Wednesday, December 8, 2010

snowy birthday weekend

this past weekend i turned 26. ryan had the whole weekend off!! (he was incredibly thoughtful, as usual :) i seriously have the sweetest husband!), we went out to breakfast, saw a movie, did a little shopping for me,  had a little mini pizza and wine birthday party at the house...and it was gorgeous white outside. perfect birthday weekend!

our snowy bungalow!

my man on our porch

from our Christmas light-lit porch

smoked gouda sweet potatoes

I tried a different spin on sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving. Instead of the pecan/marshmallow/gooey sweet goodness on top.. I made sweet potatoes with rich smoked gouda and lingering cayenne pepper flavors. Quite tasty, if I do say so myself. 

What you need:
4 T butter
3 T heavy whipping cream, divided
1/2 t coarse salt
1 t sugar
1/8 t cayenne pepper (or more if you like more kick)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices (cut as thin as you can!)
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
6 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 green onions, chopped

What to do:
Heat the butter, 2 T of the cream, the salt, sugar, cayenne and sweet potatoes in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, stir to coat the potatoes. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 30 to 40 minutes (I had to cook mine longer than the recipe says and I added a little skim milk in the last few minutes of cooking.), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the cheese and remaining tablespoon of cream; cover for 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese melts. Mix thoroughly to mash the potatoes. Top with crumbled bacon and onions just before serving.

pumpkin bread pudding with dulce de leche

I'm not traditionally a "bread pudding person". I don't know why. I love bread and I love dessert, but I've just never gotten into the bread pudding thing.  I'm into this one though. It's fun to make, it's festive, and's just really good!! (oh, there's not a healthy thing about it. we can all splurge once in a while... :) )

what you need for the bread pudding:
1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin puree
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 t coarse salt
3/4 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t anise seed, roughly chopped
10 oz. day-old bread, such as brioche or sourdough, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

what you need for the dulce de leche:
6 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 t coarse salt
*remove from heat and whisk in:
3/4 t baking soda (mixture will foam)

what to do for bread pudding:
Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together the custard: can pumpkin puree, 1 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 large eggs, lightly beaten, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon anise seed, roughly chopped.
Arrange bread pieces in a dish and pour custard over bread and top with pecans, roughly chopped.
Bake at 350 until custard is set, 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with dulce de leche. To store, cover and refrigerate, up to 2 days.

what to do for dulce de leche:
In a medium saucepan combine ingredients, then cook over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat and whisk in 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (mixture will foam).
Return to simmer and cook over low, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until sauce is deep golden brown and lightly coats a spoon, about an hour.

favorite salad at the moment

I don't know if it's the ingredients or the dressing or just how pretty it looks, but this salad is an easy crowd pleaser and a very quick healthy dinner. And again, this is one you can add to or take away from or use another dressing if this isn't your thing. Enjoy!

what you need for the salad:
-fresh spinach leaves
-grape tomatoes
-1 avacado, sliced
-crumbled feta
-dried cranberries and/or pomegranate seeds

what you need for the dressing:
2 T red raspberry jam with seeds
2 T red wine vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste

what to do:
Combine as much of these things together as you'd like, mix dressing in a jar and shake, add as much dressing as you'd like. Ta-da!

apple cider roasted vegetables

You can alter this recipe and use pretty much any vegetable you choose. I chose parsnips, rutabaga, baby carrots, and mushrooms. mmm!

what you need:
-about 5 parsnips (or 1.5 lbs), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
-1 lb. bag baby carrots
-about 3 large rutabaga, cubed
-1 lb. baby portabella mushrooms **
-4 T brown sugar
-4 T olive oil
-2 T apple cider vinegar

what to do:
Heat oven to 450. Place vegetables in roasting pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat well.
Cook until tender, about an hour, stirring halfway. **Add the mushrooms during the last 10 minutes, toss to coat well, and finish roasting. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

holiday brie

you can call this "holiday brie" or in Peace Meals it's called "cranberry salsa with warm brie and pistachios", but none of these names really describe the "party in your mouth, can't stop eating it it's so good" type of appetizer that this really is. see....


1 small round of Brie cheese
1/2 cup chopped pistachios, toasted
water crackers (I use Carr's brand)

Cranberry Salsa:
12 oz. fresh cranberries (or frozen)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 small jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
2 T peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 T fresh lemon juice

What to do:
Rinse the cranberries and discard any that are soft or bruised. Reserve several of the whole cranberries for garnish. Place the remaining cranberries in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (do not overprocess). Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining slasa ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350. Place the Brie on a rimmed baking sheet and heat for 15 to 20 minutes until softened. Transfer to a serving platter and top (generously!) with Cranberry Salsa. Sprinkle with pistachios, reserved whole cranberries and additional cilantro.
Serve warm with crackers.

ok one more look at it :)

our first (married) thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving in North Carolina this year. Ryan had to work so we didn't go to Texas. Thankfully our friends Travis and Laura stayed in town too. So the four of us celebrated together at our house! We got married in March and the Lintners (travis and laura) got married in all of us will always remember our first married thanksgiving together in winston salem :) We had a great time and enjoyed some good food!

On the menu:
-Holiday Brie
-A Smoked Greenberg Turkey (provided by my in-laws..woo hoo!)
-Spinach Salad
-Stuffing made by Laura!
-Cranberry Sauce made by Laura!
-Smoked Gouda Sweet Potatoes
-Apple Cider Roasted Vegetables
-Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Caramel Yummy Bars

Table setting...simple, but still festive :)

Thanksgiving menu recipes coming soon...