Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spinach-Artichoke Dip & tradition...TRADITION!!!

Alright, alright, I know that Turkey Day isn't here quite yet, but blogging is the last thing I'm going to be doing Thursday, so you get my holiday wishes today. I absolutely adore Thanksgiving - to me it just feels like the official start of the holiday season! I'm already listening to Christmas music these days, but on Thanksgiving I will no longer feel like a big dork for listening so early. I'll also bust out all of my Christmas decorations, and for the next month or so I'll become a more cheerful person...I can't explain it, it just comes with the holiday. This year we'll be spending the holiday with Dick's side of the fam, and although I love them dearly, I have a hard time not doing exactly what I've done for my whole life (or as long as I can remember) with my own family. I'm a terribly sentimental and emotional person that holds fast to tradition, and when something, even my own marriage, messes with those traditions my world gets seriously rocked! Crazy, I know. Anyway, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions since I won't actually be doing them this year, and maybe this new coping mechanism will help me not be such a basket case hahaha.
Probably not, but here's hoping!
Waking up to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - I love the Rockettes!!!
Watching Mr. Pederman host the National Dog Show.
As if that wasn't enough tv, watching Miracle on 34th Street (yes, the new one!), before even taking a shower for the day.
Trucking it to Grandma Shirl's for my aunt Dayna's killer Monkey Bread (which I just realized when searching for a picture is not what the rest of the world thinks monkey bread is!). Also, we may never enjoy this family fave again, now that she's on a crazy no-carb diet!
Making the saddest looking graham cracker gingerbread houses you've ever seen, after dinner is cleaned up, but not before it has completely settled in our stomachs.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and that you enjoy all of your favorite traditions!!! Maybe this awesome dip can be a new tradition to add to your spread this year.
Spinach-Artichoke Dip
From the Food Network Magazine

1 10-oz bag baby spinach
1 c. packed fresh basil
3/4 c. canned cannellini beans, drained & rinsed (I used garbanzo beans)
6 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained & squeezed dry & finely chopped
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 c. shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
chips or crackers for serving
1. preheat oven to 450 degrees. bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl of ice water. stir the spinach and basil into the boiling water and cook until bright green, ~30 seconds. remove w/ a slotted spoon and immediately plunge in the ice water. drain and squeeze dry, then roughly chop.
2. puree the beans, cream cheese, garlic, & chicken broth in a food processor until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. transfer to a medium bowl and fold in the spinach and basic, artichokes, Parmesan & 1/2 c. mozzarella. add the cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, and black pepper to taste.
3. mist a deep 1-quart casserole dish w/ cooking spray. spread the dip mixture in the dish & top w/ the remaining 1/4 c. mozzarella. bake until golden & bubbly, 20-25 minutes. serve warm w/ chips or crackers.

Coming up:
Pecan-Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm THANKFUL for Sweet Potato Biscuits!!!

I was just thinking about how I'd only ever eaten sweet potatoes/yams one way my whole life until this year, and that way was always in the form of candied yams on Thanksgiving. My aunt makes awesome candied yams with these cinnamon apples every year, and they are always a big hit. But I have to be honest, my favorite part of that dish has always been the apples, so I'd always just scoop some off the top and leave the yams for everyone else to enjoy. I've only been married 3 years, but in that amount of time, Dick has transformed me into a much more daring eater and cook! Seriously. I will now cook with and eat any color of bell pepper, I'm getting braver when it comes to tomatoes (baby steps, sweetie), and I'm making foods with sweet potatoes and actually eating them! And this one is awesome, so I wanted to share it with all of my favorite peeps just in time for all of our Thanksgiving feasts. If you're looking for something new to spice up your usual dinner, this one would be an awesome tradition to start! Hope you like it. And Happy Thanksgiving, for heaven's sake!

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

2 c. all purpose flour (I used half whole wheat flour)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
pinch of ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
3/4 stick (6 Tbsp) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 15-ounce cans sweet potatoes in light syrup, drained & mashed
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt & spice together in a bowl. add brown sugar & stir; make sure there are no lumps. drip in the butter, and, using your fingers, toss to coat it w/ flour. quickly cut rub the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is pebbly.
Add sweet potatoes to the bowl, grab a fork, and toss & turn until you've got a nice soft dough. with your hands, gently knead 3-4 times, just enough to bring everything together.
Lightly dust a work surface w/ flour, and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly w/ flour & pat the dough out w/ your hands until it is about 1/2 inch high.
Use a 2- to 2 1/4-inch biscuit cutter to cut as many biscuits as you can. Transfer biscuits to a greased baking sheet & cook in a 425 degree oven for 14-18 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden brown. Cool them on a rack about 10 minutes before serving.

Coming up:
Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuscan Bean Soup & "cool kid" Cran-Apple Crisps

I ripped this recipe out of a magazine a long, long, long time ago. Okay, it wasn't like ten years ago, but it was at least one year ago. It was back in the good old days of Dick and I scraping every single penny we could to get by - I was taking 21 credits worth of classes while working two seriously part-time and crappy paying internships, and Dick was also a full-time student and working to the death at Real Estate right when all the stinky you-know-what was hitting the big fat economy fan. Anyway, I was just browsing through a very old Better Homes and Gardens at the plasma donation center (holler, BioLife Plasma! hahaha), and I ripped the page out with this very recipe on it and shoved it in my purse, which eventually made it into my recipe binder. What a journey! I'm so glad it came all this way - it was delicious!!! And quite appealing to the eye, if I do say so myself. You can even see the steam coming up! It's a healthy & perfect for cold weather - which is now officially upon us. Hope you like!
Tuscan Bean Soup
From Better Homes and Gardens Magazine
1 c. packaged peeled baby carrots, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 15 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 32 oz. box reduced sodium chicken broth
2-3 tsp dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 5 oz. pkg. baby spinach
freshly cracked pepper
cracker bread
1. In 4-qt dutch oven cook & stir carrots and onion in 1 Tbsp oil over med-high heat for 3 minutes. add beans, broth & seasoning. bring to boiling; slightly mash beans. reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. meanwhile, in large skillet heat remaining oil over med-high heat. add spinach; toss with tongs 1-2 minutes, just until wilted. remove from heat. ladle soup; top w/ spinach, sprinkle with pepper. serve w/ cracker bread.
Finally in the Club!!!

I learned about the Tuesdays with Dorie cooking/blog club about a year ago from a couple of the other cooking blogs that I follow, and I thought it was super cool. At first I was intimidated because the things these cool club kids were making were pretty out of my league & pretty fancy shmancy, but my courage has grown over time, and I asked for the book (Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan) for my birthday this year. One of my BFF's, RJ, gave it to me, and that very night I came home to send my official email to get in. For a little while I thought for sure they didn't think I was cool enough for the club because it took a little while (honestly, it seemed like forever because I was so excited!) for the response to come. But as of this week, it's official....drumroll, please....I'm in!!! I'm now one of the super cool Tuesdays With Dorie bloggers/bakers! This is not the first recipe I've made from the book, but the first one I'm blogging, so here it goes:
These crisps were delicious! I invited my family over for dessert for the very occasion of making my first TWD recipe that I'd be blogging, and they were a hit all around. It was the first time I've ever made anything with fresh cranberries, and let me just tell you that the end product is to die for, but the raw uncooked berries are not my fave. I have the eat-as-you-cook habit, so I tasted them as I was putting the crisps together, and let's just say I'll never do that again. hahaha

Cran-Apple Crisps
Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

Monday, November 16, 2009

~Chicken & Green Chile Slow Cooker Chili~

Are you looking for something warm, hearty, and easy that is perfect for a cold winter's day? Well then my friends, you have come to the right place! This is one of the very first recipes I tried when I was very first branching out and trying new things - which involved a lot of slow cooker recipes - and it has stuck around for good. I loooooove using my slow cooker, and with this recipe, I also get to use a little bit of my food storage, which might sound lame, but it excites me. The recipe for this one came from my very favorite Prudence Pennywise, of course! Her blog is seriously what inspired me to try cooking new things that I couldn't ask my mom about, because she'd never tried them before - and that was a bit scary and a lot awesome! Anyway, I this chili does have a bit of a kick to it, so if you're not big on the spicy I'd recommend to use very little cumin. Or if you like the spicy, just cool it down a tad with a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!
Chicken & Green Chile Slow Cooker Chili
From Prudence Pennywise

1 1/2 c. dried pinto beans
4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp flour
1 c. chopped green chiles, or one 7 oz can
1 c. green salsa, or green enchilada sauce
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried cumin
3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
coat the inside of crock pot w/ non-stick spray. combine beans, broth, flour, chiles, salsa, onion & cumin. place chicken on top. cook on high 4-6 hours, or low 8-10 hours. remove lid & shred chicken w/ two forks, then serve.

Coming up:
Cran-Apple Crisps & Tuscan Bean Soup

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Remember how awhile ago I promised there would be more dishes with squash as the main attraction? I know, I know, it seems like ages ago - because I've been a serious slacker! - but here I am, keeping promises. And, although I can't promise that you'll love this dinner (only because some of you might be a little crazy - you'd have to be not to love this dish) I will tell you that Dick and I loved it! So, I will give you a 99.9% guarantee that unless you are the pickiest person alive, you will love it, too. Next time I make this one, I'm going to invite people over, because it seriously looks a little fancy and like you spend so much time on it, but it is super easy! You should invite people over when you make it, too - then we can all look like rockstar cooks! Another great thing about this dish is that there are lots of variations you can use. It's such a great Fall/Winter dinner - give it a try!
Stuffed Acorn Squash
From Prevention.com

2 large butternut, buttercup or acorn squash
1/3 c. water
Wild-Rice Stuffing
1 1/2 Tbsp. nondiet tub-style margarine or butter
1 c. fresh bread crumbs
1 tsp dried thyme
2 c. sliced mushrooms
1/2 c. chopped onions
1/2 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped sweet red peppers
2 c. cooked wild rice
1/2 c. reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 c. nonfat sour cream
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. no-salt herb blend
1. To make the squash: preheat oven to 375.
2. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove & discard the seeds. coat a 4-qt. no-stick baking dish with no-stick spray. place the squash, cut side down, in the dish. pour the water into the dish & bake for 45 minutes, or just until squash is tender.
3. To make wild-rice stuffing: meanwhile, in a large no-stick skillet over medium heat, melt the margarine or butter. add the bread crumbs & thyme. cook, stirring frequently, 4-5 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden. transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. In the same skillet, cook the mushrooms, onion, celery & peppers 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the rice and broth. cook 4 minutes. remove from heat, stir in sour cream & Parmesan.
5. Sprinkle flesh of the squash with herb blend. spoon equal amounts of the stuffing into each squash half, mounding the filling as necessary to use all of it. sprinkle with the bread crumbs. bake 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.

Monday, November 9, 2009

SaLmOn BuRgErS & SWEET pOtAtOe FrIeS

I saw this salmon burger recipe on Ezra Pound Cake blog awhile ago, and finally tried it! I seriously went all out on this one, too, because I even made the buns and fries to go along with them! The buns came from Prudence Pennywise (my cooking hero)! I'd never cooked with capers before - ok, I didn't even know what capers were until I grabbed them off the shelf for this recipe - and they were delightful. I have to admit, though, that I halved the burger recipe for Dick & I, and I definitely should have quartered it because these patties were truly ginormous!!! So, keep that one in your back pocket for future reference. And, may I say that these buns were my favorite ever?! I usually have pretty crappy luck with anything involving yeast, but these turned out with perfection! I was worried about them all day, but turns out I really didn't need to be haha. And, just a warning, if you love sweet potatoes then you are going to devour these fries in no time flat!
Sweet Potato Fries
From the Food Network Magazine, October 2009

2 lbs sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
pinch of cayenne
Toss potato wedges in olive oil and spices until well-coated. Roast cut-side down on a baking sheet in 425 degree oven until crisp, about 30 minutes, turning once.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Best KISS of my life!!!

Happy Halloween (belated, of course) to all! I hope yours was as rockin' as mine was...hee hee... let me just give you the run-down of how things went. I started the day by frantically looking for tight black pants for Dick and I - which I found in the girls' section at our nearest Target (yep, both in the girls section hahaha). I then sped home to make a dessert - it was the delicious, and blurry, Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte out of my new fave cookbook I got for my birthday two weeks ago! Don't worry, there's a whole story that goes along with the cookbook, but that will go in my belated birthday post coming up next time, here in the kitch. Dick picked me up after work to go help the other rockstars on our church's Activities Committee decorate the gym for our ward Halloween party starting just a few hours later. After the decorations were all up, and you could seriously no longer tell you were standing in a gym, we headed home to do each others' make up (pretty sure I've never said that before!) with our friends, the Coleman's, who were the other half of KISS with us that night. 8 o'clock rolled around and we made our way to the partay where we danced the night away. Yes, I said WE!!! Dick has always either thrown a fit about dancing or simply refused, but there was just something about those skin-tight leggings and all that makeup that gave him the courage and energy to get down with his bad self for hours on end. And, seriously, I know I said this was a church party, but it was by far the best Halloween party I've ever been to! And believe me, I've been to some good ones. We are in a ward of young married couples, many of whom are students at WSU, and all of whom are AWESOME! Holler, University 1st ward - love you all! Anyway, it was pretty much the best Halloween of my life! And that wasn't even really Halloween - it was the night before!
To top things off, we went to a little dinner party with some of our other favorite peeps, the Parker's. I was asked to bring a "Halloween-y salad." I hadn't the slightest idea of what that meant, so I spent forever searching for one online and found absolutely nothing but the stupidest ideas I've ever heard and seen. I opted for a black bean salad that included scrumptious flavors, as well as colors you see at Halloween, and I topped it with a spider. It was a hit!
Hope your Halloween was as GRAND as mine was!
My very own Gene Simmons
He loved every minute of it, & so did I!!!
Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
Sorry, I can't give the recipe to this one! I'm waiting to get into
a cooking club (Tuesdays With Dorie), and that would be against
one of the few club rules. Just know that it was FABULOUS!

Black Bean Salad
From Foodnetwork.com

1 small clove garlic
a pinch of salt, plus 2 tsp
juice of 1 1/2 limes, about 3 Tbsp
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 c. olive oil

1 c. corn kernels
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 of small red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
freshly ground pepper
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small avocado, diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
Make the dressing: smash the garlic clove, sprinkle w/ a pinch of salt, and w/ the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. whisk the garlic paste, lime juice, salt & chili powder together in a bowl. gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting w/ a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream.
For the salad: cook the corn, bell pepper, and onions in the olive oil until beginning to brown over med-high heat in a skillet. toss in the black beans and cook until warm. add the dressing and toss to coat evenly. adjust seasoning w/ salt & pepper. remove from the heat & gently fold in the tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. serve.
Related Posts with Thumbnails