Monday, October 31, 2011

happy hallow's eve + some pumpkin ghosts

good morning pumpkins! happy halloween!

halloween snuck up like a bandit this year. it's about to be november and i have made exactly zero pumpkiny things.

so naturally i froke out, ate gobstoppers for breakfast, planted myself in the kitchen with loads of pumpkin, and stayed there until i made enough things to be satisfied.

are you already pumpkin-ed out? i hope not. it's about to get pumpkin crazy in this internet space.
i have gobstopper juice running through my bloodstream, bowls of pumpkin seeds waiting to be roasted, and a happy looking pumpkin on my porch.

i'm ready! let's get it on, halloween.

Simply Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from here

*this recipe is very versatile. you can bake it in a 10 inch bundt pan, 
a large rectangular cake pan, large or mini cupcakes. i made regular sized and mini cupcakes.

2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla 
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 eggs

preheat oven to 350. line cupcake pan or mini cupcake pan with papers. (or grease and flour bundt pan). sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. set aside. 
in a large bowl, combine sugars, oil, and applesauce. blend in vanilla and pumpkin. then, beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. gradually stir in flour mixture. fill the cupcake liners until each is 3/4 full (or spread batter into prepared bundt pan). bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes for cupcakes. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

beat cream cheese and butter in a mixer fitted with paddle attachment. 
add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

almond milk + raspberry almond milk smoothie

is your fireplace pretty hot and toasty? 

maybe your fireplace is making you a little too hot.. and a creamy, icy thing sounds awesome. 

no eggs going on this morning. no english muffins or anything drenched in maple syrup. 

somedays i just feel like drinking my breakfast. 

shall we make almond milk?

yes. we shall. 

it's dreamy delicious. i was never so good about drinking milk. i can inhale it with granola. i will always accept a milkshake with open arms. but sitting down to drink a big glass of, no, i'll politely decline.

UNTIL i learned the joyousness of nut milks. i could drink goblets and goblets.

first we shall soak the almonds in water overnight. in the morning they will be bigger and plumper and totally good-looking.

2. blend those dudes up with some water into a milky white cloud.

then squeeze all the pulp through some cheesecloth. and there, we totally just did that. we made our own milk. that was satisfying. today is already a success and i'm still in sweatpants.

and don't get too overly excited and gulp down all of it right away. put it in your oatmeal. stir it in your coffee. make a white russian with it. or make a bomb diggity smoothie.

Almond Milk
makes about 3 cups

*you can make thicker or thinner almond milk by using more or less water. also i just put a dash of vanilla and no sweetener and it was delicious. also, you can blanch the almonds beforehand to remove their skins...i didn't care to fuss over that one. 

1 cup raw almonds
3 cups water
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
maple syrup or agave (optional)

place the almonds in a bowl and cover with plenty of water. let soak overnight. 
the next day, drain the almonds and place into a blender or food processor. add 1 cup of water and a pinch of sea salt and blend into a paste. add the last 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. 
line a large sieve, set over a bowl, with a couple pieces of cheesecloth. pour the mixture into it (i did this in two batches) and pull the sides up, not letting any pulp escape. pinch the corners together and squeeze as much milk as you can from the pulp. sweeten it with vanilla and/or agave if you'd like. 
bam. you just made milk. drink it right away or keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

Raspberry Mango Almond Smoothie
adapted from the goop detox

1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup mango, chopped and frozen
1/4 cup raspberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (i like bioChem vanilla "greens and whey" powder)

put everything in a blender and then blend it. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

butternut squash soup with hazelnuts and parsley pesto

these days, i want and need some big cozy socks on my feet at all times. in my life, there are two exceptions to this sock law.

1. when i get in bed. fling those big socks off. i like clean feet in sheets.

2. those toe socks. never those toe socks.

remember those? you probably at some point had a pair. they were most likely turquoise or hot pink.

i definitely had some weirdo toe socks. and after ten years and much, SHUN, i will not wear those again.

they seem like they'll be fine and comfortable..until you put them on and it just feels weird. something feels off when each toe is separately secure. they are like long gloves on your legs. never again.
 i prefer my toes to be warmed mitten-style.

twelve year old long-toe-sock-wearing julia most likely would not be all too excited about this soup.

she would have ignored butternut squash anything and made a quesedilla. and then she would have gone off to her room. blasted spice girls and made jelly belly flavor combos by eating like 8 at a time.

but here and now in my older wiser self, all i want to do is make soup. i still want to eat 40 quesedillas. but making soup is the best.

standing in the kitchen, stirring the pot. it is slow..unlike my day. but this makes it nice.

xxL non-itchy sweaters/very worn-in sweatshirts should be worn during soup making. and big cozy socks to slide around on. no toe definition allowed.

butternut squash...oh you are a pain to cut, but a dream to eat in soup form.

Butternut Squash Soup 
adapted from Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

*this makes a very large pot of soup, enough for 10 people. it makes delicious leftovers, the flavor is even better on the second day, and it freezes perfectly. 

2 large butternut squash, about 5 pounds total
1/4 cup olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves
1 serrano chile
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
kosher salt
1 1/2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
fresh ground black pepper
parsley almond pesto (recipe below)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted

peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. cut them in half with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and cut the flesh into 2 inch pieces. set aside. 
heat a large pot over medium-high heat, and drizzle the oil into it. add the onions and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. add the celery, carrots, garlic, and chile, and saute until the vegetables begin to caramelize, 10-12 minutes. 

add the squash and cook for 10 minutes. then add potatoes, season with 2 tablespoons of salt, and cover with stock. let the soup simmer over medium heat for 40 to 45 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. (while it simmers, make the pesto and roast the hazelnuts). then puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth.
return the pureed soup to the pot and check the should be smooth and thick, but not as thick as baby food. if it's too thick, thin it with a little more stock. if it's too thin, let the soup reduce over medium-low heat until it thickens. check the seasoning, add pepper and more salt if necessary. 

pour the soup into bowls, dollop with pesto and sprinkle on hazelnuts. 

Parsley Almond Pesto

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1-2 cloves garlic
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil

notes: you can make this by hand chopping for a more coarse pesto or in a food processor for a finer blended pesto. i opted to do it by hand and it was lovely. use whatever herbs or nuts you have. throw in some jalapeno to spice it up. parmesan? of course, why didn't i do that?

on a cutting board, chop up the parsley, almonds, and garlic until it is quite fine. transfer it to a bowl and stir in lemon and salt. add a few glugs of olive oil until it is pretty well covered. let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors mingle. taste and adjust salt and lemon. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

thursday should turn into saturday

it is thursday. we are so close to weekend things. 
today i feel confused about my life. 

i accidentally ate the sticker on an apple. but hot dang, these honeycrisps are ridiculous. 

i'm gonna go eat another and try not to be sad and maybe put on some pink lipstick and kiss things like letters and mirrors. 
and you, if i knew where to find you. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

yeast-raised cornbread

cornmeal meet yeast. yeast, meet cornmeal. now mix and mingle like on millionaire matchmaker.

don't wear those stockings and smile more.

i am a cornbread lover. and sometimes, there are nights when cornbread is the only answer.

we were planning to make soup. perfect

so cozy honeysweet cornbread there was.

lifted with yeast instead of baking powder.

with the last bag of summer corn from the freezer.

sunflower seed nuttiness

gorgeously puffed golden tops.

they're lighter and a bit more bread-y. and they are downright dreamy with a swoop of honey butter. come on. let's eat more cornbread.

and the next day, i mashed some avocado with a heavy dose of lemon and salt, dolloped it right in the middle, and called it snacktime.

Yeast-Raised Cornbread Muffins
adapted from 101 cookbooks

4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp fine grained sea salt
1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp honey
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups fresh or frozen corn, if frozen defrosted to room temperature
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup chopped chives

prepare your pans by rubbing them with olive oil, dust with cornmeal, then tap out any extra. or line with muffin papers. set aside. in a medium bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt. set aside. 
in the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. add about 2/3 of the flour/cornmeal mixture. now add the olive oil, honey, and just TWO of the eggs, corn, sunflower seeds, chives and begin to mix with the dough hook attachment at low speed. as the dough is starting to come together mixing begin adding more of the flour mixture a it at a time, letting it incorporate along the way (you might not need to use all of it). keep adding until the dough is tacky and clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. if the dough is too wet and sticks to the sides, add more flour. if it clears the bottom of the bowl, add more water. 
up the speed to medium and keep mixing for 7 minutes. turn dough onto a floured countertop, knead a few times, gather the dough into a ball and rub with a bit of olive oil. place in a large bowl greased with olive oil and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. 
once doubled, turn it out onto the countertop. to make the rolls, start by cutting dough into thirds - three big wedges. pat each third into a square shape and cup each into six pieces. shape each piece into a ball and place in the muffin tins. let the rolls rise in a warm spot until roughly doubled - another hour. 

*alternately, if you want to bake two loaves, cut the dough into two equal pieces, shape and place in pans. 

preheat oven to 375. just before baking whisk the remaining egg and brush on the dough, sprinkle with cornmeal. bake for 18-20 minutes on the middle rack, or until the rolls are golden. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

snickerdoodle coconut ice cream sandwiches

it was getting chilly and i was loving it. 

then it got hot again. like people are putting on bikinis and sunblock hot. 
92 degrees. 

no. it's fall. i want cold and crisp and spice. 


fine weather. i'll play along for now. i'll make ice cream sandwiches. 

with cinnamony snickerdoodles and coconut ice cream. 

oh goodness. these can turn a day around in a split second. 

the ice cream was refreshment heaven. i didn't make it. i'm wearing under-the-sea themed socks...clearly i'm not trying to impress anyone today. 

from smitten kitchen via martha stewart

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs

preheat oven to 400. line baking sheets with parchment. sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl. add eggs, and beat to combine. add dry ingredients and beat to combine. chill the dough for at least an hour before scooping it. 
once the dough has chilled, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. scoop into tablespoon sized balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. bake until they are set in the center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes. 

Ice Cream Sandwiches:
Ice cream of your choosing. (i used McConnell's coconut ice cream and 
it was phenomenal. i made a few with coffee ice cream. you can't go wrong.)
smash together. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

potatoes with olives feta and mint

spuds spuds spuuuuds!

oooh the world of things to make with them. right now they are being roasted until just crispy on the outside.

the purple purple potatoes. my team.
natural colored things are awesome.

feta. get over here. you're my team too.

frizzy hair. not my team. leave.

the bum that yelled at me last night. not my team. sorry bum, you were frightening.

mint. my team. thank you for mojitos.

fall. my team. i'm giddy about this fall business.

it rained and i went out and ran in it and the beach was deserted and it was perfect.
tonight i'm gonna put on cozy socks.

maybe i'll make soup. and definitely more of these potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes with Olives, Feta, and Mint

2 lbs small new potatoes, quartered
3/4 cup feta
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1 small bunch mint, chopped
olive oil
coarse salt

preheat the oven to 425. toss the potatoes with olive oil and salt and arrange on a baking sheet in one layer. roast for about 45 minutes, tossing halfway through, til crisp on the outside. let cool for a few minutes. transfer the potatoes to a bowl or skillet and add the feta, olives, mint and touch more olive oil. taste and adjust seasonings. serve warm. spud-yum.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

maple pecan tart

love is cool and awesome. 
and i am in love with maple syrup. 

maple. such a godly flavor. that accompanies any decent breakfast.

yes bacon. i want maple syrup on it.
oatmeal? yea, sneak a little bit in there.

eggs? i dunno, sure why not......woops it spilled all over my eggs! <act bummed. ah man. (muahaa yess. nice move!)>

but now, maple is taking full-on center stage. it totally deserves it.

gooey sugary food comfort.

maple loves being with nuts. use walnuts or use pecans, you're call. toasted pecans are the nut love of my life so that was no tough decision.

and as for you aunt jemimah, you seem like a cool aunt, but go away.

Maple Pecan Tart
adapted from the Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

*the original recipe made a 9x13 inch pan of bars. i wanted to serve it in slices so i used two 9 inch pie/tart pans. 

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
zest of half an orange
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chopped pecans

heat the oven to 350. to make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and zest in a bowl. slice the butter into cubes and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips. press onto the bottom and up the sides of two 9 inch pie/tart pans or 9x13 inch pan (to make bars). bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown. let cool. 
for the filling, combine all the ingredients expect the pecans in a bowl and mix until smooth. pour into the cooled crust. distribute the nuts evenly over the top. bake until the filling is set, about 30 minutes. cool on a rack before cutting. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

tomato party

when your friends leave, you throw them a party. 
tomatoes are leaving. 

we should throw them a party. 

there's been an extra amount of sugar and butter going on around me lately. i think i need some real food. just for now. 

i'll probably be back talking about cake and things tomorrow. 

but now, i want some plants. 

ahh tomatoes, one last good looking bag. for this party, the guests of honor should come in all forms, big and small. some roasted, some raw. 

arugula will surely be invited...arugula is edgy and badass. he'll definitely bring the booze and get the ladies. 

chickpeas and pine nuts will be there, they'll keep things interesting. 

lemon. hey, how ya doin?

parmesan. bonjourno. diversity. nice. 

mint and basil. lookin' good. keeping the party fresh. 

slices of red onion. they can be the streakers. 

quinoa. keen-wah. keenan and kal. where the heck is kal? i wish he'd come to my party. 

mmmmmmm. what a fete. 
it's fresh and light. it's cool and nutty. 
it wants you to want it. 

and so tomatoes, we must say goodbye. i have to make room for every kind of apple and my canned pumpkin hoarding problem. 

bye bye sweet tomato friends. i will miss thee. 

Tomato Party
inspired by Ottolenghi's Tomato Party in Plenty. what a glorious book.

serves: a lot

2 cups quinoa
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
a bunch of medium, good looking tomatoes (i used 6 or 7)
1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 small red onion
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated parmesan, depending on preference
a few big handfuls of arugula
juice of 2 lemons
1 small bunch mint, chopped
1 small bunch basil, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
coarse salt
black pepper
pinch of brown sugar

preheat the oven to 325. slice three or four of the larger tomatoes into wedges. arrange those and the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet. sprinkle with a pinch of brown sugar, coarse salt, and pepper. drizzle them with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar and place into the oven. roast for 45 minutes to an hour. 
while the tomatoes roast, make the quinoa. place the 2 cups of quinoa with 3 cups of water in a pan and bring to a boil. then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and no water remains. let cool a bit. 
chop half of the onion very fine and the other half slice into thin strips. slice up the rest of the raw tomatoes in different shapes and sizes. 
toss the quinoa with the garbanzos, pine nuts, finely diced onion, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, a few glugs of olive oil, and all the roasted tomatoes and their juices. season well with salt and pepper. 
arrange arugula on a platter. top with quinoa mixture. arrange the beautiful raw tomatoes on top and scatter with the sliced red onion. drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle of sea salt. bon appetit. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

apple cinnamon challah and a grilled cheese

melted brie. 

there's the hook. keep reading.
this ends with brie. 

i made challah. i put apples and cinnamon in it to be more festive. 

on friday night we dipped it in bowls of honey and easily polished off two loaves. 
sweet and warm. yumness. 

i baked the final loaf last night. and this morning i made breakfast. 

happy sunday breakfast. 

we should all make time for happy sunday breakfast. whether it's by yourself or with your mom or friend or beautiful lover. 

i don't think i need to explain that this is awesome. 
make it. 
i promise you'll smile. 

Apple Cinnamon Challah
adapted from here

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tbsp)
1 tbsp plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tbsp salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 apple, peeled and diced
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

in a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. 
whisk oil into the yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar, cinnamon, and salt. gradually add flour. when the dough holds together, it's ready for kneading. 
turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. flatten out the dough, scatter the apple pieces over, and fold them all in. clean out the big bowl and grease it, then return the dough to the bowl. cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. you can warm your oven to 150 and then turn it off, and let the dough rise in there. 
after doubled, punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour. 

at this point, you can start braiding the dough. it will make 2 larger loaves or 3 smaller ones. i simply divide each ball of dough into 3 equal pieces, roll each one out, pinch the ends together and braid. to make a round challah, just twist into a circle, pinching the ends together. make two or three loaves. place the braided loaves onto greased cookie sheets, with at least 2 inches in between them. 
beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. at this point, you can either freeze breads or let rise another hour. if baking immediately, preheat the oven to 375 and brush loaves with second egg wash. 
bake in the middle of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. cool loaves on a rack. 

Brie and Apricot Preserve Grilled Cheese

a few thin slices of brie
apricot preserves
two slices of challah

butter two slices of challah. spread preserves on each side and lay brie on one side. smush together. griddle until the cheese is melty and the bread is toasty.