Monday, November 29, 2010

Welcome to the family...

I am so excited today!!! After waiting for years and year, justifying the expense, saving up my pennies, and foregoing extra counter space in my tiny kitchen...

I decided I didn't want to live without one of these anymore.

Rewind to a couple weeks ago, when my hero-of-a-hubby asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said "Nothing."

He said "Really? Nothing?" (I know he was thinking "Yay! I'm going to get off scott-free! I don't have to do any Christmas Eve shopping this year?!)

And I said, "Well, maybe just one thing." (pause for effect...)

"Anything you want..." he answers...

Me: "OK - I think I'd like that KitchenAid stand mixer I've had my eye on for years... "

::: silence :::

Then we saw a great deal on soooo, I get to put it to use for this holiday season! It IS quite the investment. But I hear these things live on FOREVER!

Fast forward to today... I could hear Mr UPS driving up the street... and ran to the front door. I barely got the box inside the door and had to set it down and take a nice loooooooong look at it.

Here's what came in the box... a user manual that also includes recipes.

A spiral dough hook...

A paddle...

Also included (but I was too excited and quit taking pictures): 11-wire whisk and a plastic piece that fits onto the bowl called a "pouring shield".

So, here's all the pertinent details for the new addition to our family....

Name: undecided
Length: 16 1/2 inches
Weighing in at a hearty 25 lbs!

This is a 6 quart bowl. The bowl sits on a lever that moves up and down. Some people like this style, others prefer the kind where the top tilts up. I've never used either... so I didn't have a preference.

Now... time to find a place for it on my itsy bitsy countertop.

...all tucked in nicely between the knives and the utensil holder and I can pull it forward easily for baking purposes.

And here's a fantastic tip: Today someone told me she put her mixer on a placemat... then it's super easy to simply pull the placemat (and mixer) toward you when you're ready to use it! GENIUS! I tell you, I have genius friends!!! (Now - I have to find my stash of placemats and find just the right one!)

Color me happy!!!

(Can you see my reflection???)

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

let the holiday goodies begin...

Yesterday I enjoyed a pear pizzazz (or three), some nutty toffee with friends... while I baked some more of Gramma H's Sugar Cookies. It's beginning to look (and smell) like Christmas...

This week I will continue this craziness while I prepare boxes and containers to send out to family.... and I can't wait to show you a surprise later this week!

In the meantime, look at this scrumptious collage of holiday YUMMINESS!!!

Right now the house smells a little like apple cider (ok, the house smells a LOT like apple cider...) and I'm off to enjoy the day.

What are YOU doing to enjoy this weekend?!

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

RECIPE: Tart Cranberry-Orange Sauce

This is THE cranberry sauce you want on your Thanksgiving table this week! I promise... you can thank me later!

A huge shout out to bon apetit magazine for gifting us with yet another recipe (from several Thanksgivings ago)... for which we are thankful!!!

Started with zesting... I love zesting...

Over medium-high heat, bring everything to a boil...

Let it all hang out for a while... then reduce heat...

And stir a little longer... allow it to cool down and add the rest of the orange juice.

Enjoy warm or cooled... with or without turkey. At this point it doesn't really matter.

Good luck getting much of this sauce to the table on Thanksgiving... you should just make a double batch.

Tart Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Recipe courtesy bon apetit

4 cups fresh cranberries (about 1 pound)
1 cup orange juice, divided
3/4 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4 teaspoons orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine cranberries, 3/4 cup orange juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, lemon juice, lemon peel and allspice in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries burst and liquids start to thicken, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool. Mix in remaining 1/4 cup orange juice. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.) Discard cinnamon sticks, transfer to bowl, and serve.

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

RECIPE: Glazed Pecans

Every year at Thanksgiving it is a requirement that we bring "The Salad": a spring mix with thinly sliced red onion, crumbled feta, dried cranberries, balsamic vinaigrette and glazed pecans.

And every year the day before Thanksgiving I remember that I have to run out and buy the glazed pecans. And every year I think to myself that I really should try glazing my own pecans. (Plus, they're darn expensive... and I HATE the crowds during the holidays!)

Let it be known... I finally remembered to plan ahead and "just do it!"

And now I'm kicking myself... 'cuz it really was THIS easy!

Hot pan, melt, bubble, toss... cool.

Yes, it's THAT easy! (kicking myself again!)

Aren't those simply beautiful?! And they taste sooooo good!

Here's the all-important recipe...

Glazed Pecans
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Prep baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil, sprayed with non-stick spray.

In a large heavy-bottom skillet stir sugar, olive oil and balsamic vinegar; stir over medium heat until sugar melts and syrup bubbles. Mix in pecans and kosher salt. Stir until nuts are slightly toasted and well-coated. Stir continually for 4-6 minutes.

Transfer nuts to baking sheet, separately nuts with tines of the fork and cool completely. Store glazed nuts in air tight container. Consume within 3-4 weeks.

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

RECIPE: Candied Pecans

I think I'm turning into a nut girl... I always used to say "I don't like nuts!"

But I've discovered that I really do... I REALLY do! Here's my newest nut love! So to my 3 faithful readers, I'd like to introduce you to the yumminess that is candied pecans...

Here's where I started... whisking an egg white.

Then add the flavor that I'm fallen in love with for this time of year... nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar and kosher salt.

Whisk, add nuts...

... toss until they're well-coated...

... and transfer to a greased baking sheet, using forks (so as to leave the extra sugar mixture behind in the bowl).

Slide this into the preheated oven (300 degrees F) and allow them to bake for about 20 minutes. Using a spatula, toss the pecans slightly... and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.

Set aside to cool and then enjoy ... to the fullest.

The meringue-like layer coating these pecans is part-sweet, with a hint of salt...

Oh, and did I say they resembled candy?! Yes, that's what they are... candy! You and your family members can thank me later... that is, if you decide to share any of them.

Candied Pecans
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 large egg white
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with butter.

In large bowl, whisk egg white until foamy. Whisk in sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt – whisk until mixture is thick. Stir in pecans until well-coated. Transfer nuts to cookie sheet. Using forks separate nuts so they are in a single layer. Discard remaining coating.

Bake nuts for about 20 minutes. With a spatula toss the nuts well – this will help them bake evenly. Continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Transfer to air-tight container; store at room temperature. Consume within 4-5 days.

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

do i like brussel sprouts?

Quite a few people wince when brussel sprouts are mentioned. And I cannot recall ever attempting them before (probably because of all of the wincing)...

So, today I bought some. I felt so proud of myself as I bagged up several brussel sprouts... all the while Gramma's sarcastic tone rings in my ear: "How do you know you don't like it if you've never given it a good chance?!"

I brought them home... did some online researching and found a quick method that looked easy, sounded good and had some potential.

I started with preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Then I hit the cutting board... I cut off part of the stem and peeled back the yellowish and/or loose leaves. I will note, these things look and act like mini-iceberg lettuce heads. The layers of leaves even peel back similarly... but don't let them fool you. They taste NOTHING like iceberg lettuce (afterall, iceberg doesn't have much flavor anyway).

But let's take another rabbit trail... while I was roasting I decided it was time to roast some garlic and maybe some cauliflower too. See?

Chop off the pointy top, drizzle some oil and sprinkle on some kosher salt... wrap it tightly and voila!

Then I tossed the brussel sprouts (not pictured here) in a little bit of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. And onto the sheet tray with the garlic...

But since brussel sprouts take a bit longer than the cauliflower I'm going to wait on that part for now.

Roasting, roasting, roasting...

After about 15 mins it was time to roll the brussel sprouts around the sheet tray a little bit (so they roast evenly)... so this is when I added the cauliflower. (And yes, I also drizzled the cauliflower with a bit of olive oil and kosher salt.)

Another 15 mins went by... and it was time for another turn.

10-15 mins later ... it all looks good. Time to find out if I like brussel sprouts. (I already KNOW I love roasted garlic and cauliflower... just doing double duty with the hot oven on this post.)

The cauliflower was scrumptious. The brussel sprouts? Crispy on the outside - and salt always helps. Cooked well inside - soft and not overdone. But there is that overwhelming brussel sprout flavor... I can understand the wincing, completely.

So, what's the verdict? I still don't know if I like brussel sprouts.

Why don't I know? Well, I ate the brussel sprouts. But I'm not yet convinced. i promise to give these poor things will get a second try from me (using a different cooking method) along with some different flavors. Any suggestions? Leave me a comment...

Stay tuned... I'd like to be a champion for brussel sprouts. But they have yet to prove themselves...

enjoy your time in the kitchen...


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