Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving

I'll provide links to the recipes I used at the bottom of the post. In the meantime, enjoy going through the pictures and reading the commentary. ^_^ I decided to tackle Thanksgiving dinner by myself this year, partially because we had already "celebrated" Thanksgiving a few weeks earlier. Plus, for the second year in a row, I've had a craving for chicken pot pie during the holidays. This year's version is infinitely better than last year's. I made everything from scratch, which contributed to the day-long process, but I enjoyed it immensely. I really believe from-scratch meals taste the best.

Dad stumbled upon my secret spice stash and started using the electronic dictionary to translate the spices from English to Mandarin Chinese.
I found this totally endearing. 

If someone knows how long I should be keeping some of these, please do let me know! I can never keep track. O_O 

Course 1
Roasted Apple and Squash Soup
Butternut squash, celery, apples, red chili pepper, spices before


Butternut squash, celery, apples, red chili pepper, spices after


I've made this soup before, and I believe I made it better the first time. This time around, I didn't roast the vegetables long enough so blending them led to a chunky consistency instead of a smooth one. It tastes better with a smooth, soup-like consistency. Plus, I used different apples which I think didn't help. :o\ For future reference, just stick with the recipe on this one.

Course 2
Chicken Pot Pie
I boiled a whole chicken (on sale for 99 cents/pound at H-Mart!) with the lid on for about 30-35 minutes. Later, I shredded it by hand using latex gloves, throwing away the skin.

 Pie crust topping in the making, using the ingredients and directions from the traditional apple pie I made a few months ago. Once I added enough water to the mix, I formed the dough, placed it in a bowl, covered it, and put in the refrigerator.

Chicken pot pie filling - potatoes, frozen mixed veggies, carrots. Sorry for the blurriness.

Same veggie mix with chicken broth and half and half. 

Toss in the shredded chicken. 

NOM 

I refrigerated the dough for a while, then I took it out and rolled into as rectangular a shape as possible. I tucked the excess crust as best I could into the pan. 


I really like using an egg wash on top. It gives the crust a wonderful golden look once everything is baked, plus it tastes so much better with the egg wash than without. 

Course 2 1/2
Homemade Baguettes
I did not take pictures of the process behind making the baguettes. I used a commercial stand mixer and several cups of flour (recipe for four loaves). The yeast was not proofing properly at first, so I added a bit more. Once the yeast was proofing, I mixed in flour and salt while the dough hook did its business. Once I took the dough out of the mixer, I let it stand for at least two hours to make sure that it rose "enough." I honestly did not keep track of how long I let it rise, only that I punched it down a couple of times in the process. I knew from past experience that if I did not let it rise, then the bread would turn out on the not-so-good side. 

I made two ginormous loaves of baguettes because, at that point, I didn't have enough pans or willpower to make small loaves. O_O One loaf turned out all right, the other is simply a monster, haha. For future reference, it's best to leave either the wax paper or the baking pan out of the equation. We ran out of aluminum foil, so I thought wax paper would be an adequate substitute. I was wrong, sort of. 

Wax paper + dough on oven rack = Fine.
Wax paper + dough on baking pan = Wax paper sticking to baked dough. -___-""

Monster loaf before

Monster loaf after - I donated this loaf to a couple of friends. It turns out the loaf is similar in size to their four-month-old baby. Hahaha...


Course 3
Turkey Salad Crostinis
I combined the homemade baguettes from above with the turkey salad I had made the night before to make turkey salad crostinis.  




Thanksgiving dinner

Course 1

Course 2
Crust - Crust is from the traditional apple pie recipe. 

Course 2 1/2
Homemade Baguettes - Change the yield from 1 loaf to 4 loaves, or however much you prefer

Course 3

For the crostini, I simply sliced the baguettes, drizzled olive oil on the slices, topped with turkey salad, and warmed them in the oven. I probably should have used a toaster but oh well. I was quite tired at this point in the day. ;oP

Course 4

My stepmom contributed the salad and homemade salad dressing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Salad




 


We had half of a roast turkey in the fridge, so I figured I should make something of it. I "de-meated" it using latex gloves, throwing away the skin because that's one of the unhealthiest parts of a bird. The only thing I could think to make was turkey salad because, well, what else are you going to do with hand-shredded turkey? I looked up a chicken salad recipe and subbed turkey for chicken.

The next day I made baguettes from scratch, so I made a crostini using the turkey salad as a topping for sliced baguettes. To be honest, I sliced the baguette a little too thick and didn't toast it properly prior to topping it with turkey salad but it still tasted good all together. ^_^

Ingredients:

4 cups diced, poached chicken (I used turkey.)
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup sweet onion  cut into 1/4-inch dice (I nixed the scallions.)
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon or fresh dill
2 Tbspn finely chopped parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp strained, squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard (I used regular mustard.)
2 tsp kosher salt (I used regular table salt.)
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, and herbs. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/chicken-salad-recipe/index.html

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies



Oops moment: When I didn't let the cream cheese completely soften before making this recipe. That's why you see chunks in the mixture. :o\


Well, who really cares what a cheesecake brownie should look like anyway? As long as it tastes good, right? >.>




 


I found this recipe online through a stranger's blog. It sounded intriguing and slightly holiday-centric, so I decided to give it a try. I made it the night before Thanksgiving so I wouldn't have to worry about making it the day of. Once I finally sampled it, I realized I didn't really like the combination of pumpkin, cheesecake, and brownie. I think if one of the three had been removed, it would have been fine: either pumpkin cheesecake, or cheesecake brownie (not so much a pumpkin brownie). Anyway, I've already given half the pan to a couple of friends. I plan on giving away the rest soon. It was a nice experiment but I'm probably not going to make this again.

Ingredients:

Brownie Batter:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar (I used dark brown sugar.)
1 Tbspn pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Cheesecake Batter:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar (I used dark brown sugar.)
2 Tbspn flour
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8x8" square metal baking pan.

2. Beat together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla, then beat in eggs one at a time. Combine dry ingredients and then gradually stir into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, beat together cheesecake batter ingredients.

3. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate batter into prepared pan, and spoon cheesecake batter over. Dollop remaining brownie batter over cheesecake batter. Swirl the batters together by running a butter knife back and forth through the pan.

4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack and chill before cutting and serving.

Recipe: http://www.beantownbaker.com/2009/09/pumpkin-spice-cheesecake-brownies.html

World Peace Cafe



FYI: Shiitake is misspelled in the menu. ;oP



Pumpkin pie tea 

Cauliflower quiche with lentil kale mushroom soup 



I'd heard of World Peace Cafe for the longest time but could never remember to actually GO until recently. Sad but true. Once I arrived, I immediately thought of the movie, Miss Congeniality, and that scene where all the contestants wish for world peace. :o) That movie is so funny.

I was tempted to try any version of the burger because the ingredients sound pretty darn healthy, but I opted for the quiche instead. I am a sucker for quiches. What happens though is that whenever I order a quiche at a restaurant, I never think the serving size slice is adequate so a part of me would rather make it at home. Never fails. Anyway, the quiche was quite tasty. I hardly tasted the shallots, which is good for me since they are an onion relative. Still trying to slowly incorporate that into my meals, you know.

The soup was also really good. I would not think to combine kale, mushrooms, and lentils but it makes sense once you eat it. Well, I've never used kale so that probably explains something. -____-" Anyway, I asked for a couple of slices of wheat toast because, well, how else are you going to eat quiche and soup? I thought it came with bread but it didn't. I don't think there was an extra charge for it, either. Of course, since I had already paid for the meal before I got it, perhaps it was going to be too much of a hassle to charge me for the bread. Hmm.

There's seating on the main level as well as up the stairs, though the restroom is also on the main level. Free Wi-fi is awesome, too. Pleasant employees provided good service. I went here during a weekday, so it makes me wonder what the place would look like on the weekends. I'd like to come back and try something else, so maybe I'll get to see what a weekend crowd looks like.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins









The only reason I wanted to make these muffins was because we have too many containers of quick cook oatmeal in the house. O_O I had everything else in the ingredient list except for raisins, which was an easy fix.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar.)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup skim milk (I used whole milk.)
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 12 muffin cups. [I ended up using 18.]

2. In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients; mix well.

3. In large bowl, combine all wet ingredients; blend well.

4. Stir in dry ingredients, just until moistened. Stir in raisins.

5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7. Immediately remove from pans.

I ended up having 18 semi-filled muffin cups. I believe the cooking time was pretty accurate even with the extra muffins. The toothpick test is always good to use on baked goods you haven't made before.

Once I removed the muffins from the oven, I kept them in the pans to cool for a little while. While transferring them to a holding dish, I found the bottoms were moist (from the water). I should have followed Step 7! It all worked out in the end though. The muffins cooled and dried eventually.

They came out "Asian sweet" instead of American sweet, which was nice. Normally, American baked goods are pretty heavy-handed on the sugar content. Asian sweets, by contrast, are not that sweet. The parents prefer Asian sweet, of course, so I knew they would like this recipe. I kept some for them and gave the rest to another family member and friend. I'll definitely have to make these again soon.

Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/healthy-oatmeal-raisin-muffins-139546