Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coffee Cake

The squash recipe from earlier did not turn out to be so great, so to make up for it, some kind of dessert had to be produced. We managed to pick out the only recipe that was not Christmas-y from a magazine of Holiday recipes - a recipe for Coffee Cake. Without reading past the ingredients, I ran to the Giant to get sour cream and unsalted butter.

½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” pieces and chilled
½ cup pecans
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened

When I got back, I actually read the recipe and realized what I had gotten myself into. After two hours and a third trip to the grocery store, I finally was able to sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy my hard labor...

It seems like I never end up doing exactly what they tell me to - you can see that my cupcake has almonds, not pecans - but the actual recipe is below...

1. FOR THE STREUSEL: Pulse 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter in food processor until just combined. Reserve ¾ cup sugar mixture for cinnamon filling. Add pecans and remaining granulated sugar to food processor with remaining sugar mixture and pulse until nuts are coarsely ground. Transfer to bowl and set aside for streusel topping. Do not wash food processor.
2. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and line with paper liners. Whisk eggs, sour cream and vanilla in bowl. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in food processor until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to large bowl. Using rubber spatula, gradually fold in egg mixture until just combined. Place 1 tablespoon batter in each muffin cup and top with 1 tablespoon cinnamon filling lightly into batter.
3. Bake until muffins are light golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few dry crumbs attached, 22-28 minutes. Cool muffin tin for 30 minutes, then carefully transfer to rack to cool. Serve. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I was really buying into the Clean Eating Diet - a diet of unprocessed, unhydrogenated, simple foods, full of whole grains and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The magazine  called to me, as food magazines do in the grocery store, but it was not until now that I had the opportunity to test any of the recipes out. Maybe I picked a really boring recipe or something - Squash and Chicken Casserole - but it really needed a lot more "Oomph". Of course, I ate it anyways, but I really wish I could find that dish that everyone loves, is healthy,  looks marginally impressive and I can get right every time.

Just compare the recipe from Clean Eating -  a healthy version of a "Georgia Church Picnic" Classic - to a version of the real thing:

Healthy Squash & Chicken Casserole
Chicken Yellow Squash Casserole
10 slices whole wheat bread
Olive oil cooking spray
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to ¼” to ½” thickness and cubed
1 cup pre-shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 ½ - 3 lbs chicken
2 lbs yellow squash, cut into ¼” slices
½ cup broth
2 large carrots, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz carton sour cream
10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup chicken flavor stuffing mix
¼ cup butter, melted
Salt and pepper
1. Cut bread into cubes, spread out on a cookie tray and bake at 350° for 10 minutes
2. Sauté onions, add squash and garlic
3. Remove veggies to a bowl and cook chicken until golden brown
4. Mix together bread, vegetables, cheese and chicken and sprinkle on spices
5. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned
1. Cook chicken, cool and remove from bone
2. Bring squash to boil in broth and cook 8 minutes
3. Drain and combine all vegetables
4. Combine sour cream, soup and salt and pepper
5. Add chicken and veggies
6. Spoon into 9 x 13” baking dish
7. Combine stuffing and butter
8. Sprinkle over casserole
9. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes

**In my opinion they are barely the same meal. Butter, sour cream and cream of mushroom soup would have made this dish totally moist and creamy - although it would probably make me sick. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting More Crafty

Knitting is something that I always seem to do in spurts. I will do it for a month and then put it down and forget where I was entirely. That is why my next project is one that I could finish before I go back to school at the end of January. I had started knitting a small wristlet from the book Boutique Knits by Laura Irwin using a skein of red yarn I had bought from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival over the summer, but the skein was not long enough and I had to start over. Luckily, I had bought this Manos del Uruguay yarn to start another project the day before...and started up again right away...   
Manos del Uruguay Kettle-Dyed Pure Wool-Multi Color Stellar (110)
I always feel good about buying Manos Del Uruguay because it is Certified Fair Trade and is handspun by rural women in Uruguay. But it is a little tricky to use because it does not come in dye lots. Because of the artisan-like style that the yarn is dyed, the solid-colored yarns can have a large variation in color. My mom ending up making a striped scarf out of some yarn from them after trying to make a sweater and ending up with a line in the middle where the color had changed suddenly. 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

It's been a while since I posted. Two big food holidays have passed and much food has been made.
There were carrot cake cupcakes...

There was a cake for Thanksgiving...

And some mini holiday fruit pies...

As well as a "College" Thanksgiving...

...and two pre-Christmas dinners with friends...

One of my roommates gave me a HUGE Martha Stewart Cookbook for Christmas, and Christmas Eve Dinner consisted of her glazed carrots and striped sea bass...I still have to upload those...
At first I was unsure how much I could really use Martha's book because a lot of recipes seemed unapproachable, but now that I have tried two of them...Glazed Carrots with Whole Spices and Rosemary:

and Roasted Sea Bass:

The carrots are definitely going to be repeated, and the Sea Bass was pretty good too - although the fennel and white wine did little to add to the flavor. I think the cookbook is just right of amount of challenge to help me learn new things.
I have said before how I am a fan of going to company websites to find recipes... well while we were snowed in last weekend we made white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies with the ghiradelli recipe and they were delicious...