Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Duck prosciutto

Duck prosciutto
Cook It! 2012: We've had a year of monthly challenges (well, we took November off, understandably, because Caroline's grandmother passed) to make a pantry staple and showcase the final product in a recipe:

But now it's time for the final installment (I think) and we're going out with a bang. This month's challenge? Do something cool with meat.

Awwwwwwwwwww yeah.

Regular readers will realized just how excited I was to see this topic, as I have a tendency to add a little bacon or sausage to most dishes (even cookies and ice cream), thus dubbing myself the Meatasaurus.

I'm also obsessed with charcuterie. While you may think of mini quiches or spinach dip when
someone says "party appetizer", I think meat: proscuitto, salami, pate.

I think I might take my own life if Mr. Ninj suddenly decided to become a vegetarian. Or even said, "Let's cut back on our meat intake a little."

Good thing there's not a chance in hell this would ever happen.

So, realizing that the latest Cook It challenge would give me an opportunity to offer some homemade charcuterie at Thanksgiving, I dove right in and purchased the DIY Meatasaurus Bible, otherwise known as Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Poleyn.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soap making

I recently took a class in soap making and wrote a little about it for Vermont Life magazine's web site. Why not have a peek?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Homemade tater tots (Secret Recipe Club)

Homemade tater tots: Don't bother to buy them frozen -- you can make them easily from leftover mashed potatoes.

Homemade tater tots from leftover mashed potatoes
Homemade tater tots
It's time once again for another reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club (SRC).

Here's how the SRC works: each month I am assigned another member's blog (a different one each month). I then pick any recipe from that blogger's site, make it and write about it here. There's also a link hop at the end of the post so that I (and you) can check out all the other participating blogs and their great recipes.

The blog I got to explore and cook from this month is Finding Joy in My Kitchen, written by the very prolific SnoWhite, who notes that her blog is all about "finding joy in cooking wholesome meals." Believe me, if you're looking for some good wintertime comfort food, you will have lots of choices from SnoWhite.

I love that Sno started her blog simply to show her mother, living far away, what she was cooking; my blog started similarly after I moved away from North Carolina. See how the SRC brings cooks together?

As Sno's site has so many great recipes (example: eight, count 'em EIGHT, different lasagna recipes!), it was definitely difficult for me to decide which one to choose. But I've recently been cooking out of The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making (as part of the From Scratch Club's virtual book club), which has me focused on making my own version of foods that we often buy pre-packaged.

So when I saw Sno's recipe for homemade tater tots, I knew I'd found my match!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Friday turkey sandwich buns

Homemade sandwich buns, perfect for burgers or day-after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

Homemade sandwich buns for hamburgers or Thanksgiving leftovers
Sandwich buns
We still have two days to go before the big day and I'm already thinking about the Thanksgiving leftovers.

Via some Facebook chatter, I learned I'm not alone in cooking way too big a bird every year just so I can have tons of extra turkey. Nor am I the only crazy that has actually cooked an entire second Thanksgiving meal after the big day because on the main day I was a guest in someone else's house and needed to create my own carcass to make quarts of turkey stock.

Leftover obsession can become unhealthy, though. True story: a few years ago, one of my friends left her relative's Thanksgiving table starving and had to microwave a Lean Cuisine once she got home because the aforementioned relative had preemptively put "leftovers" aside before serving the meal, leaving not enough food to feed her guests.

Just so we're clear, I'm not that obsessed with leftovers. Cripes, I didn't think anyone could be that obsessed with leftovers. That's just bat-shit crazy, not obsessed.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Banana toffee bit cookies

Banana toffee bit cookies
As a food blogger, I should be posting about Thanksgiving recipes right about now.
I mean, everyone else is.

Which is exactly why I'm posting about cookies instead.

Now, don't misinterpret my meaning. I love Thanksgiving; it's my ultimate favorite holiday.  Any day that is all about eating good food, spending time with people you love and being grateful for all the crap you already have, rather than just running out to buy more crap that no one needs, is a perfect day in my book.

(True story: when we tried to eliminate the adult gift-giving on my side of the family a few years ago, my dad threw a hissy fit because, as he put it, "Christmas is all about gifts: just look at the wise men!" Sigh.)

But I swear, if I see one more picture of turkey or sweet potatoes in my news feed, I may scream.

So today I share with you a very unholiday-ish cookie recipe.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Broccoli mac and cheese

Broccoli mac and cheese
I love my husband.

Marrying him was probably the single greatest decision I have or will ever make.

But his aversion to vegetables can sometimes really try the Ninj's patience.

Wait, I take that back. (Not the patience part, that still stands). He does not have an aversion to vegetables, per se: he has "texture issues."

(I know some of you are nodding in understanding here, while others are thinking he's pscyho. He's not, I swear.)

Case in point: he loathes asparagus, doesn't even like to be in the same room with it let alone see it on a plate. But when I got him to try pureed asparagus soup, he loved it. So it's the texture of asparagus that he hates.

Ditto with Brussels sprouts. And collards. And broccoli.

So when I saw a recipe for a delicious-looking (and weeknight easy) stovetop mac and cheese with broccoli (I love dishes that kill two birds with one stone: no need to make a separate vegetable!), I knew he wouldn't eat it. Dag: it would become relegated to the list of Dishes To Make When Mr. Ninj Is Out of Town.

But then I had an idea.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Apple spice drop cookies

Apple Spice Drop Cookies

I've been sampling a bunch of new (to me) cookie recipes lately, looking for a great holiday cookie to make for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012 (stay tuned).

I decided these apple spice drop cookies didn't quite fit the bill as a holiday cookie, but that doesn't mean that they aren't excellent.

Regular readers know that, while I do quite a bit of baking and regularly share cookie and cake recipes, I prefer my sweets a little less on the sweet side.

I've always been this way. (My sister used to love sitting next to me at birthday parties because I only ate the cake part of my slice and gave the frosting to her.)

It's also how I can get away with eating cookies for breakfast. Booyah.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Red pepper pumpkin soup

Enjoy this easy recipe for red pepper pumpkin soup -- for lunch or dinner, it's a creamy sipping soup that will warm your body and spirit.

Easy red pepper pumpkin soup -- a creamy sipping soup
Red pepper pumpkin soup
Before you say, "Two soup recipes in a row?", let me point out that, here in Vermont, it is 21 degrees and has already snowed -- before election day.

So yes, soup again.

But I'm giving you a lovely, seasonal soup that is so delicious and easy it would be appropriate to serve at the Thanksgiving table, if you serve a soup course.

So you really can't complain.

(And if you do, well ... no soup for you.)

I love red pepper soup. I have a go-to red pepper soup recipe that I make quite a bit, so I almost didn't try this recipe. I worried that the addition of pumpkin and sweet potato might disqualify it as a sipping soup, which is what my red pepper soup is: a soup that is comforting as well as nourishing, a soup that you drink from a coffee mug in front of the fireplace rather than from a bowl at the kitchen table.

But, being all ninja-like, I threw caution to the wind and tried it.

I think you'll be glad I did.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Smoky corn chowder

smoky corn chowder recipe
Smoky corn chowder
I love happy accidents, don't you?

Or maybe you call it fate, karma, coincidence, being in the right place at the right time, or whatever.

It's still good stuff.

This corn chowder falls into just such a category. Here's the story.

I happened to mention on Facebook that it was my dogs' birthday (yes, they share the same one, four years apart, despite the fact that they are both rescues -- cool, no?) and that I was making them a meatloaf (yep, everyone eats well in this house). A friend messaged me and asked if it was people-appropriate and, if so, would I share the recipe. Suffice it to say that the dogs' meatloaf, while made with people-friendly ingredients, is a bit too bland for most humans, so I offered to send her my regular meatloaf recipe (which is awesome -- I'll blog about it at some point).

In the string of emails that ensued, my friend mentioned that she was making a corn chowder for dinner. I thought that sounded lovely so, in the spirit of recipe swapping, I asked if she would send the chowder recipe to me. She did and included her adaptations as well.

Although corn season has passed for another year (we miss you already!), I fortunately had some shucked frozen kernels in the freezer (store-bought frozen corn would work just as well, too), so I decided to give the chowder a whirl.

(And the fact that the recipe called for a bunch of bacon of course didn't hurt.)