Friday, November 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

This week's selection was chosen by Vibi of La Casserole Carree. Vibi, who lives in France and did not celebrate Thanksgiving, was sweet enough to choose a recipe for those of us who did celebrate yesterday. So thoughtful of her! I'm a pumpkin pie lover all the way through so I was excited to try a new spin on two traditional pies.

I have to admit I loathe making pie crusts, only because my food processor is too small (see my chocolate-pudding-somewhat-disaster post) and I don't have a pastry cutter (I have GOT to go get one of those). I sucked it up and made a double batch of pie crusts on Wednesday night. I wrapped them up and refrigerated them for several hours.I made both the pie filling and the pecan fillings Wednesday night too. The pumpkin filling was pretty traditional, of course it leaked out of food processor because its too small. After the crust chilled, I rolled it out and put it in the pie plate before I turned in for the night. I wanted to have everything ready to put the pie together on Thursday morning.
Thursday morning I put the pie together, first the pumpkin filling, then the pecan halves and then the pecan pie filling. This is the pie right before I poured the pecan pie filling over the top.I baked the pie as directed, putting foil over the crust sides about halfway through. There was a lot more filling than there was pie crust. However, I've had that happen with regular old pumpkin pies too.
This was a delicious pie, all of my guests seemed to enjoy it (there was only two slices left after everyone went home). My only beef was that the pecan pie filling part was really runny, even after I put it back in the oven for a few extra minutes. It tasted great, but it seemed like it didn't 'set up' properly. I grew up eating pecan pie and this was similar, but I always remember the filling being a little more firm. At any rate, I'd make this again, but maybe with a different pecan pie filling recipe? Hope you all had a delicious Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Programming Note

I am doing my Tuesdays with Dorie selection (Thanksgiving Twofer Pie) this week but since it's a holiday pie we got special permission to post later this week. Look for my pie post on Friday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another Nashville roadtrip

I love road trips, sometimes you just need to flee the city (whatever city it is) for a few hours. Sunday a friend of mine and I drove up to Nashville for the day. It was chilly and overcast but good driving weather. We went to the Nashville Farmer's Market, which wasn't as full of produce as it was in October, but had plenty of sweet potatoes, greens, apples and a few other things. I picked up sweet potatoes and apples for the meal on T-day.

We drove over to Hillsboro Village too, which is the area around Vanderbilt, and had lunch at Fido. It was packed but they had tasty food and pretty baked goods (still kicking myself for not ordering a piece of the Strawberry Balsamic cake!). There's a lot of little shops and restaurants on that strip, we found a great store called Pangaea that has jewelry, bags, clothes, even lamps. They also have a really pretty sign on the front of their building.
I got this awesome bracelet (literally) for $7 and some lip balm from Thistle Farms, which Melissa at Bridgman Pottery, posted about last week. I had to stop myself from buying more than that but I'm trying to save my funds for my Seattle trip.
We stopped in Bookman/Bookwoman, a tiny used book store that is packed to the gills with books. I didn't buy this book but took a picture because the cover called out to me.
Our final stop of the day was the newly open Trader Joe's. I had never been to one but had heard only good things about them. It was super busy, which was to be expected since it's only been open a couple of weeks. I bought some frozen meal type things, some Larabars that I'm slightly obsessed with and some peanut butter cups. I'm already planning a return trip with an extra large cooler, especially if the things I bought taste as good as they look.

Besides my excursion Sunday I spent Saturday morning making my terrariums, volunteering at WEVL's fall pledge drive and watching the Memphis Hustlin' Rollers' last bout of the year (they went undefeated for the season!) I bought these cheeky boy briefs there, how cute are they?
Oh and the Twilight movie was fantastic, it wasn't a word for word adaptation of the book but it was still swoon-worthy. Plus it was so much fun to go with someone who had read the books and 'knew' the story, thanks for being my partner in crime Stacey! They've already announced plans to make the second book, squee!

p.s. I usually don't go to Starbucks that often, I get my morning brew at High Point Coffee. But I happened to stop by Starbucks Saturday and tried their new Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, OMG so good. Go try it, just don't look at how many calories it has.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The post in which I show how much of a fangirl I really am

Can you hear me squeeing through the internet? Because I am. The Twilight movie opens today and I am going to the 6:40PM show. I have tried to keep my obsession to a minimum because I didn’t want to lose what teeny, tiny bit of cool quotient I had - but I give up. Twilight is like candy, I know it’s not good for me and it’ll give me cavities and it has no nutritional value but it tastes really, really good.

Just to prove how much my husband loves me he had actually agreed to go see the movie with me. Lucky for him however, a friend of mine has also been sucked in to the Twilight universe and we’re going together so we can squee without embarrassing our husbands.

If you yourself have yet to be sucked in, go check out Cleolinda to get your Twilight education. She is a genius and I bow down to her Twilight recaps and her general awesomeness.

And just for the lulz:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkey for me, turkey for you

Um, Thanksgiving is next week? Right. I'm hosting and I haven't done a single thing in preparation either. Got to get on the ball, there are lots of corners of my house to be vacuumed...

Last year I made a huge production out of it, there were nice tablecloths and folding tables and I brined a turkey and made cornbread dressing for the first time and I got flowers and it looked like this and then...
only my mom and my mother-in-law came. Really. This year I got very sincere promises of more people but I still think my turkey brining days are over (do you know how much room a 15 lb. turkey in liquid takes up in your refrigerator?) I have tons of cookbooks and magazines but I think I'm going to take it easy this time around. So far my plan is as follows:

Cornbread dressing
(my grandmother's recipe with a few changes)

Green Bean Casserole
(my mom's making this, family tradition, I know it has a can of cream of mushroom soup in it)
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary
(see post from Monday)
Macaroni and Three Cheeses
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Baby greens with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Thanksgiving Twofer Pie
(it's pumpkin/pecan pie and next week's TWD selection)

No Bake Chocolate & Cream Cheese Pie
(I've been making this for years and it never fails to impress)


My mom's making a cheese ball (another family tradition) and we'll nibble on that and some vegetable crudites until the main event. My husband says I turn into a monster when I'm planning an event. He's kind of right but being the devoted husband he is he still sticks around to help me not lose my mind. I'm hoping to keep the monster to a minimum this year.

I am driving up to Nashville on Sunday to shop at the Farmer's Market there and the recently opened Trader Joe's (thanks Melissa for the heads up!) and possibly stalk some bakeries. I'm hoping to be done with all the shopping by Monday and then prep the other days. Or run around like a maniac, either way.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Arborio Rice Pudding

I don't really recall eating a lot of rice pudding - ever. I know my grandfather made it occasionally and maybe I had some once or twice? I can confidently say however, my grandfather never used arborio rice or soymilk in his rice pudding.
This week's selection was chosen by Isabelle of Les gourmandises d'Isa. I love making Dorie recipes but I kind of hate having to wait to eat them, the pudding has to chill for six hours before being devoured. Luckily I got distracted and didn't stand in front of the fridge with a kitchen timer.
The pudding was about a 4 (out of 10) on the 'easy to make scale'. I had no problems with it, except during the final few minutes of it cooking I forgot to stir and got a few grains stuck to the bottom of the pot. Whoops.
I did 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 chocolate, using finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. After dinner Sunday night Doug and I split the chocolate portion and we ate it so quickly I didn't have a chance for a picture (the one above is before it was refrigerated). It was very, very good. I followed the recipe, only changing the addition of the milk. The recipe calls for something like 3 cups of whole milk, I used 2 cups of whole milk and used vanilla soymilk for the remainder. I think it added an extra little bit of flavor.
Great recipe, something I'll make again. There are some many flavor variations, the possibilites are endless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cold & Cozy

I hate to say this because I don't want to jinx it but I think it might actually, finally be turning cold here. says tomorrow's high temp is going to be 48F, *swoon*. I spent the weekend being busy, but it was great. I did a little volunteer work, went to my niece's birthday party, hung out with a friend and went to another estate sale and a thrift store, made some great meals, laughed a lot at a comedy show, baked cookies and a few less exciting things like laundry.

On the food front, I made prosciutto wrapped pork loin and I tried to replicate the sweet potatoes they serve at Cafe Eclectic, where my knitting group meets every week. I loosely based the pork loin on the similar recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. For the potatoes, I cut up two sweet potatoes (didn't peel them), added a little olive oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary, cooked them in a iron skillet until they looked crispy (6 minutes?) and then threw them in the oven to roast for 20 minutes. They weren't exactly like the ones at Cafe Eclectic, but they were pretty close. Sunday night for dinner I made homemade chicken noodle soup, this recipe was based on the one I found from the One more Moore blog. I omitted the dill and cooked the chicken in a pot with oregano, thyme, sage, bay leaf, salt and pepper. The best part was I got to use carrots from my own garden, score! The soup was the perfect thing to eat on a cold night and I have enough leftovers for lunch and dinner.
Our TWD selection this week is rice pudding but I apparently can't go a week without baking so I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday too. The recipe is from the back of the Guittard Chocolate Chip bag, see it here. I skipped the nuts and subbed 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all purpose. They are delish, the company uses real vanilla in their chocolate chips and maybe I'm crazy but I swear you can taste it.
This is one of my estate sale/thrift store finds, it's a Ann Taylor Loft skirt. I paid $1.00 for it. It's a tad snug (I probably should lay off the baking) but I can move the back button over a little and it will be fine. The other things I bought I'll post about later in the week.
And finally, I finished the Dolores Park cowl, it's nice and cozy for the cool weather. If given the opportunity I would wrap my entire body in Malabrigo, it's such a soft, warm yarn.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Kugelhopf

I'll admit I wasn't particularly excited about this week's selection. It sounded good but it's one of those recipes that has yeast in it and involves you having to wait on it to rise. I'm very impatient and waiting on baked goods is not my favorite thing to do. But I pushed through though and made the dough on Sunday, refrigerated it overnight and baked it yesterday. The kugelhopf is something you'd buy at a patisserie, it's a very nice combination of bread and cake, more bread than cake. Dorie's recipe calls for the addition of raisins, I used dried cherries and pistachios. I also used a little more butter to soak the cake in after it came out of the oven. It smelled amazing when it came out. Also traditional kugelhopf is made in a turban shaped mold. I didn't have one of those but I did have this rose shaped bundt pan that resembles a turban (maybe) so I used it instead. The kugelhopf is not the most attractive thing I've made (see the summer fruit galette) but it was good. I'm looking forward to sneaking a piece for breakfast, it is bread...Thanks to Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl for this week's selection.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goodies and knitting

I ordered a few things last week, including my first Christmas gift. I'm trying to go low key on gifts this year, which isn't hard because neither one of us has large families. We really only buy gifts for our nieces and nephews, our moms and my grandmother. I'm also trying to buy more eco-friendly and handmade items. I bought my mom a set of these Rue Me reuseable shopping bags from, I also grabbed a silver one for myself.
They came and I think my mom will really like them. I started using my bag immediately. The only thing I don't like about it is the handles kind of fold up into themselves but I can live with that. Also I ordered the Black Apple patterns from Sublime Stitching and a throw pillow case. I have grand plans of embroidering that pillowcase.

Saturday I went to an estate sale with a friend and snagged this faux bois looking glass plate, an elderly copy of Winnie the Pooh and a set of what I can only assume are coasters? The total for everything was less than $10.00. Estate sales are pretty awesome people watching too and that part won't cost you a dime.
This is the Koigu cowl I was working on last weekend. I wore it to the election night party and then again to dinner Friday night, very comfortable. It was a quick/easy knit and I love the way the colors look, so pretty.
Since I've become a cowl convert, I started another one today. This one is done in Malabrigo worsted in the Dusty Pink colorway. The pattern is the Dolores Park cowl, via Ravelry.
Over the weekend I whipped up another hat using more Malabrigo worsted in the Lettuce colorway. The pattern is Stella's Hat via Ravelry, I cast on for it Friday night and finished it Sunday night. It probably took 6 knitting hours total. It's a great pattern and I'm really digging the Malabrigo lately.
Previously I said I wasn't doing any holiday knitting but I changed my mind. I'm going to try to knit up 5 hats and 1 cowl between now and Christmas. We'll see how that works out...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I have a permanent smile on my face today, finally! I am thrilled with the election results and I got to spend election night with an awesome group of people eating equally awesome food. The cupcakes were my contribution to the party. I used this PDF from Bake and Destroy, printed it out on cardstock, cut them out, glued them together with hot glue and a toothpick in the middle. The cupcakes themselves were old fashioned chocolate with vanilla bean buttercream frosting. I used this recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop blog. Really, really good and everyone else liked them too, yay!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Rugelach

I never had rugelach until I started working at the synagogue. Here it seems like every member believes that their recipe is the best. Working here has its perks, besides the being off on Jewish holidays. One of the other perks is when members volunteer to come bake in our kitchen for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, kiddushes and luncheons. Usually they bring us (the office staff) samples of what they're making and that's when I got my first taste of rugelach. I thought it was good but it seemed like something I wouldn't be able to make on my own. Well, of course with this week's selection by Piggy of Piggy's Cooking Journal, I got to try my hand at rugelach.

This is one of my favorite TWD selections, right up there with Chocolate Chunkers. Rugelach has all the elements I love in a baked good, flaky pastry, melting chocolate, jam, crunchy nuts and the tang of dried fruit. These are so good I had to make myself stop eating them. And making them wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
First there was the making of the dough: butter, cream cheese, flour and salt in a food processor. I learned I need a bigger processor, I've had this mini one for 4.5 years (it was a wedding gift) and it's time to upgrade. I was afraid it was going to seize up on me and my dough.
After making the dough it needed to be refrigerated for a few hours and then after that you rolled it out and starting putting in the good stuff. In the first batch I used apricot preserves (Bon Maman my favorite brand) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, dried cherries and pecans. It was a little hard cutting through the 'topping' and then rolling them up. None of mine had the perfect crescent shape but they still tasted darn good. The second batch had a mixture of raspberry jam/strawberry preserves and the chocolate, cherries and pecans.
The rugelach got a brush of egg and white and a sprinkling of raw sugar before they went in the oven. I don't have silicone baking mats (but they're on my Christmas list) so I used parchment paper to line my sheets with. During baking the filling runs out so some between the baking sheets and the rugelach is a must.
Mine were in the oven for about 22-23 minutes. The second batch I left in a little too long and they were darker on top than I would have liked them to be but they were still delicious.

This is a recipe I see myself making again - probably very, very soon. And don't repeat this but I think mine were better than any I've had at the synagogue.
P.S. Happy Election Day! Don't forget to go vote!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What the second day of November looks like

Late afternoon sun

Koigu cowl on the needles (with the blur of a cat)

Potato soup for dinner