Sunday, October 30, 2011

pumpkin carving and seed roasting

Sanne found this recipe where you cook pumpkin seeds in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and cayenne pepper. She cooked them for about half an hour, until the syrup cooked down.


And I did a regular batch baked in the oven with salt.

Count Olaf

Happy Halloween!

Thanksgiving Test Kitchen, Take 3

I enjoy Thanksgiving so much more now that I'm in charge of the cooking... what does that say about me? 

Over the past week or so, I've started the planning process for this year's meal, and I'm pretty excited about how its going. This year, only one of my sisters is coming, the one who loves me more (I kid!). I hope she's ready to jam her hand up a turkey butt!

So last year, we tested two Thanksgiving stuffings for you guys. This year, I picked a couple more, tweaked them a bit and made a small test portion for Sanne and me for dinner. I used the same base recipe from Real Simple that we used last year, and changed the add-ins. Here's how it all went down...

I made these simultaneously, which was good exercise for my brain. I used cornbread for one and wheat for the other. So the first step was drying out my breadcrumbs in the oven.

Sanne's homemade corn muffins
10 or so minutes in a 350 oven 
The next step was to cook onions and celery in butter. For the first batch, I added 1 1/2 chopped jalapenos to the pan.

In the second, I substituted the celery for fennel. Before I cooked this batch, I cooked some hot italian sausage and set it aside.

These both cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Then you add chicken or vegetable broth.

In stuffing #1, I did 1/2 broth, 1/2 boston lager. Stir in wheat breadcrumbs and some chopped green onion.

Transfer to a greased baking dish and top with grated cheddar cheese. Add a little more green onion.

In the second stuffing, stir in stock and cornbread breadcrumbs, cooked sausage, some chopped sage and 1 peeled and chopped apple.

Because they were smaller portions, I baked both of them together for about 2/3 the time.

20 magical minutes later...

cornbread stuffing with apple, fennel and spicy sausage

jalapeno cheddar beer stuffing

You can probably imagine how amazing this stuff smells. No, you can't imagine. It's indescribable. Sanne and I were talking about how growing up, if we had stuffing at all, it was the Stouffer's boxed stuff, which is kind of sad. I guess it's a lot quicker and easier. Both of our mothers were cooking these meals alone, so I can't say that I blame them. But what a shame we haven't tasted stuffing as delicious and fun as these until recently!

I know we asked this last year, but what are your favorite stuffing fillings? We want to try a different aspect of T-Day meal for the next test kitchen... what would you like to see? Desserts? Breads?

As you know, stuffing is not a meal by itself, so stay tuned for the second part of our dinner!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

toil and trouble

Don't hate me. This week has been coconuts. I started to calculate how I've been spending my time and it was a little alarming, because I'm not one to normally fill my days to the brim with activities. I need my downtime. I realized Thursday evening that the 15 minute telephone conversation I had with my dad was the first one all week that a) happened outside of work/school and b) wasn't about work/school. So there's that.

Anyway, I bring you Halloween party pictures! Our party was last Friday night and, per the usual, we were running around trying to get everything ready, including our costumes. It was madness. I didn't walk in the door until about 6:15 and the party started at 8. But we made it happen, and it was tons of fun.

My favorite part was looking for recipes and ideas, and I found a lot. We had decided earlier to keep the menu somewhat simple, since the party was Friday rather than Saturday. So Sanne made some Devil's Food cupcakes with "blood" and "Ectoplasm" frosting. We had shrivel-y-roasted-brain-like potatoes with a feta-roasted red pepper dip, mummy-pigs in a blanket with horseradish mustard, and Witch's Curry!

I must have eaten about 30% of this batch of cupcakes myself, they were so good.

For the witch's curry, I found this recipe from Martha Stewart. I showed it to Susie last week (who got a job in Andover and moved back! Yay!!), and since neither of us enjoy being bound to recipes, just looked at the ingredients and winged it, following the basic idea of Susie's own recipe.

So Sanne pureed the spinach and cilantro

Susie seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and coconut milk.

And we sauteed jalapenos, coriander seeds a little more cilantro and spinach, and some Indian spices.

We added the chicken and milk, more spices, and the spinach/cilantro paste and let it simmer for a while.

Until it looked like this...


the MacGillicuddys
 Rajiv's sister Bharathy brought homemade curry as well...

spiders not included
But enough about food, you want to see the costumes...

NJ the cat

Raymond as Cesar, Elizabeth as Magenta

Bharathy the Good Witch
Sanne the Bad Witch

Rajiv the creep
Susie was crazy? 
Doc Brown

Happy Halloween everybody!! What are your costumes? What are your plans?
Tonight Sanne and I are starting Thanksgiving Test Kitchen! I'm so excited!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

feeding the masses

As the dust settled from what was another successful party, we began the time-honored tradition of feeding the stragglers. Big Breakfast after a party is on my top ten list of Favorite Things in Life, right after Hurricane Parties and just before People Reading Novels and Walking at the Same Time.

We hadn't bought anything for breakfast, so I thought for sure someone would need to go to the store. Silly me, all we needed was a carton of eggs. We got creative with leftovers for everything else.

Apple Wheat Pancakes (Trader Joe's Wheat Pancake Mix + 1 shredded apple)

Baked Eggs w Ham and Green Onion, with green onion from our Witch's Curry

...and sauteed potatoes w onions, from leftover party potatoes

leftover spiders

also, some Zucchini Bread w pecans, better late than never!

We will show you some party pictures (wigs! weenies! witch's curry!) as soon as we finish sorting through the madness. Really, they are ridiculous.