Sunday, December 28, 2008

extending our vacation

In an effort to squeak the absolute last bits out of my vacation I have opted to plant myself on the couch and have my version of girlie drinks rather than get anything done. This drink was tested and ultimately honed over the last day or so and it is definitely making my Sunday afternoon a bit brighter.

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

1 part vodka (we received a bottle of Bison Grass vodka and this turned out to be the best to bring out the drink)
1 part triple sec
1 part lime juice
1 part pomegranate juice

Toss it all in a shaker with ice, shake, and serve.

Sorry about the lack of pictures.... all efforts were thwarted. Maybe it is so delicious that it cannot appear on film?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I have not fallen off the map.....

I was just here

Our friends got hitched in a Jamaica and it ruled. However between helping them out and our travels the posts have been rather sparse. But stay tuned after the holidays.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

I have been wanting to try pasta with carbonara sauce for some time and last night the stars aligned. Sitting at work yesterday I realized that we had all the fixin's for carbonara at home. I know that I could have just gone to a restaurant, but I frankly go out for Italian food very, very rarely. Not that I do not like Italian food.... I just don't get jazzed over what generally turns out to be mediocre food that has been turned into an excuse to eat 16 pounds of mozzarella cheese. Please, I can do that on my own. There are a select few places that I will go and when I do rarely do I order pasta. It's just not my style, there are other way tasty things are to be had.

This turned out great and was a snap to throw together. I tweaked a Tyler Florence recipe sightly. I used four strips of lower sodium bacon, omitting the olive oil, the bacon grease was plenty. We also used less cheese; about 2/3cups rather than the full cup. The spaghetti was also whole wheat. It was still cheesy and wonderful. Not at all as heavy as I thought it would be. In my high class way, I likened it to pasta with butter and parmesan for big kids.

Belated Turkey Day

The Hubbs and myself hosted Turkey Day for the first time this year. It was fun, we had a houseful, and a GINORMOUS turkey. We intended on taking pictures of various wonderful dishes but alas we really only to pictures of the bird. Mostly because it was comically large.

We tried to place items of known size by it for comparison but I don't think it really captured moment. This 22 pounder was ordered from Homestead Farms about 15-20 minutes outside of Albany. The turkey was well worth the price. It was honestly one of the best tasting turkeys that I have ever had. The fact that it got to live a nice little life on a farm wandering about was very evident.

Given the sheer amount of leftovers, turkey and otherwise, the Hubbs ate pretty much a Thanksgiving dinner style supper for almost a week before the remaining turkey was transformed into Mexican turkey lasagna.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers- November

This months Daring Bakers challenge came from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. This caramel cake was quite delicious and a great addition to our Thanksgiving table. You can find Shuna's original recipe here.

I absolutely fell in love with the browned butter frosting. I may just keep this in my bag of tricks in the future.
This months host was Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity along with Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie Duo, Jenny of Foray into Food. And helping out with alternative baking, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

this blog should really just be called 'of monkeys and soup'

Last night the Hubbs decided that he wanted to be in charge of dinner and I willingly let him have at it. He found a really nice and fairly easy recipe sweet potato and butternut squash soup here. He adapted it by using delicata squash because we had it on hand and they are wicked yummy and easy to work with due to their petite size. While I can take virtually no credit for this dinner except for grabbing a few things at the Coop, I am very much looking forward to the leftovers for dinner this evening.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Hubbs Cold

The Hubbs has come down with a doozy of a cold and in an effort to get him on the mend I created what turned out to be a very hearty and tasty soup. This is not a light broth to be daintily slurped before your main, this is the main. It is also fairly quick as far as soups go, but I did take a few short cuts along the way.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Soup with Israeli Couscous

1 head garlic
1 medium onion
2-3 good sized carrots
2-3 stalks of celery (helery)
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken (I used the dark meat from a rotisserie chicken)
5-6 cups organic free range low sodium chicken broth (or whatever you prefer)
1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
Couple hand fulls baby spinach
Few hearty shakes of turmeric
olive oil

Slice the top part of the garlic off drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and wrap in foil. Set this in an oven/toaster oven at 400 degrees and let it roast while you get going on the rest.

Get a nice relatively small chop going for the onion, carrot, and celery (helery) and place it in a soup pot on medium with a little bit of olive oil till they are tender and getting translucent. Once they are softened add broth and bring to a slight boil. Once boiling add the couscous and turmeric and let simmer for about 10 minutes. After ten minutes add in your shredded chicken and heat through. At this point your couscous should be cooked and tender and your garlic should be nice and soft. If its not just keep the soup on low and give it a few. When the garlic is roasty and tender squeeze out the cloves (mash them a bit if you need to)into the soup and give it a nice stir. Add a few handfuls of baby spinach and mix it up till wilted and add a bit of salt if needed.

This was hearty on day one and virtually solid in the fridge, you can add a bit of water or broth to loosen it up, but once heated it was a bit less thick.

I would love to say that after three servings of this over the weekend he was totally cured.... but you can't say it didn't help a little.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I rule.....

This is the new kitchen cart that is now living in our home. I love it. I put her together with my own awesome, flat-pack mastering hands. We had been putting off this purchase since we moved in in July, but I had officially had enough of the drop-leaf table that the microwave had been living on. Behold. She is beautiful and now we have a place for the crock-pot and the growlers waiting to be filled at our local brewery.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Indian Food Extravaganza

While the Hubbs was away it was not a really robust cooking time. I am very good at making dinner for others but if left to my own devices I tend to get hungry and rationalize that eggs and toast or cereal is a perfectly acceptable dinner. So in anticipation of his return I started making a list of things that I would want to make. First up was Chicken Tikka Masala. This turned into a rather large dinner because I ended up getting antsy and just kept cooking. The full menu included:
Chicken Tikka Masala
Spicy Chickpeas with Tomatoes
Apple Ginger Chutney
Brown Rice
Oh.... and some wine

We had a friend over so this was not just for us, and we had a good amount left over as well. I am not going to include the recipe for the chickpeas because while good, nothing really worth writing home about.

Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from about 75 different versions of this dish.....

The day before set up the chicken to marinate
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
bit over a cup of thick natural yogurt (I used whole milk Greek Fage)
1 t fresh ginger, minced
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground cinnamon
2 t chili powder
2 t fresh cracked pepper

Mix everything together and let it hang out in the fridge over night.

On feasting day:

Tomato sauce/gravy

14 oz can of diced tomatoes tomatoes, juice included
2-3 T Greek Fage plus 5 oz of evaporated skim milk- this replaces the heavy cream that is in most recipes.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red chilies, finely chopped
2 t ground cumin
2 t gram masala
1 t ground coriander
1-2 t chili powder
1 t ghee or clarified butter
Salt and pepper

Place chicken bits on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees till cooked through. You can also skewer these and make them on the grill if you would like.

While the chicken is cooking get started on the sauce. Heat a large skillet to medium and melt the ghee/clarified butter. Sauté the garlic and chopped chilies until fragrant. Add the spices and mix till it coats the garlic and peppers and gets a little pasty.

Pour in the canned tomatoes and mix well to get all of the spicy bits mixed in. Simmer uncovered for approx. 10-15 minutes on low heat until the sauces begins to thicken, then add the grilled chicken pieces and yogurt/condensed milk. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, thickening the sauce further and to heat the chicken and cream through.

Apple Ginger Chutney

1 T ghee/clarified butter
1/2 c chopped onion
2 good sized apples, peeled and chopped (I used honey crisp)
2 T minced fresh ginger
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 T Cornstarch
2 T water

In a saucepan melt the ghee/clarified butter then add onions and cook till they start to get soft and a bit brown. Add in the apples and ginger and cook for a few minutes then add vinegar and sugar. Bring the whole shebang to a boil. Make a slurry of the cornstarch and water, add it to the saucepan. bring it back to a boil and cook, stirring constantly for about 4-5 minutes. Chill and serve.

Lastly we made Naan. This was really good, not restaurant quality but definitely good given we were making it on the stove top not a clay oven. We used the basic dough recipe from Artisan Bread in Five minutes a Day and followed their recipe. Just go buy the book, it is great.

And thank you to Joe, who came over and enjoyed this meal with us!

Home made yogurt and granola

After seeing Stephanie's post at A Year of CrockPotting on making yogurt in your crock pot I was very intrigued. For her great post and instructions, including cost analysis click here.
I opted to use fancy-schmancy full-fat Greek fage for my active-culture add-in. I also used local whole milk and I really think that the high quality ingredients really made a difference. I did not add the gelatin and was perfectly happy with the thickness and consistency. It is really tasty. If you have been punishing yourself eating fat-free yogurt, or even grosser, fat-free/sugar-free yogurt allow yourself this pleasure. It does not need to be homemade, Stonyfield makes a tasty one, just give it a try. I converted about six months ago and it is well worth the extra calories. As a plus, it is so yummy you can pretty much eat it plain without 16 teaspoons of sugar dumped in to make it mildly palatable.

That said, to offset the milk fats (mmmmmm, milk fats) you can sprinkle a bit of this on top.

Quick and Healthy Granola
3 cups oats (quick or original- skip the instant)
1/2 cup roughly chopped nuts (I used almonds and walnuts)
1 T cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2-3 T agave nectar
splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the oats, nuts, cinnamon, and ginger in a good-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add wet ingredients to the oat mixture and combine well. Spread granola on to a foil-lined cookie sheet/jellyroll pan that has been sprayed with a bit of cooking spray. Pot it in the oven for 30-40 minutes giving it a stir every now and again.

This is not a super sweet, decadent granola. But lets face it granola, while often very delicious falls into the category of "comically unhealthy" foods that are disguised as health food.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Keeping a Promise

A friend, and far superior blogger, had some fears and apprehensions as election day finally arrived.

You can read his words here

I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I tucked into this breakfast a few minutes ago.

I am glad that we are all in a world were we will be able to enjoy bacon-y goodness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh, Yeah


I am sure that the three or possibly four of my friends that look at this were at the polls bright and early, but just in case.....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Addendum to my Daring Baker Post

I forgot to mention that part of the challenge was to toss the pizza dough in the air all fancy like. I did not have very much luck with that. For the traditional dough, I had the best luck shaping it draped over the knuckles of my fists. The gluten free dough was not nearly as eslastic and pliable and was best pressed thinly by hand.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Time! Daring Bakers Challenge October

I really liked this month's DB challenge, I am definitely going to use the dough recipe in the future. It was the first time I ever got pizza crust truly thin and crispy. I decided to test both the regular and the gluten free options for the dough, and then put out the pizza party call. My only request was that my guests bring their preferred toppings. It was a blast. So much pizza.

Pizza number one:

Hummus, kalamata olive, and red onion on gluten free crust.

Pizza number two:

Shredded mozzarella and marinara on traditional crust.

Pizza number three:

Fresh mozzarella and marinara on traditional crust.

Pizza number four:

Mushroom, marinara, shredded mozzarella, and Mr. Dave's red wine and pistachio sausage on gluten free crust.

Pizza number five:

Fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, and bacon on gluten free crust.

Pizza number six:

Steak, marinara sauce, and fresh mozzarella on traditional crust.

Pizza number seven:

Garlic and olive oil, bacon, and half fresh mozzarella and half fontina cheese on traditional crust.

We made some other ones as well that did not get a chance for their glamor shot sadly. Things got a bit hectic with a house full of people making pizza and having a few drinks.

Dough Recipe
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.


2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.


8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.


10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.


11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.


12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.


13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Oh look, more soup..... Seriously I was not kidding about my love of eating and making soup. I found this on A Year of CrockPotting. This is wonderful and fun blog that honestly encouraged our household to dust off the CrockPot and get cooking.

I tweaked the recipe a bit by skipping the celery cause it is gross and tends to ruin my day....... and simply doubled the carrots. It is delicious and is great with a bit of chicken tossed in if you are looking for it to be a bit heartier or a protein boost. It begs for a nice piece of naan as well. Sadly as good as it tastes, it is not the most photogenic soups......

Check out the full recipe here. Thanks Stephanie!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oatmeal Blondies

With an impromptu game night on the horizon, I couldn't come empty handed.....
WARNING: these will make your house smell like a dream come true- eff scented candles.

Oatmeal Blondies
1 C butter, melted
2 C dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
couple pinches salt
1 C oats

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13/9/2 pan.
- Whisk together sugar and butter. Add eggs and vanilla and give it another whisk.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt mix well. When combined add oats.
- Pour into the pan and smooth out well, bake for 30-35 minutes and a toothpick comes out clean.

In this case wrap up and bring to friends house for munching....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili

Soup and chili are one of my absolute favorites. I could and would honestly eat soup or chili for one to two meals a-day. This is why we have had to utilize the soup doctrine in our house. If the Hubbs says "no more soup" it is a firm no and I must cease and desist. This was a new one, I am really digging it, especially since it has gotten cooler at night I have been dreaming of winter squash..... that's normal and ok, right.

I made this one in the Crock-Pot, a fair amount of chopping but worth it. Here is a trick after you have scooped out the seeds on a butternut squash, toss it in the microwave for a few minutes, it will be way easier to peel.

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each: cumin, chili powder and ginger (I went with hearty shakes of them all)
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
3 cups broth of your choice
1 28-oz. can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes or whatever your prefer
1 cup chopped green chiles
3 14-oz. cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

assemble in your Crock-Pot:

Spray Crock-Pot with cooking spray and add garlic and spices, give them a swirl.

Add the remaining ingredients and give it all a stir. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. this one took about 5 hours and then we kept it at warm for a few hours before munching. This made a ton, we both had dinner and there was about eight servings put up in the fridge and freezer after that.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Apple Craisin Quick Bread

I received a surprise call last night. The Hubbs was going to get to come home for the weekend, I got a bit of a break from being a campaign widow! I preparation for that and to busy myself as to not fall asleep before the debates and before he arrived; since I would have to let him in the house (yes, yes, I "may" have locked myself out of the house which ultimately involved our door getting re-keyed in the past few days, but that is neither here, nor there....). Back to the bread, I adapted this from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook which is probably an underutilized resource in my cookbook collection.

Apple Craisin Quick Bread
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1 C sugar
1 C shredded apple (I used one MASSIVE honey crisp apple, I would venture that you would need at least 2 hearty apples or 3-4 very small-you loose volume while shredding)
1/4 oil
1 C Craisins (raisins, currants, chopped apricots, etc would be great as well)

Grease a larger loaf pan 8x4 or 9x5 and preheat oven to 350.
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside
In another bowl combine wet ingredients and add dry to it in a few batches and stir till moistened, then fold in the craisins.
Pour batter in the prepped loaf pan and place in the oven. Cook for about 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I added a bit of cinnamon sugar that we had in the cupboard on the top for funsies. According to the Hubbs this was a nice treat to come home to.

Daring Bakers: Gluten Free/Vegan Lavash with Fig and Olive Tapenade

The Challenge: Make Lavash Crackers and create a dip/spread/salsa/relish to accompany it. This challenge allows for large helpings of creativity and personality, with the crackers, your flavor choices for the crackers, and with your dip/spread choice. This challenge came from Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl.

I really liked this challenge, it was a nice break from sweets. I opted to go both gluten free and vegan; our household often cooks both intentionally vegan and accidentally vegan so I looked forward to trying my hand at gluten free as well.
The crackers turned out great and way tastier than the last version of crackers that I made I attribute that to the mix of flours in the gluten free flour that I used.

Gluten Free Lavash
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) gluten free flour blend (I skipped the xanthan gum, cause I didn’t feel like running to the co-op)
* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

I used a bit of black and regular sesame seeds and a sprinkling of sea salt on the crackers. I also tried some rolled out and some using the glass-smoosh method. When I make these again I will definitely stick to the smoosh method. I layed out the parchment and then made a small ball of dough and then placed a bit of parchment over it and flattened it with a drinking glass the just peeled back the parchment. This took a bit longer, but made for a more consistent cracker.

Fig and Olive Tapenade
From Elana's Pantry
Fig Tapenade
1 cup dried figs
½ cup water
1 cup kalamata olives
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1. Place figs in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds, until well chopped
2. Add water and pulse to create a paste
3. Add olives and pulse until incorporated
4. Add olive oil, vinegar and thyme; pulse again for 30 seconds until tapenade is smooth

This was super tasty and would be a great with any number of other crunchy snacks, it was a great mix of sweet and savory.

Thanks for a great challege!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oatmeal Cranberry Cupcakes with Rich Chocolate Glaze

For this months Cupcake Hero, bakers choice using two of the ingredients from the previous challenges, I opted for cranberry and cocoa. I hoped that these would be like a tasty cupcake variation on dark chocolate covered dried cranberries that I have been known to cram in my face from time to time.

Oatmeal Cranberry Cupcake
Adapted from Cupcake Project's Cinnamon Raisin Cupcake with Maple Glaze

1/2 C butter (1 stick) softened
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla extract

8 oz unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C cider vinegar
1 1/2 C oats
1 C flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t salt
2 C dried cranberries

Cream butter and sugar.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Add vanilla extract, applesauce, and vinegar.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, a little bit at a time.
Fold in the dried cranberries.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 F for around 25 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean. I ultimately ran out of cupcake liners so I also made a few bigger mini cakes in ramekins, those took a bit longer.

Rich Chocolate Glaze
2 C confectioner's sugar
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 C low fat sour cream
1/3 C milk (what ever you have on hand)
1/2 t vanilla extract

Toss the whole shebang in a bowl and combine well with an electric mixer. This is thick, but loose enough to pour on your cuppies if you prefer.

These turned out tastier than I thought they would and would definitely use variations of this in the future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taking suggestions.....

I will be getting this blasted cast off next week (hopefully), and will get a good amount of my arm back, save for a brace of somesort. Aside from just basking in the glory that is called "washing my arm", what should I make? I have a couple challenges to catch up on so those are on deck, but what else?

Holler at me with ideas.

The one drawback is that the hubbs turns into a political pumpkin at pretty much the same time and will be gone through election day, so any local suggestions may have to help consume......

Saturday, September 13, 2008

no really, we have been cookin'

When I say our camera is holding everything hostage I am not kidding. The hubbs may or may not have sent the cable that connects our camera to the computer to long island.... and he may or may not have every memory card ever associated with our camera/computer stuck in his pocket in pants that he may or may not be wearing or in a pile in our room.

Either way, we had awesome figs and blue cheese, some heirloom tomatoes, Rich's most recent take on arepas(creamed corn rules), oh and steak that made me really happy that I started eating meat......
But, nothing to show for it....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Quick Panzanella

Yeah, I know the picture is terrible, but right now our camera is holding everything hostage, so we are left with camera phones.
I decided to make a quick Panzanella with some homemade bread and a wonderful heirloom tomato. I could probably eat this every day of my life. Just a bit of toasted up bread cubes, tomatoes, touch of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of parmesan cheese then munch away.....

farmers market haul

Nom, nom, nom.........

Here is a bit of our bounty from the farmers market yesterday. I cannot wait. We have some tasties lined up for the week. Look at those little eggplants, I seriously want to hang one around my neck as pendant!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lookie lookie!!!

One of my blogging peers and friend (like actual in-person!) just got a rad shout-out in our paper the Times Union.

Check out the wonderful blurb here

And check out the The Ridiculous Food Society

So exciting!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers- Chipotle Chocolate Éclairs

The August Daring Bakers challenge came from Tony Tahhan and MeetaK.

I would love to say that my first Daring Bakers attempt went splendidly and without a hitch….alas I cannot. First, I had to enlist the help of wonderfully generous friend on account of the busted wrist. These were not a one-handed project. So we set aside a nice Saturday and got crackin.

We started with the standard Pâte à Choux and piped out our “chubby fingers”, my still slightly swollen fingers peeking out of my cast served as an excellent example. As we piped and they cooked we quickly turned into giggling children muttering things about wieners. In the midst of a very mature conversation we probably took them out a touch to early and most of them sank and looked like this
Some maintained their puffy namesake so we forged on…. To the chocolate pastry cream! We used the provided recipe with one addition that we all really, really enjoyed; to the cooling pastry cream we added about 2-3 tablespoons of the zesty delicious goo that comes in the can of chipotles. In my humble opinion this addition really stepped up the filling, prior it was kinda just an eggy-chocolatly-unremarkable filling, after there was a bit more depth and contrast.

We opted to use a Mark Bittman recipe for dark chocolate glaze out of How to Cook Everything. This is where things got ugly…..on paper sounded like it would whip up in a jiff and be wonderful. This is what we got.
The wheels were quickly coming off this bus. We decided to assemble the few puffy shells and coat the top with simple melted bittersweet chocolate. See not so bad.
The rest met a different fate. Being virtually unfillable, the chipotle chocolate éclair cake was born!
The “shells” were split, the really ugly pieces layered on the bottom of a 9/13 pan, filling smeared on top, and then covered with the nicer éclair bits and a bit of melted chocolate. I have to admit I am really not that fond of éclairs, these however actually benefited from some time in the fridge and definitely tasted better the next day after the cake sat-up a bit.
Hopefully I will have two working hands for the September challenge!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ratatouille Style- Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Pesto Pizza

I can say with all seriousness that I look forward to August and the tomatoes it provides pretty much all year long. At our most-favorite farmers market, the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market we got our grubby mitts on some fresh and wonderful heirloom tomatoes and a hearty bunch of basil and this beauty was created.

It was nice, light, and really highlighted the simple yet amazing ingredients. This was good enough to be recreated a few days later, pretty much identically with the rest of the pesto.

Bum wing aside, I should be able to post a bit more frequently because..... drum roll please.... I have completed my masters! No more work full-time, school full-time drudgery. Now its just work full-time drudgery.

Ratatouille Style- Maki Dogs

As the wrist mends my hubbs has taken over a good portion of the cooking and other house duties. He has in the most adorable fashion, photographed a few of the meals so that I can post. We have jokingly referred to this arrangement as cooking "Ratatouille Style" where I give instruction and steps and he prepares. I also have been sending him e-mails of yummy looking blog links and recipes with the heading "I could eat this". After one such e-mail he tried his hand at the Maki Dog.....

We found this at Not Eating Out In New York and were pretty intrigued by the concept. It is a veggie dog with a bit of wasabi mayo, rolled up maki style with sushi rice and nori. All in all it was a tasty endeavor, next time I think we would split the veggie dog in half lengthwise before making the roll to better balance the textures. The winner of this meal was the delicious oven roasted blue potato chips that he made as well. We snagged these lovelies at the farmers market earlier in the day. Interesting paring, but they were delicious.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

a bum wing

Hello all. Posts may be a bit sparse for the near future... I fractured my wrist on Friday and it is really hindering my kitchen prowess. Hopefully I will get to post some guest cooks (read: the hubbs)handy work.

Friday, August 8, 2008

August Cupcake Hero Challenge- Jalapeno

I was a bit daunted by this challenge, but I trudged forward..... only to make a rather unremarkable cupcake. While this was tasty and I am sure will be gratefully accepted by all tasters, the jalapeno really didn't come across the way that I would have liked it to. I made my no-fail vegan chocolate cake that I have mentioned before but added a hearty amount of cinnamon to pair with the zesty jalapeno. The frosting is a nice tangy cream cheese frosting with about half a cup of hot-pepper and jalapeno jam tossed in at the end. This jam rules we love it on a bit of cheddar or an apple but in this situation the zing is just the slightest after burn. I hope that everyone else has better luck....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza aka what maybe K8's last meal, if it ever comes to that...

There is very little that I can say about this pizza other than HOLY SHIT. It was so tasty. This was something that I had been wanting to make for a while and the pears from a house warming fruit basket seemed like a good opportunity. Admittedly we bought the crust. I was in the mood for super crispy thin crust pizza, and frankly I just can't ever make it happen in my kitchen. Little rub of olive oil and some dried thyme on the crust, gorgonzola crumbles, sliced pears, and a few pine nuts went on top and then tossed it in the oven on a pizza stone. Needless to say my love of stinky cheese, fruit, and pizza had an amazing illegitimate baby in my kitchen.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

two kick ass dinners

My week so far has contained two UNBELIEVABLE dinners. One I was responsible for, one arrived at my office.
Dinner 1.

The first real dinner we made in our new house was an awesome steak salad with blue cheese crumble and strawberry vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was just strawberries (bit over a cup) some olive oil, water, salt, pepper, and a wasabi seasoning rub tossed in. everything got whirled together with a hand blender and then enjoyed on our new stoop. best.dinner.ever.

Dinner 2.

My friend and co-worker had recently set up a pierogi sweat shop in her kitchen and she showed up with a big ol'bag of delicious potato filled goodness for me. After they thawed a bit, got tossed in a pan, and then crammed in mouth. They were awesome and a very nice surprise. Thanks Rebecca!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Red White and Blue Cupcake Challenge

Ok, well, more like pink, white, and purple….. Everything started out red white and blue, does that count?

In the midst of moving into a new house, becoming a first time homeowner, and taking a midterm for this blasted masters degree, I said why not make cupcakes. People got to eat right? So the golden cake with blueberry filing and strawberry frosting were born. I can say that these really surprised me; I was a bit apprehensive about the filling. Let me tell you it was amazing and thank you to Mary at Shazam in the Kitchen for the recipe. We had some left over and actually had to remove it from the house so that my husband and I did not just subsist on frosting via spoon for multiple days.

Golden Cake with Blueberry Filling and Strawberry frosting

Golden Cake (Adapted from a few recipes, to suit what was in my dwindling kitchen reserves)
2 ¾ cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup skim milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set up your cupcake pan/papers.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar till fluffy
4. Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly between each one followed by the vanilla.
5. Add milk/sour cream alternating with dry ingredients.
6. Fill about ¾ full and bake about 20 minutes or golden and toothpick comes out clean

Blueberry Filling (Shazam in the Kitchen)

½ cup (4oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries

1. Dump the blueberries in a small sauce pan on the stove and simmer till the berries start to explode and get syrupy. Chill for at least a half hour in the fridge.
2. Cream butter and sugar till smooth and creamy.
3. Add vanilla and blueberries

Strawberry Frosting (from Crazy About Cupcakes)

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temp
8 oz cream cheese (I used Neufchatel)
4 ½ cups confectioners sugar (I went a bit less)
¾ cup fresh strawberries sliced

1. Mix cream cheese and butter together.
2. Add in confectioners sugar a bit at a time.
3. Mix in strawberries. The berries will be smashed up a bit but still visible in the frosting and it will turn a wonderful pink color.

To fill these I opted for the cone method and it worked like a dream. Plus we got to make super tiny cupcake tastes with the nubbin that gets cut off. Our wonderful and amazing friends that helped us move reaped the benefits of these delicious cakes! Thanks again guys!

Friday, July 25, 2008

the hubbs b-day feed

Admittedly this is another tardy (hee hee, tardy) post. My husband birthday was about a week and a half ago and to celebrate this day I tried my hand at a layer cake and a John Barrymore Onion Pletzel. Specifically a chocolate cake with cannoli filling and a coffee buttercream.

I used my super-trusty, go-to "why would you ever make a cake out of box ever again" chocolate cake recipe. The recipe is the Moosewood Collective's vegan chocolate cake It is a snap to put together, literally just dry into wet. I can attest that it is virtually impossible to mess up always tastes wonderful and can be enjoyed by all. The cannoli filling was simply some ricotta sweetened with confectioners sugar. Let me tell you it was pretty hard not to just eat the entire bowl and claim to our guests that 3-layer cakes generally do not have anything between the layers.

The coffee buttercream was a bit of an experiment and lessons were learned. 1. making frosting of any sort on a 90-some-odd degree day makes things a little drippy. 2. Anything with 3 sticks of butter as a primary ingredient will return to a sold butter consistency when cooled. This was a recipe from The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook. Basically the powdered sugar is replaced with fluff in this buttercream. It comes together like a dream and did not taste overwhelmingly of marshmallow. Toss in a little espresso powder dissolved in a bit of hot water, and tada! The cute little decorations are the new fancy-schmancy M&M's.

The John Barrymore Onion Pletzel was my first attempt at any of the sweet dough's from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It was good, but I am not totally sure that it was good enough to justify the sheer amount of butter involved. All in all it made for a tasty and special breakfast when paired with a couple of fried eggs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

belated 4th of July yum yum's

I know that I am a bit late with my 4th of July post....please forgive.

For the cookout on our friends shared patio our feed contribution was chicken, plum, and red onion kebabs. Our booze contribution was, booze.

Chicken, Plum, and Red Onion Kebabs
Adapted from June July 2008 issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray

1 cup vegetable oil (I used less, seemed to be a lot of oil, so I added a bit of water)
2/3 cup apricot jam
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce- lower sodium
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, slightly bigger than bite-sized chunks
2-3 pounds of plums, nice chunks
1 large red onion, again nice chunks

- Whisk together the vegetable oil, jam, vinegar and soy sauce. Add the chicken and toss to coat; refrigerate and let every thing hang out for a bit
- Transfer the marinated chicken to a bowl. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan, boil for 2 minutes, then let cool. I you are super nervous about chicken bits; I would toss it and just mix up some more of the sauce. I actually did the boil and everyone was safe and salmonella free, however I was admittedly a bit hesitant…..
- Thread the chicken, plums and onion onto skewers, since these were heading to the outdoor grill we soaked the skewers in water for a bit. Grill the kebabs, turning occasionally and basting frequently with the marinade during the first flip on each side, the just let them go until the chicken is cooked through.

I would definitely make these again, but possibly with nectarines instead. The plums got a touch to mushy on the grill for my liking, others enjoyed them, it was just not my bag. The chicken thighs, while generally an ugly pain in the ass to work with were totally tender and held up on the grill awesome.

Here are all of our little kebab soldiers all lined up.

All in all not too shabby. Stay tuned. There should be some fun eats and a few cakes coming up in short order.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Not as boring as you would think.....

I have a serious soft spot (or crunchy, if you will) for crackers. They are tasty, munchable, and portable. The drawback is that you can eat 7 million without batting an eye and they are often filled with crud that 1. does not need to be in them and 2. is really not that good for you. That said, I decided to make my own. Not too shabby.

I tweaked and based this on fairly traditional cracker recipes. Very simple, not a lot of action but ultimately a pretty tasty ending

I mixed about 1 1/4 cups flour with a hearty amount of cumin, a few shakes of chili power, and salt.

With a nice glug of olive oil and enough water to bring the dough together, it will form a nice firm dough. This ball yielded two trays of crackers.

I rolled the dough out directly on parchment with a bit of flour trying to make it nice and even and thin. Score/cut the dough in to the shape you desire and give each one a nice poke with a fork and a sprinkle of coarse salt.

These babies get popped in a 400 degree oven for around 15 minutes, till they are crispy and smell nice and toasty.

All in all they are not the buttery, transfatty crackers you will get at your local grocer, but they definitely held up to some homemade hummus or a soft cheese. Now I just need to test other flavors to mix in.....