Turkey and the Rest of Thanksgiving

Thank goodness for 20lbs of turkey.  Brined overnight in a solution of broth, crystallized ginger, allspice, fennel seed, lemons, oranges, molasses and salt.

Then rinsed and patted dry then rubbed with butter, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (like the song).  Then stuffed with apple, onion, lemon, and garlic and of course bathed in a beer.

Then it baked forever (or maybe about 4 hours), breast side down.

So finally it was ready

And I lifted it with my bare hands.  What can I say?  I’m bad ass like that.

So Matt and I made this turkey and some pumpkin risotto. Check out the co-chef’s Movember Moustache.

Feel free to donate.  He may look like a creeper for the month, but it’s for a good cause.

All my wonderful (non-moustached) friends brought some delicious stuff

Everything was soooo good!  Seriously delicious.

And C.J. brought Four Loko because who doesn’t go crazy on Thanksgiving.

So then of course, there was dessert (which I completely forgot to photograph) and dancing.  Overall, although I missed the family a bit,  it was a great Thanksgiving!

Thanks for coming friends!  You all made Thanksgiving great!


Creamy Potato Leek Soup: The Cure for the Forgetful

I have a tendency to be very forgetful.  Aside from the little things like forgetting to pick up shoes or forgetting to shave my legs, there are the more important things in life like remembering to pick something up for a friend (sorry, Sara!!!!).

Consequently, I’m a fan of reminders.

I remind myself to sleep, exercise and eat well by leaving notes for myself.

I sometimes forget to eat protein.  So then I make up for it… 1 cup milk + 1 scoop protein powder + 1/2 cup mango chunks… blend, blend, blend…

I, apparently, also need a reminder to wash my travel mug daily so as not to depend on jars for transporting beverages.

I definitely don’t need a reminder that ugly omelets

made with egg beaters, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, onions, oregano and paprika have tons of protein too.

Next I need to find a way to remind myself that produce doesn’t last forever.

So if you’re forgetful like me and have a few leeks sitting in the back of your fridge for nearly a month, here’s something to save the day.

Creamy Potato Leek Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced, white part only
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a pot.  Add leeks and garlic, cook until leeks are tender about 10 mins.  Add potatoes and thyme, cook for 10 more minutes, add broth and simmer until potatoes are tender.   In a small bowl mix cream with a bit of the soup, add mixture to the rest of pot.  Add salt and pepper.  Allow to cool then blend and reheat if necessary.

Serve with goat cheese!

Don’t forget to make this ASAP!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person with a sweet tooth the size of mine.

I can pretty confidently say that I would almost always choose something sweet over salty, and if I could, I would eat only dessert and never eat a real meal.

Okay maybe I’m exaggerating, but I love sweets.

Regardless, sometimes we all need a break from our dear loves.

Sugar and I are taking a break.  Not for long.  For two weeks, until Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, I bid sugar farewell by making some Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies for my class this past Wednesday.

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (Note: I used all plain white sugar)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 egg
1 egg yolk
zest of 3 oranges
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add vanilla, eggs and orange zest.  Add dry ingredients (except chocolate chips).  Mix until combined, fold in chocolate chips.

Chill the dough while you preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake tbsp sized amounts of dough for about 9 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

Pretty tasty.  They were gone in about 5 minutes! I say that’s a good sign.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Fall Cake

It feels like fall.  That’s probably because it is.

Lately, we’ve had daytime highs of 43F.  To most Californians that would sound like winter.

Most mornings it’s below 30F.  Most Californians (including my former self) don’t even know what that feels like.

Regardless of what fall looks and feels like, I generally have a vague idea of how fall tastes.

At work, there is a cake called the Fall Collection.  I’ve never tasted it in it’s full glory, but I’ve tried pretty much all the component parts: Gingerbread Cake, Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake, Caramel Pecans and Vanilla Buttercream.

Sounds like fall.

I was inspired to recreate it.

I won’t lie.  This was sort of a process.  It pretty much requires two days since the cheesecake has to cool completely and set.

BUT totally worth it.

Start with the cheesecake.  I used good ol’ Paula Deen’s recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I’m not 100% pleased with the recipe, I think it could use a little more spice.  But definitely not bad for my first try at cheesecake.

I didn’t have a springform pan, so I greased and floured two round 9″ baking pan and lined the bottom with wax paper to keep it from sticking.  After baking and letting it set overnight in the fridge, I used a knife along the edge of the pan and turned the pan over.  The cheesecake slipped out pretty easily.

The next step was the gingerbread cake.  Using this Food Network recipe, but adding extra crystallized ginger.  Great flavor, but would like it to be a little less dry (or maybe I just overbaked it a bit).

While your gingerbread cake is cooling, start making the caramel.  I’ve never had my caramel turn out right.  This time it did!  It was great!  Thanks to Yummy Supper!

Toast the pecans and mix it with the caramel.

Then the layering can start.

Start with the gingerbread cake.  Put it on a plate, remove some of the cake to make a little well for the caramel pecans.  This will keep it from overflowing.

Next, place the pumpkin cheesecake layer.  My cheesecake had a little bit of a well in it naturally (mistake maybe?), the well allowed me to pour more caramel pecans in there and keep them from flowing out.

However, if you, unlike me, make perfect cheesecake that is flat on top, you can create a barrier with buttercream that will keep your caramel from flowing all over the place.  Which leads to the next step, frosting.

Make traditional vanilla buttercream with butter, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  Frost the cake all around.

Lay it on there thick, because we could all use a little more buttercream in our lives.

Layers of Lunch

Yesterday, I had a meltdown. I cried in the hallway on campus and in the computer lab for probably at least an hour… maybe two.

This had something to do with it.

But really that was only the tiniest part of it.

Today was a better day.  I went to the gym.  I made split pea soup and layered it with sauteed kale.

Then I shared it with a friend.

Why not bring your friend lunch in a peanut butter jar?  Especially if she sat with you through a meltdown.

Then I went to class.  Got a little frustrated.  Went to Wegman’s to buy baking supplies.

Tomorrow will be even better.