Category Archives: comfort food

Coconut Chai Cake

Last month I was putting together an Indian-inspired dinner with friends and wanted to make a little somethin’-somethin’ sweet for dessert.  I wanted it it to compliment the spices I was using, and be quick and easy.  A few days earlier, The Fat Free Vegan had posted the perfect little cake recipe! She makes it for breakfast, and indeed it would be heavenly for first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, but I also found it to be the perfect not-too-sweet bite after an evening meal.   Whips up and bakes in a flash; so moist it needs no frosting.  The only problem is waiting to eat it until guests arrive….

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Gather up your ingredients!

ingredients

  • 1 cup strong chai tea ( I used a coconut chai–perfect!)
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quick (not instant) oatmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (use more for a spicier cake)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut, 2 TBSP reserved  ( I used an unsweetened, large-flaked coconut I usually have on hand for making granola.)

Preheat oven to 350F, spray-oil an 8×8 pan, and make a strong cup of tea by steeping 2 bags in 1 cup of boiling water until it is cool/room temperature.

tea

Combine the dry ingredients (oats, flours, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and sugar) in a medium bowl.

mix dry

Add the wet ingredients (tea, applesauce, vinegar, almond and vanilla extracts and all but 2 TBSP of the coconut.  Mix until just combined.

add wet

Pour into the prepared pan and top with reserved coconut.

pour into prepared pan

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a pick comes out clean when inserted near the center, and the coconut topping is nicely toasted.  The scent that will envelop your kitchen is just heavenly! Good luck not touching the cake until your guests show up!

bake

Cut into pieces and enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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So easy, so yummy.  I might just need to bake another one for tomorrow’s breakfast….

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, recipe, snack, vegan

Easy Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

Yesterday we ate a late lunch, so I scrapped my planned dinner menu and searched around for something lighter.  I looked around my pantry for what I already had and decided to make lentil something.  Using vegan lentil soup as my search term, I came across this recipe.  I didn’t have greens of any sort and made the soup without them.  The soup fragranced my house with exotic curry and in short order, we were enjoying little bowls of this soup.  The original recipe says it freezes well, so if you’re making soup for one, this is a winner!

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I had most everything on hand–subbing ground ginger for fresh.

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced, or 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP curry powder
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups No Chicken broth
  • 1 (140z) can light coconut milk
  • 1 (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups dry lentils
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cilantro for garnish
  • rice for serving

Add a splash of No Chicken broth to a large stock pot and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent–about 2-3 minutes.

saute onion garlic

Add ground ginger, tomato paste, curry powder, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and cook for another minute.

add spices tomato paste

Add broth, coconut milk, lentils and diced tomatoes.  Stir to combine.

add broth coconut milk tomatos

Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender and soup is thick.

cover and simmer

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings (add salt and pepper) to your taste.

taste and adjust seasoning

Spoon prepared rice into bowls and add the lentil curry.  Garnish with cilantro.

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Quick and easy enough for a weeknight, yummy and comforting.  I think we’ll have the leftovers tonight rather than freezing them.  Mmmm-mmmm-mmm!

 

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan

Tofu Veggie Tikka Masala

I’m one of those people who can be convinced to try a new grocery item with a coupon for it.  Recently, I had a coupon for one item from a certain brand.  The shelf-safe Tikka Masala sauce caught my eye.  It sounded exotic and flavory.  A perfect compliment to my veggies and tofu.  So I bought it without checking the label–I was shopping my local health food store, what could be a problem?  Dairy.  Turns out this particular sauce has dairy.  In reading recipes for Tikka Masala sauce, yogurt seems to be key.  Sigh.  Oh well, I had it, why not go ahead and cook with it?  This yummy recipe is therefore vegetarian rather than my preferred vegan.  Have a look–you can make this in no time.

garnish with cilantro

I cruised the Google and found quite a few vegetarian and vegan versions of Tikka Masala, which is traditionally made with chicken chunks (tikka).  I combined ideas from these two: Tofu Masala and Vegetarian Tikka Masala, made all the easier for the premade sauce.  Here are the ingredients:

ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  (the pic shows little garlic ends leftover from roasting whole garlic heads)
  • 1 (14 oz) extra firm, organic tofu
  • 1 (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • premade Tikka Masala sauce
  • cilantro for garnish
  • prepared rice
  • naan or pita bread for serving

Drain and then press the tofu.  Wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and set something a bit weighty on top of it.

press tofu

Saute onion and pepper in a bit of veggie broth until onions are translucent–about 2-3 minutes.

saute onions and peppers

Add garlic and saute until fragrant–30 seconds to a minute.

add garlic

Remove the saute to a bowl.  Set aside.

remove saute

Cube the tofu by cutting through the center of the flat side, then cut into sticks and then cubes.

cube tofu

Spray your pan with a bit of spray oil and saute the tofu cubes until mostly browned.  I do this by stirring occasionally–I’m too lazy to turn each cube for perfect even brownness.

brown tofu

When tofu is sufficiently browned, add saute back to the pan, along with drained chickpeas. Stir to combine.

add saute and chickpeas

Add the sauce and stir to coat.

add sauce

stir to coat

Scoop rice into a bowl, add the tofu tikka masala, garnish with cilantro, and serve with naan or pita.

serve with rice

serve with naan or pita

So yummy!  I’m currently looking around for a truly vegan masala sauce recipe.  I’ve found a few so far, some using coconut yogurt–a flavor that sounds yummy with the rest of the ingredients here.  I’m also thinking about marinating the tofu ahead of time and grilling it to more closely recreate a traditional Tikka Masala.  Do your recipes evolve like this?

 

 

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, lunch, recipe, Vegetarian

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

Nearly everyone I know loves banana bread.  And chocolate.  And who isn’t fascinated by a marbled baked-good?!  When I saw this recipe on the PPK (Post-Punk Kitchen) the other day, I actually started wishing my bananas would hurry up and get over-ripe.  Which for me, is when the spots start to appear.   My beautiful slightly green bananas granted my wish and soon became spotted and then became delicious work of (vegan!) baked art.

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Grab those over-ripe bananas and a few other ingredients and create your own edible art.

ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana  (about 3 bananas)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 TBSP boiling water, divided

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a 4×8″ loaf pan.  Put water on to boil.

Peel and mash bananas.  Measure before placing in a mixing bowl.

mash and measure the bananas

Add milk, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.

add vanilla sugar milk oil

Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix until JUST combined.  If you still see a bi of flour, that’s ok.  Be careful to not over-mix.

add dry

mix til moistened

Measure and scoop out one cup of this mixture and transfer to another bowl.

remove 1 cup

In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder with 3 TBSP boiling water.  Stir vigorously with a fork until smooth.

dissolve cocoa

Add the dissolved chocolate into the one cup of banana mixture.  Mix until completely smooth and combined.

add cocoa to 1 cup mix

Add 3 TBSP boiling water to the original plain banana mixture.  Mix until mostly smooth.

add boiling water to plain mix

Scoop alternate “1/2 cupfuls” into the oiled loaf pan.  I used a large “spoonula” to mix each batter and just used those to scoop out each mixture.  Have fun and place the two different batters into the pan in a random fashion.  The randomness will help you make the groovy swirls!  Here are my layers as they built up.

layer 1

layer 2

layer 3

layer 4

layer 5

When all the batter is in the pan, use a butter knife or wooden skewer to swirl through the batter in a circular motion for about 10 seconds.

swirl

Bake 55-65 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a skewer or butter knife into the center of the loaf.  It’s done when a few moist crumbs cling to the skewer.  Cool in the pan on a rack until you can handle the pan without an oven mitt, then turn the loaf out to cool completely.

bake and cool

Now comes the oooooooo-ahhhhhhh part:  Cut 1/2 inch slices and watch the ever-changing, swirled banana bread art present itself.

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No need for a spread–moist and flavorful on its own.  Freshly cooled, this bread has a nicely crisp crust; after storage, it softens.

I went to the store today looking for bananas past their prime.  Alas, none to be had.  I bought the least ripe ones which are now in a paper bag on the counter.  Can’t wait to make another one of these beautiful and yummy breads!  I highly recommend you make one for yourself and keep the recipe in mind for the next potluck or food-gifting occasion.  Perfect!

The PPK is my go-to site for fabulous vegan recipes.  The recipes are easy to follow and written with just the perfect amount of humorous snark.  Isa Chandra is not your Mom’s Betty Crocker.  Click on over and see for yourself!

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Potluck, recipe, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

Easiest Beer Bread Ever!

It seems like every time I decide soup for dinner is a great plan, it’s too late to start a yeast bread to go with it.  Wah.  Fresh bread is so yummy with soup!  What to do, what to do?!  If you have an hour, beer bread is what you do!  It’s quick!  It’s easy!  It’s very much like “real” bread!  Yum!

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I Googled this recipe, which says it’s the most popular beer bread recipe on the internet.  It IS super easy and super fast.  Now that I’ve made it, I do have one recommendation not mentioned in the original recipe–the beer you use will have a huge impact on the flavor.  I used an IPA–very hoppy–which gave that same hoppy flavor to the bread.  For my taste, I’ll be using a more mellow beer next time.  That being said, this recipe is a keeper!

ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or margarine)

Preheat oven to 375F and oil a standard loaf pan.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) together–very important to keep the bread light and fluffy.  Use a flour sifter or a fine mesh strainer.

sift dry ingredients

Add the beer.  Stir until just combined.

add beer

mix until moistened

Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

pour into loaf pan

Pour melted butter over the top.  (Sounded weird to me, but resulted in a wonderful crunchy, buttery crust!)

pour melted butter

Bake for 1 hour, and cool on a rack until you can handle the pan, then remove from the pan and cool for a total of 15 minutes.  This will make slicing a LOT easier!

let cool on rack

remove from pan

Slice, spread on your favorite buttery spread and enjoy!

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I was making potato soup when I realized I needed a bread to go with it.  Yummy combo!

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Now that I’ve made this once, I’m thinking of all the other things that would be yummy to include–like a whole wheat, oats and stout combo, or a light wheat ale and jalapeno combo, or roasted garlic or ????!!!!  Oh yeah, lots of ways to make this easy, yummy bread a bit more “gourmet!”  Have fun with your favorite combos!

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Filed under appetizer, comfort food, lunch, Potluck, recipe, side dish, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

A Sweet Valentine’s Day Collection, Part 2

Here’s last year’s Valentines Post with new vegan options to make for your sweetie!

Remember making valentines in grade school?   Hearts made from doilies, pink and red construction paper, stickers, some Elmer’s glue and a bit of glitter.  Valentines are still fun to make–the paper kind and the chocolate, or decadent ice cream kind!  I’ve gathered up a yummy collection of recipes from Somethin’ Yummy for you to make for your valentines, including yourself.  ❤

Vegan Valentine Truffle-O-Rama

Serve these yummy vegan truffles frozen!

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Rich and silky.  A house favorite!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate-y and spicy.  A lovely tender and yummy vegan cupcake for your sweetie.

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Vegan Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Almost brownie-like, let a few mini chocolate chips melt on top instead of frosting!

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Easy Chocolate Truffles.

Your valentines will love the rich, melty chocolate and the cute, cute toppings!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes, Poppers and Trifles

Such a classic flavor and the perfect color for Valentine’s Day!

cupcakes poppers trifles

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Gluten-free version, with instructions to adjust for regular flour.)

These melt-in-your-mouth cookies have a wee bit of pepper in the batter.  OMG, so, so yummy!

perched on coffee cup

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This rich, dense cake is simple to make and quite the “Ta-Da” dessert.

pwdered sugar

Decadent Dark Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust

Chocolate bliss spiced up with ginger.

chocolate tart

Sweetheart Chocolate Waffles

A perfect Valentine’s Day breakfast, and super yum with ice cream in a Sweetheart Sundae!

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Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels

A bit of effort, but so, so worth it!

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Carol’s Frozen Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Mosaic

A superbly yummy treat if chocolate just isn’t your Valentine’s Day desire.  Drizzled in raspberry liqueur for extra valentine-y-ness!

carols mosaic

Still not finding something to your liking?  Type dessert or cookie or cake in the search window for more sweet ideas!  Have a yummy Valentine’s Day!  Be my Valentine?!

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Holiday foods, recipe

Celine’s Aebelskivers

Have I mentioned how great it is to have been brought up Norwegian?  My son, who is even less Norwegian than I am, is as pleased as I’ve always been to enjoy the special yumminess found in Scandinavian holiday treats.   Mom started it all.  She adored all things Scandinavian, baking all kinds of traditional holiday recipes, including these light little pillows of yumminess from Denmark, aebelskivers. yum1

Here it is almost Christmas, and I have piles of cookies and breads and candies and nuts to keep me happy for months, but still I felt compelled yesterday to add to my dragon’s horde and make aebelskivers.  Especially after reading that they freeze well and then reheat beautifully in the oven for a traditional Scandinavian Christmas breakfast.  Aebelskivers originally had bits of apple or applesauce inside–aebel means apple.  They are also made plain, like my Mom’s recipe, and served with applesauce or a berry jam on the side.  I like lingonberry–a Scandinavian cranberry-esque fruit.  Find lingonberry in your natural foods market or at IKEA.  Yup, IKEA.  You can also buy pre-made mixes from places like Williams Sonoma.  (Mom bough these for me.)  They are yummy, but are pretty much the same in prep time as scratch-made.

mixes

The manufacturer of my glass-top range says cast iron is a no-no because it could damage the glass.  I pouted for a year over this because I knew it meant no aebelskivers for me.  Traditional aebelskiver pans like mine are cast iron.

traditional aebelskiver pan

William Sonoma has a variety of electric and stove-top pans and accessories.  I wasn’t quite ready to spend sixty bucks plus shipping for a treat I generally make only once a year.  I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it and nearly ordered one when…

Cake pops became all the rage and electric cake pop makers began “popping” up all over.  They make little spherical cakes, and aebelskivers are spherical.  Could a cake pop maker be used for aebelskivers?!  Between a coupon and a sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, I procured a Babycakes cake pop maker for about $15 and set out to find out.  YES!  The abelskivers are smaller, but just as yummy.  Good news for those of you already in possession of a cake pop maker!

All you need are a cake pop maker and a few ingredients:

ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk or 2 cups milk plus 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom, optional
  • powdered sugar
  • applesauce or berry jam to serve

If you don’t keep buttermilk around, measure any milk (I used regular, unsweetened almond milk) and add the lemon juice to it and allow it to “curdle” a bit.

add lemon juice to milk

Meanwhile, separate the eggs, making sure the whites get into a clean glass or metal bowl for better whipping results.

separate eggs

Lightly beat the yolks and add the milk, sugar and salt.

egg yolks milk sugar and salt

Then add the flour, soda, and baking powder.  Add cardamom here if using.  I completely forgot the cardamom until I was nearly done baking the aebelskivers!  Sorry Mom!  I’ll put it in next time for sure!

add flour and soda and baking powder

Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites to a stiff peak.

beat whites to stiff peak

Gently fold in the whites in two batches.  This takes a while–be patient to maintain as much fluff as possible.  This fluff is what will make your aebelskivers so pillowy.

add half of whites

fold in second half

Spray the cake pop maker lightly with spray oil and wipe away any excess to avoid smoking up your kitchen as the appliance heats.  Yup.  Know this from experience.  Heat the cake pop maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then fill the wells brim-full with batter.  My cake pop maker has 1 tablespoon-sized wells which are conveniently filled with a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop!

fill wells full

Fill as quickly as you can and close the lid to bake.  I baked mine for 6 minutes.  Your cake pop maker may take more or less time.  If you use a regular aebelskiver pan, wait for the tops to get bubbly–like you do for pancakes–and then gently turn them over in their wells using a wooden skewer or knitting needle or little tools made specifically for this purpose.  If you’re feeling adventurous, fill the wells only 2/3 full and add a wee bit of applesauce or jelly before adding the last 1/3 of batter per well.  I use a 1/4 tsp measure to add jam for my tiny cake pop-sized aebelskivers.

close lid and bake

Use the little prong thingie that comes with a cake pop maker or a thin wooden skewer or knitting needle to remove your perfect little aebelskivers.  Place them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Use a small sieve for this or purchase a powdered sugar shaker from a kitchen store–worth the money!  (Look around, I know mine wasn’t as pricey as the one linked to.)  They have lids, so powdered sugar can be stored in it, making it ready to use whenever you need it.

sprinkle with powdered sugar

This recipe makes 6 or 7 dozen one-inch aebelskivers.

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While a batch is baking, get out a pretty plate and some lingonberry jam and do a taste test.   Dip each pillowy bite in the jam and enjoy.

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Keep adding to your mountain of aebelskiver wonderfulness, sugaring each layer.

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If you plan to freeze your aebelskivers for later, let them cool completely before placing in a freezer bag.  The aebelskivers will freeze separately from one another, allowing you to take out only how many you want. Then when you’re ready, bake them in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  Sugar them again and serve with applesauce or jam.  Oh, yum-yum-yummy!

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Christmas traditions always make the season cozy for me.  I find myself reaching back into the past to bring some of that childhood Christmas magic to my adulthood.  This year, I found a wee, tiny tinsel tree that reminded me of the big one my grandparents had.  I selected ornaments that are reminiscent of the time and lit it with battery-powered color-changing LED lights.  The sun made it sparkle yesterday.

tinsel tree1

tinsel tree 2

Back in the day, these tinsel trees were lit with a color wheel aimed at the tree.  The wheel turned, bathing the tree in a progression of colors–red, blue, yellow, and green–that were at their most wonderful at the juncture between colors.  It was like waves of color moving across and reflected by the tinsel.  Spectacular, and pure Christmas magic.  I hope your holidays bring you some of the magic from your childhood.  Merry Christmas!

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dessert, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe, snack

Celine’s Krumkake

A krumkake is a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie cooked on a special griddle and then rolled into a cone shape.  They are beautiful, delicate, crisp and lightly seasoned with cardamom.  You can fill them with whipped cream or custard or whatever sounds yummy to you, but my Mom never did, so I don’t either.  As much as my sister and I loved these, It might be that Mom didn’t fill them because they were gone before she had a chance!  Mom made piles of krumkaker (the plural of krumkake) every Christmas along with other Scandiavian yummies like lefse, kringla, rosettes, and aebelskivers.  She had a little sign in her kitchen the stated “Tis a blessing to be Norwegian;” a sentiment I must agree with, especially whenever there are treats like these around!

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To get started, you’ll need a krumkake iron and cone form.  I don’t remember where I got my original iron that sits on a stove burner, but I bought my electric one at a local kitchen store.  Both can be found online, and having used both, I’m preferring the electric iron.

2 kinds of irons

Then, gather up a few things for a simple batter and you’re ready to go!

ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Lightly beat the eggs,

beat eggs

and then add sugar, starch, flour, vanilla and cardamom.  Stir to combine.

mix eggs sugar starch flour cardamom and vanilla

Then add the melted, cooled butter.  (The butter should still be liquid, just not so hot as to cook the eggs!)

add butter

Stir to a smooth batter.

mix til smooth batter

Heat iron according to the manufacturer’s directions, and spray lightly with spray oil.

spray iron with oil

Place 1 TBSP of batter near the center of the heated iron for a 4-inch krumkake, or 2 TBSP for a 6-inch krumkake.  This recipe will make 1 1/2 dozen 6-inch or 3 dozen 4-inch krumkaker.  I used a 1 TBSP cookie scoop to place my batter on the iron.

2 TBSP for a 6 inch krumkake

Close the lid and press lightly to distribute the batter.  One of the coolest things about the electric iron is that you don’t have to turn it over while cooking like you do with the stove-top iron.  Love it!

close and press to distrubute batter

Check after a minute to see if the krumkake is the shade of brown you like–I like mine fairly light.  See how this krumkake has gotten outside the patterned section of the iron?  Too much batter.  I used a wee bit less better for the next ones and ended up with prettier cookies, but they’re yummy no matter what!

cook til desired brownness

When ready, remove from the iron using a fork or small spatula, and place on a paper towel.  Immediately position the cone form like this:

place form on hot krumkake

Quickly roll the krumkake around the form while it is still hot.  This gets easier as you go.  I messed up the first one because I let it get too cool while I took pictures–it cracked as I rolled it.  My son was more than happy to “take care of” my ugly krumkake.  😉

roll to a cone

Gently press the form over the seam to help set the cone shape.  I leave the form sitting in the cone as I add more batter to the iron.  Then remove the form!  Look at the pretty cookie you just made!

remove form

Stack them up on a plate or platter to cool and become crisp.  This platter was a gift from my Mom from her favorite Scandinavian gift shop, Vanberia.

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I think they’re pretty stacked on top of each other like this.

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The iron makes a beautiful almost tapestry-like pattern in each cookie.  So pretty!  My cousin’s husband sculpted the Santa that has been keeping my krumkaker company, and the cute little towel was in a tub marked “Norwegian Tree”  that I brought home from Mom’s house.

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Here are some more Santas– hand carved, painted and accessorized by a friend of my Mom’s–Mr Barnett.  My sister and I went to school with his daughters.   Mr. Barnett carved a different Santa each year; Mom bought one for herself every year and sometimes bought them for my sister and me.  I love the different faces, beard details and little details of the clothing and accessories.

santas1

santas2

I usually have them above my kitchen cabinets, to keep them a bit more cat-safe, but brought them down to take their pictures.  Just love them.  What are your favorite Christmas decorations?

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Food memories, Holiday foods, Norwegian Foods, recipe

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

What makes a Christmas cookie a Christmas cookie?  I posed this question on Facebook last week after making these yummy little stunners.

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The answers were:  whatever is tradition–that is, what your family always bakes, shape and decoration, type of cookie–such as a sugar cookie or ginger cookie.  I’d say these Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies qualify!  The original recipe is from the December 2009 Food and Wine Magazine.  If you haven’t tried the combination of ginger and chocolate, it’s time!  It’s a ginger cookie taken to the next level.  With hot chocolate, with coffee, with a dessert wine….oh my.

If you bake, most likely you have everything you need:

ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TBSP ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 TBSP baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 TBSP softened, unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients:  flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

whisk dry ingredients

Beat butter and shortening together until smooth in another bowl.

cream butter and shortening

Cream in the brown sugar until light and fluffy–about 2-3 minutes.

cream butter shortening and sugar

Add egg and beat until combined.

add egg

Beat in molasses,

add molasses

and then melted chocolate until smooth.

add chocolate

blend til smooth

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating in between each addition.

add dry

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.

divide into 3

Form each third into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

form disks wrap and refrigerate

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disk to a thickness of 1/4 inch.  Use desired cutters to cut dough into shapes and transfer to baking sheets.  Dust cutters lightly with flour in between cookies to help the cookies release from the cutters.  I find that using cutters of different sizes allows for more efficient use of the dough and less re-rolling.

roll and cut

Gather the scraps together and continue to cut cookies.

gather scraps and re roll

Bake cookies for about 7 minutes, rotating pans halfway through unless you have a convection oven.  Let cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes and transfer to racks to finish cooling.

bake 7 min

When cool, it’s time to decorate!  Be as fancy as you want to be.  I decided on using white and blue frosting tubes fitted with decorating tips and blue and white sanding sugars–they have a larger crystal than regular sugar, making my snowflakes more snowflake-y, in my opinion.  🙂  I frost each cookie first,

decorate with frosting

And then dip in sugar while the frosting is still wet.  Different colors come from different combos of sugar and frosting.

dip in sugar

Pretty soon you have a whole flurry of delicious and beautiful snowflakes!

flurry1

While one batch was baking, I thought it would be fun to see if I could make one of the smaller flakes perch on a cocoa mug.  Through a bit of trial and error and having to eat my mistakes…I ended up with this method:

I used a popsicle stick to press a mark into a raw cookie, just over halfway up the cookie, trying to leave equal amounts of cookie on each side of the mark.

mark with stick

mark shows

Then, I used a sharp paring knife to cut out the notch and carefully transferred the perching cookies to a baking sheet and baked and decorated the same as the regular cookies.

cut out notch

So fun!  A cute little cookie that parks nicely on your mug in between sips and can be dunked as you go!

perch notch

perch on cocoa

This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies if you vary sizes.  My largest cutter was about 3 inches, the medium 2 inches and the tiny ones are about 1 inch.

flurry4

The recipe also makes an excellent sandwich cookie.  The filling recipe I’ve used is:  1 stick unsalted, softened butter, 8 oz mascarpone, softened, 3 cups powdered sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla.  Yum!

They are just fine all by themselves, though.  Aren’t they pretty?!

flurry3

The smell of chocolate gingerbread baking filled my house with Christmas!  It really put me in the mood to start decorating, so I got out the boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations, trees and ornaments.  Here’s one of my favorite ornaments from when I was little.

ornament

Do you have ornaments from your childhood?  I still need to bake a few more traditional cookies and make a Buche de Noel, but the house is decorated and cozy, and presents are wrapped.  I feel like I’m ready enough for Christmas.  I hope you have a merry holiday season where you are.

 

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Filed under comfort food, dessert, food gifts, Holiday foods, recipe

Turkey White Chili

Ah Thanksgiving leftovers.  They seem like a bounty of riches at first, and then…  I’ve gotten to the I’m-so-tired-of-turkey phase.  Part of this is because most of the time I’m vegan, and I just don’t care much for meat anymore.  However, my son is NOT vegan, and I didn’t want to mess with a holiday tradition for him, so we roasted a small turkey.  But even a small turkey can result in a fairly large bag of leftover meat!  What to do, what to do?  I’d already made tetrazzini and enchiladas.  I didn’t want it going to waste, or even lurking in my freezer, scolding me for not using it.  I want to use up ALL of the rest of it!

Winter weather has a tendency to make me crave a warm bowl of soup, and my husband ALWAYS craves spicy.  How ’bout a white chili, then?  The Google provided me with lots of inspiration.  Does anyone else resort to the interwebs for food inspiration?  It’s like searching through ton of cookbooks with a click!  The Pioneer Woman got me started and I improvised from there.

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Grab your bag of leftover turkey and a crockpot and by the time you get home from work, Turkey White Chili will be waiting to warm your chilly self!

ingredients

  • 2-2 1/2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or chunked
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 4 cups or so chicken broth (I use No Chicken Broth)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 2 cans white beans
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 TBSP masa harina

Saute onions in a bit of broth or butter if you’d rather.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

saute onion

Add garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.

add garlic

Chop or shred the turkey.  I like to use a cutting board that can go into the dishwasher when cutting meat, even if it IS cooked.

chop turkey

Open one can of beans, drain and place into your crockpot.  Mash them so you still have some pieces left.

mash 1 can of beans

Drain the other can of beans and add to the pot.  Add turkey, onions and garlic, green chiles, enchilada sauce and spices.

all in the pot

Cover with broth, give it a stir, cover and set the cooker to low for 5-6 hours. Alternately, set to high for 2-3 hours.

add broth to cover

Whisk masa harina–a corn flour–into the milk.  If you can’t find masa harina, corn meal is ok.  It helps thicken your chili and gives it a fabulous corn tortilla sort of flavor.

mix masa with milk

Add the milk mixture to the crockpot, set it to high and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

add masa milk to pot

Ladle it up in a pretty bowl and cut yourself a slice of crusty bread.  Garnish with cilantro and avocado.  Yum, yum, yummy!

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Just the remedy for a cold and wintry day.  Go ahead.  Have seconds.

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Winter is here to stay in Western Colorado.  Not crazy about the cold, but it sure is pretty.

alpenglow

Alpenglow is the term used when the setting sun “warms” the nearby Grand Mesa.  Especially pretty in the snow!

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, Holiday foods, lunch