cartoon by marc johns.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts

Pile of Nuts
Close Up
These nuts are crazy good.  Flavorful - sweet with a little kick - and so addictive that if you don't move the bowl away you will find that you finished them all without realizing it.  They are also very easy to make.  I made these this year as holiday gifts and we served them at my family's thanksgiving.  Everyone who has encountered them has loved them, so don't just take my word for it.  If you follow this recipe, it makes about 8-10 servings, but I doubled the recipe for thanksgiving, and we had 14 people, and all the nuts were gone within 2 hours, so beware - they go fast!  Feel free to replace any of the nuts I used with nuts you prefer; just keep the amount of nuts the same ratio as the amount of spice.


3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews
2 cups whole pecan halves
2 1/2 cups whole raw unsalted almonds
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
4 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, plus some to brush the sheet pan with
kosher salt, to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Mix the nuts together in a large bowl.  

Nut mixture.
3.  Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil.

Oil on sheet pan.
4.  Put the nut mixture on the sheet pan.  You don't need to worry about spreading the nuts out yet.

Ready to go.
5.  Top the nuts with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Then the maple syrup and orange juice.  Top with the brown sugar.

Brown sugar.
6.  Top the brown sugar with the chipotle powder.

7.  Toss the nuts to make sure the mixture coats everything evenly.  I use a spatula to really flip the nuts over and get them covered.

8.  Top the nuts with half of the rosemary and some salt.  I used about 2 teaspoons of kosher salt on my nuts and it was perfect.  Toss and mix again to combine.

9.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the nuts are a nice golden brown.  Be sure to stir often because nuts burn easily.  I stirred twice - about every 8 minutes.

Nice brown color.
10.  Once the nuts are done, top with the remaining rosemary and a little more salt.  Be sure to stir constantly as the nuts cool or they stick together, forming one big nut brittle.  Enjoy!

SO good.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Favorite Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie.
Pumpkin-flavored anything is delicious.  Let's just put that out there, since it's the truth.  Pumpkin-spiced latte - delicious.  Pumpkin bread - delicious.  Pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies - delicious.  But there is something special about the pumpkin pie.  It has this lovely blend of creaminess and the crunch from the crust.  Served warm with a dollop of whipped cream - there is nothing better than a pumpkin pie, and that is coming from a die-hard chocolate fan.  I have found, through the years of experimenting with recipes, that it all comes down to the spice-blend you put into the pumpkin pie.  It turns out, ironically, that "pumpkin pie spice" is not the best thing to use to make pumpkin pie.  Instead, make your own blend, based on what you like.  For example, I am a big fan of cinnamon, so I put extra cinnamon into my pumpkin pies.  The best base-recipe for pumpkin pie I have found is the traditional pumpkin pie recipe on the side of a can of Libby's Pumpkin.  This recipe has been around for more than 50 years, and is tried and true.  Feel free to just follow that recipe, if you like, or you can try mine, which just has a few small tweaks from Libby's Original recipe. This recipe makes 2 pies, by the way, so don't forget to halve it if you only want 1 pie.


1 can (30 oz.) Libby's Pumpkin
2 cans (12 fl. oz. each) Evaporated Milk
2 deep dish pie crusts, uncooked (either frozen or homemade)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I use the finer-grained baker's sugar to prevent any graininess in the pie)
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in a small bowl.

Spice Mix.
3.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.

4.  Mix the pumpkin into the frothy eggs.

Pumpkin Added. 
Pumpkin Blended.
5.  Stir the spice mixture into the pumpkin and eggs.

Spices Added.
6.  Gradually stir in the cans of evaporated milk.

Evaporated Milk.
7.  Pour mixture into the two deep-dish pie shells.

Ready to bake.
8.  Bake the pies, on cookie sheets, at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes.  Pies are done when a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

The final product.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Favorite Pecan Pie & Bourbon-Spiked Whipped Cream

Pecan Pie.
I have made many a pecan pie over the years, seeking that perfect one.  This is that one.  It is the right consistency, and has a great maple flavor.  I made it the easy way this year, but I encourage you to try making it with fresh pie crust instead of frozen.  But if you use the frozen, like I did, this pie takes 5 minutes to make and then cooks for 50 minutes in the oven.  It could not be easier.  I also highly recommend the bourbon-spiked whipped cream to serve with the pie.


1 frozen pie crust or homemade pie crust
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 tablespoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3/4 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the spiked whipped topping:
2/3 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1 tablespoon bourbon

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Put the dark corn syrup, maple syrup, flour, salt, eggs, and egg whites into a large bowl.  

In the bowl.
3.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well-blended and a little frothy.

4.  Stir in the pecan halves and the vanilla.  

All in.
5.  Pour the mixture into the prepared crust.  

Ready to go.
6.  Bake on a cookie sheet for about 50 minutes, or until the edges puff and the center of the pie is set.
7.  For the whipped topping, combine bourbon and whipped topping until blended.  Serve with pie.  Enjoy!  Makes one pie.  

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light's Recipe Hall of Fame, November 2009.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Honey, Lemon, and Rosemary Chicken Bake (with Potatoes)

This recipe makes for some moist, flavorful chicken and some juicy, lemony potatoes.  It is delicious.  And, it looks impressive for guests, but takes hardly any time or effort to make.  Most of the cook time is hands-off.  This is a perfect dinner party meal.  You guys who know me know that anything with lemon is a hit.  Anything that is easy is a hit.  Anything that tastes good is a hit.  This recipe fires on all those cylinders, plus looks beautiful and impressive when put on the dinner table.  What's not to love?  This is one recipe that is definitely going to be put into heavy rotation at my house.


About 2-2.5 pounds of skin-on bone-in chicken, such as thighs or drumsticks
3 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons butter
Leaves from 6 rosemary sprigs
3 juicy lemons (if they aren't that large or juicy, use 4-5 lemons)
1-1.5 pounds fingerling potatoes
Salt and Pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  

2.  Set the chicken (skin side up) and potatoes out in a roasting pan.  Try to keep the chicken from touching other chicken so the meat cooks more evenly.  Put the small potatoes into the spaces between the chicken.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  (If you are using unsalted butter, sprinkle some extra salt to compensate).

All laid out.
3.  Take one of the lemons and slice it into small slices.  (I typically cut the lemon in half several times, and end up with about 15-20 small slices of lemon.)  Place the lemon in the roasting pan with the chicken and potatoes.  The potatoes get lemony on their own as the chicken cooks, because the chicken juices get absorbed by the potatoes, so I try to get the lemon pieces to touch the chicken more.

With the lemons.
4.  Pull the leaves off of the rosemary sprigs and put them in a sauce pot.

5.  Squeeze the juices of the remaining two lemons into the pot with the rosemary leaves.

6.  Add the minced garlic to the pot with the rosemary and lemon juice.

Garlic added.
7.  Add the honey to the pot.

Adding honey.
8.  Add the butter to the pot.

9.  Heat the rosemary, garlic, lemon, honey, and butter mixture over medium low heat.  Allow the butter to melt and gently stir so all ingredients are combined.  Make sure the honey isn't just stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Let the sauce reach a gentle boil.  Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, until it smells very fragrant.

Simmering sauce.
10.  Drizzle the sauce over the chicken, potatoes, and lemon slices in the roasting pan.

Ready to go.
11.  Cook the chicken for about 50 minutes, or until skin is brown and chicken is cooked through.  If you want to, I often baste the chicken with the juices about halfway through the cook-time, but this isn't necessary.  This meal serves about 4.  I often make with rice, asparagus, and a green salad.  Enjoy!
The final roasting pan.
Ready to eat.
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kale and Quinoa Patties

Like very healthy latkes.
These patties are delicious, crunchy, and healthy.  Feel free to put any vegetable into the quinoa patties that you like (or just make plain quinoa patties); I happened to put kale into them this time.  Spinach, mushrooms, or onions are all also great options.  This is a fantastic vegetarian meal as well because of all the protein in the quinoa.  I like to serve these two ways: 1) with melted white cheddar cheese and avocado on top, and 2) with a fried egg on top (which is also a great breakfast).  They are both delicious options - but feel free to use any toppings that sound good to you - hot sauce, salsa, roasted garlic, or teriyaki sauce would all also be delicious.  These patties also happen to be easy to make and they keep well and make for excellent leftovers.  I say to those that are tempted by this recipe - try it!  You'll be glad you did.


1 cup quinoa (or 2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa)
4 eggs, whisked
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 green onions, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
about 1 cup steamed kale, chopped, or another veggie of your choice (I just steamed 1 bunch of kale from the grocery store, and it came to slightly more than 1 cup)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
optional: any toppings for the patties (avocado, cheese, salsa, eggs, etc.)

1.  Cook the quinoa:  rinse the grain thoroughly and then let soak in a medium sauce pan in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes.  Put a lid on the pan and bring water up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Allow quinoa to cook until the liquid has been absorbed; about 20 minutes.  Put quinoa to the side in a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.  

Cooked and cooling.
2.  Steam the kale: cut the leaves off of the kale, removing the thicker stems, and rough chop the leaves.  Bring a pot with a little bit of water and a steamer inside to boil.  Add the leaves and cover the pot.  Allow kale to steam until bright green in color and reduced to about half the original size.

In pot.
Done steaming.  
3.  Put the kale in the bowl with the quinoa and allow it to cool as well.  (You will be forming the patties with your hands, so you don't want any ingredient to be so hot it will burn you; also, you don't want the egg that will be added later to be cooked by the heat of the kale or quinoa).  While everything is cooling, chop the green onion and garlic.

Chopped green onion.
4.  Once the quinoa and kale are cooled down, add the green onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Breadcrumbs, green onion, Parmesan, kale, and garlic atop the quinoa.
5.  Whisk the four eggs together in a separate bowl and pour over the quinoa, kale, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and green onions.

Adding the egg.
6.  Mix everything together using your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Allow the mixture to soak up the egg for a few minutes; you want the patties moist, but they should not be runny.

7.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat.  Form the mixture into patties.  I generally cook about 5 or 6 patties at a time.  Place the patties on the skillet and cover with a lid.  Cook each patty about 7-10 minutes per side, or until each side is a nice, crunchy deep brown.  Let the patties rest on a cooling rack while you cook the next batch; that way, any residual oil can drip off.

Freshly in the skillet. 
Side 1 nicely browned.
8.  If you don't want to make all the patties right away, you can refrigerate the mixture and make the rest later.  This recipe should make about 12 patties (of course, it depends how big you make the patties).  Serve warm, with topping of your choice on them, and enjoy!

Pile of finished patties.
With melted cheddar and avocado: yum!
Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Every Day" and from Yummy Supper blog.