Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Thanksgiving Event of 2012


This year, my family hosted Thanksgiving dinner, and it was quite a feat. My parent's house is still undergoing remodeling, which basically means we were working with an improvised kitchen. The kitchen counter tops are old doors placed on top of the cabinets. If too much weight is placed on one side, the door might pop up like a seesaw. Despite the obstacles, we managed to pull together a fantastic meal. 

The table was set for about 24 people. This year we experienced assigned seating due to the arrangement of the food on the table according to dietary restrictions. Even though I find assigned seating a little weird, probably because it reminds me of grade school, it was oddly comforting to see my name on the table.


Running around, entertaining, cooking, and taking pictures was quite hectic, and unfortunately I was not able to capture all of the food available.

The turkey is always raised by a family member, and was 30 lbs this year. I remember, one year the turkey was so big we had to rip off its legs, and tie them to its side so it would fit in the oven.


My father always complements the turkey with a side of honeyed ham. The salad below was a wonderful adaptation of the kale and brussels sprouts salad from last years thanksgiving, which I have mentioned in a previous post. This year, Piper and Laura, added pomegranate seeds, and it made all the difference.


Monique, Laura, and Piper arrived with these amazing veggie tarts with mushrooms they foraged themselves. They were absolutely beautiful, I felt guilty eating them. On the left you get a glimpse of my vegan sweet potato dish. Unfortunately, I did not get any good pictures of the dish, but I will post the recipe soon.  It was a fantastic vegan side that everybody loved.


Some friends of the family brought a vegan couscous salad. I never thought I would have a half vegan Thanksgiving, let alone enjoy it.


Since we have never been able to get dinner on the table on time, several guests bring appetizers throughout the early afternoon. My aunt Jen always makes an amazing baked bree topped with jam. As you can see from the picture, we aren't the most organized chefs, but we get the job done.  



A little before dinner, while the sun was still warm, the kids went for a horse back ride out by the barn. Their excitement infected all of us. Family can be a little intimidating at times, but Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. 




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Bread with Olive Oil and Chocolate Chips


One of my favorite things about fall is chocolate chip pumpkin bread. I was first introduced to this amazing creation by my Aunt Jen over Thanksgiving. Although, over the years it has been brought to my attention that holiday pumpkin bread is not that healthy, and eating it all in one sitting is not a very good idea. Alas, I have come across this wonderful recipe from Simply Recipes that uses olive oil instead of butter and when I decrease the sugar, I feel moderately healthy. I have adapted this recipe by decreasing the sugar, changing the spices up a bit, withholding the walnuts and adding chocolate chips.


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then add the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and the spices. Mix. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake for 50-60 minutes in a greased 9x5x3 inch bread pan.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coffee Bacon

Bacon seems to be all the rage these days, so I guess I am just jumping on the bandwagon. I stumbled across the blog, Recipes We Love, which was featuring a sugar and coffee bacon recipe, and thought I should give it a try. It seemed like a fun little experiment, and I wouldn't even need to go to the store. Plus I always get brownie points from James whenever bacon is involved.

My favorite thing about this wonderful new adaptation to the classic breakfast meat is the contrast between the strong bacon and the subtle coffee and sugar flavors. And of course, it is so easy to make! 


For my adaptation you will need:

  • Bacon
  • Sugar 
  • 1 tsp Ground coffee per 3 pieces of bacon

I cook my bacon on a cast iron pan. This adaptation isn't scientific and there are many different ways to approach the concept of coffee bacon. The easiest way to do this is to sprinkle the coffee and sugar on the bacon as it cooks, just don't forget to do both sides. However, you could also rub coffee grounds and sugar on the bacon prior to cooking. This will most likely enhance the flavor. Adjust the amount of sugar you place on the bacon according to your needs. If you feel you have put too much coffee grounds on, don't fear, just brush them off before you eat.

 I kept the sugar to just a small pinch, but this bacon could easily be eaten in more of a dessert capacity. I have been seeing lots of bacon cupcakes, and this recipe would work perfectly for a cupcake topping. I am thinking dark chocolate bacon cupcakes with a mocha frosting and a coffee bacon topping, doesn't sound to bad. 

However, this bacon was used as breakfast for dinner. Breakfast for dinner is always a good idea. 



This post is linked to: Farm Girl Blog Fest #8, LHITS DIY Linky #22, Ginger Jamboree Link Party #2

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies were a last minute addition to a cookie basket I was making. I have always been a big fan of baked goods as presents, or friendly gestures. You are giving a gift you know someone can enjoy, and they know you put time and effort into making their gift.  


 This gift started out as a basket of chocolate chip cookies, but I wanted to add some diversity to the batch, without spending to much extra time baking. I was short on time, and knew I wasn't going to be able to make two batches. Instead I needed a way to make two kinds of cookies from one batch.  Cutting the batter in half, and adding coconut flakes worked out great, because it not only changed the flavor, but added a different texture as well. The change in texture made all the difference when it came to the display of the basket of cookies.

As for the actual baking, I am a strong believer in the traditional Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. Simply add 1 cup of finely shredded coconut to their recipe. Just be sure that your coconut flakes are nice and moist, you don't want to dry out your cookies!


Overall, adding coconut flakes to a batch of regular chocolate cookies is a great way to mix things up. Other chocolate chip cookie variations I love include adding orange zest to the batter.  The cookies will look the same but you get a burst of orange at the end of your bite. You can check out my recipe here.

Favorite Chocolate Strawberry Cake


This post is long overdue. I actually made this cake for my friend Gordon's birthday at the end of september, and it was so good! It is simplicity at its best. I got the strawberries at the local farmers market, and they are beautiful, such a lusty red.  


Inside you can find my previous dark chocolate cupcake recipe which doubles nicely as a cake recipe. Feel free to place some very thinly sliced strawberries in the middle between the frosting and the second layer of cake. Although it tastes great with just frosting in the middle, and strawberries on top too.  The frosting is a simple, traditional cream cheese frosting. I have been making this frosting for quite a while, and don't necessary follow a recipe, but if you would like a reference you can find a pretty good recipe here.  I usually start with 1 package of 8 oz cream cheese and add anywhere between 1/2-3/4 cup of butter and 1 1/2-2 cups of powdered sugar. An increase in butter will make the frosting more viscous.


My usual cake tips are as follows:
  • The cake is fully cooked when the toothpick comes out with a couple crumbs on it and no goo. If the toothpick comes out completely clean, then the chances are you have overcooked the cake. Remember the cake will still cook a little while it cools. 
  • Let the cake cool completely before you try and frost it. 
  • Don't try and force runny frosting. Sometimes I need to let my frosting sit in the fridge for a little while to make sure I can frost a relatively smooth cake. 

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