Archive for December, 2013

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Gingersnap Chocolate Drops

December 29, 2013

I really like ginger cookies. These are just the right amount of spicy, plus the little bit of chocolate makes them extra special. You can also make the dough ahead of time and then just let it warm up on the counter for about 30 minutes, before rolling in sugar and baking. I adapted these from here.

20131208 Gingersnaps

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c molasses
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • Hershey’s milk chocolate drops

Then you will…

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the molasses, egg, vanilla, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
  3. Gradually beat in the flour.
  4. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a log about 2 inches by 8 inches long.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in parchment paper. Freeze overnight (if you want to bake that day, then just refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours).
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in granulated sugar.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes until the edges just begin to brown.
  9. Remove from oven and immediately press one of the chocolate drops into the top of each cookie.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.
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Meatloaf with Roasted Tomatoes

December 27, 2013

I adapted this recipe from Real Simple for a simple and comforting dinner recently. It is yummy and makes really good leftovers (if you can save some for later!).

You will need:

  • 3/4 c ketchup
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 4 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c old-fashioned  oats
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

20131201 Meatloaf 02

Then you will…

  1. Heat oven to 370 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together 1/2 cup of the ketchup, the mustard and the brown sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats and milk. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in the eggs, onion, Worcestershire, thyme, oregano, 1/4 cup of the ketchup, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the ground meats in and combine using your hands (I recommend removing any rings!) until just mixed.
  6. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and form into an 8×5-inch loaf.
  7. Spread the glaze on the top and sides.
  8. Arrange the tomato along the edges of the dish.
  9. Bake 50-60 minutes or until cooked through (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees).
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Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

December 24, 2013

20131127 Oatmeal

This is ridiculously easy. It is also very warm and filling, which makes the perfect idea for a post-holiday breakfast or a brunch. You can put the whole dish together in just a few minutes the night before and then pop the oatmeal into the oven. You will have fresh, warm breakfast in no time at all! This will easily serve about 6 adults.

You will need…

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup (or honey if needed)
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 c melted butter (could substitute canola oil)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 small apples, grated
  • 1 1/4 c milk
  • 3 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c brown sugar

Then you will…

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine everything except for the brown sugar. Mix until well combined.
  2. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate or a 9×9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
  4. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. In the morning, take the oatmeal out of the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Uncover the oatmeal and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the center is set.
  7. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and return the oatmeal to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to caramelize the sugars.
  8. Serve warm with whatever toppings you like!
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Cherry-Blueberry-Blackberry Cobbler

December 21, 2013

This is a quick cobbler that can be made from fresh or frozen fruit. I made it will at home visiting my parents recently on a cool night, and we didn’t have any leftovers!

20131115 Cobbler 01

You will need:

  • 1 bag (12 oz) frozen sweet cherries
  • 1 bag (12 oz) frozen
  • 1 pkg fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 c + 2 T sugar, divided
  • 4 t cornstarch
  • 3/4 t ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 c flour
  • 3/4 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 3 T cold unsalted butter
  • 2/3 c buttermilk

Then you will…

  1. Combine the fruits with 1/2 cup sugar plus the cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon in a large saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until well combined and the sugar begins to dissolve.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Spread the fruit mixture in the prepared pan.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the oats, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger.
  5. Cut the cold butter into the dry mixture, using either your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the butter is well distributed.
  6. Stir in the buttermilk with a fork just until combined.
  7. Drop the batter in small mounds over the top of the fruit.
  8. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  9. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the cobbler topping is cooked through and golden.
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Roasted Eggplant Moussaka

December 17, 2013

This is a Greek version of comfort food: roasted eggplant, potatoes, ground lamb and a cheesy bechamel sauce all baked together until they are perfectly cooked. It takes a little bit of time to put together, but it also makes your house smell delicious.

You will need:

  • 3 regular sized eggplants
  • 7 T olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 c milk
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 c grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten

20131109 Moussaka 01

Then you will…

  1. Cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch slices. Put the eggplant in a colander and toss with a liberal amount of salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes; this will draw out the bitter liquid in the eggplant. Rinse well and pat dry.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and fry in the skillet about 2-3 minutes per side. They should be golden and just starting to soften. Work in batches, and place the finished potatoes on a paper-towel lined plate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with sides with parchment paper. Arrange the eggplant on the paper in a single layer.
  4. Drizzle the eggplant with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with pepper. Roast 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the lamb and cook until just starting to brown; drain any excess fat, if any.
  7. Stir in the sugar, oregano, cinnamon and tomato paste.
  8. Add the white wine and mix well.
  9. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and allow to simmer about 15 minutes, partially covered.
  10. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour.
  11. Slowly whisk in the milk until well combined and smooth.
  12. Keep whisking until the milk comes to a boil and thickens. Whisk in the nutmeg and salt and pepper (to taste).
  13. Remove from heat and whisk in the cheese until it is melted and smooth.
  14. Put the egg in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in some of the hot cheese sauce to temper the egg and avoid scrambling it. A few tablespoons should do the trick.
  15. Slowly whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the cheese sauce until well combined and silky smooth.
  16. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  17. Line the bottom with about half of the roasted eggplant. Top that with half of the lamb sauce, and then add the potatoes as the next layer.
  18. Top with the remaining lamb sauce and then the last of the eggplant.
  19. Pour the bechamel sauce over the whole dish.
  20. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or so. The top should be bubbly and golden.

20131109 Moussaka 02

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Apricot Granola Bars

December 14, 2013

These bars are a little on the sweet side, but they are a great pick-me-up in the afternoon of a busy day. You can use whatever dried fruits you really like. I used mostly apricots, but I also had some dried blueberries and plums lying around that I added. What are your favorites?

20131106 Apricot Bars

You will need:

  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c firmly packed dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c + 3 T brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c pecans, ground and divided

Then you will…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Lightly grease with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats together with the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. Stir in the apricots (or other dried fruits), butter, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the ground pecans. Mix until well blended.
  4. Press the dough into the dish with fingers until evenly distributed.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar with the remaining 1/4 cup of pecans.
  6. Sprinkle over the top of the bars. Lightly press into the batter.
  7. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Use the foil to lift the bars from the pan. Peel away the foil and cut into small rectangles.
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Zucchini Tots

December 9, 2013

I am a big fan of zucchini and love how its flavor changes based on how you cook it. It is great in a bread or roasted. This makes an interesting alternative to tater tots. I made it in mini muffin tins, so they are finger-food friendly. Let me know what you think!

20130929 Zucchini Tots

You will need:

  • 1 c shredded zucchini, extra moisture squeezed out
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 t salt

Then you will…

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients.
  3. Fill the tin with the zucchini mixture.
  4. Bake about 15-18 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
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