Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Planning

Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, and if you haven't planned what you're making yet, check out our Thanksgiving menu from last year.

We aren't hosting Thanksgiving this year and are instead driving to my parents' house in Santa Barbara. Here's our menu this year, as far as I know it. We're bringing the pecan pie and apple crisp, as well as a red and a white wine.

Turkey marinated in brine
Chestnut stuffing (Dad's family recipe)
Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
Baked brussel sprouts
Cranberry sauce
Apple Crisp
Bourbon pecan pie
Double ginger pumpkin flans

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



Here are some of the pictures of our Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving Turkey

Chestnut Stuffing

Thanksgiving Sides

Pumpkin Flan

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pinto Bean, Southern Greens, and Campanelle Pasta Soup with Paprika Bean Puree

"Cold weather" has arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, meaning that I actually need to wear a sweater or light jacket outside and that we're running our heat in our apartment. I must be a wimp because this weather chills my bones, like there's no getting away from feeling cold all the time, even though I spent my childhood on Michigan. I adjusted to the subtle weather changes here way too easily!

For my lunch group at work this week, I made a warming and comforting soup that is a modification of a recipe from The Wednesday Chef, Amy Scattergood's Cranberry Bean, Lacinato Kale and Pasta Soup. Unfortunately, I can never find the ingredients I need when I choose to make our meals from a recipe, and this time was no exception. I couldn't find cranberry beans or Mother Stallards, but I do know that pinto beans are cousins to cranberry beans, so I used those commonly found beans instead. I couldn't find lacinato kale, but I did find a bag of already washed and cleaned southern greens (collard, mustard, and turnip greens) at Trader Joe's. I couldn't find orrechiette (!), so I used the bell-shaped pasta, which I find more interesting anyway, campanelle. The soup turned out just as fabulous as I hoped, and it made enough servings for four people at lunch at work, lunch for my husband for two days, and dinner for the two of us! You might want to look at the quantity of the ingredients before making this -- it calls for 3 cups of dried beans and 12 cups of water, so it's certain to make a metric ton. Make sure you have a very large pot before you begin!

What I found interesting about this recipe is that you cook the pasta separately, and I actually stored and transported it separate from the soup, which kept the pasta from bloating too much before consuming the soup. The bean puree with two kinds of paprika, sweet and smoked, and fresh herbs, added a freshness to the soup and had a beautiful color. I might just need to try making other flavors of bean purees to add to soups -- it has the effect of adding creaminess, fresh herbs, and color to a soup that you might be storing for a few hours or days.

We ate this soup so fast that I didn't get a picture, but you'll get the idea from the post at The Wednesday Chef. I suggest trying different beans and greens and herbs in the puree for a yummy, transportable creation!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cooking for Friends

One of my best friends recently had a baby, and I finally had a chance to visit this past weekend to meet the little peanut for the very first time. We had a great time (and I'm not a baby person)!

I knew that I wanted to help out in whatever way I could during my visit, and I also knew that during our college years together as roommates, I would often cook us a nice dinner to make us feel at home. As a new mommy, my friend definitely hasn't had time to cook some nutritious home-style meals, so I brought a few recipes and had her choose what she wanted most. The recipes needed to make a large quantity of food that could be eaten that night and frozen for later or that could teach her how to make a good meal within her schedule as a mother and private music teacher. We chose two recipes, a Slow-cooked Red Curry Chicken with Butternut Squash from Cara's Cravings that was fabulous and utilized her slow-cooker, and a Spicy Turkey Sausage Lasagne from Epicurious that could be frozen. Both were very successful in case you want to use them as a similar treat for your friends!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Apricot and Fig Crunchy Muesli

Here's a hearty cereal that you can make yourself which includes grains, protein, and fiber. Be sure to serve this with plenty of milk, as the cereal is quite crunchy and can use the soak. I purchase the nuts and dried fruit from Trader Joe's where they tend to be cheaper.

Apricot and Fig Crunchy Muesli

Apricot and Fig Crunchy Muesli

Makes 2 pounds

1 pound rolled oats
4 ounces bran ceral (the twiggy type)
1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachio halves
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup slivered almonds
4 ounces chopped, dried figs
4 ounces chopped, dried apricots
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Pour the maple syrup and vanilla over the mixture and toss to coat. Divide the mixture between two, large, non-stick baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes, stirring often. Allow the cereal to cool and store in an airtight container.
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