Squash-Powered Cat

butternuttttt

So I really wasn’t planning on blogging about these pancakes. I mean, laziness and whatnot took over, and I was going to blow it off. BUT THEN. Semi-epic things happened, and I changed my mind.

As in, I have discovered that my cat is squash-powered. He prefers butternut.

There I was, casually opening the can of butternut squash, when Nosh (my Maine Coon goofball) comes sauntering over, looking decidedly interested in what I was doing. I looked down at him. He looked wide-eyed and cutely up at me. I said, “Surely you can’t be interested in eating this…”. He continued looking up at me, with a totally clear agenda. Whatever, I said. I let him sniff the can… and then went on with what I was doing. He kept watching. At which point I spasmodically dropped a spoon on the floor (the spoon covered in squash puree). I picked up the spoon and pointed out the squash on the floor to Nosh… who quickly trotted over and ATE. IT. ALL.

What?!

Since when do cats like squash?! But wait. It gets better.

Nosh is on the right. Jessie apparently wasn't interested in the squash...

Mom had gotten involved… and kept feeding him little bits of puree out of the bowl. (Which he ate. All of it) By this point, I’d finished at least a few pancakes, and since one was a total flip-fail (as in, it semi-splattered all over the pan…), we decided to feed it to him and see if he liked it (Keep in mind, my cats don’t normally get people food… excepting the odd bit of fish, they don’t eat much of what we do, which makes this SUPER WEIRD) (They did have a weird incident with refried beans, ages ago—perhaps they just like things in cans?!). Nosh proceeded to eat a pancake… and a half. Probably. I lost track, but what?! He’s obviously my cat, if he likes pancakes that much, hehehhe :]

Squash powered cat?!

Anyway, these pancakes were deeeelicious. They were originally supposed to be pumpkin, but the pumpkin we had wasn’t good anymore, so butternut happened. Much to the delight of Nosh, apparently. Who then proceeded to take a massive catnap (and by massive, I’m refering to the fact that when he sleeps, Nosh acts like one of those inflating sponges that you soak in water. Get up for two seconds, and good luck getting your spot back from the amazing expanding wonder!), and sleep off all he ate. And dream, too, with lots of chewing. I bet he was eating squash in his sleep! heeehe.

Pancake Cairn!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

Adapted from the Betty’s Diner Pumpkin Pancake recipe

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 c butternut squash puree
  • 1 c 1% milk or your fave nondairy
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine flour, spices, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, squash puree, sugar and egg yolks. Add liquid to dry all at once and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy or until your arm falls off. Fold into the batter. Do the pancake dance. Eat. Feed to your cat and watch him dream about them later :]

butternuts are rather awkward squash

Cleverly Averted Cornbread Fail

no, this is not *just* cornbread...

Cornbread is a hot commodity in this house. Like, better eat it while you can, before it gets sucked down into someone’s stomach (perhaps the resident vacuum cleaner, Vati?!). And by this house, I mean home home! As in, not Salem. Someoneeeee is home for the holidays, hoorayyy! Time for hopefully epic holiday eating, which translates to epic holiday blog fodder. Everyone wins :]

Anyway. Where I was going with this whole cornbread biz. Last night, to accompany tree-decorating, we decided on chili and cornbread (Because one without the other is clearly sacrilege). Cornbread is the first thing I remember learning to make, so I have rather a fondness for it…and besides. It’s delicious. So I got busily to work on the cornbready goodness…measuring here, whisking there… and into the oven it went. Simple pimple, right?

So not.

Twenty minutes later, I took it out. There appeared to be a number of things wrong with it. It was brown. This is a crime. Cornbread should not be brown on the bottom. Lightly golden, yes. Brown? NO. Borderline burnt? Absolutely NOT. Strike one. Second. It didn’t SMELL like cornbread. Which is not necessarily a deal breaker, but tipped me off there might be something funky with this particular batch. Strike two. Thirdly. I tasted it.

EW.

Blandest, most boring cornbread everrrr. Apparently I left something out?! Because I’ve made this same recipe with the SAME ingredients before, and it was mega tasty. Oops. Strike mega-three. After mutti and vati also tasted it and we all decided that it was not a fit partner for chili, I decided to make another batch (different recipe—I was too irritated at the last one). I really didn’t want to compost the last batch though—it felt wasteful, and I’m obviously not one to throw out food. So instead… I had a brilliant (if I do say so) idea to make it into a sort of cornbread-bread pudding, like for a breakfasty type dish! Huzzah, for frugality! AND. I winged it. But it was super tasty—Vati the Vacuum (hehhe) had two slices for breakfast. It’s lightly sweet but not overly so, and nice and corny—tasty with a drizzly of maple syrup.

Besides, I was quite proud of neatly averting a cornbread crisis… with the creation of some awkward cornbread pudding!

Natural light! Hooorayy, California!

Awkward Cornbread Pudding

Adapted from… the jungle of my brain. Makes one 8 by 8 pan.

For the cornbread: I used a failed version (obviously), but I’m sure normal cornbread would work too, you might just want to reduce the sugar. Mine was originally sweetened with a scant 1/4 c honey. Use your favorite, and adjust sweetness to taste. For a dessertier bread pudding-type, I would use cornbread that is already on the sweet side.

  • 1 8 by 8 pan of cornbread, cut into 1/2″ chunks. Use mostly the soft middle, and some of the crust for texture
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c 1% milk, or non-dairy sub of choice
  • a good slug of cinnamon
  • a few grinds of fresh nutmeg
  • brown sugar to taste (I used somewhere around a heaping tablespoon, perhaps a bit more)
  • 1-2 tsp turbinado sugar
mmm, maple

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place chunks of cornbread into a lightly greased 8 by 8 pan. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the liquid over the cornbread in the pan, making sure to even distribute it. Sprinkle your desired amount of brown sugar evenly over the surface of the cornbread, and then use a fork to turn it under, and completely saturate the cubes of bread in the milk mixture. Sprinkle turbinado over the top (creating a yummy crust-type thing). Bake for just about 25 minutes, until custard is set, and a tester comes out clean. You shouldn’t see too much really liquidy/mushy business in the pan, but it also shouldn’t be too dry (you don’t want dry custard, ewww). Keep in mind that it’ll set up a bit when it cools in the pan. Just about 25 minutes should do it.

Eat. Preferably for breakfast, with maple syrup. MMmmmm… And revel in your cleverly averted cornbread fail.

I apologize for the slight overexposure... I was way excited to have natural light in which to photograph. Thanks, Oregon. NOT.

Operation Release the Tart!

Finals?

What finals?

I’ve come to the conclusion (through careful analysis and methodological research) that I spend far more time baking, cooking, and planing what I’m going to bake and cook than I do actually studying. Oops. Whatever, I did well on my finals, so there! Besides, at least I know where my priorities are… food. And prohibitively (or not…apparently this isn’t stopping me) expensive active wear. As a close friend pointed out, I have been known to drop semi-ridiculous amounts on a pair of yoga pants, but there is no way on this earth that I would ever spend that same amount on a pair of jeans. Ha. Like I said, I have my priorities.

Anyway. To illustrate this ridiculousness (no, not the yoga pants…anyone who sees me on a regular basis is fully aware that they comprise a good 75% of my wardrobe), I’ll give you the example of *the * tart. I’ve been eyeing my tart pan with a removable bottom (a genius invention, might I add) for about three months. And thinking about it, likely when I should have been paying attention to some theory or other. Thusly: Kira and I stumbled upon a tart in my La Boulange cookbook, that combined several of our favorite ingredients, and which looked like it could fly us to gastronomical heaven in about one bite.

gorgey dough

So. On Sunday, when we went grocery shopping, we bought the necessaries… goat cheese… creme fraiche… mushrooms… and BUTTER. (and hilariously ran into my painting professor, who then subsequently remembered that I bought creme fraiche, and asked  me if I was eating my way through the store. Duh. What on earth would I be doing instead?!) I have spent ALL WEEK up until today greedily awaiting the tart to be, to the point of pretending it was Thursday (aka Tart-Day), so I could make it earlier. But… I waited! Aren’t you proud? I satisfied myself with making the dough yesterday, so I could pretend to do something useful and productive besides studying. I did this after going to happy hour at the Wild Pear for a Peartini… And then I made dinner. And then I was tired, so I went to bed. Hmm. Being a senior is mildly exhausting. Teehee.

ANYWAYYY. I digress. Today was THURSDAY! TART DAY! The day I’ve been waiting for alllllll week, since my finals/semester is donezies (wheee!), and I got to make and eat this fab tart. And it was fab, believe me… Kira can attest, since after we ate it, we had to do some serious lying on the floor working on digesting. It was that good. I mean, I know it sounds a little sketchy, but just trust me. Such a gastronomical tasty win. Even better: We have TWO tupperwares of leftovers. Hellooooo, cold tart. Mmmm, you are going to be so delicious when I eat you. For every meal. Until you’re gone. At which point I will be terribly sad but probably also day-dreaming about the next gastronomical adventure. I’m just fickle like that.

creme fraiche is a beautiful thing

Tarte aux Champignons et Fromage de Chevre

From The American Boulangerie Cookbook. Makes… one tart, in an 11″ tart pan (or you could make smaller ones).

I found it easier to make the dough the night before, and then roll it out and put in the pan, so that it was ready to fill the night we wanted to eat it. Makes the dinner a little simpler.

Pate Brisee

  • 2.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 5 oz (10 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ chunks (I happened to use sweet cream butter and it was still amazing—it was what we had around)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c cold water
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

In the bowl of a standmixer (hello Kitchenaide I LOVE YOU!) fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add cold butter and mix on low speed, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs (1-1.5 minutes). Add egg, cold water, and lemon juice, and mix until large lumps form. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead with the heel of your hand until the dough holds together. Shape it into a disc, and wrap it in plastic wrap (I stuck in a plastic bag). Refrigerate for at least and hour or overnight. I did mine for an hour and then rolled it out.

On  lightly floured work surface, roll out chilled dough (this is probably sacrilegious to the baking gods, but I zapped mine in the microwave next to a bowl of water for 15 seconds, to get it a little less dry to roll out. It seemed to work, and didn’t compromise the flakiness of the dough later). Try to roll it out to about 1/8″ thickness, and carefully transfer to the tart pan. Remove excess, and prick the bottom with a fork. Cover with foil or plastic, and refrigerate for an hour or overnight (mine was overnight).

The TART!

  • 1 pound mushrooms (we used half cremini and half white button)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 c creme fraiche
  • 8 oz log of goat cheese, cut crosswise into 1/4″ rounds (ish, mine were inexact) (we also used a honey chevre, which was aaaaa-mazing)
  • 1 chilled, unbaked tart shell

Slice the mushrooms, reserving the 12 prettiest slices for a garnish. In a large saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms until they render their juices, and then until most of the juice is absorbed. Ours had a bit too much juice, so we drained them prior to use. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 425. Spread 1/2 c of creme fraiche into the bottom of the chilled tart shell. Top it with sauteed mushrooms, and then with the goat cheese rounds. Garnish with the reserved mushroom slices, and then dollop (what a great word) the tart with the remaining 1/4 c of creme fraiche. Bake immediately until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, 25-30 minutes (ours was more like 30). Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack (do not attempt to release the tart while it’s still hot… it’s a bit difficult, and may require 2 people…) (whatever. we were hungry). Serve with salad and bread, mmmmm.

I am DEFINITELY making this again. As soon as I get my hands on more goat cheese.

it kind of looks like pizza. believe me, it's not.

Close encounters of the Leek-kind

I think Salem might finally be getting out of its RIDICULOUSLY cold weather funk, hooray! I’ve scraped ice off my car before class for the last three days, but it’s lookin’ like a squeegee (that is such a great word) might suffice today. Thankfully. I mean, as much as I like treating ice scraping as a bonus early-morning workout, I’d really rather pass, thanks. Because ice in the uggs is no fun. And because when I’m trying to listen to the radio on  my way to class and the antenna is trapped in its little frozen antenna house, due to sub-artic conditions of 29 degrees, I am not a very happy camper. Although it did make me giggle, I have to say, when I heard this weird noise and turned around to see the antenna trying to fight its way up to the light and majorly struggling. We got there in the end, thankfully… Toots and I ventured out into the freezing fog, and my heater kicked in just as I was pulling into the parking lot at school. Psh. Fail.

Whatever. All this cold weather makes me want to stay inside and cook tasty things (not like I really need an excuse for this, do I?! I think I cook more than I do homework) (But a girl has to eat, RIGHT?! At least I’m doing something productive). When Kira and I were at Trader Joe’s on Sunday, we encountered LEEKS! Which is awesome. Leek is such a funny name for a veggie. I just like the way the word looks, leek leek leek leeeeeek! It’s just fun. Call me crazy, but whatever. Besides, they’re really a hilariously awkward looking veggie. I’ve never dealt with a leek up close and personal, but I’ve eaten them in soup. Which is delicious. But since we had soup at the end of last week, I wasn’t feeling super soupy… AND there was an abundance of quinoa lurking in the cabinet, clamoring to be eaten.

Close encounters of the leek-kind

So now, I can cross dealing with leeks off my to-do list (because you know it was on there, right?!)… thanks to these quinoa-leek cakes! Kira and I had them with salad for din din last night, and they were leekily delicious.

Quinoa Cakes with Leeks and Corn

Loosely adapted from Annie’s Eats, kind of. Makes 13 small cakes, about 3″ in diameter. Or you could make enormous patties…

Procure:

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked
  • 1 leek! Cleaned, with the green bit removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 slice whole wheat bread, made into crumbs
  • Frozen corn (or fresh, if you’re lucky)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 garlic hunk (equal to one clove, I use the frozen ones from TJ’s, because they’re mess free and awesome)
  • pepper to taste

To start… Cook the quinoa! Combine 1 cup of quinoa and and 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In the meantime, clean the leeks! Cut off the root end and the really green bits (those are bitter and woody, you don’t want them), and then slice and dice the leeks into little bitty pieces. Put them in a bowl full of water and swish them around, to get all the grime out (this is also why you buy organic!), then drain them through a collander. Kira and I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil, and the garlic clove. Set aside until cool.

When quinoa and leeks are cool: In a large bowl, combine quinoa, leeks, eggs (lightly beaten), parmesan, corn, salt, pepper, and the crumbled slice of whole wheat bread. Form into patties, and cook until they are browned and hold together, about 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with extra parmesan, and with a side salad :)

***Note: We both found these to be a bit on the bland side. Next time I make them (and believe me, there WILL be a next time, they were super tasty), I think I might experiment with adding some spice of some sort, like cumin (pairs well with parmesan), or something of that sort. At least more salt needs to happen, but I also think they could use a bit more flavor. We also did half our batch with corn, and loved it—next time corn is going in the whole shebang. Kira and I were also postulating that the addition of chicken sausage would be good—it would provide the saltiness/flavor that these lacked.

Quinoa up close and personal
this is what happens when you're hungry and your food is hot. steamy lens!

Umpteen zillion ripe pears, and what to do about it.

Before I start, I just want to share this:

sad.

There is a disturbing lack of food in here… particularly veggies. Except the emptiness kind of makes me giggle… and makes me proud! No wasted food over the vacation to be found here. This, however, has been semi-rectified, and the Nerdaerie fridge looks a tad happier now. By the way, Nerdaerie is Kira’s and my nickname for our apartment… get it? We’re nerdy. We live on the second floor, like an nest or aerie of smarty eagles. Because eagles are smart. And we’re smart. And nerdy. And awesome :)

Whilst I was home, I of course had to do something besides bake pumpkin biscuits. Besides, what else was I going to do with umpteen fifty-zillion over-ripeish pears, and a new convection oven?! How can you resist? Answer: you can’t. I had to break the oven in somehow, right? Right. And the holidays = baking. Well, really anytime = baking, but that’s just a small technicality I’m willing to overlook.

mmmm, umpteen ripe pears!

So. I ended up using the remaining bits of flour (just enough, but I was SO NOT going to brave the madness that is Whole Foods at any time during the holidays. No cart roller derby for me, thanks… I really don’t prefer having to throw an elbow just to get to the broccoli) to make a cake! With pears. And chocolate. And things we already had lying around the house. Because THEN, Mutti, Vati and I could sit around and eat cake and watch the Civil War (Are YOU Duck enough?!). Because, as Vati so rightly said, all bets are off on game-day. One slice of cake per quarter? Done. And oops. We ate half the cake in one sitting. Whoopsie! Good thing it has fruit and is therefore good for me.

This cake is delicious. It’s not too sweet, with just the right balance of chocolate, fruit, and lightly sweet batter. Oh yeah. It goes perfectly with that leftover Fra Angelico spiked whipped cream you have sitting in the fridge. Because everyone knows that pear and hazelnut are a match made in heaven. Add in chocolate, and you can forget about eating anything else the rest of the day. Unless of course you’re Vati, in which case apparently beer is a nice accompaniment. But you’ll have to ask him about that one…Maybe I should have made him some beer spiked cream! Ew. No. We’re not even going to try to go there!

ANYwayyy, back to the cake!

Pear Cake with Dark and Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Adapted from The Pastry Affair, here!

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tbsp (half a stick) of unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c turbinado sugar
  • 4 or 5 smallish pears, diced, skin on
  • 3/4 chocolate pieces (I used about 1/2 semisweet choc chippies and 1/2 70% dark chocolate bar, chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9″ or 10″ springform pan (mine was 10″).

Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Begin by browning your butter. Over low heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam up. Scrape the little bits off the bottom of the pan as you go. Watch it closely, since it burns quickly. When it’s finished, pour into a separate bowl to keep it from cooking.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs using an electric mixer. Beat until light, foamy and thick, about 8 minutes. Add sugar, and keep beating for a few minutes. Turn the mixer to low, and add about a third of the dry ingredients. Then add half the butter, then another third flour, then the rest of the butter. Add the last third of flour, and then the applesauce. Continue beating until incorporated, but avoid overworking the eggs, and stop when things are just mixed.

Pour batter into the pan, and top with diced pears and chocolate. The batter will creep up as it bakes. Bake for 40-50 minutes (mine was perfectly done at 40, but it was also thinner in a larger pan), or until a tester comes out clean.

Scarf, whilst watching the ducks do a dance on the beavers. buahahhha. Live green, yell o! (and yes, I do go to Willamette, but Oregon will always be my adopted school)

oops. Half of it mysteriously disappeared somewhere...

 

Ludicrously cookie picky.

Cookiehenge?!

Really?!

I just realized I have never posted a cookie recipe on this blog! This blog, in whose title COOKIES plays an extremely large part. Mind blown.  This is on the scale of severe cookie deprivation. Cookies are… my favorite things.

EVER. But I’m really particular. No, let me rephrase that. Ludicrously picky. Just ask anyone who has ever come with me to buy one in a bakery or somesuch. I’m that kid. The one who points to a cookie waaaay back in the back under about five other cookies and will not walk away until that specific cookie is in my possession. Yep. That kid. And chocolate chip is my ultimate favorite. Except only the ones that are chewy/slightly crunchy on the edges, and chewy/soft in the middle. See? I’m not picky, or anything… To date, the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve eaten is from a bakery at home—I get one every time I fly up to Oregon, and have been known to buy one a day in advance, if I’m flying out too early to get one the day of. Whatever, at least I have my priorities straight!

But the funny part is… I am fundamentally unsatisfied with the chocolate chip cookies that I make. Weird, I know. But I way prefer to get them from a bakery (a good one, mind you…no cookie schlock for me). However. This does SO not apply to other cookies I make… these, for instance. I LOOOOVE pumpkin, as we know. So it goes without saying that I LOOOOVE pumpkin chocolate chip cookies even more. Besides, opening a can of pumpkin but not using it all gives me an excuse to eat my favorite pumpkin-y breakfasts. And having cookies around makes my days sooo much better.

See that top one trying to escape? It found a nice home in my tummy...

These cookies are my favorite kind of pumpkin cookies: cakey and soft. I know there is some debate in the cookie camp over whether a cakey cookie is acceptable, and I would certainly agree that cakey cookies are WORTHLESS when I want a good chocolate chip (refer to above statement regarding acceptable cookies). However. Pumpkin cookies are designed for cakey factor. Pumpkin somehow makes cakey acceptable. I enjoy these based on their cakeyness.

However. If you try to trick me with a cakey chocolate chip cookie, I don’t think we can be friends.

Just kidding! We can be friends. I just won’t eat your cookies… and you’ll owe me an acceptably chewy one ;)

So. Without further ado, here are the cookiesss!

of course I don't play with my food...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Adapted from here!

I made half the recipe, as per usual, which gave me 11 good-sized cookies (good sized, as in you don’t feel cheated with one, or guilty with two. Not you should ever feel guilty about eating cookies, I mean really. They’re COOKIES!) I’ll post the halved recipe here.

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • heaping 1/8 c rolled oats (ish… I didn’t measure, so just use your judgement)
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (Apparently I forgot this in my recipe, but my cookies turned out fab anyway)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 egg
  • very scant 1/2 c sugar (I used brown with a smattering of turbinado)
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • a judiciously large handful of chocolate chips (it never pays off to stint on choc chippie)

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease (hoooray, coconut oil!) your cookie sheet. These cookies don’t spread, so I was able to get the whole bunch on one cookie sheet. Also why I love half recipes—it’s as close to instant gratification as I can get when making my own cookies!

In a mediumish bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flour, salt, soda (If you remember it, ha), powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg). Toss in oats and stir to combine.

In a largeish bowl, beat egg and sugar with an electric mixer until light colored and foamy. This doesn’t take very long, hooray! Add in oil, pumpkin, and vanilla, with the mixer on a lower speed. Add in flour, attempting to NOT spray it all over your kitchen (NO, I did not do this…this time, anyway. It’s definitely been known to happen). Fold in choc chippies once the flour is all incorporated.

Make cookies!! This is easy. Drop by enormous spoonfuls onto the greased cookie sheet, and pat into a cute roundy shape. Or not, your call. Alternatively, you can be weird and make more normal sized cookies. To which I say, pssshhhhhh. Big cookies are the way to go. I particularly love when they’re palm sized… or the size of my face. Even better. Anyway, mine were decently sized, perfect for snacking :)

Bake until the cookies feel firm to the touch on top, and a tester comes out clean. Mine were done at exactly 16 minutes, and I left them on the cookie sheet for a bit before taking them off. A metal spatula works best for getting them to the cooling rack.

Eat, ideally with a glass of milk, in your sweatpants, while the weather does crazy things outside your window. Silly Salem, this weather makes me want to bake instead of thesis. And eat copious amounts of cookies. Ah well, I shan’t fight the urge ;)

 

Holiday Trolls and Mispronunciation

Look at that cornbread. yeah. You know you want some!

I’m in full holiday-mode now.

Well, kind of.

I’ve put myself on Christmas music lockdown. I have a really irrational urge to listen to it, but I’m resisting. December 1st is the acceptable time to start listening. Tell that to Pandora. Trying to sabotage my lockdown, yeeesh… But really, the Nutcracker is obviously not JUST Christmas music, teeheehee!

Anyway. Besides settling into holidayish time, I can feel myself going into hibernation mode. Not my fault, since Salem has decided that night will fall around 4:30 pm. Or maybe 4:10 today, as I look out the window… Winter weather makes me want to curl up and eat. All this cold weather and dark starts turning me into a bear. Wait. Do bears do yoga and pilates? Okay. Maybe not a bear.  A troll? Yeah. Probably. Do trolls hibernate? Maybe they style their really cool hair during the winter months?

This is getting ridiculous. Apparently my brain has gone on holiday without notifying  me. I’d be the last to know, I’m sure. I think all that theories studying has gone to my head… but at least the midterm is done and the paper is nearly there (assisted by copious amounts of the bread that this post features).  Besides turning into a bear/troll in the winter, I start wanting things like soup. And baked goods. Ha. As if. In what season do I NOT want baked goods?! NONE. How silly life would be without tasty baked treats. Booooring. Besides, the gremlins would get antsy!

SO!

Let’s get on with the purpose of this post. Sorry for the long hiatus between posts… The eating last week wasn’t cooperating on photogenic levels.

This soup is immensely satisfying on a hibernating troll level. Or on anyone’s level, really… It’s creamy and thick–rich without being terrifyingly bad for you. It also pairs well with cornbread (what doesn’t?!). I’m sure it would also be deeeelicious with a baguette, were you to have one lurking around. The soup is fairly basic, and uses things typically found in your (ok, my) pantry. It has a pretty short ingredient list, which is a plus when you desperately want soup!

I also decided it was time for the world to see my “It’s Willamette, Damn it!” bowl… You see, people have  penchant for mispronouncing the name of my school. In fact, it’s the most mispronounced in the contiguous United States. And it rhymes with damn it. So see? It’s an easy way to remember, for those of you who like to say “Will-uh-met”. NO. It’s Willamette, damn it!

See? I've even puffy-painted it, so that people can get it right!

Coconut Sweet Potato Soup (Bisque?)

Adapted from here! Serves… 3 girls. With leftovers.

Peruse your pantry, and acquire:

  • 2 monster sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups of water, plus 1.5 tbsp
  • 1 can of unsweetened light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • a hefty sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, also to taste (spicy soup=cleared sinuses, hoorayy!)

Bring the water in a soooop pot to a boil. Add your sliced sweet potatoes, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, making sure the water doesn’t boil away. Mash the sweet potatoes in the pot (with that potato masher that you insisted that you didn’t need, but have subsequently used about 3 times. Thank you, mutti! And your mutti-skills, that decree that you are ALWAYS right), and add the can of coconut milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger. Simmer for about another 15 minutes, until it begins to thicken. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and remaining water, and stir into a thick paste. Add the cornstarch and red pepper flakes to the soup, and cook for another five-ish minutes. (I may have added a bit more cornstarch to get it to thicken faster… the soup was still delicious, and I was HUNGRY). Use a blender (or an immersion blender, if you’re one of THOSE lucky ducks), and puree the soup in batches. Return the soup to the pot, and season to taste with salt, pepper, or more spice or red pepper if desired. I’m sure it would be lovely with shredded coconut on top, but I wasn’t on the ball enough for that…

Eat with this!!

Sandy’s Cornbread!

Given to me by an awesome lady who I used to work with (and who is now fully enjoying retirement!), this is a very tasty yogurt-based cornbread. I adapted it a bit from the original recipe, mostly to include whole wheat flour (as we know… I don’t have all-purpose!). I made a half batch of this for Abby, Kira, and I, but I’ll include the full recipe here.

  • 8 oz lowfat plain yogurt (1 cup)
  • 1/4 c olive or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • scant 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly grease an 8″ or 9″ pan.

Whisk together yogurt, egg, and oil. Combine dry ingredients, add wet to dry, and  mix well. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for about 20 minutes.

If you halve the recipe, the batter fits into a 6.5″ pan, and is done a bit past 15 minutes. I occasionally have trouble with the center of cornbread being done all the way through in the small pans—check it to be sure.

I think the cornbread is about to take a dive off the handle...