Nov 12, 2013

Easy Pumpkin Kiss Cookies (as seen on Pinterest!)

 This this time of year, it seems like everything is pumpkin flavored! Now, for my sister, this is heaven on earth. I'm not as crazy about pumpkin, but when I saw Hershey's Pumpkin Kisses last year, I just knew I had to bake something with them.

I invented this recipe mad-scientist style last fall and brought the resulting cookies in to work (as I often do). Let me tell you, I have NEVER had such a positive reaction to anything I've made! The cafeteria manager even asked for the recipe so that they could sell them!

My secret? They are semi-homemade! They couldn't be simpler - or tastier for that matter - and here's how it's done:

Dec 30, 2012

Royal Icing

Confession time - I am not a great baker. I'm not even a particularly good baker. I have learned the hard way that the skills which make a good cook are not the same as those that make a good baker. I'm simply too impatient to follow recipes to a "T" and I have a tendency to improvise and let me tell you; improvised baking is really never a good idea...

Both of my sisters are exceptional bakers, and my youngest sister recently came to stay overnight to bake gingerbread cookies! I  persuaded her to use a mix (Better Crocker's Gingerbread Cookie Mix - available seasonally) rather than bake them from scratch - because I'll take any excuse to cut corners when I bake. The cookies turned out to be surprisingly tasty - even without being homemade. She shared her favorite royal icing recipe with me (below) and we spent the most of the night decorating! That, after all, is the fun part!

Dec 15, 2012

Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

I can't get enough butternut squash, and soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it. This silky, decadent soup really hits the spot on a cold night (or lunch at work, or anytime really!). 

I made this recipe as a starter for our Thanksgiving meal this year, but it is filling enough to eat as the main dish! If you're making it for guests, you can easily make it the day before and reheat it before serving. It also freezes really well if you end up having leftovers.

Dec 8, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Mousse

My mother makes a spectacular (and relatively labor-intensive) Pumpkin Chiffon Pie every year for the holidays. It is the jewel of the dessert offerings and basically manna from heaven. This year, to celebrate Thanksgiving with my in-laws, we decided to have a low-key appetizers and desserts gathering, so I decided to try to make a quick and easy interpretation of the chiffon pie. Here's what I came up with:

Easy Pumpkin Mousse (adapted from this Alton Brown recipe) 
Serves 10

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 (3.4-ounce) box pumpkin spice flavored instant pudding mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 (8-ounce) container of cool whip
6-8 Biscoff Cookies
Whipped Cream

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree and milk, whisk to combine.
  2. Add the packet of pudding mix, and the vanilla extract, whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the cool whip, no need to be gentle, just whisk it right in.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let it set up in the fridge during the next steps.
  5. Crush the cookies into crumbs using a food processor, or just place them in a plastic bag and mash with a mug. 
  6. Place 1 Tbsp of cookie crumbs in the bottom of a small dessert dish*. Use the back of a spoon to tamp the crumbs down to a packed, evenly distributed layer on the bottom of the dish.
  7. Take the filling out of the fridge and, using a spatula, load it into a large pastry bag or plastic bag (just snip off the corner).
  8. Pipe the filling into the dishes, about 3/4 of the way to the top of the dish.
  9. Top with whipped cream - I use canned, but you could certainly make your own if you prefer!
*You could use this same method to make larger trifles, but I use Libbey - Just Desserts Mini Bowls, 5.3-ounce glass dishes.

Aug 22, 2012

Yucatecan Style Chicken Tacos with Pickled Onions

This is a quick and simple version of my favorite Mexican meal. I first had this dish on our honeymoon - one bite and I was obsessed! The spicy pickled onions add such brightness and kick. 
This is kind of the lazy man's recipe, but you still get the flavor with much less fuss!
Yucatecan Style Pickled Onions
1 large red onion, sliced very thin
1 C orange juice
1/2 C lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeds removed and diced (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a dish large enough for the liquid to cover the onions completely. Allow to sit overnight preferably, but at least a few hours.

Yucatecan Style Chicken Tacos
6 small corn tortillas
1/3 C black refried beans
1 chicken breast, grilled and diced
a small handful of fresh, chopped cilantro
pickled onions

Warm the tortillas and black beans in the microwave (about 45 seconds each). To assemble the tacos, spread about a tablespoon of black beans down the center of the tortilla, top with a modest amount of grilled chicken, a sprinkling of  cilantro and a nice pile of pickled onions. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

Notes/Substitutions: More optional toppings include cojita (a mild Mexican cheese), diced fresh white onion (yes onions on top of onions, trust me, it's delicious), or even some avocado! Whatever suits your fancy!

This recipe is good when I need a fix of relatively authentic Yucatecan cuisine. Be on the lookout for an upcoming post which will feature a similar taco, but using spicy pulled pork (cochinita pibil) which is the dish that inspired this recipe!

Feb 15, 2011

Turkey Chili

Just the thing for a cold winter's night! This hearty turkey chili is hearty and filling without the fat (or long cooking time) of traditional beef chili. 
Turkey Chili
2 Onions (white or sweet), chopped
1 Green pepper, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 Rotisserie Turkey Breast

3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
3 tsp. Chili Powder
6 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 29oz. can Tomato Sauce
2 cans Black Beans, rinsed

In a large skillet, saute the onions, green pepper and garlic until the onions just become translucent. While they cook, add lemon juice, mustard, chili powder, soy sauce and tomato sauce in a large bowl and whisk to combine.Pull apart the turkey breast, or cut into large bite sized chunks. Once the onions are cooked, add the turkey and black beans. Pour the sauce over the turkey and vegetables, simmer to heat and serve with cheddar cheese on top.

Notes/Substitutions:I like to serve this over some cooked white rice (I like Carolina Brand Jasmine rice, in a purple bag in most grocery stores, but any rice will do). You can also eat it over chips or fritos or just on it's own! This chili freezes beautifully - which is good because the recipe makes a TON!

Rotisserie Turkey can be found in the deli section of most grocery stores, with the rotisserie chicken. If they don't have it, chicken can easily be substituted. We've even done this recipe with ground bison in place of turkey, which was a nice alternative. The basic recipe is so delicious on it's own I usually don't mess with it (gasp! my family just did a double take...) but I have added canned corn and fresh zucchini in the past when I have had it around the house. Want a little more spice? Add some extra Dijon mustard or even some chili powder!

Dec 1, 2010

Tropical Crab Cake Salad

I am back from my trip but I haven't lost my cravings for fresh tropical food! This recipe is my way of keeping the Bahamas with me - even in the cold North East! These fresh flavors are light but filling - a real treat!

Tropical Crab Cake Salad
1 bag Mixed greens
1 Mango, ripe and sliced into fingers
1 Avocado, ripe and sliced into fingers
4 small Crab Cakes (available in the seafood section of the grocery store)
1/2 cup Fresh Pineapple Salsa
Citrus Vinaigrette of your choice

Arrange slices of mango and avocado alternately in a pinwheel on the plate. Toss greens in dressing and pile on top of the avocado/mango slices. Place two warm crab cakes atop the salad and finish the whole thing with a generous helping of pineapple salsa. Enjoy!

Notes/Substitutions: This is one of my favorite salad creations. The flavors of the light, sweet crab meat lend themselves so well to tart citrus and creamy avocado! I don't make the crab cakes myself, but they are almost always available at the fresh seafood counter in your grocery store, you just heat them up in the oven. You can use any light citrus vinaigrette that you like, and fresh pineapple salsa can be found in most grocery stores but I prefer to make my own - it's easier than you  think and I can control what goes into it!

Fresh Pineapple Salsa
1 small container of Fresh Pineapple spears or chunks (find them in your produce section)
1 Jalapeno pepper
1/8 c Red Onion
small handfull of Cilantro
Orange Juice
Fresh Lime Juice

Cut pineapple into half inch pieces (small but not tiny - and NO don't use the "tidbits" in a can!) and replace in the container. I find that 3/4 of the pineapple in these containers is the perfect amount for salsa, plus you can munch on the rest while you prep! Cut the pepper in half to remove the seeds and ribs, then mince into very small pieces. Mince the onion as well and add to the container of pineapple. I generally only use half of the pepper, but if you like your salsa with more kick, go ahead and add the whole thing. Add chopped cilantro and equal parts orange and lime juice to the container, put the lid back on and shake it up! It's a delicious addition to salads, fish, or even just on it's own with blue corn tortilla chips and sharp cheddar (my favorite way to use the "leftovers")!

Oct 18, 2010

Fall Break

Hi guys! This blog is going to be suspended while I am out to sea from tomorrow until November 4th, but I will be blogging for work. You can follow my exploits on the New England Aquarium's Divers Blog

See you on the dry side!

Oct 17, 2010

Haddock Chowder

Fish chowder is a simple, hearty, delicious meal. This is a traditional Maine recipe from an old family friend. Unlike New England Clam chowder, real fish has a thinner consistency while still providing enough substance to really fill you and warm you up in the winter!

Haddock Chowder
4 Tbsp Bacon Fat
3 Onions, chopped
3c Water
10-12 Red Potatoes
2± lbs Haddock
1 can Evaporated Milk

Chop Onions to a medium size (not too small, but think about how big you might want in a spoon of soup) and sautee in bacon fat until they become translucent. In a stock pot (or any large pot), add quartered potatoes, water and onions with remaining fat. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add fish and evaporated milk and cook until the fish is white and opaque throughout. Serve with a pad of butter on top and salt/pepper to taste.

Notes/Substitutions: It really is that simple! If your soup looks too thin, you can add Half & Half for some extra creaminess, but I have never needed to do so. This recipe is most traditional when made with haddock and red potatoes, but any hearty white fish and potato will work. When chopping onions and cutting up the potatoes, there is no right or wrong size really - it's all personal preference. Put the meat of the fish in as whole filets, as it cooks it will break up a little and if you cut it into small pieces before hand it will completely break apart.

Oct 4, 2010

Ariel's Stuffed Veggies

My lovely friend Ariel made these for us at a dinner party she hosted for a few friends. Simple, filling and delicious - the best part is that you can use almost any veggies you like for the filling! This recipe makes enough for 6 people as a side or appetizer, but it is very easy to amend for different size groups.