Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Menu

Ben and I are staying home tomorrow for Thanksgiving.  We had some invitations, but really just wanted to spend some downtime together for the holiday.

Even though it is just the two of us (and Paco!) we are still preparing a holiday meal.

I thought I would share what we are having.  There are many recipes on the internet that I contemplated; I wanted to share the ones we decided on!

Ben is making his Turkey enchiladas. I will prepare the turkey by braising it.  I am removing the breast meat from the bone,  then pan searing.  I will saute a mira poix, leaks, garlic, 2-3 bay leaves, rosemary and thyme then add chicken stock.  This would actually be great with a brown or beef stock, but I want to keep the more natural flavor of the turkey breast for the enchiladas.  (If you are using beef stock, please add some red wine too to make an amazing sauce!  For more of a "gravy" than a sauce, add about 1-2 ounces of flour after sautéing your veggies.  Cook off the flour , then add your herbs and liquids.)  Braise at 350 until done.  A full turkey (cut into pieces) will take about 90 minutes.  Cover with foil and cook until about 165 degrees.  Because we will be using these in enchiladas I will cook until about 155 degrees as to not dry it out.

Ben makes an amazing green enchilada sauce with green chiles, chicken stock, flour, and chile powder.  He stacks corn tortillas, sour cream,  onion, cheddar cheese, turkey and the sauce and bakes until hot and bubbly.  If I am ambitious enough tomorrow, maybe I will create a recipe.

I am making turkey tamales using this Alton Brown recipe.  I have never made tamales but I love them! I am looking forward to trying this.

I am also going to make a Red Sauce for the tamales using this recipe from my friend Sylvia:

Chile Colorado (Basic Red Chile Sauce)

Yield: 2 cups 
Temperature: Medium, Low 
Freezes Well
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

2 tablespoons shortening 
2 tablespoons flour 
1/4 - 3/4 cup Red Chile Powder 
2 cups chicken or beef broth 
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic
Oregano (optional ½ tsp)
Cumin (optional ½ tsp)

1.Heat shortening in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, I like to cook until the flour turns light brown.
2.Add chile powder and cook for an additional minute.
3.Gradually add the broth and stir, making sure that no lumps form.
4.Add seasonings to sauce and simmer at low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Since I had to buy masa harina for the tamales, I may try to make our own corn tortillas.  Would you believe William Sonoma did not have a tortilla press?  I am going to have to go old school and roll these out by hand.  I understand getting them thin enough is the challenge!

For sides, I am making these green beans and roasted brussels sprouts.   While you are on the Once Upon a Chef site, check out the scone recipe.  A-mazing!

Dessert?  Of course!  I won't skimp on Thanksgiving.  I am of the camp that believes that I did not become morbidly obese because of Thanksgiving dinner.  It was the other 364 days a year!

This is the recipe I will be making for dessert.    Cinnamon Chai cream pie just sounded too good to pass up!  I will be using Ginger Thins instead of graham crackers in the crust.

I am looking forward to our non-traditional Thanksgiving meal!

We are not going to run any organized 5k this year; instead, Ben, Paco and I will be heading out for our own 5k!    I am actually quite excited to not set an alarm to wake up on time year to be able to drive downtown and park before the 5k we have run the last two years.   There are no times we have to do anything; I think I am looking forward to that more than anything.  Well, spending the weekend with Ben and Paco is actually what I am looking forward to the most.  I got new running shoes tonight so I am eager to try those out too!

These turkeys walked passed our home this morning; Paco wanted nothing to do with them!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

The First Step... often admitting that you have a problem.  So, here goes.

I, Kel, like to bake.

Nope, that simply does not express it accurately enough.

I, Kel, love to bake.

Hmmm, while that is closer to the truth, I think I need a little more zing.

I, Kel, have a baking obsession.

It was not always like this.  Sure, I remember in high school baking chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on the Nestle package.  I used to babysit for a family, and when they threw big dinner parties, I was always in charge of the baked goods.  As a teenager, I was making Julia Childs' flourless chocolate cake.  I just followed the recipe.  To think, she got all my glory!

There is a precision to baking that I love.  I always so there are those that love to cook, and those that love to bake.  Cooks can take ingredients and swap them out, deciding that today they wish to use twice as much thyme as the recipe calls for, or perhaps to skip the salt, as there is already enough there.

Baking is measuring; it is chemical reactions that should not be messed with.  I really should learn the details of the chemistry, but why?

I came across this English Muffin recipe last week.  I had seen the recipe before, but for whatever reason, the directions on the little red house made me realize that I can do this!  All it would take were two ingredients that I needed to buy; nonfat powdered milk and bar jar lids!

I wish you could have seen my happy dance at the grocery store when I found out that you can buy the jar lids without actually buying the jars!   It was Festival in Vadnais Heights; contact them to see if they have security footage.

I was waxing poetic (ha - in 104 characters or less) on Twitter yesterday about these little babies.

I proudly present to you nooks and crannies!

You don't cut these in half; you gently pull them apart before placing them in the toaster to crisp up.

If you are lucky, you have homemade ricotta and Trader Joe's honey apple butter in the refrigerator.  I make my own luck, and my own ricotta, thanks to this recipe.

I left the house this morning for some exercise thinking it would be pumpkin pancakes upon our return.  Nope.  All I could think about where these english muffins.  With a runny egg.  And black beans.  And salsa.  And cheese.  Don't forget the avocado.  Sorry, no pictures as my appetite would simply not allow it.

So, what is an obsessed baker to do but bake more?  A double batch at that.

Today I successfully made 8 per batch; yesterday I overfilled the lids.

I did not use the gluten in the recipe as the little red house did;  I used white wheat King Arthur flour and was very pleased with the results!

nutrition facts

Fingers crossed that these freeze well!

Enjoy the recipe!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

So Much Pumpkin, So Little Time

I have been eating so many pumpkin-laced foods of late, I am turning orange!

Enjoying amazing beer at Surly's Darkness Day

Of course I am kidding about the turning orange part.  I am not kidding about the pumpkin, however.

Pumpkin chili, pumpkin gingersnaps, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin pancakes, and a little butternut squash lasagne to break up the pumpkin monotony.

It seems I never use a full can, and end up wondering how I can use the remains that sit in my refrigerator.

Today I decided to jazz up my pumpkin pancakes, and make Pumpkin Gingersnap Pancakes. So good I had to share!  Bear with me; remember I am not a professional when it comes to food styling or photography.

Plain and simple and ready to be dressed. 

Biscoff Spread and Maple Syrup come to the party. 

Banana slices and a piece of bacon complete the ensemble!

Don't get me started on the Biscoff spread.  If you have ever had the Biscoff cookies they serve on Delta Airlines, these are them, in spreadable form.  A teaspoon contributes nothing nutritionally, but it so indulgent and delicious!  If I believed in good and bad I would tell you it makes me feel like I am being bad.  But I don't, so I won't!

Okay, back to the Pumpkin Gingersnap Pancakes

The recipe will make 8 pancakes and the serving below is for one pancake.

1.5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup white wheat flour
1/8th (yes half of a quarter) cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tea baking powder
1/4 tea baking soda
1/4 tea kosher salt
1 tea cinnamon
1/2 tea ginger
1/2 tea cloves
1/4 tea nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (Thanks Anne!)
1 egg
1 tea vanilla
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

In a large bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients - flour thru nutmeg above. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, pumpkin, egg, vanilla and molasses.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated.  Add the cooled melted butter in and mix just until the batter is evenly moistened.  (If you beat the crap out of it, you just made pumpkin pot holders as they will be tough as leather.)

I am going to assume you know from this point how to cook pancakes.  Don't put your griddle pan, electric skillet or frying pan on high and blast the heck out of them.  Medium heat works.   Let your griddle pan heat up after you have mixed your batter; this will give it a time to rest making for a more tender pancake.  (The magazine Fine Cooking told me that!) A drop of water should briefly dance across the pan when it is the right temp.  (Yep, their words again, not mine.) I like to take a little canola oil and a teaspoon of butter and melt it then brush it on my griddle.

I scoop about a quarter cup of batter for these and that is plenty big!  I freeze the leftovers for a quick weekday breakfast too.

If you are cooking in batches, have your oven set at 200 degrees to keep warm while you cook the others.

Here is what enjoying a pancake can do for you:

nutrition facts

Just a few more thoughts to add (totally non pumpkin related!) since I have not been around for a couple of months.

We are enjoying our sweet Paco so much!  He has grown quite a bit since last I shared any pictures of him. He is now up to 7 pounds and I believe this is about as big as he will get.

He despises his collar and leash.  He actually shakes and gets a tear or two in his eye when he realizes it is time for a walk.
Once he is out there, he loves it!

I love his little fluffy poof at the end of his tail!

As for me, I have been busy with work and, well, living.  The only new thing, I guess, is that I changed the part in my hair!  Really!

Two weeks ago:

And yesterday...

I like it!

Oh, yesterday I also had a sweet potato taco for lunch and a sweet potato for dinner.  The orange fest continues.

Hope you all are well out there!

Remember, eat like you mean it. Enjoy some pumpkin pancakes along the way!