Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Homemade Almond Joys

Greetings from Michigan!  I brought you sweets!  

And daaaanng, these guys are sweet.  So, here's the scoop...our candies tasted like almond joys but came out looking like a real mess once we dunked them in I can't show you the picture, lest you think you shouldn't make these--you should!  

I subbed dark chocolate for the semi-sweet, and I suspect that may have had something to do with my troubles.  Even after we melted the chips, the chocolate was super thick and hard to dunk.  We kind of just ended up pouring the chocolate over the candies.  They taste fine, but make sure your chocolate is nice and soupy before your I'd say go with semi-sweet melting chocolate.

Oh, and hey, look what else I found!

Homemade Almond Joys
Adapted from Joy the Baker
(yields about 30 little candies)  
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
30 almonds
about 20 ounces (a bag and a half) of good quality semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, spread raw almonds onto a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.  Stir in the unsweetened coconut.  The mixture will be thick.  Place mixture in the freezer for 3o minutes.  It's easier to work with if it's a little cold.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove the coconut mixture from the freezer.  With clean hands shape one tablespoon of coconut into a little log about 2 inches long and 3/4-inch thick.  Press the logs together very well so they don't crack when dipped.    Place the log on the lined baking sheet and continue until all of the coconut mixture is gone.  Rinse hands occasionally if they get too sticky.  Press an almond on top of each coconut log.  It might not completely stick.  That's ok.  Place the baking sheet in the fridge to chill while you melt the chocolate.
Place a medium  pot with two inches of water over a medium flame.  Bring the water to a simmer.  Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water.  Stir the chocolate as it melts.  Turn off the flame once the chocolate has melted but keep the bowl of melted chocolate over the hot water.
Remove the coconut candies from the fridge.  Place one coconut almond log on a fork.  Use a spoon to scoop a bit of chocolate over the almond.  This will help the almond stick to the candy and not fall off during dipping.  Lower fork into chocolate and spoon chocolate over candy to coat.  Lift fork and gently shake to release some of the chocolate.  Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet.  You might need a toothpick to help get the candy off the fork. Repeat until all candy is coated in chocolate.  If chocolate gets thick, just turn on the flame and heat slightly.
Let dipped candy harden in the fridge for 45 minutes.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  If you need to layer the candy in a container, use waxed paper to separate the layers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stop what you're doing and watch this right now!

This clip is out of have no idea.  Whatever you're doing...set it aside.  This clip will blow your mind...serious.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Good fortune strikes!

Guess what?  I won a brand spankin' new mixer thanks to Joy the Baker!  In order to qualify you had to comment on the initial giveaway post and then send her a picture of your favorite kitchen utensil.  Here's me posing with my favorite wooden spoon, which sadly, happens to be a little stained with turmeric...
You might imagine my shock when I saw this ridiculous picture of me at 7am this morning...not my best work...but hey, I can't wait to try out my new mixer!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fried Rice

I've spent a good portion of today studying.  Making fried rice is like 30x more exciting than reviewing what makes an activity abnormally dangerous or when you are legally obligated to rescue someone (answer to the second, NEVER(!!)...well, there are a couple of exceptions, but still, crazy, right?).

(note the butternut squash, which will be featured later...)
This dish is fun to eat and fun to make.  I barely used any oil, but it's called fried rice because you mix oil and rice in pan.  The rice is best cold when you cook this, so the grains won't stick together.

Enjoy...and don't forget your chopsticks!

Fried Rice
(via Epicurious)
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped
1 cup leftover pork, chicken, or beef, diced
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed (plus any leftover vegetables you have on hand)
4 cups cold cooked white or brown rice
4 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Make it!
1. In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the eggs and scallions. Cook, breaking up the eggs with a spoon until they are lightly browned.
3. Stir in the meat, vegetables, rice, and the remaining oil. Increase heat slightly and cook until the rice is crispy, about 5 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce with 4 tablespoons of water. Pour the mixture over the rice.
5. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. 6 Season with the salt and pepper and serve, with extra soy sauce on the side.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Split Pea Soup

If super thick and delicious split pea soup isn't your thing, stand back because this soup is just that.  Did I mention there's bacon, too?  And Todd will tell you, bacon makes everything better.  So, there you have it...

ALSO, today was my last day of class of my semester of law school--good grief!  My first semester has been interesting, challenging and sometimes, downright funny.  If nothing else, I can't wait to be a lawyer!  Please think good thoughts for me as I embark on my first experience with law school exams.

Split Pea Soup
(via The Kitchen Sink Recipes)
Yield: 4 bowls
2 to 3 slices of thick-cut, best-quality bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium/store bought)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups split peas

In a large, heavy soup pot, cook the diced bacon over medium heat until it begins to brown (about 5 minutes).  Add the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and thyme to the bacon; stir and cook for several minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes).  Add wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add the stock, water and peas; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and cook the soup over medium-low heat for an hour to an hour-and-a-half, until most of the split peas have broken down and the soup reaches your desired consistency.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spicy Sausage and Bean Casserole

This recipe is a staple in our home, and, dare I say, it should be in yours too.  It's super cheap, makes a lot, and always comes out fantastic.  The casserole calls for ground pieces of bread, which are really just bread crumbs the last time I checked.  So, that's what I use.  I also use more red pepper than is called for...but more on my great love of spicy food later...

Also, our good friends are hosting a second Thanksgiving tomorrow!  Todd  cobbled together a mix of pretty sweet (and gigantic!!) beers for the party, so I'm pretty excited about that, too!

(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light).


  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup  chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 1  (16-ounce) package spicy turkey sausage
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  brown sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 3  (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper (optional) I like a lot!
  • 1.5 cups breadcrumbs 
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and turkey sausage to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in 2 tablespoons brown sugar, tomato paste, dried thyme, freshly ground black pepper, cannellini beans, and bay leaf. Add ground red pepper, if desired. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over bean mixture, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until browned. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with parsley.

Gratuitous Nutritional Information Below!

Nutritional Information

205 (14% from fat)
3.3g (sat 1.1g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.5g)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

Tarts so good I eat them before I take pictures for you!  Sorry!

Seriously, though, this galette is the tops.  It's super yummy, and if I didn't have to share it with friends, I probably would have eaten it like a personal pizza.  

It's fun to make, too!  I've never put plain flour in the freezer before!  And sour cream in the dough?  Double wow!  Just make sure you reserve enough time to make it, so you don't get yourself all frazzled!

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette
(via Smitten Kitchen)
For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.
4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
5. Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.
6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta

Here--have some pumpkin!  

Todd made this guy.  

This recipe is so Rachel's just soooo like her to do this.  The meat is easily omitted, since we ate the sausage in the process of cooking.  You can also forgo the cream because the pumpkin does pretty much the same thing.  If you want some more punkin', you might try this thing here.  

If you're into Rachel Ray recipes, may I recommend this guy here?

Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta
(adapted from Rachel Ray)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (3 turns around the pan) heavy cream (or omit, like I did)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Remove the bay leaf from sauce and pour the sausage pumpkin sauce over pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Garnish the pasta with lots of shaved cheese and sage leaves.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tomato Leek Quinoa

A nice, quick weeknight meal.  The most difficult part is chopping the leeks, because those puppies tend to curl up into themselves.  Todd says it tastes "a little healthy," meaning it's a little shy of awesome.  I omitted the oil and butter, which may have contributed to that evaluation.  He does concede that it would make a good side dish at vegan restaurant...Nonetheless, we managed to eat it all! 

Tomato Leek Quinoa
(Bon Appetit)
Serves 2 for dinner
1 1/2 cups quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups finely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only), about 3 medium-sized leeks
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium-size tomatoes, seeded, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped scallions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or dried...that's what I used and it tasted fine)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
Mix quinoa, 2 cups water, and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is just tender and water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth and cover. Simmer until leeks are tender, about 5 minutes. Add quinoa and oil, stirring until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, onions, basil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pumpkin Pie + 520 Swing!

Fact: I ate pumpkin pie for dinner at 8pm tonight.  Good gracious.

Also, it's my favorite time of the month--520 Swing is this Saturday!  Come dance with us.  It will be fun.

Todd and I are teaching a free rough and ready beginner swing lesson at 7:30.  Absolutely no partner, experience, or special shoes necessary.  Just wear something comfortable--you may even break a sweat!

520 Swing

When: 3rd Saturdays of the month; Dance starting 8:00pm goes until 11 pm
Lessons: Beginner Lesson at 7:30pm.
Where: 2512 E. 6th Street. Across from Rincon Market
Price: $5 for all. FREE water.

Also, check out my current fav lindy hop clip!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Apple Walnut Gorgonzola Rustic Tart

(food stylings by Todd)
Make this tart.  Trust me.  It's so easy you would not believe...and it turns out kinda cute lookin', right?  But seriously, it has a nice savory flavor...and when you divvy it up into little slices, well, like I said, it's really cute.

With unlimited funds, I'd spring for fresh thyme, since its flavor really stands out in the recipe.  I'll probably use more cheese next time, because I love cheese.  Made this for a get together near our home, so after I pulled it out of the oven and wrapped it up, we walked over to the party, allowing the tart cool in the chilly fall air.

(actual size)
Apple Walnut Gorgonzola Rustic Tart
From Simply Recipes, 6-8 slices
  • 1 Pâte Brisée (tart dough) for a 10-inch tart or 1 packaged, flat pie crust
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 large granny smith apples (or other good cooking apples such as jonagold or fuji), peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)
Toss the walnuts, gorgonzola, thyme, chopped apples, and maple syrup together in a medium size bowl. As you are working with the apples (chopping them, mixing them in with the other ingredients), if you want, you can squeeze a little lemon juice on them to help keep them from discoloring. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap while you prepare the crust.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out pastry dough to 13-inches, at an 1/8 of an inch thickness. Place pastry dough on a rimmed baking sheet. (Rimmed because the pastry will leak butter during the cooking process.) Mound the filling in the middle of the rolled out dough, and spread out evenly to 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from the edge of the dough. Pleat the edges of the dough over the filling.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until crust is nicely browned. If at any time it looks like the walnuts are getting a little burnt, you can lightly tent a piece of aluminum foil over the center.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

This soup is good.  So, so good.  I made it for the first time this weekend.  It's supposed to serve eight, yet four of us managed to split it as an appetizer.  Todd loved it so much that we made it again tonight, although this time the two of us ate the whole thing!  Might use less butter and sour cream next time so I don't feel so guilty when I eat 4x the amount I should.  I accompanied it with cabbage sauteed in water and seasoned with salt and pepper, so we had a completely colorless yet tasty meal!
P.S. I wanted to take a picture of something for y'all, but Todd and I literally ate everything...we'll work on it.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Serves 8, or 2 greedy adults
(From Pink of Perfection)
This soup can be made two days ahead of time. Just wait until you’re reheating it to add the sour cream.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 head cauliflower, florets separated and stems chopped
½ cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup sour cream
chives or scallion greens to garnish

Melt the butter in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is softened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 1 minute, then add the stock and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Purée the soup in a blender in batches. Stir in the sour cream, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and garnish.