...got pushed around by ablustery October wind. Welcome back, archnemesis. ...utterly failed at making M&M cookies. Some recipes just shouldn't be lightened. ...started living in my heavy socks. ...went to Michigan for a birthday gathering and couldn't stop oogling the fall foliage! ...mourned our inevitable lack of trick-or-treaters. ...celebrated Cheese Month somewhat zealously. ...started getting the weekend newspaper delivered.Yea for "newspaper days!" ...went for a long walk with my sister when she came and stayed with us. Nice. ...began peeling and segmenting the clementine before packing it in my lunch. Then, I'll actually eat it. ...played with family and friends.
successfully cramming all my weekend clothes into a tiny laptop bag arriving for my flight three hours early (others may call that weird) leisurely flipping through a fat magazine, adding to my list and reading a book the trail mix I concocted and packed (dried apricots, almonds, dried Turkish figs and walnuts) visiting my homeland a friend waiting to welcome me at the airport
a bird trapped in the airport terminal the sea-bands I wear to prevent motion sickness
not getting to hold my husband's hand when I felt weepy at the wedding ceremony
staying up until 2 am!?
eating a lot of my mom's home-cooked food
that my mom takes menu requests squishing with family members on the couch poring over family photo albums playing with my brother and sister also Skyping with my sister and her family so we're all "together" holding my mom's hand at church
seeing the church I grew up in completely remodeled
looking at baby photos and not being able to decide which sibling is shown
I'm craving pumpkin-y things. I crave photos of my nephew surrounded by pumpkins that are bigger than him. I crave iced pumpkin cookies. I crave pumpkin and spider window clings. I crave pumpkin decorations (one plastic, one straw and one that lights up, please).
I ended up baking two loaves in one week. The texture is store-bought perfect, and the cranberries add such a fun kick to each bite. It's also pretty cool that there is no granulated sugar, only honey.
Note - I used 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour and 1 cup white whole wheat flour. I also added 1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, I found myself with an excess of canned tuna. Apparently, for some reason, I decided that tuna was the only thing I wanted to be eating if we found ourselves without electricity or power.
In brainstorming what to do with all that tuna, I recalled how Tuna Helper was a favorite of mine growing up and in college. In fact, I was rather fond of meals-in-a-box, including the generic Hamburger Helper - Panburger Partner. The generic was (amazingly) better, and the name always made me grin.
I based this homemade Tuna Helper on a tetrazzini recipe that I've made and enjoyed several times. The bread crumbs, peas and mushrooms add texture; the lemon juice brings freshness, and the white wine infuses the sauce with richness without using cream. Homemade Tuna Helper (inspired by Simply Recipes)
12 ounces short pasta (I used a mixture of farfalle and medium shells.) 3 tablespoons + a splash olive oil 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced 5 tablespoons butter, divided into 4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose floor 1 3/4 cups milk (I used 1 %.) 2 cups chicken stock 1/4 cup white wine 3 5 ounce cans of tuna, packed in water, drained 1 cup frozen peas 1 cup shredded cheese, divided into 2/3 cup + 1/3 cup (I used a mixture of mozzarella, provolone and asiago.) 1 tablespoon lemon juice pinch of nutmeg salt, to taste 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Fill a large pot with water. Bring it to a boil. Add pasta. Follow package directions, and cook until al dente. Drain, toss with a splash of olive oil and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, add remaining olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release liquid and some of the liquid has cooked off, approximately five minutes. Remove from pan, and set aside.
Add four tablespoons of butter to the pan. Melt over low heat. Whisk in flour, and cook for three minutes. Add milk, broth and wine. Stir to combine. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Add tuna, pasta, mushrooms, peas, 2/3 cup cheese, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt to the sauce. Stir to combine. Pour into a 13x9 baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together breadcrumbs and rest of cheese. Sprinkle pasta with the breadcrumb mixture. Top with one tablespoon of butter, cut into small pieces.
I really liked the pizza dough for the portobello pesto pizza (so much so that I actually made another batch and froze it so I'd be set the next time a pizza craving hits). Consequently, my eye has been spinning around its socket trying to find the perfect use for the extra dough. I think I've found it.
These savory hand pies pies are hearty without being heavy. In addition to the tasty crust, the other key component is flavorful sausage. With these two quality ingredients, I didn't feel the need to pile on the cheese, so the taste of the spinach and mushrooms also really comes through.
The original recipe calls for six instead of four pies, but I got a little lazy about rolling out the dough. My laziness led to pies that were large enough for my husband and I to split when we paired it with a salad, so be forewarned.
Savory Sausage and Potato Hand Pies (inspired by Real Simple, September 2011)
6 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 6 ounces fully cooked chicken sausage, halved length-wise and thinly sliced (I used two Aidells chicken and apple sausages.) 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided salt and pepper 1 9-ounce bag spinach 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella pizza dough, at room temperature (I used extra dough that I had in the freezer.) 4 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard 1 egg yellow cornmeal, for topping
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line one rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, toss mushrooms, potatoes, sausage, two tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Spread mixture on the aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes.
Heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add spinach, and cook for two minutes, until spinach is wilted. Drain and squeeze dry. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Divide dough into four pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a 6-inch circle. On each piece of dough, spread one teaspoon of mustard. Top 1/2 of each circle with 1/4 mushroom mixture, 1/4 spinach and 1/4 cheese. Dot the border with water, fold the dough over to form a semi-circle and crimp the edges. Brush each semi-circle with the egg mixture, and sprinkle with cornmeal.
Place semi-circles on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake 20 - 25 minutes.
Once, in college, I made a meal for myself that consisted of a tortilla filled with leftover rice and tomato bacon salad dressing. Even at the time, I recognized it as a low point.
Since then, I've really begun to enjoy cooking* (and I no longer douse everything with tomato bacon salad dressing).
I enjoy planning. I spend a significant amount of time reading over recipes and marking ones I'd like to try. Over the weekend, before heading to the store, I put together a weekly menu. I consider: the weather, ingredients I need to use up, what's on sale, recipes I'm excited about, nutrition and balancing new recipes with old faithful ones. If I'm feeling particularly fancy, I also include side dishes (other than salad) as well as homemade breakfasts, desserts and snacks in my planning.
I enjoy grocery shopping. A kid in a candy store has nothing on me. I pick through the produce (which is even more fun at the farmers market). I hem and haw over different types of rice, oil and cheese. Even if I don't have anything to pick up, I always go down the baking aisle, to scout cookie mix-in ideas.
I enjoy the process. I work mostly on the computer or in conversation during the workday, so I bring plenty of gusto to the physicality of chopping, measuring, kneading, peeling and whisking. It's satisfying to create with my hands, even if it's something as ordinary as dinner.
I enjoy feeding others. It's a pleasure to put tasty (and mostly healthy) food in front of loved ones.
I enjoy eating. Enough said.
I reflected on all these reasons that I enjoy cooking as I made these scones. It's a recipe that I'd been jonsing to try for some time. So, I carefully picked firm apples, chose the sharpest cheddar, cut the apples into bite-sized pieces, patted the dough into shape, and monitored the tops of the baking scones for a golden color. Then, to cap off this already good experience, my husband and I sat down right away and downed some of the still-warm-from-the-oven treats. The apple chunks pack surprising bursts of sweetness while the cheese provides a subtle complimentary saltiness.
Pairing these scones with a creamy mug of chai tea makes for a very compelling reason to linger over breakfast.
2 apples, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks (I used fuji.) 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour 1/2 tablespoon baking powder 1/4 cup sugar + more for topping 1/2 teaspoon salt + a pinch 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 cup sharp, white cheddar cheese, shredded 1/4 heavy cream 2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place apple chunks on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The surface of the apple chunks should feel dry. Cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add butter. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is marble-sized. Add the apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Stir a couple of times with a spoon, then cover your hands with flour and use your hands to knead the dough until it comes together.
Sprinkle a generous amount of flour on a flat surface. Turn the dough out on the floured surface, and pat it into a six inch circle. Cut the circle into eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving space between the wedges.
In a small bowl, whisk together one egg and a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with the egg wash, and sprinkle with extra sugar.
*Disclaimer - Cooking, like everything else, loses its appeal when I'm overly busy. No big surprise there. However, I have also discovered that cooking can be therapeutic when I'm still busy but not yet frantic.
I used to have an answer to that question. I have long considered myself a general fiction reader, but somewhere along the line, without me quite realizing it, my tastes changed.
In perusing NPR's list of top 100 science fiction and fantasy novels, I realized that: 7 - I absolutely loved (example) 10 - I have read(example) 14 - I really want to read (example) 4 - I feel like I should read (example) 1 - Iam currently reading
Additionally, I read a lot more mystery and nonfiction now. So, what kind of reader does that make me? What kind of reader are you?