Ghiradeli, who?

  FullSizeRender Everyone needs a go to brownie recipe and we're not talking about Betty Crocker or Ghiradeli. Because making desserts from a box is a real Becky move (and not the Becky with the good hair). If you need clarification, please see Beyonce. These are called Prescription Strength Brownies for a reason (and not because of any added THC's). Anyone who believes that the only thing in the world better than chocolate is more chocolate will know what we mean. Surprisingly enough, from scratch brownies are pretty simple. As with any simple recipes, the better the ingredients you put in the better then end product will be. If you've spent any time in the baking section of a nice grocery store or gone to a specialty chocolate shop, I'm sure you've noticed the different kinds of cocoa powder (dark, extra dark, dutch, etc...). What we love about this brownie recipe is that you can class it up or keep it classic simply by trying different cocoas and using different kinds of toppings. Go wild and give something a try. We enjoy finding the darkest cocoa powder we can and topping the brownies with dark chocolate chips and walnuts. A few tips:
  • Brownies bake better in a good quality metal pan. If you're hard up, line your Pyrex pan with heavy aluminum foil.
  • This one will be hard, but these brownies need to cool AT LEAST 30 minutes before you take them out of the pan. I guess this is only important if you need them to present well. If you're making them just for yourself and can't wait just dig them out. They won't be pretty, but they will be gooey and delicious.
  • As with any baking, you'll get better results if all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start.
  • Instead of buttering and flouring the pan you can just use cooking spray, but personally I believe buttering and flouring the pan gives you better results here (others may disagree).
Prescription Strength Brownies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-9 brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ cup toppings (walnuts, chocolate chips, toffee chips, etc.)
Instructions
  1. Butter and flour 8x8 metal pan.
  2. Melt butter in pan.
  3. Once butter is melted, remove from heat and add cocoa powder. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add salt and sugar, mix to combine.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Add vanilla and mix well.
  7. Sprinkle flour over chocolate mix and mix together, using a spoon.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth.
  9. Add desired toppings.
  10. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Cool for 30 minutes on cooling rack.

 

 

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Scone Heaven

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Blueberry and lemon strike again! First, let’s talk about texture. One word, perfect. Even as leftovers, they were so good. Traditional scones like these are usually too dense or just too hard when encountered in the wild (i.e. – pot lucks, the church bazaar or at your Aunt Ethel’s). They should be tender but hold their structure well enough to pick up and eat. The fact that these beauties are also packed with blueberries and flavored with lemon make them the equivalent of encountering a friggin’ white tiger when you’re not at a Siegfried and Roy show. What makes these unique is the light, flaky texture…much like a croissant. These scones were a lot of fun to make. They were a little labor intensive, but I (Megan) enjoyed the process. Nathan would have murdered the person who came up with the process in this recipe.  The way you get this texture is by grating the butter. I know, it sounds exhausting, but well worth it my friends, well worth it. As with any pastry the time and care you put into how carefully you work the dough will pay big dividends in the texture of the finished product. Go the extra mile, trust us (just don’t make Nathan do it). Also,  more blueberries, always add more blueberries. There is nothing as disappointing as not encountering enough blueberries in something purporting to contain blueberries, and no one needs that kind of disappointment in the morning.

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Don’t be afraid to let your scones brown a little. Underdone scones do not work and the brown edges and points give them some visual texture. It is ok for something to visually acknowledge that it’s been in an oven, really. Last bit of advise, save some extra scones for yourself, you’ll want them.

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Blueberry Lemon Scones
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 scones
 
Ingredients
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), frozen whole (see note above)
  • 1½ cups fresh blueberries (about 7½ oz), picked over or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  • ½ cup sugar (3½ ounces), plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425. Score and remove ½ of wrapper from frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater (total of 8 T). Put grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 T of remaining butter and set aside. Save remaining 6 T butter for another use. Put blueberries in freezer til needed.
  2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in med bowl; chill til needed. Whisk flour, ½ c sugar, BP, BS, salt, & zest in med bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers til coated.
  3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula till just combined. Transfer to liberally floured work surface. Dust dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
  4. Roll dough into approximate 12" square. Fold dough into ⅓ like a business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends and fold into ⅓'s again to form approximate 4" square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 min.
  5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12" square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are embedded in dough. Using bench scraper, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12" by 4" rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 min. On wire rack cool 10 min. Make Ahead: Put scones on baking sheet, either refrigerate them overnight or freeze. To bake, for refrigerated, heat oven to 425 & follow step 6. For frozen, heat oven 375 & bake 25 - 30 min.

 

Do you know the muffin man?

Ok, let’s have some real talk for minute. While most of what we post on here (read: all of what we post on here) is not designed to make you thin, in our day to day eating habits we generally eat pretty healthy. Granted, we have our free meals (or free weekends, sometimes free weeks, let’s be honest), but the key to feeling good and being at your best is really based first and foremost on what you eat.

If you’re looking for some real advice on that we recommend you speak to someone else. However, having some go-to foods that don’t throw your normal diet off track but still allow you some indulgence (or feel like you’re having some) is important. These muffins are one of our go-to’s. They don’t have any added processed sugars and as you’ll see the ingredient list is full of all those things that you’d find at a Whole Foods. Even so, they aren’t too bad and don’t make you feel like you’re eating from the bottom of kale barrel. (still all things in moderation, don’t have five of these in a sitting)


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ C whole wheat flour
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP ground flaxseed meal
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ C coconut oil
  • ½ C raw honey
  • ⅓ C dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • ½ C chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat bananas until smooth. Add egg whites and beat until combined.
  3. Gradually mix in honey and coconut oil.
  4. In a different bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, flaxseed, and salt.
  5. Mix dry ingredients into banana mixture; stir in chocolate chunks and nuts, if using.
  6. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
  7. Fill each cup with ¼ C of the batter and bake for 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

Food, the perfect gift, every time.

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I recently needed a thank you gift. After thinking about a few ideas, I settled on cookies. Who doesn’t love cookies, especially ones you don’t have to bake. As everyone knows from past experience, when gifting cookies the usual fair (if not something from a mix or box) is usually some very flat and very sad chocolate chips cookies that are usually light on the chocolate chips and lacking in nuts. Some people prefer no nuts and as our sister/ cousin Marci was quoted to say,”my dad raised me with no nuts.” So after considering the options and some peoples’ reprehensible feelings on the subject of nuts, gingersnaps it was. After researching a few recipes and settling on one from my grandma, I got to work.

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These cookies came together quickly…so easy! Chocolate is always my go to dessert, but I’m never disappointed when I go with something like these cookies or a lemon something. Maybe I should go for non chocolate desserts more often.

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I love the way these look, not to mention they have a great texture. This is a great cookie, and extremely easy. Start baking.

Gingersnaps
Serves: 3 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ C shortening
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • ¼ C Molasses
  • 1 Egg
  • 2¼ C flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Cream shortening, brown sugar, molasses, and egg.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  3. Mix shortening mixture with dry ingredients.
  4. Form dough into small balls, roll in granulated sugar, place two inches apart on greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes at 375.

I think, sir, you’ve had enough,…. Cider.

Hot chocolate has always been my hot beverage of choice. But, I decided to mix it up and try something new… and it paid off. Hot apple cider. Delicious.

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Now, you may be asking yourself if making cider from scratch is any better than just buying a jug of something from the store and heating it up. If you are asking yourself that question then you’re in good company because that is literally the first question we ask ourselves any time we decided to tackle a new recipe. In some cases it is and occasionally it isn’t. Homemade marshmallows, be real people. In this case, it was a win. If you had access to your own, fresh picked apples then it would probably be even better. Using apples to make the cider instead of apple juice gets you more of the richness and apple flavor. If those you are serving this creation to can’t tell the difference then throw them out of your house immediately and vow never to serve them any of your kitchen creations ever again. (But in all seriousness, the end product here was much better then some store-bought juice).

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The only downfall of this recipe is that it is a plan ahead item and not a last minute thing. The apples and spices and everything go into the crock pot for a good while and then there is some processing and assembly to do afterward.

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The other thing to be aware of is that if you need a lot of cider from this recipe make sure to have enough crock pot space or more likely a few crock pots. The apples take up a good bit of space and then cook down some and then get mashed and reduced to cider yielding less than you probably initially thought you were going to get by the amount of stuff you put in.

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So if you’re serious about cider – and really, who isn’t (This is Nathan and I’m not serious about cider. I never understood the stuff quite honestly) – then this is definitely a recipe for your next cold weather party.

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Hot Apple Cider
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1.5 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 1 orange
  • 10 medium apples
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (or 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 TBSP granulated sugar, add more for a sweeter cider
Instructions
  1. Peel the orange and place the segments in the slow cooker.
  2. Wash the apples, cut into quarters, and place in the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and sugar. Add enough water to cover the fruit.
  3. Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours. (Or high heat for 3.)
  4. After 6-7 hours, the fruit will be very soft. Use a large spoon to mash the fruit and release its liquids. Allow the cider to cook on low for 1 more hour.
  5. Very slowly strain the chunky liquid though a fine mesh sieve into a large pot or pitcher. You can discard the solids. Strain the cider one more time to rid any other solids.

 

Fruit, it’s not for everyone…or is it?

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset Real talk...the first time Nathan told me he wanted to make a balsamic fruit tart, I was extremely skeptical. Not that he had ever led me wrong before, but balsamic vinegar and fruit? I had no idea what kind of magic was right around the corner. The flavors in this tart are just so perfectly balanced, it's amazing. Nathan here,.... the best part of this tart is that when you say, "would you like some balsamic vinegar tart", most everyone will crinkle their nose and then politely decline and this of course means that there will be that much more tart left for you to shove in your glutenous face hole. The custard for this tart is very rich and the reduced white balsamic vinegar gives just enough to zing to the flavor to make this one of the best tarts, if not one of the best things period, that you can have for dessert. As with most egg based custards, be sure to take your time so you don't prematurely cook your eggs. Even if you're being careful this recipe requires you to pass your finished product through a sieve to be sure there are no eggy chunks in your finished product. Not only does it taste amazing, but a berry tart has good wow factor. All your guests will be duly impressed even if they don't have any. Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
White Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Berry Topping
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 Servings
 
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • Filling
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Topping
  • 2 large strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • 2½-pint containers blueberries
  • 1½-pint container raspberries
Instructions
  1. For crust:
  2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolk and cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce dough all over with fork. Chill 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 22 minutes. Cool.
  4. For filling:
  5. Stir cream and cornstarch in medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla; whisk to blend.
  6. Boil vinegar in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to ¼ cup, about 3 minutes. Add ¾ cup water, sugar, and butter. Stir until butter melts; return to boil. Gradually whisk vinegar mixture into egg mixture; return to pan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 1 minute. Strain into bowl; cool. Spread custard in prepared crust. Cover and chill tart at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
  7. For topping:
  8. Arrange strawberry slices in star pattern in center of tart. Arrange raspberries in star pattern. Surround with blueberries. Cover loosely and chill until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.)

Holiday Culinary Spectacle

Thankfully the calendar gods have seen fit to give us all a good practice run at the holiday season every year by starting us off with Thanksgiving. Are you looking for some good holiday dishes to incorporate into your festivities this year? Well Megan and I delved in and hopefully some of these ideas will help you wow your kin and acquaintances with your culinary prowess and enlightened pallet (sorry, you’re on your own for help with appropriate family conversation topic, we generally fail at that anyway. All the more reason to have amazing food though, am I right?)

So let’s start by asking ourselves how we got to this point.

Well I’ll tell you,….. I don’t know. At some point during the fall, the subject of Thanksgiving Dinner came up and for some reason I volunteered (I know, doesn’t sound like me, but nonetheless). Anyway, one thing lead to another and then 25 people were coming for dinner. Then I conned Megan into getting involved and I roped my sisters from Preciously Paired into doing the table setting and decorating. The short version is that Megan and I spent a solid three and a half days shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, and then eating.

Clearly, it went really well.

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Jalapeno Butternut Squash Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-in. cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • Crème fraîche (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a 4- to 5-qt. pot over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not yet browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cayenne and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add squash, broth, brown sugar, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. In a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, then pour back into the pot. Stir in cream and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot, with a swirl of crème fraîche if you like.

First, let us introduce you to our distinguished dinner guests, Polly and Filbert. Considering neither of us knew what we were doing when it comes to turkeys, these turned out fabulous! I decided it was only appropriate to name our birds as due to the preparation process I had to get rather well acquainted with these two (Megan was barely able to stay in the kitchen whilst I sat elbow deep in these two and then proceeded to give them oil and butter rubdowns. Let’s just say by the time we ate, Polly, Filbert and I were very close (but still had trouble looking each other in the eye). Filbert was soaked in a brine overnight which made the meat really moist and tender. Polly was glazed with a black pepper, pomegranate glaze. The glaze was beautiful and fantastic, but didn’t really do much for the birds interior bits (read anything below the skin). Both turned out great, although I might have taken them out of the oven 20-30 minutes sooner next time. All in all, the first holiday miracle was present and accounted for.

Recipe note: This recipe calls for pomegranate molasses. We didn’t have that so we reduced pomegranate down into a thick syrup and used that.

Food

Turkeys

Megan had never had cranberry sauce before so I insisted we make fresh cranberry sauce (no Ocean Spray can for us!). It was also real easy and the results were well worth it. I’ll leave you with Megan’s words on the subject:

“Cranberries were a revelation for me this year. I have never actually eaten cranberry sauce…ever. This recipe was extremely easy to make and the perfect mixture of sweet and tart. Win win win!”

My family usually does a (very larger) variety of finger-type foods for their pre-meal snacks. Things like shrimp, olives, crackers, cheese, etc… This year we (I) decided to do a nice harvest-y soup for the opener, a Butternut Squash and Jalapeno Soup with ginger and cream. I’d had this at friends house prior to the holiday meal one year. It not only looks great, but is tasty and easy to make too. (don’t my sisters’ table settings look great! I mean, let’s be honest, the soup really sets the whole thing off but really, so nice!)

This soup got a little spicy, but not overly so. If you need to cut out some of the spice, the friend I got the recipe from recommend leaving out the cayenne. The creme fraiche is a must! It not only adds a nice visual, but it adds depth of flavor and helps cool down the heat.

Soup

Of course for a holiday meal there a few staples that are a must, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be interpreted some. Our green beans were pretty standard fare. We stole a buttered lemon green bean recipe from the Julia Child cookbook.

Green beans

For our yams we wanted to do something a little different. We did do a pan of delicious maple glazed yams with cranberries which are always pretty amazing (sorry, no pan of candied yams with tiny marshmallows and fruit cocktail to be found here), but we also did a pan of savory sweet potato stacks on a recommendation from another friend.  Thinly sliced yams layered with cheeses, herbs and other goodness. So stick that in your yam hole! We did and we’ll never go back. Technically these are supposed to be stacked in muffin tins and then they come out as little individual servings but the store only had huge monster yams so they ended up in a casserole dish and cut into squares. It worked out though.

sweet potatoes

To add some additional color to the plate (and because I love everything about this dish) we made a corn dish that my family does called Corn Escallop. It’s basically a few pounds of corn mixed with everything else you love like bacon, butter, onion, peppers, and sour cream. It bakes in a dish for about an hour and comes out so great and the colors add a lot to any plate. It’s also pretty fool-proof, I mean how can you go wrong with this much butter and bacon.

corn

Despite being dog-tired by the time the meal was served everything came out pretty well.

Megan and Nathan

As you can see from our picture the subtext is clearly something along of the lines of, “if these people don’t clear out of here in the next ten minutes there will be murders,….. or I will be shoving my face full of pie.”

Speaking of pie and spectacle and shoving: the pies this year were a holiday triumph! Instead of using my go-to recipe from Martha Stewart for Pate Brisee I used the pie dough recipe from Cooks Illustrated that a friend sent over to me. It uses half butter and half Crisco for the fat and then half water and half vodka for the liquid. I was slightly suspicious as the dough came out very wet, but it rolled out so nice. As a finished product it was flavorful (thank you butter) and tender (thank you Crisco) and flaky (thank you Vodka). See this video where my sister attempts to make me look like I know what I’m doing.

Pies

Much like this picture here (confession: I didn’t carve the turkey).

Nathan and Turkey

All in all we had ten pies in addition to a pumpkin cheesecake (also super easy) and pumpkin cake roll (also super easy as I had my grandmother bring it).

Plate

Cranberry Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 c sugar
  • Orange or lemon zest
  • 2 TBSP water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan and transfer ½ cup to a small bowl.
  2. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 2 tablespoons water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.

Good Easts Roast Turkey
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
  • For the brine:
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1½ teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1½ teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water
  • For the aromatics:
  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil
Instructions
  1. to 3 days before roasting:
  2. Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
  3. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  4. Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
  5. Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  6. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  7. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
  8. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  9. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2½ hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Jalapeno Butternut Squash Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-in. cubes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • Crème fraîche (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a 4- to 5-qt. pot over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not yet browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cayenne and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add squash, broth, brown sugar, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. In a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, then pour back into the pot. Stir in cream and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot, with a swirl of crème fraîche if you like.

Savory Sweet Potatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds small sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) freshly shredded mozzarella cheese, divided*
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • ½ to ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Garnish: fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Layer half of sweet potatoes in a lightly greased 12-cup muffin pan. Sprinkle with 1½ tsp. thyme and ½ cup cheese. Top with remaining sweet potatoes. (Potatoes will come slightly above the rim of each cup.)
  2. Microwave cream, next 3 ingredients, and remaining ½ tsp. thyme at HIGH 1 minute. Pour cream mixture into muffin cups (about 1 Tbsp. per cup).
  3. Bake at 375°, covered with aluminum foil, 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.
  4. Let stand 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around rim of each cup, and lift potato stacks from cups using a spoon or thin spatula. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish, if desired.

 

Lemon Curd To-go

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You may (or may not) remember our post on the best summer dessert; fresh berries, lemon curd, and whipped cream. Lemon curd was definitely a revelation so when one of my employees gave me a cook book with a recipe for Lemon Curd Bars we had to give it a try. Now most of our readership will be familiar with the tried and true Lion House Cookbook recipe for lemon bars, and truth be told it isn’t a bad one (the real truth be told is that anything lemon is pretty good in our book). This new recipe makes a bar that is much thicker than you’re average lemon bar, but not in a bad way. We have purchased a lemon bar at a restaurant that was more like a lemon log and was way too dense to be as thick as it was. I was a little worried that this would be the case with this recipe.

The crust incorporates some cinnamon which isn’t noticeable in the finished product, but I think makes a difference in there nonetheless. Assembly is going to be pretty familiar for anyone who has done lemon bars before. No need to hash out the details here.

The end result is pretty good. The color wasn’t bad and after letting them cool they held their structure remarkably well and they didn’t come out too tough or dense either. Our batch didn’t cook real evenly, leaving the middle a little goo-y but I’d like to attribute that to Megan’s Philistine of an oven, which seems to enjoy pillaging and ruining things that are put into it, rather than placing the blame on the recipe or our baking skills (naturally).

The taste was what really made these Lemon Curd Bars stand out. The lemon flavor was really rich and kind of sneeks up on you, building slowly and steadily over the first sweet notes you get with the initial bite. The short bread crust and lemon custard top were distinctly different in texture which is what you want with a lemon bar. Be warned that these will not keep well (mostly because they are delicious and there won’t be any left) as they will get pretty melty and mushy sitting out on a counter. If it’ll be some time until they get consumed after they cool down we’d recommend putting them in a cool place or the refrigerator. A great topping both visually and taste wise would be a few glazed berried or just some mint leaves and sifted powdered sugar for a nice garnish.

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Lemon Curd Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 bars
 
Ingredients
  • For the Crust:
  • 1 C Flour
  • ½ C Granulated Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ⅛ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ C Cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
  • For the Filling:
  • ¾ Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • 3 Eggs, room temperature
  • ½ C Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 T Heavy Cream
  • Powdered Sugar for Garnish
Instructions
  1. To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8 inch baking dish, preferably glass.
  2. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs and sticks together when pinched, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness. Press the dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish, lightly flouring your fingertips if necessary to prevent them from sticking. Bake the crust until pale golden, 20-22 minutes. Let the crust cool completely on a rack. Reduce the temperature to 325.
  3. To make the filling, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, and zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the baked crust.
  4. Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).
  5. Run the tip of a knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.
  6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

 

Grilled Cheese Strikes Back

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Now, everyone loves a good grilled cheese. Let’s just all accept that as fact. That being said, I occasionally feel the idea is played out. Right, I get it. Bread, butter, cheese, grill, yadda, yadda,….. I’m sure it’s good but what else have you got? Inevitably, just as this thought is crossing my mind something new and wonderful and undiscovered (to me anyway) appears on the scene- or in this case, my plate. Such is the case with these Balsamic, Onion, Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

The real enjoyable part of this sandwich is the onions; the sweat, flavorful onions. We happened to have some red raspberry balsamic vinegar from one of Megan’s ingredient buying binges so we used that when caramelizing the onions. I’m sure you could use any variety of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar or whatever other fun booze that will impart a fruity note to the onions.

The garlic isn’t where you’d expect it to be when first looking at this recipe. The garlic gets minced and mixed in the with the butter, which is then spread on the inside of the bread. Be warned, if garlic isn’t your thing, then these sandwiches are definitely not for you. Let me say that the raw garlic in the sandwich really packs a punch and goes oh so nicely with the caramelized onions and Gruyere and mozzarella cheese. We used some high dollar sourdough bread from the store to make these, but I’m sure there are plenty of bread options that would work. As with any grilled cheese the important things is that the bread slices not be too thick.

In the interest of having your cake and eating it too (i.e. enjoying the sandwich and still being approachable afterwards) I tried making one sandwich by foregoing the raw garlic and just mixing the butter with the some garlic powered. It was alright, but not nearly as good. The onions are very flavorful and the bite of the raw garlic really plays well with them.

cheese

Assembling this whole mess can be a little fiddly, but once it gets in the pan it actually holds together pretty well. And the results, both in looks and taste, are AMAZING! Let us know what you think (unless you’re a pinko commie who can’t stand garlic).

Balsamic, Onion, Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 sandwiches
 
Ingredients
  • 8 slices of white bread
  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (You can also use garlic powder, depending on your love for garlic)
  • 4 small onions, or 2 large, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry balsamic vinegar (any vinegar with fruity notes will work)
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
  • ½ cup mozzarella, grated
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low/medium heat. Caramelize the onions, and stir occasionally, until they are golden. This will take closer to a half hour. When they are cooked to perfection, toss the onions with the vinegar and thyme leaves and season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds fresh pepper.
  2. Combine half of the remaining butter with the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the garlic butter on one side of the bread. Cover with ¼ gruyere cheese and top with ¼ cup of the onions. Spread the garlic butter on another piece of bread and top with a handful of mozzarella. Close the sandwich and spread the regular butter on the outside. Repeat with the other 3 sandwiches.
  4. Preheat a saute pan to medium high heat. When the pan is hot add the sandwiches, two at a time. Cook until golden on both sides and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes.

Spilled Milk Deserves Cookies

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One of my most favorite/horrifying/eye opening moments while teaching high school comes from the time the class was making chocolate chip cookies. One particular student checked her groups’ cookies and said (with a very concerned tone) “Ms. Wright, our cookies don’t look right. They’re fluffy and light brown.” It was at this moment that I realized a lot of my students had only seen flat, pale, and sad cookies. So sad.

A great chocolate chip cookie recipe is a necessity. If you have never experienced a fluffy, delicious, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle, golden brown cookie you are missing out.

Say goodbye to sad and flat cookies today with this recipe!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies (High Altitude)
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2½ cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 lb Butter (do not use margarine)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 tsp. Vanilla
  • 6 Cups Flour
  • 1½ tsp Salt
  • 1½ tsp Baking Soda
  • 6 Cups Chocolate Chips
  • 2 Cups Chopped Walnuts (Optional)
Instructions
  1. Cream together sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla in mixer.
  2. Add flour, salt, baking soda. Mix well.
  3. Add chocolate chips and nuts.
  4. Pre heat oven to 350.
  5. Roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on cooling rack.
Notes
i often times will half this recipe. When you cut the recipe in half, reduce the eggs to two, instead of three.

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