Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Recap 2016

Thanksgiving was great this year. We had a modest party of nine with the perfect amount of food. (Perfect amount to us means that there's enough leftovers to make turkey soup and turkey salad sandwiches).
Keeping with tradition, I got caught up in the food and entertaining and didn't take the exact photos I wanted but I have enough to give you a flavor of our festivities.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a great holiday. I'm thankful for many things this year, including anyone who reads my blog.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Carrot Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

I have a super old carrot cake recipe on my blog from years back. Since then, I've tweaked it and thought I would share it. I tried a citrus cake at a bakery near my house recently and the girl at the counter told me that their secret was that they pureed the entire fruit and added it to the batter. The essential oils from the zest enhanced the flavor of the cake and the juice and rind helped add moisture. So, I took a cue from that and decided to throw a few oranges into my carrot cake mixture and it made the cake so much more moist and amazing. The flavor of orange is subtle enough not enough not to be overpowering, but the slight fragrance adds a freshness. I feel like carrot cake is sort of an old lady's dessert, but the orange helps give it a fresh take.

I thought this would be a fun recipe to share for Thanksgiving. I mean, if you've been invited over to someone's house to celebrate, how nice would it be to bring a Tupperware full of these?
Ingredients [yields 2 x 8" rounds]:
cake
2 medium oranges, pureed (about 1 cup)
4 eggs
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
¼ cup buttermilk
1½ cups light brown sugar
2 cups grated carrot
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt

frosting
4 oz. cream cheese (1/4 cup)
4 oz. container of mascarpone cheese (1/4 cup)
¼ cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Few Thanksgiving Recipes

I wanted to do another quick roundup of some Thanksgiving recipes to inspire you for next week. Do your shopping this weekend and maybe make something new!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Peri Peri Roast Chicken

Despite never having had a cheeky Nando's in the UK, I picked up a bottle of their PERi-PERi sauce from the shelf devoted to British groceries at my local store. It was delicious and balanced - a hint of citrus, loads of fragrant garlic, herbaceous, and bright - but it wasn't quite spicy enough for me. That's when I started doing some research on real peri peri sauce. Typically made with African bird's eye chili peppers and it originated in Portugal but it's equally popular in South Africa, Namibia, and other countries in Africa. The name 'peri peri' (also spelled piri piri) means 'pepper pepper' in Swahili.

I haven't made it to Portugal yet (it's on my list) so I can't speak to the authenticity of this recipe; I mean, it's already pretty inauthentic since I didn't use bird's eye chili peppers. Really, I just decided to improve on the Nando's sauce I enjoy.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
chicken
2 lbs. chicken thighs (or preferred cut of chicken)
2 to 3 red habanero peppers*
½ bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
¼ red onion
1 tablespoons lemon zest
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
8 to 10 sprigs cilantro
3 sprigs oregano, stripped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

tomato salad
1 lb. heirloom tomatoes, chopped
¼ red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pepitas

*Technically, peri peri sauce is made with African bird's eye chili peppers but guess what? These are not available stateside. I've substituted in red habaneros because I love heat. Other alternatives are cayenne peppers (which are slightly milder than peri peri peppers), red jalapenos, Thai chilis, serrano, or tabasco peppers. Use a pepper with a heat level you are comfortable with.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cumin Rice

I wanted to share this incredibly simple dish because it's so easy but so flavorful and can jazz up almost any dinner. I was inspired by my favorite frozen meal from Trader Joe's, which is their tikka masala (both the chicken version and the vegan version are amazing). It comes with a cumin rice, which is just a fluffy basmati speckled with cumin seeds. I thought it was just the simplest but most delicious side dish so I decided to make my own.

I think my version can suit both Tex-Mex style meals as well as Indian, it really just depends on the kind of rice you use. It's also just a generally good side dish to have with chicken or fish or roasted vegetables. It's so yellow and pretty and it takes maybe 15 minutes to throw together so it's great for a weeknight meal.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1¼ cups rice
1¼ cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cheesy Pierogies

Guess what? We're in Iceland! But, as promised, I have a couple of posts ready to go while I'm away.

Back in college, pierogies were a staple in my diet. They were cheap and delicious (Wegman's brand all the way!) and they were a cinch to whip up. It's been on my list to make pierogies for a long time and I don't really know what was stopping me other than my chubby body telling me that eating carbs wrapped in carbs was maybe not the best idea. That really profound thought popped into my brain even though I share loads of diet-opposite recipes here so I figured I'd stop being a hypocrite and just make them already.

And you know me, I had to put my own spin on it, so instead of the traditional cheddar, I added habanero cheddar and some mozzarella because I just had to.
Ingredients [yields 4 to 5 dozen]:
dough
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup water
¼ cup butter, room temperature

filling
2 medium sized russet potatoes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
¼ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup grated mozzarella
¾ cup grated cheddar (I used habanero cheddar)

to serve
2 tablespoons butter
¼ onion, sliced
½ apple, diced
+ sour cream

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Spicy Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Tomorrow, my family and I are off on our annual holiday. This year, we are heading to Denmark and Iceland and I'm really excited. No, I'm seriously excited. I've been anxiously awaiting this trip for several months and now that it's finally here, I couldn't be happier. As usual, I will have some pre-scheduled entries set to post while I'm away. Frankly, it's been sort of difficult arranging that because I've been so consumed with finalizing our itinerary and obsessively checking the weather and oh yeah, working at my full-time job. But, I've made it work and now I'm ready to go on vacation.

Whilst I'm in such a good mood, I thought I'd share one of my favorite posts of the year so far. The recipe is delicious but that's not what's made it a favorite; it's the peppers. Our poblano pepper plant was a trooper this year and though it was months before we could pick any, the harvest was plentiful. I wanted to do something kind of special with them so I revamped my stuffed poblano pepper recipe. I made it better by adding loads of spice - in terms of heat and flavor - and topped it with my beloved, habanero cheddar. This babe of a cheese has been making all of our Mexican favorites even better.
Ingredients [serves 6]:
6 to 8 poblano peppers
¼ cup rice
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 lb. ground turkey (or any ground meat of your choice; crumbled tofu is a vegetarian option)
¼ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 egg
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup + ½ cup grated cheddar (I use habanero cheddar)
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from can of chipotle peppers)
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