Monday, November 29, 2010

Leftover Makeover: Day 3

Tasty Turkey Nachos to Put In Your Face
I am getting to the end of my Thanksgiving leftovers. There were definitely a fair few sandwiches put in the mix, by the way. With just enough turkey remaining for a final meal, I wanted to go back to one of my favorite things to put in my face: nachos. I ask this question frequently, but what's NOT to like? Nachos may, in fact, be the perfect food protein, dairy, fiber, etc. It's spicy, delicious, filling, and the ingredient permutations are endless. So . . . here's to Thanksgiving! Let's give thanks to the end of leftovers.

- 1 large bag, 8 c. or so of sturdy corn chips
- 3 c. of turkey meat, shredded with a fork into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tsp. of hot sauce, such as Cholula
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 c. grated pepper jack cheese
- 1/2 c. pickled jalapeno peppers, drained
- 1/2 c. sliced black olives
- sour cream
- guacamole
- salsa

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. While oven is heating put shredded turkey meat into a medium bowl and toss with cumin, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Sprinkle a layer of corn chips in a 9x13" baking dish. Layer with olives, jalapenos, and season turkey meat. Sprinkle an even layer of cheese on top. Bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the layers are heated through. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and guacamole and serve with salsa and extra chips. That's it! Fast and easy.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Leftover Makeover: Day 2

Stuffing and Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
Once again, I surveyed the storage containers in the fridge for some inspiration. So what about all of those leftover rolls? The delicious stuffing? Any extra sweet potatoes? Bread puddings are a great and savory way to make use of . . . well . . . bread. It's also a great item for a family brunch- a spin on those leftovers to feed straggling house guests something new and delicious. It's easy to whip up and (as the "Leftover Makeover" theme indicates) a great use of a variety of Thanksgiving leftovers. Enjoy!


- 4 dinner rolls, torn into small pieces
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, cubed into 1 1/2" pieces
- 2 c. leftover stuffing
- 2 bunches rainbow chard, stems removed, torn into small pieces
- 2 large shallots, peeled and minced
- 2 c. half and half
- 2 Tbsp. turkey gravy
- 7 eggs
- 1 c. sherry
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- 2 c. grated gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and toss the cubed sweet potatoes with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Make sure cubes are completely covered. Roast sweet potatoes for about 20-25 minutes until they become soft and brown slightly.

While sweet potatoes are roasting, whisk together half and half, eggs, gravy, and sherry. Add torn bread pieces and stuffing. Mix together and season with salt and pepper. Let rest for about 15-20 minutes so the egg mixture can soak into the bread.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium. Add shallots and saute until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add torn chard pieces and mix together. Season with salt and pepper and cook until chard begins to wilt and turns brights green. Remove from heat.

Turn oven down to 375˚ F. Spray a 13x9" baking pan with a cooking spray. Using a slotted spoon, cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of egg-soaked bread pieces using half the mixture. Cover mixture with half the cooked chard and sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Make a second layer of bread, potatoes, chard, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over everything and cover baking sheet with foil. Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes until mixture becomes springy and egg is cooked through. Remove foil and cook an additional 5-10 minutes for that cheese on top is brown and bubbly.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Leftover Makeover: Day 1

Cranberry Sauce Cheesecake Tart
The "holiday season" is here and now we look forward to a month and a half of rich dinners, decadent desserts, ugly sweater parties, and food food food. The wonderful thing about holiday cooking is bringing family and friends together to share meals and memories. It's all very warm and fuzzy. The problem, however, is that cooking for large numbers often leads to day after day of turkey sandwiches or cookies for breakfast. The next three blogs will focus on reinventing the leftovers into something new. First things first: cranberries. You can't have a Thanksgiving meal without a gleaming bowl of jewel colored cranberries- the relish of choice over a slice of roast poultry. Year after year, however, no matter how many Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches I make, I always seem to dump a good portion of excess cranberry sauce down the garbage disposal. The solution seemed simple- some sort of dessert. This one also makes use of the leftover gingersnaps I had from my pumpkin pie crust. Enjoy after a plateful of reheated turkey and potatoes!


- 1 c. crushed ginger snaps
- 3/4 c. flour, divided
- 1/2 c. sugar, divided
- 1/3 c. melted butter
- 1 c. cranberry sauce
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. In a medium bowl, combine ginger snaps, melted butter, 1/4 c. sugar, and 1/4 c. flour. Mix ingredients together gently until well combined. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9" fluted tart pan using fingers. make sure mixture is spread evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place pan in the oven and bake about 10 minutes to set crust. Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.

Turn oven down to 325˚ F. In a medium bowel combine 1/4 c. sugar and cream cheese and whip together with an electric hand mixer. Add vanilla and egg, blend until well combined. Add cranberries and flour and blend until well incorporated. Pour cranberry mixture into pre-baked crust. Do not overfill. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes until filling is set. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kevin's Famers Market Challenge Recipe

Roasted Butternut Squash and Hazelnut Ravioli for Kevin
Last Saturday I went out for drinks with Kevin to catch up. I hadn't seen him since the closing of Macbeth and was in the mood for a evening of cocktails and nachos. Kevin, it so happens, is super supportive of my cooking obsession. While discussing something . . . probably food . . . he challenged me to go to the farmers market and make up a meal based on what I could purchase there. The rules were basically that I could use my own flour, olive oil, salt and pepper, and stuff, but the main ingredients had to come from what I could purchase from the stalls. I had no idea what I would find, but was pleased at all the lovely produce and (even better) farm-fresh cheese. Homemade ravioli take a little time and effort, but I promise . . . it's worth it. Homemade pasta is actually really easy to make and the taste is worth the time. Challenge accepted, Kevin! And it was a tasty challenge indeed.

- 1 2 lb. butternut squash, sliced crosswise into 1" rounds
- 1 c. chopped hazelnuts
- 2 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra
- salt and pepper
- Italian parsley
- dried herbs d' Provence
- 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
- olive oil
- 2 c. flour
- 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange squash rounds in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and herbs d' Provence. Take head of garlic, place in a square of foil, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with oil, wrap foil around it into a little packet and place on baking sheet with squash. Roast in oven for about 30-40 minutes until squash softens and begins to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Peel outer layer from squash and scrape orange middle into a large bowl, mix in 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts, 2 c. grated cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In the food processor pulse together 2 c. flour with eggs and 1 tsp. salt until dough collects on the blade. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready, cut dough into four equal portions, one at a time, dust with flour and then roll thin with a rolling pin or pasta machine. Use flour liberally! Dust a little flour on both sides of dough sheets with each pass through the pasta roller- I rolled it out to #5 thinness. Place one sheet on work surface, or inside ravioli mold, and fill center of each square with about 1 tsp. of butternut squash filling. Top with a second sheet of dough and cut into individual raviolis.

Allow raviolis to dry out on a wire rack until ready to boil. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and then drop raviolis into water. They will boil up quickly, 1-2 minutes and puff up. Drain water and then place raviolis in a serving bowl. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, extra cheese, hazelnuts, and chopped Italian parsley. Season with extra salt and pepper if desired. Eat! Yum!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hella Nutella!

Chewy Nutty Nutella Brownies
It was a Sunday of laundry, errands, grading. I had a pretty fabulous dinner planned, but no clear-cut dessert idea and then the jar of Nutella sitting in Jordan's cupboard called out to me. I don't know anyone who turns down a chewy brownie . . . and Nutella? The combination seems obvious. I had some extra farmer's market fresh hazelnuts left over from the dinner menu. They added just the right amount of crunch to this surprisingly light, yet chewy brownie. These are a snap to whip up and definitely Jordan approved!


- 1 stick butter
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 c. Nutella
- 3 eggs
- 1 c. flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 13x9" baking dish with foil and then lightly butter the foil to prevent brownies from sticking. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter over medium. Add sugar and stir over heat until ingredients are thoroughly blended and the sugar becomes shiny and smoother. Add Nutella and briefly stir over heat. Remove from stove, whisk in eggs and stir until smooth. Whisk in flour, salt, baking powder, and hazelnuts. Stir until ingredients are thoroughly blended. Spread batter into prepared baking dish and bake in oven for 22-24 minutes until brownies are cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Meat That Can't Be Beat

Braised Short Ribs in Sun Dried Tomato Gravy with Cheesy Polenta
It's surprisingly easy to make a meal that looks like something you would get in a restaurant. Short ribs a very deceptive in this manner. They are incredibly rich and fall-from-the-bone tender, but actually inexpensive and easy to prepare. For several weeks I had been craving beef in all its rich and fatty glory. A trip Costco and a bulk package of short ribs fulfilled this desire. The weather has been perfect for the house to fill up with the smells of slow-simmering meat and onions. The meal? Delicious. And yielded plenty of leftovers for paninis, nachos, and whatever other beef-centered meals I felt like throwing together. Mmmm. Meat! It's a little bit time-consuming, but I promise it's easy and well worth the effort!


- 5 lbs. short ribs, cut into 3-4" pieces
- 8 oz. jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
- 4 c. chopped yellow onion
- 3 stalks chopped celery
- 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 2 c. chopped carrots
- 1 bottle red wine
- 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 4 c.milk
- 1 c. dried polenta
- Italian parsley
- 1 c. shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Season ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Set meat aside. Drain the oil from jar of sun dried tomatoes. Set tomatoes aside and pour oil into a large Dutch oven. Heat oil over medium. Brown meat in batches in oil on each side, about 10 minutes per batch. Set browned meat aside and scrape brown bits from the bottom of Dutch oven with a wooden spoon. Add onions to oil, adding a little olive oil if the pot has become a little dry. Stir frequently until the onions begin to become translucent. Add carrots, celery, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until all the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add sun dried tomatoes and stir mixture.

Arrange pieces of beef on top of the vegetables and cover mixture with a bottle of red wine and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil. Remove Dutch oven from stove and cover with lid. Put the covered Dutch oven into the preheated oven and braise for 2 and a half hours until meat becomes very tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before putting Dutch oven into the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to serve, remove Dutch oven from refrigerator and scrape the layer of fat from the top of mixture. The fat will rise to the top and solidify as the mixture cools and should be easy to scrape out with a wooden spoon. Discard fat. Put Dutch oven back on the stove and reheat meat mixture over medium-low heat until everything is warmed through, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, make polenta. After ribs are heated. Remove from Dutch oven and place on a platter, cover with foil to keep warm. Strain liquids from the Dutch oven and discard solids (the mushy cooked vegetables). Return liquid to Dutch oven and simmer over low to thicken slightly into gravy. Season ribs and gravy with additional salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Heat 4 c. of milk over medium heat in a large pot until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Add 1 c. of dried polenta. Simmer over medium, stirring frequently until polenta thickens, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, stir in shredded cheese, and chopped Italian parsley. Put a large dollop of polenta on a plate, arrange several ribs on top and pour a little bit of gravy on top. Yum!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Makin' Whoopie . . . Pies That Is

Richard Bradley's Pumpkin Wookie Pies
Baking is the best therapy. Sometimes I find that it is in the moments where my mind is caught in the tempest of stress that the Divine Muses of Baked Goods visit and offer temporary safe harbor from life's occasional emotional storm clouds. I was just having a weird day. Perhaps it was the whole "Falling Back" time change the night before, but something was off. Everyone seemed weird. There was weird energy in the air all around and I just felt like crawling back into bed and calling "reset" on the entire day. On my drive back from the office, suddenly inspiration struck in the form of a pumpkin and cream cheese combination. I quick pit stop at the ol' Trader Joe's and I found solace in the rituals of creaming together sugar and butter. The house smelled delicious, comforting. Later, I brought some of the fresh Whoopie Pies out to be enjoyed by the public. After sharing a delicious meal with friends, I offered up dessert. "What are those?" Emily asked with excitement, eyes wide with anticipation. When I answered, "Pumpkin Whoopie Pies," Richard Bradley looked at me quizzically and asked, "What's a Wookie Pie?" I liked the name so much I promised to name the recipe for him. So . . . here we go: Richard Bradley's Wookie Pies. They are a super-moist mouthful and definitely met the approval of all who enjoyed them. Emily sat there, smile on her face, half eaten pie in her hand, and sighed, "I don't want it to end." Indeed.


- 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature, divided
- 3 tsp. vanilla, divided
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3 c. flour
- 1 1/2 c. almond meal
- 1 tsp. cardamom
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2 c. (or more) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together pumpkin, 1 stick butter, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1 tsp. vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and blend into mixture until batter is light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until ingredients are combined thoroughly. Slowly add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture about a cup at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition. Add spices to batter.

Spoon 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto a parchment or silicon pad lined baking sheet, spaced out evenly. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes until cookies are a little puffy and cooked through. Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Continue baking cookies in batches until batter is used up.

In a large bowl, beat together 1 stick room temperature butter, cream cheese, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Slowly add powdered sugar on a low speed until blended and the filling is at the desired consistency. Spread a generous dollop (2-3 Tbsp.) of the filling onto the flat side of a completely cooled cookie. Top with a second cookie and press together slightly to adhere. Store cookies in an airtight container. Eat with friends!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nutella? Yes Please!

Jordan's Dream Cake or Nutella and Banana Butterscotch Chip Snack Cake
One of the reasons Jordan is such a good roommate for me is his unwavering support of any food experiment that pops into my head. He is extremely encouraging of my mad-scientist-like approach to developing new recipes as I play with flavor combinations and Frankenstein together beloved classic recipes into something new. We talk about food around the office. A lot. Frequently either Jordan or I might muse, "What do you think of (fill in unusual ingredient) in a (choose a beloved recipe)?" The idea for this tasty snack cake came from a recent trip to Costco, the purchase of two enormous jars of Nutella, some leftover sour cream, and a couple of overripe bananas sitting on the counter. This rag-tag team of ingredients came together to make a sticky, super moist dessert to satisfy the sweetest of sweet-tooths. Or even Jordan.

- 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 c. Nutella (that addictive European chocolate-hazelnut spread)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 large, ripe bananas, mashed
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1/2 c. vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 c. butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a 13x9" baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl combine mashed bananas, eggs, oil, sour cream, sugar, vanilla, and Nutella. Beat together with an electric mixer until ingredients are well combined and smooth. In a separate medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to Nutella mixture a half cup at a time, blending thoroughly with electric mixer after each addition. Stir in butterscotch chips.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake in oven for 45-55 minutes until cake is cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pie in the Sky! Or in Your Mouth!

Rowan's Brown Sugar Pecan Pie
I have a terrier. She's adorable, fuzzy, energetic, but kind of a pain in the ass. What else can I say? She's a terrier- stubborn, willful, etc. The stereotype holds true. When I had to leave town for an evening I needed a trusted dog-sitter to keep little Hermione fed and out a trouble. Knowing Rowan to be a lover of dogs and generally willing to do things for money, I asked him to take on the task. He agreed. To sweeten the deal, as it were, I offered to make him his favorite pie. "Pecan," he responded without hesitation. Being one of the easiest pies to whip up I agreed, but I wanted to do something a little more exciting than the recipe on the back of the corn syrup bottle. In the end, Rowan approved of this tasty treat and I am grateful for his willingness to look after that feisty little beast that sleeps at the end of my bed.

- 1 9 1/2" pie crust (See blog entry for 9/15/10: "Just Peachy" for the perfect crust recipe, halve the recipe because the pecan is a one-crust pie.)
- 1 c. dark corn syrup
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 Tbsp. melted butter
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- 2 c. pecan halves
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. dark rum

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Roll out pie dough into a 9 1/2" pie pan and finish the edges as desired. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and rum until well combined. Whisk in eggs until thoroughly incorporated into mixture. Add pecans and mix in. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust and bake in oven for 60-70 minutes until the top of pie becomes slightly crusted over and the crust is turning light golden brown. Let cool completely before serving. Enjoy!