Archive | November, 2010

Thanksgiving in Boston

26 Nov

We had our little Thanksgiving feast yesterday and it was amazing. I helped Alicia make a sweet potato casserole that turned out really really well, and we also had several birds (a turkey and two ducks) and a plethora of pies.

Because I helped make the casserole I remember the recipe for it, so here it is:

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan and Walnut Strudel

Ingredients

Four sweet potatoes (makes six cups)
3 cups sugar
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp almond extract

Strudel:
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup crushed pecans
1 cup crushed walnuts

Cut the sweet potatoes into cubes and boil in water until they are soft. Drain and then mash. Add in the sugar and butter and continue to mix until everything is melted. Add in the milk and almond extract. Beat the eggs, then fold in eggs into the mixture. Make sure that it is cool enough, or you could also temper the eggs before adding them.



Pour the sweet potato mixture into a casserole dish.

Melt a stick of butter, then mix in the flour and brown sugar. The mixture can be chunky as long as there are no balls of pure flour floating around. Mix in some of the pecans and walnuts, and spread half of the topping over the sweet potato mixture. Spread more pecans and walnuts over that, then finish off with the rest of the buttered brown sugar/flour/nut mixture. The amount of nuts added can be to taste.

Bake at 350 for 5 more minutes just to reheat if necessary, and to add a light caramelized top to the casserole. Serve as a side dish or dessert.

Total time of procrastination: 30 minutes
Ways to prolong procrastination: Eat a Thanksgiving dinner. Having done that, post your photos for our Holiday giveaway!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us on the east side.

Just In Time for the Holidays

24 Nov

This post and giveaway is sponsored by CSN Stores, where you could get everything from counter stools to wine glasses to make your holiday entertaining a success. Ok now I sound like Rachel Ray. Why Rachel Ray, of all people?

Well, because just in time for the holidays, we’re doing another giveaway, and this time you have the opportunity to showcase your Thanksgiving indulgence and get a new Rachel Ray skillet pack in the color of your choice. Mostly, I’m excited to see how you and your family celebrate Thanksgiving, whether it’s eating a traditional turkey dinner with the family, or having a nontraditional Thanksgiving dinner, or even if you are travelling and foregoing the indulgence. Here are the rules:

You can get up to 5 entries (one for each of the following):

A photo of your favorite main dish or side dish (turkeys, casseroles, etc).
A photo of your favorite dessert.
A photo of your favorite holiday cocktail (may be nonalcoholic).
A recipe of something you cooked over thanksgiving, posted to the comments.
A photo of your travels during this Thanksgiving weekend.

Photos should be posted to our Flickr Pool. For each picture you post, make sure you leave a comment as well! The winner will be selected via random number generator of the comment numbers. If you only leave one comment telling us you posted three pictures, you’ll only get one entry instead of three!

Entries are due a week from Sunday (12/5), so you have a week to process photos from Thanksgiving. So go cook, take pictures, and be thankful that you have officially 4 days to procrastinate guilt free.

Three-Cheese Spinach and Butternut Squash Bread Pudding

22 Nov

Well, that’s a mouthful. I basically listed all the ingredients you need to make this dish in the title. Anyway. Bobby and I made this (plus an obligatory apple pie) for a pseudo-Thanksgiving potluck when he came to visit last weekend. We actually didn’t have any of the ingredients necessary to make this dish, so we winged it.

I’m going to list the ingredients I used, but I would highly recommend checking out the original recipe for the real thing. It’s pretty funny when you compare the two recipes, actually.

Three-Cheese Spinach and Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
Adapted quite liberally from Ezra Pound Cake

1 large butternut squash
3 tbsp olive oil
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 tbsp white wine
liberal dash of oregano
1 week-old baguette, cubed (I would not recommend leaving your baguette out for this long. It’s really hard to cut.)
salt and pepper to taste
half an onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
squirt of Sriracha sauce
1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach, chopped
3 handfuls of Trade Joe’s three-cheese mix (cheddar, Asiago, and something else I can’t remember)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out the seed and guts. Brush tops with olive oil and bake face-up on a cookie sheet for 30-45 minutes, until soft. The original recipe said to peel the squash and cut into cubes prior to baking, but I hate peeling butternut squash with a passion. They’re slippery little buggers. And the cubes degrade into mush when you mix it into everything else anyway.


Meanwhile, beat the eggs and mix in the heavy cream, wine, and oregano. Dump in your bread cubes and mix to coat. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. My bread had poppy seeds that we tried to scrape off, with moderate success. Don’t accidentally buy a poppy seed baguette, kids.

By this time, your squash should be nice and soft. Grab a spoon or a heat-resistant boyfriend and scoop out the flesh. You’ll want smaller chunks than in the picture below, else you’ll be munching on humongo pieces all dinner. Not that that’s always a bad thing.

Decrease the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat up the rest of your olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions and garlic. Add the Sriracha sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Add spinach and cover for about a minute. The greens should be wilted, but not bodiless mush.

With a slotted spoon, transfer a layer of cream-soaked bread into a well-buttered baking dish. Add a layer of spinach and another of squash, then cover with a layer of cheese. Repeat until you run out of ingredients, then pour on the remaining egg ‘n cream.


Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes or so, until the custard has set. Om nom nom nom…

I wasn’t a huge fan of the bread pudding part because, well, it was my first time eating bread pudding. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so mushy. The spinach and butternut squash were incredibly tasty with cheese, though.

Length of Procrastination: 1.5 hours

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies — Surprise, they’re vegan!

17 Nov

At vet school, I’m one of the class secretaries. Funnily enough, I haven’t taken any minutes or scheduled any meetings. All I’ve done is bake.

Yeah.

It’s the secretary’s responsibility to help people celebrate their birthdays, usually with baked goods. This has given me an opportunity to try recipes I normally wouldn’t, like lemon bars, cheesecake brownies, and these vegan cranberry oatmeal cookies.

Guys, these things are out of this world. Fresh out of the oven, they’re crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They cranberry taste works surprisingly well against soymilk, and Bobby couldn’t tell that there were no eggs or butter involved. Try it even if you’re not vegan–they’re SO good!

Vegan Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking

3/4 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread)
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
splash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup soymilk (original flavor)
1 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3 cups dried oats
1 cup cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together the margarine and sugars until smooth. Mix in vanilla and soymilk. For some reason, my batter became really chunky, like bad milk. I was pretty nervous about it–does margarine always behave like this? I kept mixing it, futilely hoping the chunks would homogenize themselves.

After about 5 minutes, I gave up and just added in the flour, baking soda, and spices. Surprisingly, I got a nice, smooth batter. Huh.

Mix in the cranberries and oats. Spoon the dough onto a greased baking sheet. My cookies were pretty freaking huge…I used a quarter cup measuring cup as a scoop. An ice cream scoop would probably have been a better idea. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.

The cookies will still be soft when they come out of the oven, but should crisp up after sitting on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Ideally, you should then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Since I don’t have one, I turned mine upside down on a cutting board.

Check out that monster cookie. Om nom nom nom… The recipe makes 20 monster cookies or probably around 30 normal-sized ones.

Length of procrastination: 25 minutes

Coming up next on Cooking to Procrastinate: Bobby visited me last weekend, and we cooked up a mini-Thanksgiving meal. PLUS, we’ve got another giveaway in the works! :D

Ciabatta Bread

4 Nov

So this post is grossly overdue because all the bread has been consumed. Actually, all the bread was consumed about three hours after it came out of the oven, but I digress.

My parents got me a gorgeous green KitchenAid mixer (!!!!!) as a graduation present in June, but it wasn’t until I moved to Davis that I broke it in. Using this recipe from Raccoon and Lobster (one of my absolute favorite cooking blogs evarr), I endeavored to make ciabatta bread.

For some reason, my dough started climbing as soon as I switched to my dough hook. Within five minutes, it was peeling away from the sides of the bowl and thwapping away. I started studying for a bit, and the mixer would’ve fallen off the counter had my roommate not grabbed it. That’s what I get for being a nerd, I guess.

I let the dough rise over the preheating oven which, in retrospect was probably not the best idea. The yeast went insane and tripled in something like half an hour. Oops.

5 minutes later.

30 minutes later.

Yeah, okay that was insane. Anyway, I also went a  little overboard with dusting the dough/baking pan. I was really afraid of the bread sticking and burning, so I covered the thing in layers and layers of flour. Sadly, I had no cornmeal. I ended up with a lot of burnt flour that could be tapped off when the loaf was cut.

Rather successful for my second foray into bread-baking, I think. Next up…sourdough?

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