Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy thanksgiving!


while most of the us is sleeping in or traveling to spend the holiday with family, jaisn and i are spending the morning at work, for the second year in a row. partially due to the fact our families are at least a plane ride away and partially due to deadlines. oh well its nice and quiet and no one to bother me while i work away... and blog?
this isnt to say we wont have a thanksgiving at all... we'll make dinner tonight and go away to a cabin with friends for a thanksgiving weekend.

anyway to get into the thanksgiving mood, earlier this week i made pumpkin whoopie pies for the office.


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling
adapted from martha stewart

Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
sprinkle of cinnamon

Make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

Make the filling:
Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

Assemble the whoopie pies:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

scary....


terrorist attacks in mumbai....
its scary when you work in an industry that requires international travel... two coworkers were supposed to be going to mumbai next week....
thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families and everyone affected by this.

image via times of india

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

giveaways...


not my own unfortunately, but over at steamy kitchen theres a giveaway for a great knife. check it out here. she also gives useful tips on how to sharpen knives.


and yesterday the pioneer woman held a contest for kitchen aid mixers... my dream appliance. too bad i didnt win.

Monday, November 17, 2008

trying to be healthy...


sort of.... chickpea salad with roasted red pepper is healthy... the pecan pie, not so much.
smitten kitchen posted a recipe that looked easy to make and healthy so i decided to give it a try.


i even roasted my own peppers following the wednesday chef's instructions

i have yet to actually taste it... jaisn picked up a great dinner last night from kushibar to get out of climbing.

Chickpea Salad with Capers and Roasted Red Peppers
via smitten kitchen Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 large red peppers, roasted and skinned
3 cups of cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned (about 2 15-ounce cans)
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped mint
3 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or red wine or sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Cut the peppers into half-inch wide strips and put them in a large bowl together with the chickpeas, herbs and the capers. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and oil. Pour over the chickpea mixture and combine.Serve immediately, or refrigerate it for a day to get the flavors to mingle fantastically.

This is a great make-ahead dish for weekday lunches. It would also be wonderful on a pile of torn lettuce, served with toasted pita wedges.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

pie time


since its almost thanksgiving there are so many recipes floating around on blogs for different pumpkin desserts and pies. ive never made a pecan pie before and this recipe looked pretty easy to make so i gave it a shot tonight.
this is only the third pie or so ive ever attempted and i am not very good at rolling out the crust or getting the edges nice and pretty. maybe jaisns mom can teach me some tricks when we go visit his parents at christmas.


Pecan Pie
via the pioneer woman

1 unbaked pie crust (see recipe below)
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup melted butter (regular, salted)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup chopped pecan

Mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl. Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the pie shell. Pour syrup mixture over the top. Bake pie at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, being careful not to burn pecans and crust.
Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.


Pie Crust
via the pioneer woman
1 1/2 cups crisco (vegetable shortening)
3 cups flour
1 egg
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl using a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles a course meal. In a small bowl beat egg and then add it to the flour-shortening mixture. Add water, vinegar and salt and stir gently until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Seperate the dough into 2 balls and place each ball into a large ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball about 1/2" thick to make rolling easier. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until they are needed.
When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from freezer and defrost for about 15 minutes before rolling out. On a floured surface roll the dough starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour onto surface if dough is too moist.
Once dough is about 1/2" larger than the pie pan, carefully lift it into the pan. Go around the pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

i wish i spoke french...

or any language really...
i find little kids who speak another language adorable!
as evident in the cutest little french girl telling a story...



via boing boing

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

fall means pumpkins


fall means soups, mashed potatoes, warm comfort foods, and pumpkiny desserts.
tonight i decided to start my pumpkin dessert baking with pumpkin swirl brownies i came across on site.
somewhere in the middle of mixing ingredients i neglected to read carefully and mixed up the dry ingredients and straight into it added the wet ingredients... as i was cracking eggs over the dry mix, i thought to myself this is weird, why wouldnt i mix the wet ingredients together first before adding it to the dry stuff. after the last egg was cracked, i realized, i shouldve been mixing them separately first. duh. oh well, i was low on flour so i decided just to keep going and hope it turned out well.
the base batter was thick and therefore the chocolate batter was thick... and i spaced out and didnt measure the pumpkin, and just started dumping the can into the bowl, so i ended up with thin pumpkin batter and thick chocolate batter which made layering and swirling difficult...
so far after cooling and cutting they look ok

we'll see how they taste....

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
adapted from smitten kitchen Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well.
Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.
In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

naked

i feel naked and totally lost today.
i left the house without any camera in my bag....
well i shouldnt say any, i have my blackberry camera which takes the worst grainy dark pictures


Monday, November 10, 2008

ive always wanted one of these:

Sock Monkey














and now at this site you can buy a kit to make your own!
i think i may just have to buy one!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

mmm lasagna

one more item off my list: lasagna from scratch.

i need to invest in a deeper lasagna dish if i plan to make this lasagna often, i was close to overflowing when i put the final topping of cheese on, but thankfully it only swelled up a tiny bit more while baking.
for my first lasagna i must say it was really good.... thinking about it now is making me hungry.


Lasagna
adapted from my lasagna recipe
serves 12

meat sauce:
1 1/4 pound of sweet Italian sausage
1 1/4 pound of ground beef
1 small yellow onion chopped
1 carrot peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans of tomato sauce
2 (6 ounce) cans of tomato paste
1/2 Cup of Water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoons fresh Basil leaves chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (less or more depending how spicy you want it)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

ricotta cheese filling:
23 ounces of ricotta cheese.
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil chopped

1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 lasagna noodles (not the no boil type)

Meat sauce

In a dutch oven over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom) and brown the ground beef and Italian sausage. Before the meats are fully cooked, add the onions, carrot and garlic in a pot until the onions are golden and transparent.
Once the meat and vegetables are cooked, add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and water.

Next add the sugar, fennel seed, basil, italian parsley, salt & pepper, italian seasoning, and red chili pepper flakes.
Cover the pot and let the meat sauce simmer on low heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

When the sauce is done, soak 12 lasagna noodles in hot tap water for 15 minutes.

Ricotta cheese filling
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, nutmeg, egg, italian parsley and basil.

Preheat the oven at 350
In a 9x13 baking pan begin assembling the lasagna.
Spread about 2 cups of meat sauce on the bottom of the pan. Lay 6 noodles, overlapping slightly, across the layer of sauce. Then spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the layer of noodles. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese over the ricotta layer. Then sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese over the mozzarella layer.
Repeat with 2 cups of meat sauce, the noodles, then ricotta mix. Sprinkle on 3/4 of the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, reserving the last 1/4 for the top. Add one more layer or meat sauce and sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Place a cookie sheet or foil on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any overflow. Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.
Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

29 by 30 - update

29 things to do before turning 30 - gives me a year and a half:
1. visit at least 5 "middle" states
2. go rock climbing
3. pay off all loans
4. start licensing exams
5. read the pillars of the earth
6. cook lasagna from scratch
7. buy flowers for myself at least once a month
8. save money
9. make an amigurumi
10. work out at least 3 times a week
11. treat myself to a massage at least once a year
12. take at least one international vacation (cambodia?)
13. take a pottery class
14. bike the burke-gilman trail
15. spend a day in west seattle
16. do a real detox
17. knit a scarf
18. purge the closet (dressers & shoe racks too)
19. visit the olympic peninsula
20. go to whistler
21. go fishing
22. have dinner at canlis
23. visit the capilano suspension bridge
24. watch a live nfl game (steelers would be good, but id settle for the seahawks)
25. learn how to turn (all the way around) on a snowboard
26. go camping
27. buy a gift for no reason for three friends
28. use my dutch oven at least once a month (at least when its cold) (oct - pot roast; nov - beef stew, lasgna meat sauce)
29. get a kitty

Friday, November 7, 2008

cake balls

so i found this recipe on pioneer woman's cooking blog that i wanted to make for our halloween potluck. but i ran out of time with the pumpkins and costumes. so i decided id make it this week, thinking i could bring them in on wednesday as celebration cake balls, but my first attempt at using white chocolate chips to coat the balls, failed miserably, so i thought id dump the whole attempt.

i tried again last night with unsweeted chocolate that i had and added some bakers sugar....and it was still too thick. so i thought id just scrap the whole thing, but decided to look at what else i had and found some semisweet chocolate chips and added that. a few other sites i saw that had recipes for cake balls talked about adding crisco to the chocolate, i didnt have any, but i did have crisco vegetable oil, so i added a few drops and that seemed to thin it out some.... and this is what i ended up with:

i still wasnt sure about the whole thing, im no chocolate fan so for me it was too chocolatey... and i made jaisn try one and he thought it just seemed like raw cake batter in chocolate. but the reviews were positive with at least two people asking for the recipe....

more pictures

more election night pictures... from backstage by Obama photographer David Katz up on flickr


prop 8?

as exciting as it is that african americans are making a step forward with obama now the president elect, how sad is it that gays in california have now been pushed back with prop 8? if i have the option to marry who i choose, why shouldnt anyone else?
i liked what melissa etheridge says in this article... "
Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights... Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too. Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We're gay!"

mmdd

did you know that yesterday was national men make dinner day?
well it was, and jaisn made dinner!

jason prepping... to make.....

scallops in a white wine sauce with zucchini & tomatoes over rice and greens

i even got a special plate without tomatoes since im not a fan... how sweet of him

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

'nough said


image from kotte

fall

alright its really been fall for a bit now... but now with the leaves falling it really is fall


did you all go out and vote today? i did

Sunday, November 2, 2008

29 by 30 - update

29 things to do before turning 30 - gives me a year and a half:
1. visit at least 5 "middle" states
2. go rock climbing we went and took a class today at stone gardens in ballard

3. pay off all loans
4. start licensing exams
5. read the pillars of the earth
6. cook lasagna from scratch
7. buy flowers for myself at least once a month
8. save money
9. make an amigurumi
10. work out at least 3 times a week
11. treat myself to a massage at least once a year
12. take at least one international vacation (cambodia?)
13. take a pottery class
14. bike the burke-gilman trail
15. spend a day in west seattle
16. do a real detox
17. knit a scarf
18. purge the closet (dressers & shoe racks too)
19. visit the olympic peninsula
20. go to whistler
21. go fishing
22. have dinner at canlis
23. visit the capilano suspension bridge
24. watch a live nfl game (steelers would be good, but id settle for the seahawks)
25. learn how to turn (all the way around) on a snowboard
26. go camping
27. buy a gift for no reason for three friends
28. use my dutch oven at least once a month (at least when its cold)
29. get a kitty

Saturday, November 1, 2008

pictures

this is my nephew... he turned one on the 25th




for halloween i carved 2 more pumpkins:

a graveyard with bats.. and bats hanging inside

and a pumpkin jail

and this was our winning costume: