Thursday, December 31, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Recipe #6 Goat Cheese Pizza

recipe from: cookie mag

· 2 1/2 cups green or red grapes, halved
· 1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
· 3 tbsp. EVOO
· 1 lb. homemade pizza dough (read next post for recipe)
· 8 oz. soft goat cheese
· kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

· preheat oven to 450 degrees
· toss together the grapes and rosemary, and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, set aside
· divide the dough into thirds and stretch each portion into a 10 inch circle
· place the rounds in the oven until cooked through, about 6 minutes
· distribute the grapes, spoonfuls of the goat cheese, and the remaining olive oil on the pizzas
· heat pizza in the oven until cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes

This dish is a grown-up take on the toaster oven pizza. I haven't tried it yet but I have been keeping this recipe close at hand with hopes of making it real soon. If you are not a fruit + savory person, you could replace the grapes with grape tomatoes, sliced the same way. That's what is fun about homemade pizzas, you can mix and match the toppings to create you own masterpiece.


Almighty One

Just taking a little break from the 12 Days of Christmas to post about the new addition to the family. I was so surprised to open this on Christmas Day! My cooking collection is now pretty much complete. The Kitchen Aid Stand Up Mixer! How I have lusted over you and now you are mine. Did I mention how hot she looks on my counter?

I have never really considered myself a baker. (That will hopefully change due to my bright and shiny new appliance!) I am more of a cook. It has something to do with the chemistry of baking and how everything has to be exact. When I cook, I add a pinch of this and a dab of that; it's just intuitive. You can pretty much counteract any mistake while cooking. It is different, however, in baking. In 2010, I am going to challenge myself to become a better baker. Maybe I will take some tips from the Barefoot Contessa. She's my baking role model, after all.

Look for new posts in 2010 all about baking; the mishaps, learnings, successes, and the results. Also, I am pretty sure there will be a lot of pizza dough making. I have always wanted to do that.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Recipe # 5 Coconut Almond Crunch Granola

· 8 cups of rolled oats
· 1 cup sliced almonds
· 3/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
· 1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
· 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
· 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
· 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
· 1/2 cup sunflower oil
· 1/4 cup honey
· 1 tbsp. organic unsulphured molasses
· 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
· 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
· 1/2 tsp. sea salt

· preheat over to 350 degrees
· combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss together until evenly combined
· lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
· spread granola mixture in a 1/4 to 1/2 inch think layer on baking sheet
· bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden brown

This is a wonderfully healthy breakfast to serve guests during the holidays. Some of the ingredients might be hard to find in a regular grocery store; Whole Foods or other health food markets would be your best bet. There is so many ways you can serve this homemade granola: yogurt parfaits layered with fresh fruit or served with milk and strawberries. Raisins would pair extremely well with this hearty granola. The crunchy granola could also act as a topping over ice cream for dessert.

Begin 2010 with a healthy start and give this recipe a "go"!

12 Days of Christmas: Recipe #4 Chicken Posole

· 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 4 cloves galric, minced
· 1 jalapeno, chopped
· 1 tbsp. ground cumin
· 2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
· 1 small can of diced green chilies
· coarse salt and pepper
· 1 cup beer
· 16 tomatillos, peeled and coarsely chopped in food processor
· 1 (15 oz.) can of white hominy
· 1 can of great northern beans
· 1 quart chicken stock
· 2 lbs. of chicken, cooked and shredded
· 1 lime, juiced
· for garnish- lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, tortilla strips

add vegetable oil to medium soup pan over medium high heat
· add onion, garlic, jalapenos, cumin, thyme salt and pepper, and green chilies
· cook for about 5 to 6 minutes to soften the onions
· add beer and cook it off for a few minutes
· stir in tomatillos and cook for 5 minutes
· stir in hominy, great northern beans, chicken stock, and chicken
· heat through and simmer the posole for another 15 minutes
· add salt and pepper to taste
· stir in lime juice

This recipe came from watching Rachel Ray the day after Thanksgiving. She made a Turkey Posole with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I looked at her ingredients and changed few ingredients and added a few. I like to do that quite often. Not every recipe suits me and my pantry. I like to make use of the things I have around the house. The worst is when you have to buy 40 dollars worth of ingredients to make a soup.

This soup is similar to a white chili but feels fresher and lighter because of the addition of the tomatillos, lime and cilantro. The hominy adds a nice sweetness. This was the first time I have ever used hominy when cooking. I really enjoy it.

Try this soup when you have some leftover chicken or turkey around. After the holidays is a perfect time to use up leftovers instead of making a day old dry sandwich.

Try this recipe- you will be happy you did!

12 Days of Christmas: Recipe #3 Crabby Patties

· 1 pkg. English muffins
· 1 can drained crab meat (reserve liquid)
· 1 stick butter (room temp.)
· 1 jar Old English Cheese spread
· Dash hot sauce
· 1/2 tsp. garlic salt

· cut English muffins in half and toast prior
· mix the rest of the ingredients together and spread over the toasted English muffin halves

· if the mixture is too dry, add a bit of the reserved crab liquid
· Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly (about 20 minutes)
· Cut each English muffin half in quarters (triangles)

I also made this recipe for our Holiday Housewarming Party and they went like hot cakes! I would say it had something to do with the amount of butter and cheese in them, but the crab meat adds such a great flavor. The crab is the true star of this appetizer. The English muffins are nice and crunchy and the cheesy crab spread is creamy and salty and perfect. My mom used to make these for parties and gatherings when I was young and I remember the flavor profile well. Making them for my party was such a nice nostalgic treat.


12 Days of Christmas: Recipe #2 Pecan Tassies

· 1 large pkg. cream cheese (room temp.)
· 1/2 lb. butter (2 sticks- room temp.)
· 2 cups flour
· 4 eggs
· 1/2 lb. butter (2 sticks)
· 2 cups of chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
· 2 cups raisins
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· 1 1/2 cups sugar

· cream together cream cheese & butter
· blend in flour slowly until a dough is created

· flour flat surface and roll out like crust (1/8- 1/4 inch thick)
· cut out circles - (2 inch diameter to fit crusts in mini cupcake tin)

· push each rolled-out dough circle in the mini cupcake tin
· cream butter and sugar together
· beat eggs and add to creamed mixture
· add nuts, raisins, and vanilla
· mix well
· fill pastry cups 1/2 full

Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
(makes 7 dozen)

When the pecan tassies come out of the oven they are warm and bubbly and delicious. You can serve them at room temperature, but they are best when warm. I made these little bite size wonders for our Holiday Housewarming Party. I got the recipe from my mom and was excited to make them because they are like little individual mini-pies. The cream cheese torte is nice and crusty. The filling is sweet and crunchy and keeps you coming back for more. This recipe makes a lot of them, so make sure you share!


12 Days of Christmas: Recipe #1 Carrot Ginger Soup

· bag of carrots (If they are large carrots, they need to be peeled and cut into smaller pieces to cook evenly)
· 3 inches of grated fresh ginger
· 16 oz. of chicken stock
· salt & pepper to taste


- boil carrots and grated ginger in chicken stock until tender.
- once tender, transer to blender or food processor to puree.
- add salt and pepper to taste
- be creative with the garnish

I topped my soup with homemade tortilla strips. I picked up fresh corn tortillas at the grocery store that were made with just corn, water, and lime. I brought oil to medium heat in a saucepan and threw in portions of chopped fresh corn tortillas to fry up. Once they were crispy, I took them out of the hot oil with a slotted spoon and added salt, lime juice, and lime zest to them. I then placed them on a paper towel to soak up extra oil to allow them to dry. These tortilla strips added such a nice crunch and another element of flavor.

This soup is very simple to make and the flavor is somewhat refined. I enjoy recipes like this when there is not much around the house. They use up fresh ingredients in the best way- by making them shine.

This soup could also be served chilled (in the summertime).

I finally made Struffoli!

I remember blogging about Struffoli last year in my 12 Days of Christmas postings. Read up on that posting here. I had high hopes of eventually making the Italian pastry myself, but was just waiting for the perfect opportunity. Well, I recently hosted a Holiday Housewaring party and made the Struffoli for the party. The pastry balls came out a little larger than I was hoping for, but now I know better for next time. Also, this recipe is pretty messy. I got honey everywhere! They were pretty yummy, though. Here's the picture of the festive dessert.

A Jet Settler No More

Traveling over the holidays can be such a drag, especially when you are forced to eat meals in airports. We recently had a layover in the Dallas International airport over Thanksgiving on our way back home to Kansas City. After a week of eating traditional Turkey day casseroles and pies, we were looking for something on the lighter side, knowing there would not be much variety. Settling for a huge slice of Sbarro's greasy pizza or the MSG buffet would not be an option. That's when we came upon Urban Taco (a Modern Mexican Taqueria) in Terminal C. We thought is was just a normal sloppy taco place where food sits all day under heat lamps. It was not! This place had a menu like I have never seen before in any airport.

I ordered from the list of Urban Tacos. My first choice was one Chicken Al Carbon taco which included garlic mojo grilled chicken, tomatillo serrano verde salsa, manchego cheese and pico ge gallo. My second choice was the Roast Corn & Lime Crema taco which had pico de gallo, guacamole, and cilantro. This one was my favorite. I cannot even explain the consistency, but the flavors were right on. The sweet corn mixed with the tangy lime. I mean, perfection! These tacos were priced right from $2.75- $3.25 each. It was a cheap meal considering we were in an airport! Each taco came with fresh masa corn tortillas. They had a bit of sweetness and were very warm and chewy- the way good tortillas should be. The meal came with two sides. I chose blanco beans and poblano green rice. I had never had refried white beans before. I loved them. This Mexican meal was probably the most delicious Mexican meal I have ever eaten next to Frontera Grill. It was fresh and authentic and I felt good after eating it. We were so happy that we found Urban Taco in a see of fat food restaurants and no that was not a typo.

After our experience, we checked them out online to see if there were any locations outside of Dallas and there are not...yet. The food was so good, I could see them eventually expanding beyond the Texas area. They pride themselves on a time-honored approach in culinary techniques with a focus on details. They grind their own spices and hand-make their own tortillas. That attention to detail is what made our meal so amazingly yummy. A place like this stands out in a world of mass produced, super-sized, lard in a bag. I suggest if you are ever in the Dallas area, check this place out.

One more thing, When JJ ordered his meal he chose to get the tradtional Mexican rice milk drink, Horchata. It was sweet with a touch of cinnamon- perfect to go along with our meal. I recently saw a recipe for Peach Horchata on the Food Network. See below.

(Sunny Anderson's Peach Horchata

· 8 cups water
· 1 cup white rice · 1 cinnamon stick · 1 peach, pitted and quartered (use frozen if fresh unavailable) · 3/4 cup sugar · 2 teaspoons vanilla extract · Ground cinnamon, for garnish

· In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 6 cups water, rice, cinnamon, peach slices, sugar, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
· Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 40 minutes, until rice is tender.
· Remove from heat and let cool.
· Discard cinnamon stick and puree in batches in a blender.
· Strain through a fine mesh strainer into serving pitcher. Discard pulp, and stir in the remaining 2 cups of water.
· Serve warm or chilled, dusted with ground cinnamon.


Bad Blogger

I must apologize for being such a bad blogger during such a festive month when food and baking is most important. December just got a hold of me and wouldn't let go. I do have lots to post, just haven't had the time to do so. This year the 12 Days of Christmas will come after Christmas, since that is when they traditionally are. (December 25- January 5)

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!
Safe travels.