Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ancho pork and hominy stew

I really like pork.  I really like vegetables.  I really like stew in the winter.  I really like easy one pot meals.  This is my kind of meal.  I have made this recipe numerous times and it always returns good results.  It is more of a soup then a stew but, that doesn't bother me.  It is good.   Brad doesn't really love pork or vegetables but, every time I serve this he always comments on how good it is.  I cut the pieces of pork small and they are so tender and flavorful.  The hominy cooks like a bean but, adds a nice corn flavor to the stew.  I really like to follow recipes but, this one you don't have to be exact and it still delivers great results.  No ancho chile powder use regular.  Half the hominy and add corn.  You can even swap chicken for pork.  The stew can be frozen and tastes almost better out of the freezer. Perfect with cornbread.  Ahhh cornbread.  I need to find a go to cornbread recipe in 2011.

ancho pork and hominy stew
source: cooking light
  • 2  tablespoons  ancho chile powder
  • 2  teaspoons  dried oregano
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  smoked paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 1/2  pounds  pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil, divided
  • 2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped green bell pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 2 1/2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; set 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture aside. Add pork to remaining spice mixture in bowl, tossing well to coat.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove pork from pan; set aside. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Return pork to pan. Add reserved 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture, broth, hominy, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes.

Friday, December 24, 2010

pomegranate champagne punch

Last year at the cookie exchange we blew through 8 bottles of champagne before the gift exchange.  The girls can drink!  This year I was not going to let that happen again.  I pulled out the punch bowl and mixed up a big batch of champagne punch that packed a little extra something something with the white rum.  We went through two big batches and I think everyone left with a little warmth in their body and a little pep in their step from the bubbly and sugar.  This punch tastes good, is inexpensive, looks beautiful and definitely does the job.  Cheers!
pomegranate champagne punch
adapted: bon appetit
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 750-ml bottles chilled brut Champagne
  • 1 750-ml bottle white rum
  • 2 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 large lemons, thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ice block
Bring water and sugar to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely.
Combine Champagne, rum, and pomegranate juice in punch bowl. Add enough syrup to sweeten to taste. Mix in lemon slices, pomegranate seeds, and mint leaves. Add ice block to bowl.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

savory bacon and kale bread pudding

The supper club theme this month was Victorian Christmas.  Yep think about that for a minute.  Still don't know what to make of that.  Google it and you will come up with delightful menus filled with oysters, mutton, goose, smelt and plum pudding.  Nothing coming back in my google search for a side dish was screaming make me make me.  I found a menu in a back issue of food and wine for a modern Victorian Christmas ... jackpot!  The sides were brussel sprouts (yum), tomato and goat cheese gratin and a kale bread pudding.  Kale has been intriguing me lately as I learn to cook it.  I had fresh kale from my farm fresh delivery so, kale bread pudding it was.  I needed to do a bit more research and I found a savory kale bread pudding by the beloved Tartine bakery in San Francisco.  Mention of Tartine and San Francisco and I was sold not to mention this version had bacon in it as well.  I think we all hesitantly prepared our dishes and came not expecting much from the menu.  Honestly I think secretly we were all just hoping it wasn't gross.  Boy was I shocked ... the menu was elegant, decadent, amazing and could be served for any holiday and the guests would have been impressed.  We had pomegranate martinis, fresh oysters, brie en croute, roast, yorkshire pudding, brussel sprout gratin, bread pudding and a berry and white chocolate trifle.  Seriously delicious.  We sat down to this elegant meal after a martini or two.  We devoured the meal, drank wine, recalled our top three Christmas memories and some where things went a new direction.  We sat down as proper ladies and left the table crazy girls headed to create a dance party in costumes.  I am still unclear how things moved this direction.  What I do know is this.  I wore a leather dress and a tiara.  I danced on the hostesses coffee table.  I took silly pictures.  I had a great time.  I love my supper club.  Cheers to the Victorian Christmas!

savory bacon and kale bread pudding
adapted: tartine

12 oz day old country or french bread
One leek, white portion thinly sliced
4 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups cream
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika
4 strips bacon
Fresh thyme, chopped
1 bunch kale; chopped
1 1/2 cups Gruyere (divided)
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the bread into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  

In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon until lightly crispy. Set aside. Using 2 tablespoons of remaining bacon grease, saute leek until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside when done, reserving the skillet (no need to wash).

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Add the milk and cream and whisk to combine. Then add the nutmeg, pepper, cayenne and paprika. When well mixed, add the bread, bacon, thyme, kale, leeks and 1 cup cheese. Mix well and pour back into the skillet (Note: if you don’t have a skillet use a greased baking dish, instead). The custard should come up to the top but not cover the highest pieces of bread.

Top the pudding evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and lightly pepper. Bake about 1 hour, or until custard is set. Serve pudding hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

oreo chocolate chip cookies

I like oreos.  I like them dunked in milk.  I like them used in baked goods.  They are so versatile.  The can be molded into a crust, crushed, mixed and dipped to make a truffle, mixed into a cupcake and so on and so on.  I have a lot of oreos left from the cookies and cream cupcakes.  I bought a box at Smart and Final which apparently was big enough to get me through October birthdays, Christmas and some extra goodies mixed in between.  I have seen several posts about cookies and brownies with oreos incorporated.  I decided to wing it and give it a try.  I really like to follow a recipe. I don't really know how to wing it ... in the kitchen or any other part of my life.  I like structure.  I could not stray too far.  I used the base from my chocolate chip cookie and just played around a bit with the measurements and then tossed in some chips and quartered oreos.  The results ... yum!  They are all gone.  

oreo chocolate chip cookies
source: sweetflours
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 oreos quartered
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a large spoon, drop dough onto a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.   Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

lime glazed coconut snowballs

I try one new Christmas cookie each year to supplement the holiday standards.  All of my holiday standards are quick Christmas candy and not cookies.  Does that tell you anything?  I am not having much luck finding a Christmas cookie that I would want to repeat each year.  The past years I have tried several with  a chocolate base so, this year I decided to mix it up and incorporate a few favorites of mine; butter, citrus and coconut.  I knew the others in my house would not touch these but, seriously does everything need to be about them?  Mama needs a cookie too.  I rarely see a negative comment about cooks illustrated recipes so, I decided to go that route and sure enough they were great.  Great for those citrus butter loving girls at my cookie exchange.  The soft butter cookie ball has just a hint of lime.  The lime glaze is sweet and tart and the tiny flakes of coconut add them perfect touch in both taste and appearance.  These are dainty cookies that look beautiful on the platter next to the Christmas classics.

Lime-Glazed Coconut Snowballs
source: Cook's Illustrated

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
zest of 1 lime (~1-2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese , room temperature
1 tablespoon cream cheese ,room temperature
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut , pulsed in food processor until finely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, lime zest, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Use hands to roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake one batch at a time in 375-degree oven until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons lime juice in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining lime juice as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily.

Dip tops of cookies into glaze and scrape away excess, then dip into coconut. Set cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet; let stand until glaze dries and sets, about 20 minutes

Friday, December 17, 2010

christmas "crack" candy

The name of these breaks down like this.  Christmas because it can only be made one time a year.  Crack as in made with a cracker but, also crack as in the addictive nature of this candy.  It is that good.  It is that addictive.  There is so much buttery, sweet, chocolaty deliciousness in each piece that it can only be made one time per year.  Bad things would happen to me if I made it more often.  I would become a candy crack fiend.  These are so easy to make.  Honestly there is no reason for you not to make these this holiday season.  Please make them.  Please come to the dark side with me.  I don't want to eat alone.

christmas "crack" candy

40 saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts.

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the crackers. Pour and spread it quickly as it will start to set.
Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. . If you’re using them, decorate with sprinkles.

Cool and then break into pieces.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

rolo pretzel candy

I started making these when I was pregnant with Carter.  They are a festive bite that combines salty, sweet, crunchy and chewy.  They got added to the Christmas cookie plate a few years back and have  remained a staple ever since.  So easy to make even the kids can join the fun.  Eating them is even easier then making them.  I highly recommend popping one (or two) in your mouth as soon as they come out of the oven. 

rolo pretzel candy

rolo candies
pretzels snaps or small circles
m&m candies or nuts to top

Preheat your oven to 350
1. Unwrap your rolos. Place pretzels on baking sheet. Top with a rolo.
2. Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes, until the chocolate just begins to melt. The rolo should be soft but not completely melted.
3. Remove from oven, and immediately squish the chocolate with a m&m or nut.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Peanut butter and chocolate.  Is there a couple that goes better together then those two ingredients?  When it comes to Christmas  peanut butter is a must on my tray of goodies.  Brad's mom is known for her holiday peanut butter balls.  They are fantastic.  I think about them all year and squeal with delight when I see them in a small glass dish on her kitchen counter.  Because she does the peanut butter ball I wanted to do something slightly different.  The buckeyes are not completely covered in chocolate which leaves a little glimpse of peanut butter goodness making them look like well ... a nut from the buckeye tree (Ohio state tree).  They also lack the crunch that you get in a peanut butter ball from the crushed graham cracker or rice krispy.  I kinda missed the crunch, I guess I could add the crunch but, if I add the crunch then I should just dip them all the way and make a peanut butter ball.  I had a bit of trouble with the dipping but, got the hang of it after about 36 odd looking buckeyes were produced.  The dozen that I did successfully dip looked great on the cookie tray and having some bite size treats is great because you can't feel guilty for just a bite.  My problem is I can't just stop at one bite!
adapted: allrecipes
ingredients (~3 dozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (optional)
  1. Line a baking sheet with silpat; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar with mixer to form dough. Dough will be stiff but, crumbly.  Shape into balls using 1 inch cookie scoop. Place on prepared pan, and refrigerate/freeze until dough has firmed up.
  3. Melt shortening (if using) and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.
  4. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to silpat, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. 
* I had a hard time with getting a uniform dip.  I had best success when I tilted the bowl of chocolate and went in on a slight angle and rolled.  The toothpick hole was then off centered and not too visible in the finished buckeyes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

oreo truffle balls

I like to play these games with Brad where I ask him a ton of questions in hopes he is going to surprise me with some hidden unknown exciting piece of information.  He doesn't like to play and I can only assume he finds this game a modern form of torture.  He hardly gives me anything new, regardless I still like to play.  Last night I was asking him to tell me all of the cookies that he remembers on his mother's Christmas cookie plate.  He named one.  His mom is a fantastic cook and baker so, I am almost certain there was more then one.  I proceeded to ask about his grandmothers and all I got was a blank stare.  He was no help.  I was prompting this line of questioning because I can remember every cookie on our cookie plate, which family member liked them and where the recipe originated from.  I want to develop a memorable cookie plate.  The cookie plate is one of the best parts of the holiday season for me.  Years is what I figure it will take me to get to that plate that contains the family tried and trues but, I will get to that plate and when Carter's wife asks him this very question he will not respond with one type of cookie! My cookie plate is definitely a work in progress but, the oreo truffle balls are one holiday candy I come back to year over year.  As of now they are a cookie plate staple.

oreo truffle balls
source: kraft recipes

1 package oreo cookies ~30 oreos (any oreo flavor) crushed to crumbs in food processor
1 8oz block of cream cheese; softened
1 bag of chips (semi, dark, white)

Mix cream cheese and oreo crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 1 inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Place shaped balls in refrigerator or freezer for ~20-30 minutes to firm up.
Melt chocolate of choice using either a double boiler or microwave.  Once chocolate is melted take one ball at a time and dip into chocolate.  Tap excess chocolate off and place on parchment to harden.  Sprinkle with decoration if using while chocolate is still warm.  Once cooled they can be stored in refrigerator in an air tight container.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

sweet potato and chipotle soup

This soup really surprised me.  

I use to love hot and sour soup when I was sick.  It was my go to sick food until both Brad and I got food poisoning from out favorite Chinese take out in San Francisco.  My go to sick soup all of a sudden became my smell it make me sick soup.  I have come to a point where I will order it from other places but, I have not had the same relationship with hot and sour soup since that fateful day.  This may be my new go to sick soup.  There are only a few ingredients and the preparation and cooking are beyond easy.  I was shocked at how velvety smooth and rich this soup was.  It tasted as if there was cream in it.  The sweetness of the potatoes was perfectly offset by the smoky heat of the chipotle pepper.  I like heat.  I added chipotle hot sauce to kick it up a notch.  Brad added sour cream to take it down a notch.  We both liked it a lot.  I just made a second batch to have on hand in the freezer next time I feel a tickle in my throat.

sweet potato and chipotle soup
adapted: everyday food
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (2 pounds total), peeled and cut
  • 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth


  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown around edges, about 7 minutes. Add cumin and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, chile, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Let soup cool slightly. Puree with stick blender until soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Top soup with sour cream and serve with quesadilla/tortilla wedges, if desired.
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