even though my rolls were clearly not even, this recipe was so easy these were frakking amazing. After I tried one, I immediately texted Tony and said he should start looking for a wedding ring for me...even though in my state we recently (ridiculously) outlawed the right for people like him to get married. ANYway, if you have some pumpkin and the rest of the ingredients, I strongly suggest you back away from your computer and go make these immediately. You will not be sorry.


Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
(Adapted slightly from Fullblown Technicolor)

For the dough:
1 packet of active yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp course salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 cups all purpose flour

For the filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp honey
2 tsp cinnamon


For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 or 2 dashes cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Mix yeast and warm water in a large bowl and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add in the rest of the dough ingredients and thoroughly combine. Add a little more flour if it needs a more doughy consistency.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, then allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Mix filling ingredients together in a small bowl until you have a sugar paste.
Roll dough out in a large rectangle to 1/4 inch thick then spread the sugar filling evenly over the dough, roll into a long cylinder and cut into 9 equal pieces. Place slices in a greased 8x8 baking dish and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour until doubled in size, then bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Mix together frosting ingredients. When the rolls have cooled slightly, spread with a rubber spatula over the top of the rolls while they're still in the dish.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Big Apple Pancakes

I was going to wait and do this recipe next week, but after a completely stupid day yesterday, I was in the mood for a glass of wine and something sweet. I'm so happy it's Friday, but wish it was the end of the day instead of the beginning. I'm glad I had this recipe to sweeten my night. This was really easy and surprisingly quick! I made a couple of changes to lighten it up. I used half whole wheat flour and nonfat milk. I used an 8-inch pan to make this and besides cutting one wedge out (for presentation purposes), I ate this straight outta the pan. What? It's just me! This didn't puff up as much as I thought it would. Maybe because of my modifications, but it was so yummy. I found the final product a tad too greasy, so next time I will use less butter. However, the top was nice and a little crunch with brown sugar and the apples were cinnamony and not too sweet. Don't you love having breakfast for dinner?


I have some serious baking and cooking planned for the next couple of days, none of it having to do with Thanksgiving so I hope you will be back to see what I have been up to. In the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that my feed issues seem to be fixed so those that were having problems with it before...well, I hope you're not having those problems anymore. Also, I got an award!! A little while ago Debbie at Mocha Me gave me the Kreativ Blogger award. Then, a couple of days ago, Reeni at Cinnamon Spice & Everything nice gave me the Super Scribbler Award. Coincidentally, Reeni's site is where I found this recipe.

I've never been one to follow rules, but there are some for the Super Scribbler, which I will sort of follow:

The Rules:
1. Post the award on your blog
2. Link to me for giving it to you
3. Link the originating post here
4. Pass it on to five deserving people
5. Post these rules for your recipients


Here's who I am giving it to (in no particular order):

Miss Marie
Eating Club Vancouver
Culinary Adventures of a New Wife
Mango & Tomato

Haha!!! I rebelled. I'm only doing four.

And the Kreativ Blogger goes to:

The Food Librarian




Feel free to pass these along however you wish! Have a wonderful Friday and check out this adorable video featuring my favorite artist Adele. I just got tickets to her show in January. So excited to see her perform again.

Big Apple Pancakes
(Adapted from Food Network)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Pinch salt
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
Ground cinnamon
1 or 2 lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large ovenproof skillet (preferably with curved sides), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and cook, stirring, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoons of the brown sugar and a dash or two of cinnamon and stir to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, salt, milk, and flour. Pour this batter over the apples in the skillet, transfer to the oven, and bake until puffy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix a few dashes of cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Cut the remaining tablespoon of butter into pieces. When the pancake puffs, remove from the oven, dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and return to the oven to bake until browned, about 10 minutes more. As the pancake comes out of the oven, squeeze the lemon lightly over the top. Serve in wedges right out of the pan

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

BB Bonus Recipe: Chive Risotto Cakes

Deb of Kahakai Kitchen won the prize for referring the most people to Barefoot Bloggers last month. That means Deb got to choose the bonus recipe for November. Isn't she lucky? Deb chose Chive Risotto Cakes from the new book Back to Basics. Deb must have been reading my mind. I have a ton of Arborio left over from when we made Butternut Squash Risotto and while I definitely want to try another risotto, this was a really fun way of using some of the rice. This recipe is easily halved and I used non-fat Greek yogurt, not really in an attempt to lighten it up, but more because it's what I had on hand. This past weekend, Raul and I made our weekly trip to the farmers market. We chatted with the salad guys a little longer than normal which could be why I got my chives for FREE! Love those guys! A note about this recipe. Make sure you cool the mixture for at least the recommended two hours. Impatient me was starving and I only gave it an hour to chill. They still turned out great, but it was a bitch to keep these together. The first few fell apart until I got the hang of it. I kept refrigerating the mixture between batches. That said, these little cakes are quite simply amazing. Does anyone know of any Ina recipes that don't work? This was an optional recipe so not all of the other Barefoot Bloggers made it, but to see if they did or not, click here.

Chive Risotto Cakes
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Makes about 12 cakes

Kosher salt
1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
3/4 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Panko
Extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, egg, chives, Fontina, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using an ice cream scoop or large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3/4 inch thick. Place 4-6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cooking. turning once, for about 3-4 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary until all the cakes are fried. Serve hot.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stove Top Mac and Cheese

The last few weeks, I have been planning out most of the meals I will be consuming and writing about that week. This has been helping me stay more organized at the grocery store and farmers market and keep a better budget. Somehow, yesterday, I realized that for the rest of the week I only have baked goods on that list (making some treats for some friends). While gabbing with Tony all day yesterday...I mean working, I realized I didn't have any dinners or lunches planned. I have had a serious craving for mac and cheese lately. The weather here in SoCal has been more beach weather than fuzzy sweater weather which is usually when I crave such food, but when I came home last night and and there was a mac and cheese showdown on tv, I knew it was a sign that I had to make the cheesy goodness immediately if not sooner. I love a good baked mac and cheese, and even though it has "cooled down" from 91 to 86, turning on the oven did not sound so awesome. I wanted an easy stove top recipe and a little while ago I had bookmarked this recipe. The best part of it was that you can customize this recipe so many ways. I lurrrrve bacon in my mac and cheese and a little bit of onion and garlic flavor doesn't bother me either. If you are a macaroni and cheese purist, don't do these additions. I had some Fontina cheese leftover from the recipe you will see tomorrow so I used that in this recipe and added some extra-sharp cheddar as well. Measurements aren't super important, as long as the total amount of cheese is around four ounces. This was so creamy and good. Totally easy to prepare and would have been fast if I hadn't added the bacon and shallots. I loved this right out of the pot, but if I must confess, I really like mac and cheese out of the refrigerator as well.

Stove Top Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from Wandering Chopsticks)

6 slices bacon
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Fontina cheese, shredded
Extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Cayenne pepper

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Set the bacon aside to drain on paper towels and crumble when cooled. Drain most of the fat from the pan and add the shallot and garlic. Cook until translucent and lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir the bacon back in to the onion mixture and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large pot add the butter over medium-low heat. When the butter is half melted, add the flour and stir to combine. When the butter is completely melted, add the milk and cook for 5-10 minutes until the mixture has reached the desired thickness.

Add the cheese and a few dashes of cayenne to the bechamel and stir until it has melted. Add the bacon and shallot mixture to the cheese sauce and stir until combined. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir until the pasta is well coated.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pumpkin Oatmeal

Hooray!! My computer and camera are once again in harmony. Turns out it was my computer that wasn't playing fair. A trip to the Apple store last night and the (totally cute) guy at the Genius Bar fixed my baby. So I am back to my regular posting. It is so nice to not have to drag my camera and cables to work everyday so I can upload pictures. Anyway...I saw this recipe last week and knew it was going to be in my meal plan in the near future. Normally my weekday breakfasts consist of an egg, toast, and a piece of fruit. Kind of boring. I love oatmeal, but don't cook it much because I don't buy milk regularly. This was delicious. I love the pumpkin flavor (and color). I upped the amount of cinnamon because I love cinnamon. Also, I have some vanilla sugar that I made recently so I stirred a little of that in to the oatmeal and topped it with what I had on hand. Hence the pom seeds. If you are pressed for time in the mornings, make the oatmeal the night before and then reheat it before you add the toppings. It's finally starting to cool down in So Cal and the firefighters are gaining control on the wildfires. To find out how you can donate to the relief fund, click here.


Pumpkin Oatmeal
(Adapted from Dinners for a Year and Beyond)

Makes 1 serving

1 cup milk (I used nonfat)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
Pomegranate seeds
Chopped walnuts
Brown sugar for sprinkling

Bring milk and salt to a boil. Stir in the oats. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin, and vanilla sugar and cook an additional 2-8 minutes until the oatmeal reaches desired consistency.

Top oatmeal with pomegranates, walnuts, and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Jazzed Up Black Bean Dip

Things I did this weekend (in no particular order): watched TV, rallied for equal rights with my friends, painted my finger and toenails a lovely red color, got my hair did, farmers marketed, and did a monster Trader Joes run. You may be wondering where I found time to eat during all of that. The truth is, while I am a huge advocate of eating whole meals and making things from scratch, once in a while, I have to take the easy way out. I found this old can of Trader Joes bean dip in my apartment and figured I had to use it soon (mostly because the sell-by date was unclear). Of course in true to me-self, I had to make some major upgrades and serve it with the good chips. I added some spices and things and this was the perfect food to kick back with on this particular Friday. Is it just me or does it seem like the purpose of every week is to reach the weekend? Well hope you all had a lovely one and that you stick around to see what I will bring you the rest of this week. I have a date with the Genius Bar at the Apple store tonight, so hopefully my computer issues will be resolved too!

If you have been affected by the wildfires raging in Southern California, my thoughts and prayers are with you.


Jazzed Up Black Bean Dip
(By Esi)

2 teaspoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, sliced, reserve some for garnish
1/2 can Trader Joes black bean dip
Juice from 2 limes (I used really small, difficult to juice limes, you may find that one lime is fine)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Kosher salt
Tortilla chips for serving

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green onions and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the bean dip and spread all over so that it can heat evenly. Add the lime juice and red pepper flakes and mix until it is well combined.

When the bean dip is heated through, add about a tablespoon cheese and mix until it is all melted. Season with salt. Serve warm, topped with another tablespoon or so of cheese and the remaining green onions.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Chicken with Creamy Polenta and Sauteed Swiss Chard

As I mentioned yesterday, I knew I couldn't just have onions for dinner. A lot of the other Barefoot Bloggers said they would serve their onions with roasted chicken and a few had theirs with salad, but I wanted to do something a little different. I decided to go with a simple sauteed chicken breast. I had some Swiss chard that I needed to use so I found a recipe for sauteed Swiss chard. I wanted a bit more substance to the meal and I have been itching to try Martha's polenta recipe so I thought I would throw that in the mix. This was quite the weeknight dinner, but I got home a little early so I had plenty of time to prepare it...for myself. (wah wah) Anyway, everything came together really well. I do wish I had read the note at the end of the chard recipe that said the chard could be cleaned up to two days in advance. That would have saved me some time since I don't think I cleaned the chard quite as well as I should have. So if you do decide to make this...clean your chard early! I don't know if I will be able to post over the weekend, I will be pretty busy and my computer is still effing up, but I hope you all have a fantastic one and if you are in LA - go to the beach! It's probably the only place that won't be ghastly hot this weekend!





Creamy Polenta
(Adapted from Everyday Food)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal or polenta (not quick-cooking)
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon butter

In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups water, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper to a boil over high heat. Whisking constantly, very gradually add the cornmeal in a thin strea, whisking until smooth before adding more.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer, whisking often, until thickened about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in cheese and butter until smooth. Serve immediately

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Onions
(Adapted from Epicurious)


1 bunch Swiss chard (about 2 large bunches)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 a medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut stems and center ribs from chard, discarding any tough portions, then cut stems and ribs crosswise into 2-inch pieces. This can be done up to 2 days in advance and keep the chard in sealed bag lined with dampened paper towels.

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onions and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add chard, stirring until wilted, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Herb Roasted Onions

I feel like it's been ages since I last did a Barefoot Thursday, but in fact it has only been two weeks. This first November recipe was chosen by Kelly of Baking with the Boys. I was so happy to see a recipe that didn't involve vats of butter and cream. My waistline could certainly use a break. I knew I couldn't have a dinner of just onions so I had this as an appetizer to a chicken and greens dinner. More on that tomorrow. These were so good!! Duh, it's an Ina recipe. I have yet to try a recipe of hers that I totally hate. The onions get so sweet and the tangy dressing was amazing. I wanted to drink it, but restrained myself. As usual, you can see the other Barefoot Bloggers onion dishes here, and if you love Ina as much as we do, click here to find out how to join in the fun. It's almost Friday, wooooohooooo!!!!


Read this article. You will never want fast food again!





Herb Roasted Onions
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 red onion
1/2 yellow onion
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the stem end of each onion and carefully slice off the brown part of the root end, leaving the root intact. Peel the onion. Stand each onion root end up on a cutting board and cut the onion in wedges through the root. Place the wedges in a bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the onions and toss well.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a sheet pan, reserving the vinaigrette that remains in the bowl. Bake the onions for 30 to 45 minutes, until tender and browned. Toss the onions once during cooking. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Sprinkle with parsley, season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

POM Shrimp

Here it is! My weekly pomegranate recipe. Did you think I was done with them? I still have lots of ideas for these beauties and this is another one I found on the POM Wonderful site. I was drawn to this recipe because I love shrimp salads, but once I got to looking at the ingredients, I was intrigued. I had all of the spices in my pantry, but I don't think I ever would have thought to combine them all in one dish. The frisee was another gift I received at the farmers market. The farmers must have really taken pity on how awful I looked that day. I kept getting stuff for free! The smell and flavors of this were fantastic, but my only complaint is that the dressing came out a little grainy, I'm not really sure why, but it was still a fantastic dish. Hope you're having a happy hump day!


POM Shrimp
(Adapted from POM Wonderful)


1/4 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspooons mustard seeds
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 large shrimp (1 1/4 pounds), peeled and de-veined
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
1 packed cup light-colored frisee (chicory), heavy stems removed, leaf portion torn into 2-inch pieces
Pomegranate seeds for garnish

In a large skillet, combine 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil with vegetable oil, coriander, cumin, pepper and mustard seeds, shallots and garlic. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring for 4 minutes. Raise heat and stir in the shrimp and cook, turning and stirring, for 3 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque.

Reduce heat. Stir in the pomegranate juice, vinegar and salt. Cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pan, for 1 minute. Stir in remaining sesame oil.

Place 1/2 cup frisee on each plate. Top with shrimp, and drizzle sauce around plate. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kale Chips

If you read this blog regularly (I think some of you do), you may be wondering what my recent obsession with drying out fruits and vegetables and calling them "chips" is. I really don't have an answer for you on that. I just like finding fun ways of getting my "five a day". Yesterday I said how I was kind of a waste of space on Sunday. I did do a quick farmers market run and I must have looked so bad the farmers took pity on me. I bought one head of kale, but the guy insisted I take two. All the better to make kale chips with, my dear. These are so easy to make and I am sure they are much better for you than the "vegetable" chips you can buy at the grocery store. There are so many ways to enjoy these with different seasonings too. They have a light crunch which is totally addictive and a nice slightly bitter bite. These were good right out of the oven (cooled slightly of course), and they were good when completely cooled as well. Some of them did not quite crisp up, but it was ok. This is my new favorite snack...for this week at least!



Kale Chips
(By Esi)

1 large bunch of kale (or 2 small bunches in my case)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash the kale thoroughly and pat completely dry with towels or in a salad spinner. Tear the kale into bite sized pieces, leaving out the inner stalk.

In a small bowl mix together the oil, vinegar, and a few dashes of salt. Pour the oil mixture over the kale and using your hands or a pair of tongs, toss gently to combine.

Spread the kale onto the baking sheet in a single layer. It may be necessary to do this in several batches. Sprinkle the kale with a bit more salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning once about halfway through.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fusilli with Cauliflower Il Melograno

As I predicted, I ate too much food and drank too much wine at our potluck on Saturday. It was a great time, but yesterday was pretty much a waste. I slept-walked to the farmers market and did nothing the rest of the day. I did manage to find the energy to make this recipe. I had wanted to make this with the recommended orechiette, but at almost five dollars a box, I decided to go with the much less expensive fusilli. It was so easy and really good. I liked this with and without the Parmesan and since I made the full recipe, I have lunch for the rest of the week! Of course I had to make a few changes like upping the amount of garlic and adding in a shallot for some oniony flavor. My camera is still angry at my computer. I have to figure out a way for those two to be friends again, but in the meantime, I will try to upload them once I get to work.

Ugh! So clearly it's not my camera's fault. I am able upload pictures at work. So this means I have to figure out what is wrong with my computer and why it won't play along. Dontcha just love technology??


Fusilli with Cauliflower Il Melograno
(Adapted from Gourmet)

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound fusilli
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup bread crumbs, toasted
6 slices bacon, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the bacon and cook until crisp.

Meanwhile, add the cauliflower to the boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes until just tender. Transfer the cauliflower with a slotted spoon to a colander to drain and keep water at a boil.

Remove the bacon from the skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Add the shallots and garlic to the skillet and cook until the shallots are translucent. Add the cauliflower and bacon back to the skillet and toss to combine.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain well, reserving a ladle-full of the water. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine. Add the reserved pasta water if the sauce looks dry.

Sprinkle the pasta with bread crumbs and serve with Parmesan if desired.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Persimmon "Crisps"


Hooray for Saturday!! I am totally exhausted from a week of fighting social injustices with my friends. In between the protests, I have found a bit of time to eat and cook. I wanted to focus on some other fruits than just apples and pomegranates that have been featured on here a lot lately. I love persimmons and they have been all over the farmers markets in the last few weeks. My mom makes an excellent persimmon bread, but I wanted to keep it simple this time. I have a potluck later today where I will most certainly eat too much and drink too much wine so I wanted a nice healthy something to snack on while I make a super decadent dessert for my friends. I have seen several recipes for persimmon chips or crisps popping up lately, but this one attracted me mostly for it's simplicity and the use of only two ingredients. The flavor of these came out really good. Persimmons are naturally very sweet so it didn't need any excess sugar. My only problem was that they were more chewy than crispy. Actually, they really weren't crispy at all except for some browned edges. I am going to play around with the cooking temperatures and times and see if I can find something that turns out a texture I like. Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend and if you're in SoCal, hope you're out enjoying the beautiful weather!

Persimmon "Crisps"
(Adapted from The Kitchn)

Fuyu persimmons
Ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the persimmons as thinly as possible. Arrange the persimmons on the baking sheet in a single layer and lightly sprinkle each side with cinnamon (a little goes a long way). Bake for 10 minutes until slightly dried and the ends have started to curl. Flip the persimmons over and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the persimmons are dried. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Apple Galette with a Rosemary Crust

A few weeks ago, I made a pot pie for Barefoot Thursday. While the pot pie was good, the real star of the dish was the crust that I had baked a few teaspoons of chopped rosemary into. I had some of the dough left and some of the pot pie filling left, but I wasn't about to make more pot pies because I don't really eat pot pies. I thought it would be interesting to pair the rosemary crust with a sweet apple mixture and make a galette out of it. This came out better than I hoped it would. I didn't want to use too many spices in the apple filling because I didn't want to contradict or overpower the rosemary crust so I just went with a simple mix of lemon, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The sweet mixture was a perfect pair with the flaky, salty, and pine-y crust. I like baking with Granny Smiths for their tartness, but if you prefer something sweeter, by all means use a less tart baking apple. I finally remembered the name of the apple I used in the pumpkin shortcake. It was the Arkansas black which was firm and tart, but definitely sweeter than a Granny Smith.


Apple Galette with a Rosemary Crust
(By Esi)

1 ball rosemary pate brisee
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced
Juice from 1 small lemon
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the apple slices, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and cinnamon until well coated. Set aside.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Arrange the apple slices on the dough leaving 1-2 inches around. Fold the dough over the apple slices. Dot the cut up butter all over the apples and sprinkle the apples with more brown sugar. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash. Bake 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Beef and Orange Stir-Fry

Last week I was excited to see a new vendor at the farmers market who was selling grass fed beef. I don't eat a lot of beef, but on the occasions I do, I like it to be grass fed, etc. Just trying to do my part to save the world. I realized I hadn't cooked anything from Everyday Food lately, so a quick browse through the Fall section of the book brought me to this recipe. This past weekend, armed with my list and my cash, I went to the market in search of grass fed beef. Turns out it just wasn't my week to find it at the farmers market, but I had already bought the rest of the ingredients for the recipe, so I picked up some organic, "vegetarian" fed rib eye at the grocery store. As usual, I halved the recipe, but only used a quarter of the soy sauce. It was good, but I felt like it was missing something so I ended up adding about 2 teaspoons of honey to the leftovers. I think ginger would be good in here too. To make it a little healthier I served it with brown rice and to trim the fat even more, try using a leaner cut of beef than rib eye.



Beef and Orange Stir-Fry
(Adapted From Everyday Food)

2 oranges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 lb trimmed boneless rib eye, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 scallions, sliced

Into a small bowl, finely grate zest and squeeze juice from 1/2 orange. Add garlic, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes and set aside.

With a sharp paring knife, peel remaining 2 oranges. Slice oranges crosswise 1/2 inch thick, then halve slices; push out, and discard any seeds. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss meat with cornstarch until coated. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Working in batches (adding more oil if needed), brown beef on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.

Pour juice mixture into skillet, and boil until syrupy, about 1 minute. Return beef to skillet; add orange slices and scallions. Toss until coated and heated through. Serve hot with rice.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Waldorf Salad

Happy post election day!!! I am mostly happy with how things turn out and interested to see the changes in our country in the coming months. I am also happy that people turned out to vote in record numbers which is just so incredible! I am lastly happy that the election is over and we can move on as a country. Now, for the food. So, lucky for me, not everyone is completely sick of seeing pomegranate recipes from me. The ever talented Diana from Diana Takes a Bite sent me this recipe for her family's Waldorf salad. One of the key things was that the salad didn't use mayonnaise, but Diana also suggested that I replace the dried cranberries with pomegranate seeds. How could I say no?? I halved the amount of the recipe which made one big salad for my work lunch. This was fantastic! I loved the crunch factor in this salad and the tart apples and pomegranate paired perfectly with the mellow walnuts and celery. The dressing was sweet, but not cloyingly sweet and I am thinking about using it as a dressing for another type of salad. So many thanks to Diana for sending me the recipe and if any of you have a recipe you would like to see me try, please send it my way! I'm also going to be sending this to the POM Fresh Contest at POM Wonderful.


Waldorf Salad
(From Diana's family recipe)

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/3 cup celery
1/4 cup walnuts
6 tablespoons pomegranate seeds from one POM Wonderful pomegranate
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, and vinegar. In a separate bowl, toss the apples, celery, and pomegranate seeds. Toss the apple mixture with the honey mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, bring to room temperature for 30 minutes. Toss in the walnuts and serve.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just a Friendly Reminder


If you haven't done so already...go VOTE!

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Pesto Pizzas with Sausage and Roasted Tomatoes

Ok, last post about my Halloween gathering cause I am sure you're sick of hearing about it. It was a fun night, I think I have finally recovered. I had a couple balls of pizza dough left from my Daring Bakers challenge from last month and I thought it would be nice to serve my friends some heartier fare than just popcorn and cookies. I put basil pesto on both pizzas and topped one with a spicy chicken sausage, and the other with roasted tomatoes. I rolled out the dough (no more tossing for me!) and got the pizzas pretty thin and I brushed the edges with some olive oil so they browned up nicely. I have a crapload of roasted tomatoes in my freezer, but I had a few fresh tomatoes left so instead of slow roasting them on a low temperature, I did them for a few minutes at a really high temperature. I made a simple basil pesto to go on both pizzas. They were both great, but I was partial to the sausage pizza. I think I was craving meat that day. I like the idea of serving a pizza at a party. Maybe next time, I will have my guests help me come up with toppings.




Pesto Pizzas with Sausage and Roasted Tomatoes

For the pesto:
1 1/2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the pizza:
2 balls pizza dough
Pesto
Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
Chicken sausage, sliced and cooked through
Shredded Mozzarella
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the pesto:
Add the basil, pine nuts, and garlic to a small food processor. Combine until everything is finely chopped. Slowly stream in the olive oil until the mixture forms a paste. Mix in the cheese, taste and season with salt as needed.

To roast the tomatoes:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and salt and pepper. Rub each side of the tomatoes in the oil and seasonings. Turn each tomato cut side up and roast for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and using tongs, turn the tomatoes over. Roast for another 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk and dried out slightly. Allow the tomatoes to cool before topping the pizza.

To make the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough to desired thinness. Spread a thin layer of pesto on the pizza. Top with mozzarella and the sausages or tomatoes.

Brush the edges of the pizza with olive oil and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Award Time!

The darling Miss Marie recently awarded me the Excellent Blog award which I wish to pass on. It also reminded me that the creative Olga at Mango & Tomato gave me the Arte Y Pico a little while ago. Many many thanks to you both. I love reading both of these blogs for their beautiful photography and great food. Here's how I am spreading the love:

I am giving the Excellent Blog Award to the following:
Diana at Diana Takes a Bite - this girl gets out more than most people I know in LA and still has time to cook on her own too. I don't know how she does it, but if she isn't already working at Bon Appetit, then she should be for her excellent writing.

Tony at Music Bleep - not only is Tony one of my best friends, but he writes this most amazing music blog. You may notice that I link to Tony's site a lot and that is because I can't go a day without listening to something musical and amazing and Tony's knowledge of what is new and hot continues to amaze me.

I'm giving the Arte Y Pico to these peeps:

Heather at Diary of a Fanatic Foodie - Heather is always making yummy things and taking delicious pictures of them. Plus, she recently sent me a package in the mail full of some delicious food stuffs that I have already started to put to good use.

Dawn at Vanilla Sugar - Dawn kills me with her kicked up desserts. Everything she makes is gorgeous and makes my mouth water. Her flavor combinations are beyond amazing!


Hope you are all having a spectacular Monday and please go vote tomorrow (if you haven't already)!

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Popcorn with Salted Caramel

Last week I got a wonderful package in the mail. I love food blogging!!! The fabulous Heather at Diary of a Fanatic Foodie sent me some treats for participating in her purple food event to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence. Included in my box of treats was a bag of Paloma Roja Red Popcorn. I have never popped corn that wasn't in a bag so I was kind of nervous, but it was really fun and now I want to pop all my corn in a skillet. That sounded a little dirty, huh? I thought it would be nice to pair the popcorn with a salted caramel, and it turns out...I was right. The salty sweet caramel was so good with the light popcorn. I do think that I would try this again (maybe for the holidays), but maybe make this into popcorn balls. Doesn't that sound fun?

Now for my random off-subject rant of the day...I hope you all get out there and vote tomorrow! I mailed in my absentee early last week! This a food blog and not a political one, but I think it is important that everyone votes and let's their voice be heard. My parents lived here for 16 years before they were able to have that right and it is not one to be taken lightly. If you are in California, I strongly urge you to vote yes on Prop 2 and a loud HELL NO on Props 4 and 8. Don't discriminate and take away people's rights!

Popcorn with Salted Caramel
(Caramel from Tyler Florence)

For the popcorn:
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons canola oil

For the salted caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 stick butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt

To make the popcorn:
Preheat the oil in a heavy skillet or pan. Add 4 kernels of corn. When those kernels pop, add the rest of the cup of corn. Cover, shake pan frequently. When popping slows, let steam escape and remove from heat.

To make the caramel:
Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved and the caramel reaches a dark amber stage, add butter and salt and swirl to combine. Remove from heat and drizzle over the popcorn.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I'm back! Hope you all enjoyed yesterday's post from JenFinn. If you're reading this now, the Blogger gods are smiling at me and have let me schedule my post while I do something highly embarrassing this morning which I may or may not tell you about in the coming weeks. I spent the majority of the day yesterday in bed. I wasn't sick, I just overindulged the night before and decided to have a lazy Saturday, but I don't feel so bad about it since I had cooked a whole spread for Halloween. Here's one of the treats I made for my friends. Whoopie pies have been popping up all over the food blogosphere and of course pumpkin whoopie pies are especially popular right now. These are really easy to make and my friend Tony helped frost them while I got everything else together (thanks honey!). These seemed to go over really well...or else my friends were lying to me. I only made a couple of changes to the original recipe. I used a little less sugar in the cookies and frosting and added a few dashes of cinnamon to the frosting and a little more to the cookies. Hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday. I look forward to bringing you some more treats from the Halloween gathering over the next few days.


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
(From Sweets By Sarah)

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup canned pumpkin

For the filling:
6 tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. Decrease the speed to low and mix in the sour cream and pumpkin until just combined. Add the flour mixture and blend until it is incorporated. Drop tablespoons of batter three inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. The batter is thick enough to hold its mound shape on the sheets.
Bake cookies for about 12 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cookies comes out clean. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:
Put the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a large bowl and with an electric mixer, beat on medium for about 1 minute until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. Decrease the speed to low and add the powdered sugar in 2 additions and add the cinnamon. Beat until it is incorporated and the frosting is smooth.

Use a thin metal spatula to spread a slightly rounded tablespoon of icing over the flat bottoms of half of the cooled cookies. Press the flat bottoms of the remaining cookies on the cream cheese frosting. Chill until the frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.


Me with some queens at the WeHo Carnivale:

Tony scaring a cute little boy:

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