Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gingerbread Pomegranate Muffins

I still remember the day I first saw a pomegranate. I was a Freshman or Sophomore in college and I saw an upperclassmen girl eating this really strange looking thing. What on earth was this weirdly shaped, strangely seeded, beautifully colored thing? I was so baffled by the fact that a fruit existed that I had never heard of or seen before. Pom-a-what? My curiosity about this strange thing was lost to my college studies and I soon forgot about wanting to learn more about it. Fast forward 7 years...picture me in a grocery store and somehow by chance my cart runs into the pomegranate fruit stand. Is this my destiny? To finally be reunited with the long lost fruit of my past? It just seemed right, everything fell into place and I heard angels singing...finally, I would eat and cook with a Pomegranate! Okay, okay, I think...wait no, I know I am getting a little too carried away...but seriously people this fruit is pretty awesome. It is like walking into a surprise party for yourself 3 months before your actual birthday...oh yeah, that actually happened to me. : ) True story.

If you have never encountered a Pomegranate I encourage you to go buy one and try it. They somehow remind me of aliens, bath bubbles, and wall colors...but judge for yourself.

Here are some tips and facts about the Pomegranate:

1) They are messy to peel, so for best results peel submerged in water. You can also freeze the fruit and then they are super easy to seed.

2) They surprisingly have nothing to do with counter tops in your home...that would be granite.

3) Pomegranates grow on a small, wonder if they are shaped into anything like a statue of the Pomegranate queen.

4) The name "pomegranate" is from from the Latin word pomum, meaning "apple", and granatus meaning "seeded".

5) The seeds inside a Pomegranate are called "arils"

6) The Pomegranate's birth place is Iran, not Iwalk.
..sorry I couldn't help myself : )

7) Pomegranates are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashana because the seeds symbolize fruitfulness.

8) Pomegranates are also a symbol of marriage and if you are single maybe if you walk around with a pomegranate you will find your true love...of course if you do that you run the risk of being known as the crazy pomegranate lady...but hey, at least it ain't cats.

9) I really want to make Pomegranate sorbet...and eat it with dark chocolate sauce.

10) I dislike pink, but one day when I grow up I want a room in my home to have pomegranate wall adjacent to a wall shellacked with old newspapers.

I feel bad about making the Pomegranate the focus of this post, because really folks it is more about the gingerbread, but I had to follow my heart and tell you about the Pomegranate. Gingerbread sounds boring and old. Kind of like that pair of sweatpants you put on at the end of a bad know it, you love it, but some days you just want something a pretty dress or a Pomegranate. I do love me some gingerbread though. I don't make it as often as I should, mostly because I am the only one in the house who really likes it. That is an understatement, I love it. : )

Gingerbread Pomegranate Muffins
makes 10 muffins

In large bowl cream the following with a mixer until smooth and not grainy 2-3 minutes:

6 TBS room temp unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Scrape down the bowl and then slowly add the following while continuing to mix:

2 eggs room temp
1/2 cup molasses

Mix until smooth and no longer broken looking. Scrape down and then add the sifted or whisked together following:

1 2/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Stir just until combined and then add:
1/2 cup warm water

Stir, scrape, and then add:

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional, then these would just be gingerbread muffins)

Stir and pour 1/3 cup of batter into lined muffin tins. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until tops spring back when lightly touched.

Cool and enjoy with fresh whipped cream or sweetened cream cheese.

Did you know that God is a fan of Pomegranates? I mean besides the whole creating them thing they are mentioned in the Bible numerous times. My favorite being here:

"Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil." - Song of Solomon 4:3

I am pretty sure that is meant as a compliment...but really if a guy ever told me that I might have to kick him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to make an Iced cookie 101

Cookies I made for a charity golf tournament this week. Packed up and ready to go. Paired with a Chocolate Chewy cookie.
I was going to put a vine on them but I thought they looked modern this way
Are you thankful? I am thankful I finished them : )
I must admit I am a utilitarian. I like iced cookies solely for the purpose that making and decorating them is fun. I do not like to eat iced cookies, and am therefore not loving the whole iced cookie, just the part that works best for me. How awful of me. C'est la vive. That being said, nothing beats a fun cookie decorating party! I like to have one before every holiday if possible: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, and even Valentines day. It is so fun to try new designs and colors. So go make a batch of your favorite sugar cookies, make a big batch of icing, gets lots of pretty non nonpareils and sanding sugars, and invite some friends over and have at it! Last Christmas I even got my Dad and my 87 year old Grandpa to join in the fun!

Here are some tips to making successful iced cookies:
The dough -

1) Make sure your dough is completely mixed and there are no clumps of butter hanging around...if there are this will cause your dough to bake unevenly and your gingerbread man might suddenly grow an ear.

2) I like to work with chilled dough. There is less sticking that way, and then you use less flour, and as a result your cookie isn't as dry. So over all, a chilled dough is a win win.

3) When rolling the dough out make sure your surface and the dough are floured...enough to prevent sticking, but not too much. Make sure you flip and rotate your dough at least once to ensure even unsticking rolling.

4) If you want nice uniform cookies I recommend using Rolling pin rings. I have these ones from Sur La Table and have had good results with them.

Baking -

1) Make sure you bake the cookies to a nice golden brown. A cookie that is not baked long enough will break easily and result in lots of crumbs.

2) Always bake your cookies on parchment paper.

Icing -

1) Make sure your cookies are completely cooled before icing them otherwise the icing will melt right off...hello.

2)Make sure your icing is a good thickness. If you start to ice the cookie and it is quickly falling off the cookie your icing is too thin. Add more powdered sugar until you get a thicker consistency. Likewise, if you try to spread the icing on and it is thick like peanut is too thick, add a little bit of milk to thin out. So basically you want your icing thick enough to stay on the cookie, but thin enough to spread.

3) Ahh, the paper piping bag. If you ask my friend Marianna she can attest to the fact that I am not the best paper piping bag maker....she is a master at fair : ) The more I practice the better I am at it, thank goodness. Paper piping bags are so useful, and great for decorating cookies. You can make them big or small. Don't fill your bags too much or they will be hard to handle. Here is a quick demo video to help you out

4) If you are using nonpareils or sanding sugar make sure you put it on while the icing is still wet so it sticks.

5) If you are writing something or adding a special design over the base color, wait for the icing to dry a little before adding details to prevent your piping from bleeding.

6) I use a small flat spatula like this one to spread the icing onto the cookie

7) Coloring - use gel food coloring so the consistency of your icing isn't altered. You can find gel food coloring at Michaels.

Here is a video with some ideas for decorating, I don't usually do the pipe and flood method, because it is more time consuming but here it is anyways...

Here is the basic recipe I use for sugar cookies.

Sugar Cookiesadapted from Bake at 350 degrees blog

In stand mixer cream the following 1-2 minutes:

2 sticks unsalted room temperature butter
1 cup granulated sugar

Scrape down bowl and slowly add the following and mix until combined. Scrape down bowl and mix again until the batter is smooth and not broken looking.

1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp of one of these: almond extract, orange extract, peppermint extract, or more vanilla

In small bowl whisk or sift together the following and then add to the above:

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Mix until combined. Scrape down bowl and mix again.

Roll onto floured surface and cut out desired shapes. Or you can keep the dough wrapped in the fridge for a few days and then roll out. If you do this let the dough sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before rolling out.

Split Pea Soup...

Whenever anyone says anything about Pea Soup I instantly think of the movie Rescuers Down Under...there is a scene where Bianca and Bernard are eating dinner at a fancy restaurant and they eat pea is in this clip around the 7:30 minute mark

I know many people are turned off by the ugly color of pea soup, but really people, get over it. It is so yummy. I like to be crazy and nontraditional and put potatoes in my pea soup, but my Mom prefers it without them so I generally leave them out.

Some fun facts about Pea Soup:

1) Scandinavians usually eat pea soup with mustard and dry thank you, not this Scandinavian.

2) Swedes actually have a whole day every week dedicated to Pea Soup! It is called "Pea Soup Thursdays." Restaurants participate in this tradition as well as the Swedish Armed Forces.

3) If you see it called "Pea Soup" it is usually a thinner pureed soup, whereas "Split Pea Soup" is a chunkier version with ham and vegetables.

4) Another nice thing about pea soup is that you can make a big pot of it and feed lots of people for wicked cheap! It cost me $12 to make this pot of soup which can feed 6-8 people.

Split Pea Soup

Lightly coat the bottom of a large stock pot with olive oil (about 1 TBS) and heat to medium high. Place 4 ham hocks in oiled pan and brown on each side about 2 minutes.

Rinse 1 pound of split green peas and drain. Add to pot with ham hocks and cover with 48 oz of chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water and 6 cups of water. Boil over high heat 20 minutes. Reduce heat and add the following:

6 carrots diced (you can peel them if you want, I don't)
3 small or 2 large onions diced

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Reduce heat to medium low and cook 30-45 minutes until vegetables are tender, stir every few minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. You want liquid to be covering the ham hocks and vegetables, so if the liquid looks low just add some more water. Optional - Add 1/2 pound or 1 pound of diced ham steak to pot, or even some cooked bacon. Serve with nice crusty bread.

Some notes about the ingredients:

1) I used raw ham hocks, not the smoked ones. It was about $5 for 4 large ham hocks. You can usually find these near the pork in your meat department at the grocery store, if you don't see them ask the butcher, sometimes they don't put them out.

2) You can use all water instead of broth if you like to make the meal even less expensive : )

3) I usually make this around the holidays because we are gifted lots of hams and usually have leftovers to use up. You can use any ham you like. If we don't have leftover ham I use Hormel's natural choice no preservatives ham. It was about $5/pound.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Maple Pecan Chewy Cookies

Are you already planning your Christmas cookie tins and plates for your friends and neighbors? Here is a new cookie to add to your assortment. These guys are great because they are sturdy, chewy, and last for quite a few days before going stale. Oh, and they just happen to be gluten free! They are simple to make, and easy to bake. I found the basic idea for this cookie at the Wednesday Chef blog, I changed it up by toasting the nuts and then tossing them with some maple syrup. I also cut the recipe down because it called for so many pecans...which I didn't have.

Maple Pecan Chewy Cookies

Place 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans into a dry saute pan and stir over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes until slightly toasted. Remove from heat and mix in 2 TBS of maple syrup. Place nuts onto a plate to cool.

In stand mixer mix the following until combined:

1/2 cup + 1/8 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
Cooled pecans/maple syrup from above

With mixer running slowly drizzle in 1 XL egg white, then crank up the speed to medium high and mix for 4-5 minutes.

Spoon onto parchment paper and flatten slightly. Bake in 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes until browned. Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on cookie cooling rack.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Do not eat this post.

made out of newspaper!
super cute...they can be magnets too!
love it. I want a branch for every season!
I interrupt your regularly scheduled food post to bring you crafts. When I am trying to cut back on the baking I turn to my second drug of choice...crafts. There are so many fun craft blog out there, just start googling and before you know it the day will be 1/2 way done. Here is my newest find, and I predict many a hour spent making some of her lovely ideas!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuile be eaten...not to be attached to a tutu.

I'm pretty, oh so pretty
how fun is that?
cooling off in their new shapes
Hi, I am an offset spatula.
spread thin, and ready to go
Ah tuile cookies, how I love you. You belong in a category all by itself. Thin, crisp, delish, refined and yet whimsical. Lovely, absolutely lovely. I think a song about you belongs in a musical somewhere, perhaps with Audrey Hepburn singing while she dances around a Kitchen that her rich daddy owns...and then she bumps into the handsome stoic head chef who finds her annoying...and the only thing they agree upon is the fact that they love tuile cookies...and each other... I would watch that. Heck, I want to live that : ). Yeah these cookies are that powerful that they can transport you to another universe of rainbow and butterflies. Eat them.

We made these in school and I fell in love instantly. I think I ate about 15 cookies on the spot, and then brought home a few dozen. They look like they are complicated to make, but really they are easy peasy. They look so elegant and fancy, but they taste rustic and simple. When the cookies are removed from the oven there is a brief window of time that they are malleable and can be molded into different shapes. A curve, a bowl, a spoon, or perhaps a cigarette? Or you can shape it before hand and trace a design on parchment, flip it over and spread batter in shape you want. Look here for some ideas... Have fun with these! I recently picked up a few of these cookies at a local bakery and they were thicker then usual so I made these a bit thicker then I normally when you make them they should be smooth like the pictures I posted but thinner. I made these by request of my littlest brother who has a thing for simple pastry...palmiers being his number one favorite, and these are a close second. These are great alone, or with a sorbet, gelato, or ice cream. I want to come up with a cannoli filling that you serve with these instead of the traditional cannoli shell. Yum.

Do not be afraid. Make these and be impressed at how savvy you really are. : )

Almond Tuile Cookies

adapted from "On Baking"

Stir only to combine. Use a stirring motion if using the whisk, not a whisking motion, you do not want to incorporate any extra air into these cookies.
In medium bowl with whisk, or in stand mixer on low with paddle attachment mix the following until smooth:

1 stick (4 oz) of unsalted butter melted
1 cup powdered sugar (4oz)

Then add and mix until smooth:

3/4 cup (4oz) unbleached all purpose flour

Then slowly pour 5 large egg whites (4oz) into the above and continue mixing until smooth. Do not over mix.

The add 1/4 tsp almond extract or vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and using pastry brush or fingers brush a thin layer of additional melted butter all over parchment. (you will probably need about 1/4 of a stick for all of these) Spoon batter onto parchment and spread around until thin and as even as can use a spoon, or an offset spatula for this. You want it as thin as possible, without any holes. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds. (use as many or as few as you like) Bake in a 400 degree oven for 4-6 minutes until edges are brown. Remove from oven and using an offset spatula or flat knife remove from parchment and lay on curved surface or wiggle into a bowl Be gentle and work fast because they cool rather quickly. Cool completely and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You need No Knead White Sandwich Bread

When I said I was going to make "no Knead" bread my snarky little brother responded with, "If you don't need it then why are you making it?" Ha. Nice one. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love hate relationship with making bread. Some days it turns out great, some days it totally flops. The bread class I took at school was pretty lame and uninformative. I honestly didn't learn all that much and came out not knowing much more then when I started. I was saddened by this because bread and cookies have always been my favorites and these are things I really wanted to perfect while in school. Overall I have the whole cookie thing pretty down pact...Alleluia! However, I continue to have my up and down bread days.

In a previous post I mentioned my success with bread recipes from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day", by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francis. I love this book! All of the bread recipes I have made from it have turned out wonderful!!! I do feel as if I am cheating the system somehow by skipping the age old method of kneading, but once I taste the end product I don't feel so guilty anymore. I do love the rustic beauty found in kneading, but until I learn how to do it properly I am going to stick to my no-knead recipes instead.

This was the first loaf bread I made from the book, and I loved it! I can't wait to make a yummy breakfast sandwich out of it. Here is my slightly reworded version of the recipe, but I recommend buying your own copy of the book! You can use your mixer with the paddle attachment if you don't want to use your hands or a spoon, just don't over mix. Happy Baking!

Soft American-Style NO-knead White Bread
from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day"
makes 3 loaves of bread...or you can cut the recipe in 1/2 if you don't want 3 can bake some today and then keep the remaining dough in the fridge for up to 7 days, and make rolls for dinner instead. : )

Mix the following in a large bowl:

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 TBS granulated yeast (2 packets)

1 1/2 TBS Kosher salt

2 TBS sugar

1 stick melted unsalted butter

Mix 7 cups unbleached all purpose flour into the above and stir with hands or a spoon until combined. If the dough isn't coming together wet your hands a little and incorporate any loose flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow to rest at room temperature 2 hours.

At this point you can either refrigerate the dough in a sealed container for up to 7 days. Or you can break the dough up into 3 - 1 1/2 pound sections. Shape each part into a ball, using flour if the dough is too sticky...meaning it is sticking to your hands and the surface. Then shape each piece into a oval and drop into greased loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes (if the dough is fresh) or 1 hour and 40 minutes (if the dough if from the fridge).

Brush top of dough with more melted butter and slash down the middle if you want a crease in your loaf. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before slicing into sandwich slices.

Saturday, October 9, 2010, not that sticky stuff that won't come off the pan. has been brought to my attention that some of my readers actually try the recipes I post. Yippee!!! I am so glad that you do! If you do try something please let me know how it turned out...preferably via the comments on my blog. Thanks my people! I know my recipes tend to be on the simpler side, and this is why. Sometimes I look at a recipe and it is just so overwhelming. a million ingredients, and a million steps. If a recipe is over complicated I tend to not enjoy making it as much, and as a result I don't like it as much. That being said, I hope my recipes aren't too simple...I probably could add a little more detail, and I promise to work on that. One more thing, if you have any requests for recipes, or maybe just ideas, let me know! Happy Bakcooking!!! Ha, did you see that? I totally just made up a new word. : ) On to the recipe...

Some words are just so fun to say. For instance...Embarcadero, ricochet, buffont, platypus...just saying these words makes me smile for some reason. Maybe it is because I was dropped a few times as a baby, or maybe they are just wicked cool words. A new word to add to the list just happens to be our recipe convenient is that? Say it with me folks..."Potsticker". Doesn't it just dance off your tongue? This word is great because it sounds happy, but can also be used as a wily insult...for example..."Darn you scratch and sniff, I should have known you were a potsticker!"

My first exposure to a potsticker was by one of my former roommates who used to eat the Trader Joe's version. I was always so confused by them. Was it dinner? Was it an appetizer? What is the meaning of this potsticker you speak of? Apparently Chinese legend says that potstickers are good for your soul. How can this be? Do the potstickers travel through you and attach themselves to your soul? How does this work? Potstickers are also commonly known as "Jiaozi", "Guotie", or "Dumplings". I personally like the name potsticker best because it is more fun to say. : ) I recommend finding a friend and making a bunch of these all at once. Then you can freeze them and then just cook them when you need them. They make a great appetizer at me folks, after bringing these to a party you will be invited to every party.

Most of the recipes I saw used raw meat as the filling, but the cooking process took so much longer then if you use cooked meat. So here is my variation and I really like how it turned out.
These guys can be steamed, or pan pick your poison and have at it.


In large frying pan saute 1 pound ground chicken or pork 5-7 minutes over medium high heat until cooked. Then add 1 cup finely diced cleaned Napa Cabbage, and 2 TBS chopped green onions. Sautee 3-4 minutes.

Then add the following to the above and mix until combined:

1 TBS Oyster sauce (you can find this in the Asian food section at most grocery stores)
1 TBS Soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 TBS corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil or olive oil

Make sure there are no big clumps of meat, if there are break them up with a spoon or spatula.

Now the fun part. Take 1 package of wonton wrappers (you can usually find these in the produce section at the grocery store) and lay out a few onto a flat surface. Spoon 1 tsp of slightly cooled filling into each wrapper, wet your finger with water and run around the edge of the wrapper. Fold over and press to seal edges together. If you are making the bigger ravioli like ones spoon 2 tsp of the meat filling and put another wrapper onto and seal with wet fingers. Once you have a few assembled you can either cook some or continue making them all and place in a single layer into the freezer. Once they are frozen bag them up and keep in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

You can pan fry or steam them. To pan fry, which is what I prefer because they get that nice crispy edge to them...heat a few tsp of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Place potstickers into pan and cook until golden, and then flip...and cook the other side until also golden. To the potstickers in a steamer basket over boiling water and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brownie Cookies...yes please.

1/2 with nuts, and 1/2 without

Back in the day when you couldn't print recipes from the internet I used to copy recipes down into journals...word for word. Dang that was time consuming. I think I almost copied and entire Ina Garten cook book one time! I also used to cut recipes from newspapers and magazines and tape them into my recipe journals. I recently came across an old journal and that is where I found this recipe. It is from a newspaper...not sure which one, or how long ago it was printed. It is a winner in my book, and is currently being transferred into a new recipe journal of honor...where I put only the best of the best recipes.

I have always wanted to be one of those rainbow and butterflies kind of people. Whenever I try it just seems so fake and unnatural, so instead I am one of those sarcastic glass 1/2 empty and yet 1/2 full kind of person. Instead of bringing sunshine and marshmallows into people's lives I tend to bring them cookies. So I guess you could say I am a glass empty kind of girl with cookie crumbs on the bottom. Darn this cookie, and darn the cookie who sent the cookie. Yeah, it is that good folks. You know when you have those awful days and you get home and all you want is hot brownies topped with vanilla ice cream? Wait, am I the only one who has days like that? I knew I had issues, sadly this one is incurable. Well, I often crave brownies...the problem with brownies is 1) they take too long to bake, and 2) you have to make a whole pan and ultimately eat a whole pan. Ta da, here enters the BROWNIE COOKIE!!! You can make them wicked fast, and then you only have to bake off how ever many you want to bake! Then freeze the rest of the batter for emergency days! Thank you Sweet Baby Jesus.

Brownie Cookies
(2 dozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 12 oz of chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave on 50% power. Set aside and cool for a few minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients. I used a combination of semi sweet and dark chocolate chips, just use whatever kind you have on hand.

Mix in large bowl with beaters the following for 3-4 minutes:

4 TBS unsalted softened butter
3 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

(Please note, at this point the mixture was broken and didn't come together, but once I added the rest of the ingredients it was fine)

Add the cooled chocolate and 2 tsp of vanilla to the butter/egg/sugar mixture and mix until smooth and combined.

Sift together the following and add to the above and mix until smooth, scrape, and mix again:

1/3 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans (optional) (you can toast them beforehand if you like for an added bonus of flavor)

Batter will be thin like brownie batter usually is. Let the batter sit for a few minutes and it will thicken up. Scoop out onto parchment paper. Bake 8-10 minutes until puffed and cracked on top. Do not over bake. If you don't want to bake them all scoop them onto parchment and freeze for a later time.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Maple Sour Cream Bread

I think I am secretly a Canadian. I just love maple syrup way too much. I sneak it into as many dishes as possible. I recently came across an old recipe I used to make back in the day. There are many admirable qualities about this bread...1) it is free of refined sugars, sweetened only by Maple Syrup 2) Its moist melt in your mouth quality 3) It's extremely satisfactory to my soul. Some recipes I have tried that are free of refined sugars often come out dry and tasteless. This recipe is surprisingly the opposite, and unless you told people they would never guess it was sweetened with only maple syrup. If I ever have my own bakery I imagine I would like to have high tea, and serve this wonderful simple bread alongside it. Of course those who know me know that I do not like tea, but I truly do love the idea of tea time. So when I have high tea I will drink my water and be satisfied, as long as I get to wear a big floppy hat...and eat this bread.

Maple Sour Cream Bread
from Williams and Sonoma
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at
    room temperature
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 1-lb. loaf pan. In a small bowl, stir and toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a bowl, using a whisk, beat the butter until smooth, then slowly add the maple syrup, whisking constantly. Whisk in the sour cream and egg. Stir in the pecans. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto the rack and let cool completely.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chicken Chili

If I start a petition would you sign it? I have decided to petition God to see if we could have 2 seasons of Fall this year. Not really sure how that would work, maybe we could shorten winter and summer by half, or maybe just skip Spring. Either way I am sure God could work some kind of deal out with us. What say you?

Today was Fall, and it was lovely. The sun was shining, and there was a constant gentle breeze. It was cool enough that I got to break out my cardigan collection, so happy about that. I even avoided the gym. I mean come on, with days like these you really shouldn't be inside for any reason at all. When the weather cools off my meal patterns change completely. My dinners become lighter in order to make room for all the additional breads, and treats that are the essence of Fall for me. These lighter dinners are usually soups or stews. One of the many things I love about soups and stews is that I am very satisfied by the end of the meal, but I also feel like I had a healthy dinner. Perfect way to end a day! When I lived on the East Coast one of my favorite past times was coming home from a night of skiing to a nice hot cup of soup. I don't know if it was because the soup was so good, or I was so hungry, or because I was grateful to have made it alive through another trip on the slopes...either way it was such a cozy feeling that made me happy. : )

The first time I made this soup I was living outside of Philly working as a Nanny/Cook for a family of three. I think I made enough of this soup to feed a small army. We were eating chicken Chili for days upon days. Needless to say, I had to wait a while before I dared make it again...and when I did I cut the recipe down by at least half. Here is my adaptation of Ina Garten's Chicken Chili, this recipe will make enough for 4-6 people...depending upon the size of the people eating.

Chicken Chili
adapted from Ina Garten

In large stockpot brown the following over medium high heat for about 4-5 minutes

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

in 2 TBS olive oil

Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Heat 2 more TBS of olive oil and saute the following until soft and caramelized, about 5 -7 minutes.

1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

Return chicken to pot with vegetables. Add the following to the pot:

1-28oz can diced tomatoes
1 can drained and rinsed white beans
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth (omit if you like a thicker chili)

Simmer for 10 minutes and enjoy!
You can go all out with the toppings if you like, here are a few ideas:

cheese, crushed tortilla chips, avocado chunks, cilantro, and sour cream