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25 December 2012

World's Largest Ham Quesadilla

Honey Baked Ham has directions for serving this ham regular style as well as for making it into individual ham quesadillas, which somehow got confused along the way... Looks delicious! Also, I love brother PJ's New York City platter, which is pretty much not visible under the enormous quesadilla, but trust me, it is awesome.

One more thing: Merry Christmas!

11 December 2012

Can I pick that?

Do you think they allow Urban Foraging at the Botanic Gardens?

26 November 2012

Thanksgiving Awesomeness 2012

If only I was so good at blogging that I could post Thanksgiving appropriate recipes before the holiday arrives. Oh well. Here's a quick review of what we ate for our feast. I will try to post any new or altered recipes soon.

Green Potatoes (with lots of green), Aloe Drink

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Avocado, Tomatoes and Pomegranates
Gherkins, Marinated Mushrooms, Green Olives
Cranberry Sauce with orange and spices (so delicious!)

Cornish Game Hens (for the meat eaters)

Rutabaga (my first time eating rutabaga, it reminds me of something between a radish and a potato, but in reality it is a cross between a turnip and cabbage)

Blueberry Coconut Cream Pie (good with yogurt; adapted from cranberry cream pie), Pecan and Chocolate Pie (amazing--had to make another one), Butternut Squash Pie (not as successful as we were hoping)

All this food and eating reminds me of my new favorite song: "My body tells me 'no,' I won't quit, 'cause I want more... I want more!" But since I jump around the room like a crazy, happy, happy, happy person when the song plays, maybe it balances out the caloric intake. 

16 November 2012

Autumnal Muffins

A few years ago I signed up for newsletters from the National Honey Board, "Honey Feast," because they have recipes. The most recent one had a recipe for pumpkin honey muffins which was perfect to go with the fall colors.

Honey Pumpkin Muffins (from the National Honey Board)

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (or more) ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup honey (I used buckwheat honey because it tastes like molasses)
1 egg
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (I used almonds because that's all I had on hand, walnuts would be better)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare 1 regular muffin tin, either grease or paper cups.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside. 
Beat butter with electric mixer, add honey, egg and pumpkin. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/honey mixture, fold in until just blended, stir in walnuts at the last second. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, bake for 25 to 30 minutes (I think mine took only 20 minutes). Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in center of a center muffin, it should come out clean. Remove muffins immediately from pan and let cool on wire rack. Don't wait too long to eat them.

Columns at the National Arboretum

01 October 2012

Caramel Apples

Our first thing made with our apple haul were caramel apples. Lovemuffin did an awesome job making the caramel using this recipe. He halved the recipe and we ended up with 7 apples. The caramel was delightful, and I was surprised that my candy thermometer still works. We stabbed the apples with forks since we didn't have any popsicle sticks, and after dipping them and had a little left over to pour over the tops, just to make it excessive.

One note about the recipe, it says to put the dipped apples on buttered aluminum foil, which is what we did, but the caramel was too sticky and tore apart the aluminum foil when we tried to pull off an apple. Maybe it wasn't buttered enough, but I would suggest just buttering a cookie sheet to put them on instead, that way there's no chance of getting aluminum foil in your mouth.

30 September 2012

Pick-your-own Apples and The New Place

It's been about a year since I went apple picking with new friends in Arlington, and yesterday I went again with Lovemuffin to Homestead Farm in Maryland. There were a lot of types available, we hauled about 40 pounds away consisting of Pink Lady, Braeburn and Suncrisp apples. I think the Suncrisp are my favorite, and I'm glad we got as many of those as we did; they taste like crunchy bits of sunshine, just like the name says. When we got home, Lovemuffin said something about that I had a lot of apples to take care of, and I informed him that he might have a job with the apple spiraler (corer/peeler/slicer). I'm hoping for pies and apple chips, the applesauce I tried last year was kind of a disaster, so... maybe not this year. It was so nice to get out in the countryside and see the goats (even though they weren't that friendly of goats) and get some super fresh produce. The pick-your-own farm had already-picked vegetables for sale, and we took advantage of that too.

Lovemuffin with the loot

so many pretty vegetables
check out these enormous pumpkins! 

In other news, we've moved to a new apartment now a little further away from downtown Washington DC. It is much larger than the last one and there is more counter space, cupboard space and storage space, so we're hoping to get some food storage going here. It also has some nice drawers, one of which I am using for spices, some of you were familiar with the spice bucket, and found it annoying. But now with the spice drawer it's so much easier to find the spice you need now!

one half of the kitchen
other half of the kitchen, note the tomatoes and eggplant fresh from the farm
Spice Drawer!

14 July 2012

Work Waffle Party

I have the best job. At work yesterday we made an amazing pre-lunch treat: Chocolate Cake Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches. You read right. Oh, yes, I love my job. 

Here's what you need:
1 cake mix and the ingredients it calls for
Ice cream 
Waffle Iron

We used a devil's food cake mix, which required 3 eggs, oil and water. For the ice cream we had a tub with both vanilla and chocolate so as to give everyone choices.

Prepare your cake mix of choice.
 high-tech measuring cup
Mix it all together, just like normal cake.

Cook on a waffle iron, just like normal waffles.
an amazing waffle iron

must stick out my tongue to do anything

Construct sandwiches with the ice cream of your choice in the middle, and eat with your hands, not with a fork.

eating it with a fork was not very successful
more effective to use your hands

Credit goes to Boss Lady for the whole idea and Heather for the photos, Big Thanks!

23 May 2012

Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Here's a great dessert from Mark Bittman: Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding. Here's the recipe and here's the video to go with it. I'm was so surprised at it's deliciousness. I didn't take any pictures, but my pudding looked just like it does in the video. It is thick and rich, sweet and spicy and chocolatey, super easy to make, and so so so good. Seriously, you should try it. And I found a place that sells silken tofu for $0.59, so this might become a frequent dessert for us. And I'll tell you that because of it's richness, it can probably serve closer to 6 people instead of 4. It took me and Lovemuffin several days to get eat our way through a batch.

19 May 2012

Veggie Spring Rolls

I haven't had a lot of creative juices lately, so I don't have a big story for you, just some pictures to show how easy it is to make your own summer rolls, just like a friend showed me, she also has a special dipping sauce for it, I think it is peanut ginger, we just used an all-purpose Korean sauce.

You'll need some rice paper, I got some at the vietnamese store, the are probably easy to find at regular stores too, here's what to look for:

You can use whatever you want for filling, I used:

Daikon radish

I used about 4 carrots to 1 cucumber to 1/2 daikon radish, and that made a lot of rolls.

Shred the carrots and radish, and cut the cucumbers into strips. Put some warm water in a bowl, dip rice paper one at a time in the warm water for about 5 seconds, remove, then arrange the fillings on the rice paper, and roll it up like a burrito.

Easy peasy!

07 April 2012

Cheese and Blueberry Filled Bread

It's nice to have a long, involved project to work on during Conference weekend so that I don't fall asleep listening to the nice talks. So this is what I made last weekend, I've wanted to try a sweet bread recipe and do something exciting with it. It worked pretty well, but I think I need to work on yeasted pastry dough recipe that will give me something more like the danishes from Pavel's in Pacific Grove, but I have no idea what to do differently. But this project was quite successful, so here's what I did.

Sweet Braided Bread with Cheese and Fruit Filling

SWEET BREAD DOUGH: (based on Cinnamon Bread recipe from "Beard on Bread")

2 cups milk
1 tbsp yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 cube) butter, divided
5-6 cups all purpose flour

Scald the milk by heating it gently until it just starts steaming, or you see bubbles forming on the sides of the pan, set aside and let cool. Mix together yeast, sugar, 3 cups of the flour, salt, and the scalded milk, and 1/4 cup of the butter, softened, cut into smallish pieces. Mix thoroughly, let rest for a few minutes, then add the remaining 2-3 cups of flour. Knead for a couple of minutes, it should be just a tiny bit sticky still. Form the dough into a ball and let raise in a greased bowl until doubled.

While the dough is rising, prepare the cheese and blueberry fillings. (I used these recipe for the fillings, with a couple changes.)


2 cups blueberries (I used frozen)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch (or even less)
juice of 1 lime, or about 1 Tbsp
zest of 1 lime (optional)

Combine all these ingredients in a small pan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until it starts to thicken, you may not even notice it boiling because there isn't a lot of liquid in there. Set aside and let cool.

8 oz. cream cheese
1-2 Tbsp sugar, to taste
1 tsp lemon flavoring or vanilla, whichever you prefer

Combine all these ingredients in a small bowl, mix until smooth. Set aside.

Now back to the dough: Gently press the risen dough into a rectangle, smear half of the remaining butter (about 2 tablespoons) onto 2/3 of the dough, then fold the dough into thirds like a letter, then repeat with the remaining butter, this will layer the butter into the dough. Let rest in the fridge for a few minutes.

Roll the dough into a large rectangle, cut in half to make 2 rectangles, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the middle 3rd of the rectangles, half on each piece of dough, then spread the blueberry mixture over the cheese, half on each piece. Cut 1 inch tabs at an angle along the two sides of the rectangles. Alternate folding the tabs over the middle, to make something that looks like a braid. Cover with plastic, let it raise in the fridge until they are risen a bit. They will also do a lot of rising in the oven so they don't need to be huge.

Brush with an egg wash or milk just before baking. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 30 minutes or a little longer (I lost track of how long the second one was in, and it didn't collapse as much as the first one, which is the cooked one pictured. Let the loaves cool before slicing.

06 February 2012

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

I've started making these cookies and adding coconut. Last time I made a mistake and forgot the baking soda, and instead of being horrendous (some of you will remember the time that I forgot the flour in the brownies, not so good) they turned out very much like Oreos, but even better because they have coconut in them. The Karo syrup is in there because I cut out some butter from the original recipe and that sometimes makes cookies turn out hard, and I've read that Karo syrup is supposed to help keep reduced fat cookies chewy. So, in this recipe I think the syrup is completely optional, but I haven't tested it yet, I think if you omit it, the cookies might turn out a tiny bit crisper. I only used it because I had some on hand after all the holiday baking, but I wouldn't go out and buy some just for this. Also (more science), if you add 1 teaspoon of baking powder as in the original recipe, the cookies will spread out more, have puffy, softer edges, and can be less crisp, although I think the overall crispness of cookies is more correlated with how thin you cut the cookies and how long you bake them. Anyone up for a controlled experiment with me?

Crisp Chocolate Coconut Cookies

1 cup butter
2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp light Karo syrup (optional)
3/4 cup Hershey's special dark cocoa powder (any cocoa powder will work, but I really like this kind)
1 cup unsweetened coconut, cut into smaller pieces
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

Cream together butter and sugar and add the eggs and vanilla. Add the cocoa powder and coconut and the flour. It is pretty hard to get the last 1/2 cup or more of flour worked in, so go easy on your mixer. I ended up just kneading it in with my hands, trying to be fast to not melt the butter too much. Chill the dough for a few minutes in the fridge, so it won't be too sticky. Then roll it into logs about 2 inches (or bigger) in diameter, this is easiest if you do it right on sheets of plastic wrap, and freeze the logs until you are ready to use it. Cut slices from the logs about 1/3 inch wide, place slices on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, depending how crispy you like it. Scoop off and let cool on wire racks.

I also like these cookies because they photograph really well. Most of the things I make, for some reason, always seem to blend right in with every surface in my kitchen. 

30 January 2012

Popover Pizza

I saw this recipe on a friend's blog, and decided to try it for 4 reasons: 1-we have a minor pizza obsession in our house, 2) I love popovers and the idea of taking popover batter and turning it into pizza, brilliant! 3) We had some leftover mozzarella from our last pizza adventure. 4) I got to use my new immersion blender from Motherdear to make the batter. Hopefully I'll have more with the immersion blender soon. In the meantime, here's how I made it.

Vegetarian Popover Pizza Casserole

Preheat oven to 400.

Prepare batter (can be done ahead of time or when your filling is simmering as given in the other recipe)

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 glug of your favorite cooking oil (a glug is a highly unprecise measurement, you pour until you see/imagine the oil "glugging," it's about one tablespoon)

Now prepare your topping. Here's what I did, but you can see the other recipe and the link to the original recipe with other ideas for the meat eaters out there.

a bunch of mushrooms (about 14 oz), sliced
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
10 oz frozen spinach
1 can diced tomatoes
dried basil to taste
salt and pepper to taste
lots of grated mozzarella
a good bit of grated parmesan

Saute the mushrooms until they release their water and shrink, add the onions and continue to cook until they start to soften. Add the garlic and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the spinach and canned tomatoes and spices and let simmer for a few minutes.

Pour the topping into a 9 x 13 inch pan (I actually used a 7 x 11 inch pan and it worked fine, but I think bigger might be better for this amount of stuff), top with all but 1/4 cup of the cheeses. Pour the batter over the topping, make sure it covers to the edges and corners, top with the remaining cheese and get it quickish into the preheated oven.

It will get puffy and browned, I forgot to watch the clock, but I imagine it was about 30 minutes (and I'll admit I turned up the oven to 425 about 2 minutes into it and I was already impatient) then take it out and let it cool/collapse for a minute, scoop it out and eat it like the pizza lover you know you are.

23 January 2012

Winter Fruit Pie

Today, in honor of National Pie Day, I made this winter fruit pie, based on this recipe at epicurious. I didn't make the streusel topping because I didn't have any walnuts. I used my trusty pie crust recipe and made a lattice top, and used honey and a little brown sugar for sweetener, and cinnamon and cardamom for spices, and instant tapioca as the thickener. I think it turned out pretty well, not too sweet, not soggy, but some juiciness. I'm glad I freeze cranberries when they're available, because I like them for other things besides sauce at Thanksgiving. The figs were a little weird, very seedy and crunchy, I would leave them out next time.

Winter Fruits Pie

Happy National Pie Day!

15 January 2012

Into 2012, Hurrah!

Wrapping up the holiday posting a couple of weeks late, but that is one of my holiday traditions, I think.

I first want to send a huge THANKS! out to MIL for her generosity in having all of us out to her place in Germany, and to the family for their general awesomeness, I had such a lot of fun with all of them. The whole time there was pretty awesome, filled with feasting and other fun things, and also with enough long, brisk walks that I didn't outgrow my pants. Some of my favorite (food related) parts teaching my nephew to say "delicious," and cooking with him. We made quiche together and he insisted on having a turn cracking the eggs.

cooking with Nephew
Mmm, look at all that wurst!
Cooking with Lovemuffin and J

Mussel Mustache

I received several awesome gifts, and want to send out another huge THANK YOU! to everyone for their thoughtfulness and generosity.

"Gooey Somethings" personalized apron and hotpad, from MIL
Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer, from Dad
beautiful hand made ceramic egg separator, from Older Sister
quince balsamic vinegar and black pumpkin seed oil, also from MIL
incredibly sharp Japanese knife, from Aunt K
Immersion blender (not pictured) from Motherdear

Stay tuned for some (hopefully) exciting experiments using the new tools and ingredients!

I also have a goal to keep doing all the things that I love to do, the things that make me feel alive and happy. That includes cooking, baking, eating, and writing in this blog, and some other favorite activities, of course. In fact, a friend invited me to participate in this 50/50 challenge and so far I'm doing pretty good! I hope this new year, and all the time, sees you doing the things you love and that make you feel alive.