Happy New Year!

December 31, 2010 16:36 by Suzy

Best wishes to you and your family in 2011...here's to a happy, healthy, and fun new year, with lots of goodies!

Home Fries

December 30, 2010 12:09 by Suzy

Woo-hoo!  I can cross off something from my Kitchen Bucket List!

I have never been able to make good home fries...until now.  Man, this subscription to Cook's Illustrated has been paying off in spades.  Worth every penny.

JD and his mom were loving these on Christmas morning.  The only complaint was that they disappeared so quickly.  Crispy, tender, sweet from the onions, and not at all greasy or mushy.  Perfection!

Diner-Style Home Fries
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" dice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove onions from pan and set aside.

While onion is cooking, put diced potatoes in a saucepan and add water to cover by 1/2".  Add 1 teaspoon salt and place over high heat.  Remove from heat and drain once water begins to boil.

Heat butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and shake to spread them out in a single layer.  Cook, without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.  Carefully turn potatoes and spread them out in a single layer again.  Continue in this manner until potatoes are golden brown on all sides and are tender.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.

Return the onions to the pan and add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss over heat for a few minutes, then serve.  Get ready to open your own greasy-spoon diner.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding

December 27, 2010 19:30 by Suzy

While searching for a chocolate dessert recipe for the holidays, this one caught my eye.  I had never thought of making homemade pudding before...how good could pudding be?  Would it be worth the effort?

In a word, yes.  In several words, OH MY GOD yes.

JD and his mom are not fans of dark chocolate, so I was the only one partaking on Christmas Day.  I took one spoonful and nearly lost my mind.  JD and his mom started looking at me strangely, until finally JD asked if they should leave the room so I could be alone with the pudding.  Ha ha.  Maybe.

Seriously, this is so rich, so creamy, so smooth, it is pure sin in a bowl.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding
adapted from MyRecipes.com

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Ghiradelli)

And for the whipped cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the sugar and salt and beat until well blended.

Heat milk and 1 cup heavy cream in medium saucepan over medium heat until hot.

Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.  Again, make sure you do this gradually, and keep whisking!  You don't want the yolks to scramble on you.

Pour mixture back into saucepan, and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  I used a heat-proof silicone spatula.  Cook until thickened and coats the back of a spoon and reaches around 180 degrees.  The recipe says this should take 5 minutes, but for me tThis took me about 10 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat and add chopped chocolate.  Let sit for 10 minutes to let the chocolate melt.

Whisk mixture until smooth.  Pour into bowl and put a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding so you don't get pudding skin...ewwww.  Chill at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, make the whipped cream:

Beat 1/2 cup heavy cream with 2 teaspoons sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Serve with the pudding.

This turned out thicker than most pudding I am used to...don't know if that's how homemade pudding is, or if maybe I cooked it too long.  Didn't matter.  I'll make this again in a heartbeat.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010 18:04 by Suzy

Do you have a platter of olives on your holiday table?


Image from here

12 Days of Goodies...Day 12: Egg Nog

December 24, 2010 19:50 by Suzy

I know, I know, many people think egg nog is gross beyond gross...trust me, I was in that camp once too.  The thick syrupy crap you get from the grocery store is not real egg nog.  Trust me, and Alton Brown, and try this.

Note:  This recipe uses raw eggs, which may be an issue to some people.  If you have any concerns about this, there are many cooked egg nog recipes out there that you can try instead.  If, however, you have eaten raw cookie dough and hamburger meat your whole life (like me), prepare yourself for some yumminess.

Egg Nog
adapted from Alton Brown

4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
3 ounces bourbon (if your whole group wants booze; if not, you can add it later)
1 tablespoon sugar

In large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until they lighten in color.  Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until lemon colored.  Stir in milk, cream, nutmeg, and bourbon (if using) and mix until combined.

In separate bowl, beat egg whites until it forms soft peaks.  Gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until you get stiff peaks.  Whisk into the milk mixture.  Chill until ready to serve.


12 Days of Goodies...Day 11: Holiday Debate

December 23, 2010 20:59 by Suzy

Question:  Should Die Hard be considered a Christmas movie?  Discuss.


12 Days of Goodies...Day 10: Double Ginger Crackles

December 22, 2010 21:28 by Suzy

I like these better than rolled gingerbread.  No gicky-sweet icing to get in the way of the rich ginger and molasses.  These are so good...warm and spicy and chewy.  I had never used crystallized ginger before this, but it definitely gives these cookies a nice kick.

Double Ginger Crackles
adapted from Fine Cooking

 2 1/4 cups flour
2 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, ground ginger, baking soda and salt in large bowl and whisk together.

In mixer, beat butter with 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg, molasses and crystallized ginger and beat.  Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

Put remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow bowl.  Form dough into 1" balls and roll in sugar.  Place on baking sheets 2" apart.

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly puffed.  Cookies should still be soft and a bit wet inside.

Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 miniutes, then remove to wire rack.

12 Days of Goodies...Day 9: White Chocolate Holiday Bark

December 21, 2010 22:53 by Suzy

Super simple goodies entry today!  And it's so pretty!

White Chocolate Holiday Bark
adapted from Delicious Dishings

4 4-ounce white chocolate bars (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Break up chocolate into pieces and put in microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in microwave, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted and smooth.

Stir in pistachios and dried cranberries.  Pour onto baking sheet, spread out evenly, and let cool.  Break into pieces.

12 Days of Goodies...Day 8: Chewy Sugar Cookies

December 20, 2010 20:24 by Suzy

I've never been a fan of sugar cookies.  They are usually too dry and crumbly and more sweet than flavorful.  So I was intrigued when I saw this recipe in November's issue of Cook's Illustrated.  If anyone could come up with a good sugar cookie recipe, it's Cook's Illustrated, right?

Damn, these are good.  Chewy and buttery and not too sweet.  Yum.

Chewy Sugar Cookies
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl.

In separate bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, and melted butter until combined.  There will be lumps of cream cheese, but don't worry about them.

Add oil and whisk until combined.  Add egg, milk, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

Add flour mixture and stir, using rubber spatula, until combined and soft dough forms.  It will be softer than most cookie doughs.

Pour 1/3 cup sugar in shallow bowl.

Roll dough into balls, using 2 tablespoons of dough for each ball.  Carefully roll balls in sugar and place on cookie sheet.

Flatten each ball into 2" rounds with bottom of drinking glass.  Sprinkle each with a little sugar.

Bake for 11-13 minutes, rotating sheet after 7 minutes.  Edges should just be starting to brown.  Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on rack.


12 Days of Goodies...Day 7: Mexican Wedding Cakes

December 19, 2010 17:49 by Suzy

For some reason, both Mexico and Russia try to claim these cookies as their own.  Growing up, we always called them Mexican Wedding Cakes, but some recipes call them Russian Tea Cakes.  I've also seen them called Snowballs.  Since I use macadamia nuts in them, maybe I should call them Hawaiian Holiday Cakes.

Whatever name they go by, they are so rich and buttery and perfect for the holidays.

Mexican Wedding Cakes
adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookie Book

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I use macadamia nuts)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.  Stir in flour and salt, then stir in nuts.  Dough will be stiff

Roll dough into 1" balls.  Bake on cookie sheet (2" apart) 8-9 minutes.  You want them to be set but not brown.

Immediately remove from cookie sheet and roll in powdered sugar.  Let cool on wire rack, then roll in powdered sugar again.