Friday, November 30, 2012

Baked (In a Pumpkin) Oatmeal

I initially discovered this concept last year. I knew my life would never be the same. It was featured in one of the blogs I was reading at the time, and we made it several times last fall. 

And it was delicious. 

(you'll notice in the above photo that I couldn't even make it off the pan without sticking my spoon in there)

So, this year - once Halloween was done, and Thanksgiving gobbled off - I found myself in possession of a still-good sugar pumpkin. And an extremely obvious meal to turn it into!

I mean, who doesn't want to eat their oatmeal out of a pumpkin??

Hopefully you've still got one leftover from the last round of holidays. If not, you better get yourself to the grocery store before they replace the pumpkin bin with bushels of holly. 

Start off with the pumpkin. You want the small ones - known as sugar pumpkins. 

Cut off the top and remove the seeds and gunk. 

In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, apple sauce, egg, baking powder, spices, and brown sugar.

Add in the oats, apples, milk, and heavy cream.

Pour into pumpkins. 

Sprinkle with more brown sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes or so.It depends on how thick your pumpkin is.


Baked (In a Pumpkin) Oatmeal
Serves 2
Adapted from Cooking With My Kid

2 sugar pumpkins
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c. apple sauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 egg

2 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. lowfat milk
1 apple, diced (granny smith, pippin, or any baking apple works best)

3 tbsp heavy cream
extra brown sugar for sprinkling
extra milk for splashing (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the top off your pumpkins and scoop out the seeds and gunk. In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter, baking powder, apple sauce, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, brown sugar, and egg. Add in the oats, milk, apple, and cream. 

Pour the oatmeal into the pumpkins. Sprinkle with more brown sugar. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes, until pumpkin is soft. It really depends on your pumpkin.

You can also bake this in ramekins - and miss all the pumpkin fun. Just knock 10 minutes off the baking time.

Eat by scooping part of the pumpkin with your spoon and mixing with a bite of oatmeal..... mmmm.....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pasta con le Sarde (the traditional pasta of Sicily)

Sicily is one of my favorite places. And has one of my favorite cultures. This people group has been co-opted, invaded, and used by pretty much every ancient culture that managed to get itself to the Mediterranean. 

There were Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Spaniards, Normans, Arabs.... And each one of these groups left its stamp on the food. If you've ever had Sicilian food before, you know that it's definitely its own cuisine. (And if you lump it in with Italian - then you've obviously never actually eaten Sicilian food.)

I have spent quite a bit of time in the mountainous regions, the small fishing towns, the "large towns" of Palermo, Messina, Catania. And I never have eaten better. 

When I spent a month in Aci Trezza in the summer of 2007, I finally managed to get a real feel of the place. Trundling down to the butcher every day to get something to cook. Heading over to the green grocer to find out what was in season. And the all important fish market, with the proud catches hanging in the window. 

The town square was lined with restaurants, all cooking what was caught that morning. Mmmmmmm.

This is a dish I saw on multiple menus, but was typically too chicken to order. The thought of sardines - and anchovies! - sent my American sensibilities a twitter. 

But I'm older and wiser. And have a man who is man enough to open up the tins for me... 

I was brave enough to take a photo of them. But Mr. S did all the opening, getting them out, and much of the stirring. I'm such a wimp.

But now that I've actually tasted this dish - I have found myself much more brave! Perhaps I'll be able to open them next time. Perhaps. Getting them out of the tins might still require a bit of help...

The finished dish is so beautiful, I would suggest serving it at a dinner party. If your friends have open minds. Or at least buy yourself a nice bottle of wine to go with it. 

Start the whole dish off right by placing a pinch of saffron in a bit of water. Just let it sit. You'll use it later. 

Now with the fennel. Put a 1/2 bulb - chopped in half - in a large pot of water. Add some fennel seeds too if you want to bump up the fennel flavor. 

Boil the fennel for 10 minutes or so. Then remove the bulbs and roughly chop it up. Keep the water - you'll use it to boil the pasta!

Grate up the onion and garlic.

Using the largest saute pan you have, heat up a tablespoon of olive oil and start sauteeing the onion/garlic mix. Once it turns translucent (a few minutes later) add the anchovies. 

*At this point, you should toss the pasta in the fennel water to cook. Probably for 8-9 minutes, so there's a fair amount of tooth left to it.*

Work the anchovies in with a spoon, breaking them up so there's pretty much integrated. Now it's time for the pine nuts, raisins, and fennel. 

After that's had a minute to cook, add in the sardines. Chunk them up with a spoon, so that they are in the size of pieces you prefer (we pretty much pulverized ours). 

Add in the saffron water and white wine. 

Toss in the slightly undercooked pasta so it can finish cooking in the sauce. Cook for 3-4 minutes. 

Serve with bread crumbs on top and the greens of the fennel. 

Now, that's a true Sicilian specialty!

Pasta con le Sarde
Serves 3-4
Adapted from my new favorite place to find Sicilian recipes - All Things Sicilian & More 

1 3 oz tin anchovy filets in oil
1 tin sardines (6-8)
1/2 box spaghetti
1/2 bulb fennel (reserve the fronds for garnish)
1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
1/2 a medium onion
1 large garlic clove
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. pine nuts
health pinch of saffron (about a tsp)
1/3 c. dry white wine
Panko breadcrumbs, toasted

Place the pinch of saffron in 1/3 c. of warm water. Allow to sit. Put a large pot of water on the stove (enough to cook the pasta). Chop the fennel in half, cutting out the hard center, and put in the cold water. Add fennel seeds if you want to deepen the fennel flavor more. Bring the fennel to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, until soft. Scoop out the fennel. Reserve the water for cooking the pasta. Chop the fennel roughly.

Grate the onion and garlic. In a wide saute pan, cook the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add in in the anchovies, using your wooden spoon to break them up and work them into the sauce. (Toss the spaghetti in the fennel water to cook at this point) Add the pine nuts, raisins, and chopped fennel. Cook for a minute or so. Add in the sardines. Use the wooden spoon to break them up a bit. Add in the saffron water (saffron included) and the white wine.

The pasta should be about done. You want it al dente, still with a bit of tooth to it. Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce. Toss together and then allow to cook, untouched for 3-4 minutes. This finishes the pasta and lets it soak up all the delicious sauce. 

Serve with toasted bread crumbs on top, and a few fennel fronds for color.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Texas Rosemary Cookies

Story time!

Way back when I worked at the science journal (holla!), there was a girl that worked there who also had family and friends in Texas. One day, she came in to work toting a box of amazing cookies. As soon as I had eaten one, I immediately licked my chops and started scheming as to how fast I could make my own. So, of course, I asked her for the recipe. 

She smiled very sweetly and told me that they were made with a secret spice mix from the South Texas Herb Society, located in Houston, Texas. That had been shipped to her specifically from their annual herb market. That was only held once a year. That you had to purchase advanced tickets for. 


"I know people in Houston," I thought. "I can actually procure this magic mix."

And WHEN was the next market day? Why, the one Saturday in October when everyone I knew in Houston would be in Virginia, watching me GET MARRIED.

Talk about bad timing. 

I, then, did what any normal cookie-spice-wanting person would do. I Googled the heck out of them. On their website was a phone number and a mailing address. I called and left messages, describing my situation. Multiple times. No one returned them. So I wrote a letter, pleading my case. No response. 

So, I (impatiently) waited a year. And then begged my mom to go to the market and procure me 100 or so bags of this magical spice mix. She sent me 10, which was entirely acceptable. I made the cookies immediately, and relished in the deliciousness. 

However - there's only 3 ingredients in this magical mix. Rosemary, Ginger, and Cloves. 

I'm a smart girl. I can figure this out. 

And I did.

Now you can benefit from my obsession. 

Cream butter and sugar.

Beat in molasses and an egg. 

Then flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, salt, and finely chopped rosemary.

Mix well.

Roll into balls about the size of an acorn (Yes, they are small. The cookies spread out.)

Bake for 11-12 minutes. Till they puff up and a just barely brown around the edges. 

Remove from oven and let sit for 4-5 minutes. The cookies fall and crisp up. 

Try not to eat them all before you serve them.....

Texas Rosemary Cookies
Adapted from the South Texas Herb Society's Rosemary's Cookies 
Makes 3-4 dozen

3/4 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses 1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 3/4 tsp dried rosemary)

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in molasses and egg. Beat in flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Roll into balls the size of an acorn, about 1 tsp sized. Bake on a lined cookie sheet for 11-12 minutes. Cookies will spread out and puff up, browning just slightly around the edges.

Allow to cool for 4-5 minutes on the pan before plating. Cookies deflate and become crispy. Or you can eat them warm and sorta bendy. I won't tell.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Curried Turkey with Upma

Now that we've all eaten the obligatory plate of Thanksgiving Round 2 - it's time to find another way to eat the rest of that 20 pound turkey you bought. 

You should eat this on the leftover stuffing, with the leftover cranberry sauce. But in case you ran out of stuffing to eat the curried turkey on, I'll post the recipe for upma later. It's the Indian version of stuffing (and a sort of lumptastic cream of wheat). You could also eat this on rice. Or use leftover rotisserie chicken instead of turkey. Whatever you've got around.

When Mr. S and I finished with the curried turkey, I let him taste it first. He said, and I quote, "Well, I guess we're going out for hamburgers." I felt my heart drop to the floor. I had really hoped that this would work! He loves Indian food, and this recipe is even based off of my anniversary present to him - Indian cooking classes at I Heart Curry. (If you live in the Bay Area, you should definitely take a class or two from her!) I wanted it to be perfect!

He looked at my terrified face and smiled. Then he shoved a spoonful of it in my mouth. Divine! We'd done it!

Leftovers never tasted so good. 

Then we added the leftover cranberry sauce.

I can't wait until the turkeys go on super sale. We're buying as many as our freezer can fit!

Start with onions. And a bit of oil. Saute until softened. 

Add in some ginger-garlic paste.*

Saute for a minute or so. Stir in salt and turmeric. 

Add cayenne, black pepper, cumin, and some crushed fennel seeds. Saute for a few more minutes. Add a 1/2 c water or so when it gets all stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

Transfer mix to blender and blitz until smooth. 

In that same skillet, add cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves. And a touch of oil. Saute for a second or two, until you can smell the spices. 

Add in the blended spice mixture. 

Then add the ground cashews mixed with a bit of milk. Let simmer for a few minutes. 

Chop up the leftover turkey into healthy chunks.

Add in the turkey, mix and let cook for a few minutes. 

Serve with leftover cranberry sauce, over leftover stuffing. 

Or upma (photo below) if you already ate all the stuffing!

Curried Turkey
Serves 2-3 (add more turkey to feed more!)
Adapted from a recipe from I Heart Curry

1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste*
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed fennel seed
1/3 c. cashews, blitzed into super fine pieces
1/3 c. milk
1 inch piece of cinnamon, broken into around 3 pieces 
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
around 1 1/2 c. of cubed turkey (or more, depending on how many you're feeding)
cilantro or green onions for garnish

In a large skillet, saute the onion in a bit of oil until softened. Add in ginger-garlic paste. Cook for about a minute. Stir in salt and turmeric. Then add cayenne, cumin, and crushed fennel. Cook for another minute, then add the 1/3 c. water. Transfer the a blender and blitz until smooth. 

In that same pan, heat up a bit of oil with the cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf. After a few seconds, add in the blitzed mixture. Mix the cashews with the milk. Gently stir into the saute pan. Let cook for a few minutes.

Add in the cubed turkey. Cook for a few minutes. 

Garnish with cilantro or green onion. Serve with cranberry sauce and stuffing!

If you're all out of stuffing, try rice. Or Upma - recipe posted later.

* Ginger-garlic paste is just a paste of ginger and garlic. I wanted to make a bunch, so I used one large ginger hand and 2 heads (the whole head) of garlic. Blitzed them in a food processor until smooth. Then added 2 tsp of salt. Keeps for a month or so, or more if frozen. There are a million recipes out there if you google.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Ultimate B(EA)LT

I am sick. 

*sniiiiiiiiff* *cough* *hack*

I hate being sick. I missed out on a lot of fun on Saturday, and instead made an even deeper divot on my couch. Then Sunday came, and there I was - stuck on the couch again. 


I don't like giving into the sickness. But at the same time, I don't want to share the evil that is this cold. So I stay in my house and knit. And make Mr. S pass along my most sincere apologies to all the folks I have to bail on. Sorry everyone!!!

It also means that I can't really cook. I don't have the concentration for much besides boiling water, and I don't want to spread the germies. However, my appetite hasn't been damaged one bit.

So - my choices seem to be amongst sandwiches. PBJ, grilled cheese... or...

a BLT! It's perfect. Mr. S is pretty good at frying bacon and chopping things, and I don't feel extremely guilty demanding that amount of skill from him. 

But wait - we have an avocado. And a few eggs. Perrrrrrfect. 

1. Cook bacon.


2. Slice tomato and avocado.Wash & dry lettuce.

3. Cook eggs.

4. Toast bread. 

5. Assemble! 
Thin smear of mayo on both toasts. 

Then lettuce, cup up. Slide scrambled eggs into the lettuce cup. 

Top with tomato slices. Add avocado slices to other toast. 

Top with bacon. 

While this didn't immediately cure my illness - I think it should have. 

Hopefully I manage to get better before Thanksgiving!!