Friday, December 31, 2010

Pasta with butternut squash and lamb: a recipe

Mark Bittman's butternut squash and lamb pasta ... sort of
In looking over my blogs posts from the past few months as well as my menu plan for the week, I think I'm a wee bit obsessed with butternut squash.

But it's not entirely my fault. Being a current seasonal vegetable, it just keeps showing up in all the recipes I've come across lately.

Today's comes from Mark Bittman, although I must admit that, since I had to modify it to accommodate the only ground lamb I could find this week, I will need to try it again, using Bittman's suggested ingredients, to see which version I like better.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A very ninja xmas: some handy kitchen tools

Happy holidays from The Ninja and The King!
Santa was quite good to the Ninj this year.

Let me start out by saying I'm not trying to push you into buying any products and I'm certainly not being paid by the manufacturers to do so (I wish!!); I just received some neat kitchen gadgets for xmas that I thought you also might find cool and/or helpful.

  1. Scraping beater blade for Kitchen Aid stand mixer:

    Don't you hate that there's always a wee little bit of ingredient that doesn't quite get incorporated at the very bottom or on the sides of the stand mixer, once you think you're done mixing? (I can see you, nodding your head wildly in agreement) So you always have to do a final mix with a spatula anyway? Well, this little bad boy solves that problem. It has rubbery, spatula-like sides and a tip that incorporate every last bit of your ingredients automatically. I love this, and I love that it's inexpensive, too!
  2. Adjustable-thickness rolling pin:

    This is a superfluous gadget, I admit, but I love a clever idea when I see one. This is a regular old rolling pin, with handy size markings on the barrel so that you can use it and not a nasty, 20-year-old grade-school ruler (ahem) to see when your dough has achieved 10-inch perfection, or whatever your recipe calls for. However, here's the neato gadgety part: it has three interchangeable side rings that ensure consistent thickness of your dough as well! Clever, clever, clever! However, be forewarned: do not transport this in your airline carry-on bag because it apparently, according to the nice BWI TSA agent, looks a lot like a pipe bomb in the xray machine (ahem).
  3. Perfect Portions nutrition scale:

    Essentially, this is a small, sleek digital food scale, capable of displaying amounts in grams or ounces, with a handy zeroing feature (to account for the weight of whatever container you may be using) -- far snazzier and more accurate than the analog, looks straight-from-the-1950s-butcher-shop hulking garage model that I confiscated from ... well, frankly, the garage a few years ago. But this beauty can also give you portion-sized nutritional information! It comes with a extensive guide that lists every kind of natural (e.g., apple, raw without skin) and pre-packaged (e.g., Campbell's Chunky Chicken Corn Chowder) food option you can think of -- you just put your food on the scale, enter the corresponding code and it displays the nutritional information in the same format that you see it on product packaging. I think this is going to be very handy, come Detox January (more on that next week, dear reader).

What did Santa add to your kitchen collection this year?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cranberry cordial, three ways: 3 recipes

Cranberry cordial with Kitchen Ninja label
Boozy leftovers: what's not to like?

Let me explain. A few weeks ago I decided to try making a batch of cranberry cordial that I saw featured in an article in Yankee magazine on all things cranberry for the holidays. As long as it didn't suck, I planned to give bottles of it to a group of my husband's co-workers as holiday gifts.

So I simmered up some Shiraz, sugar and cranberries, steeped it for a few days, added brandy and voila! (Recipe #1)

Verdict? It didn't suck. In fact, it was quite yummy, especially when combined with Prosecco to make what I'm calling a "Cranberry Royale." (Recipe #2)

But here's the fun part.

As a hard-core recycler, it was paining me to think that I had to just throw away all those lovely, booze-soaked cranberries. They tasted tart and sweet and were a such a beautiful scarlet. What could I make with these?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Butternut squash and mushrooms -- a winning combination (2 recipes)

Butternut squash and mushroom tart
Some combinations just seem made for each other: Bert and Ernie, Siegfried and Roy, Hall and Oates ... you get my point.

One made-for-each-other taste combination that has been showing up around our house lately is butternut squash and mushrooms. I think it's the earthiness of both and the different textures of each. Throw in a healthy dose of butter and cheese and you've got the makings of some delish pizza, pasta, casseroles and tarts.

So, lucky you, today I'm giving you two ideas for using this winning combination: a Mushroom, Butternut Squash and Gruyere Tart and Butternut Squash and Mushroom Gnocchi.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eggnog cookies: a recipe

Eggnog cookies
I have never participated in a cookie swap.

[ Sniff. So sad. ]

Maybe I just don't have enough local baker-type friends. I certainly have baker friends, but they tend to live a plane ride away, which would make a cookie swap a wee bit challenging.

But I have recently been asked for cookie recipes for said swaps. I think this one is ideal, as it has all the usual holiday-ish spices (nutmeg, cinnamon) but also eggnog. And, hey, nothing says "happy fattening holidays" like eggnog!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Figgy pudding: a recipe

Figgy pudding!
I am not remotely religious but am seriously crazy in love with christmas.

I over-the-top decorate in and around our home (3 trees), even though I have yet to spend an actual christmas in my own home (somehow we are always the ones in the family that get stuck doing the traveling -- even when we had a house with three guest rooms. Go figure.). And now, what with the whole ninja gig, I'm cooking up a christmas storm as well.

Fa la la la la la la la la!

This year, egged on by my dessert-loving husband, I thought it might fun to try to make some of the treats that are mentioned in traditional christmas carols.

Enter figgy pudding.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What we ate this week

After a brief hiatus, I'm back.

I spent a few days this week back in North Carolina, checking on my still-for-sale house (make me an offer -- we are motivated sellers) and catching up with friends. But don't fret, it was still a ninja-filled week, as evidenced by the ninjabread men I carried on the plane with me. (Thanks to Lisa for turning me on to the cookie cutters, which I purchased at Serendipity Boutique of New London, one of my favorite kitschy little stores since I was 10 years old. But you can also find them at Amazon.)

I also finished up Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. I so want to go on vacation with him and eat lots of pork. I love you, Tony -- even more so now that your hair is steely gray.

It was also a good-for-the-soul visit for this blogger because nearly everyone I reconnected with mentioned reading this blog, even referring to specific recipes. Yay -- lurking readership! This means my blog is not, as it often feels, just a very public conversation between my sister and me.

But enough about my trip. Here's what we've been eating:

Finally, a fun fact: living in a 100+-year-old house means you actually get to see "frosted windowpanes", just as described in the carol. Wicked!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Turkey tetrazzini: a recipe

UPDATE: Make my new, even better turkey tetrazzini without canned condensed soup!

turkey tetrazzini - great for Thanksgiving leftovers

I don't know about you, but I have a whole line-up of post-Thanksgiving recipes that call for leftover turkey. In fact, I purposely cook an extra-large bird every year to ensure I have enough.

I actually get excited thinking about these dishes that only make an annual appearance -- sort of like Santa.

When I start cooking the bird on Thanksgiving day, I want to shout out the names of all the recipes it will become, like the scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie bemoans all the leftovers that will never be, thanks to the Bumpus hounds.

Turkey stock! Turkey tetrazzini! Turkey magiritsa! Turkey enchiladas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Rösti casserole with baked eggs: a recipe

To keep the whole Thanksgiving-induced food coma rolling right along, I give you this rösti casserole.

(Geek sidebar: perhaps the greatest thing about this post is that I remembered the HTML special character code for generating a lowercase o with an umlaut!)

According to Wikipedia, the source of all unquestionable truth on the always unquestionably truthful internet, traditional rösti is a Swiss dish, made primarily of shredded potatoes, that ultimately ends up looking like a big potato pancake or latke. This riff on it is a hearty casserole, courtesy of Cooking Light.