Thanksgiving Weekend 2011

Thanksgiving was full of delicious food. And amazing friends. Hopefully your Thanksgiving was just as amazing.I still have a ton of leftovers to eat. Here is a mini recap of my weekend

My Cheese platter that was devoured while we cooked. I also made mulled wine, which my friend Janene just showed me how to do. It is so good. Silly of me to make this not for the actual meal but to eat beforehand? I thought what better way to cook food with love than feed yourself with what makes you happy. For some tips on how to make an amazing cheese platter, Click Here!


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Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Tartlette

I hate when I have leftovers that go to waste. Especially when I have gone out to eat and spent money on something delicious, but then forget about it in my fridge. Talk about a waste of good money and good food!
A week ago I went to Doughboys on 3rd Street in Los Angeles. I grew up in the Fairfax area of LA, eating at Doughboys all the time, and going especially for their Red Velvet Cake which is by far the most moist, delicious, and satisfying Red Velvet in LA. Sprinkles Cupcakes pales in comparison. But their baked good, since they started out as a bakery, compliment their ever so diverse and delicious menu. You can get a 4 cheese grilled cheese sandwich and a giant bowl of tomato soup for 10 dollars. It is the best sure for a rainy day, and a perfect way to fuel up before you explore the fashion stores and one of a kind shops in that area.
On this Doughboys trip, I tried something I never had before. The Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup; on a rainy day, I couldn’t pass that up. It is “light, smooth & creamy, made with a puree of oven roasted garlic cloves, and served withcheese tortellini and portabello mushrooms.” And the best part about their soups was that they made each soup to order, so it never sits in a hot cauldron all day. It came served with a slightly toasted 6 inches of baguette. Divine.
The soup was ginormous, so I didn’t get to finish it. But I decided to make something as equally delicious with the leftovers. A mushroom tart. And puff pastry is a wonderful thing. Its easy, buttery, flaky, and delicious. Here is a quick idea on how to turn leftovers into the star of another dish.
1 cup Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup
2 Cups sliced wild mushrooms (I used portabello, porcini, and crimini)
1 Puff pastry sheet
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
Place the puff pastry on the counter to thaw per instructions on the package. Once done thawing, unfold it. It should be in a square shape.
For this tart, I wanted a long rectangular shape. Take a rolling pin and roll the puff pastry until you get a nice rectangular shape. Once rolled, fold a little of the pastry dough up all around the edges, creating a ridge that the mushroom and soup mixture will sit into.
Clean your mushrooms and remove the stems. Slice your mushrooms into nice hearty slices. You want something to bit into.
Combine the mushrooms into the soup. Make sure the mushrooms are coated. Once coated, pour the soup and mushrooms onto the pastry dough.
Evenly spread out the mushrooms. Cover the top of the pastry with the grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake the tart at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. It should be golden brown and the cheese should be completely melted. 
Easy, delicious dinner made from leftovers. Yum ;)

The tart was so good and perfect top eat during the Millionare Matchmaker finale with my friend Janene. Between the two of us, we still couldn’t finish it. This would be great as an appetizer for a party as well, maybe doing individual tarts.

Mom’s Perfect Pie Crust

Whenever I have a baking question, I go to my mom. And when it comes to pie crust, she has the best! Use this crust for any fruit pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, cream pie chocolate pie, etc. It is just so good. If you know you have holiday baking coming up, you can also make this in advance, freeze it, and then give it a day to thaw in the fridge. This will save you time, and taste better than anything store bought!

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 heaping tbs of sugar
1 egg
Ice water (6 to 10 tbs)
3/4 cup shortening (my mom uses 1/4 cup Crisco, 1/2 cup butter)
Take the flour, salt, and granulated sugar and sift all the ingredients together over a large bowl. Cut 3/4 cup shortening into cubes, or if using Crisco drop in small portions. Place shortening into the flour mixture, a little at a time, working it slowly with a fork into the flour.

You are waiting for the dough to get “mealy”, essentially look like fine crumbs. Add 6-10 tbs of ICE water a little at a time until dough is soft and able to make a ball, but not sticky. If you need more, add more. You want to be able to work the dough, but not have it sticky. Refrigerate the dough at least one hour before rolling. You want it chilled, but not so cold it isn’t pliable.

Divide the dough into two even balls. Once you are ready to assemble the pie, roll out one ball of the dough so it fits the bottom of your pie tin, reaching all the way up the sides. You only want your dough to be 1/4 inch thick, NO MORE! This is not meant to be doughy. Trims off the excess edges so it is nice and neat in your tin. Partial bake the bottom crust 5-7 min at 375 degrees, cool, then add filling.

For the top, put on lattice or full top crust, keeping each piece also at a 1/4 inch thickness. If it is a full top, cut slits into the dough. Make sure to also trim the excess dough. You can always save the dough and make a mini pie in a muffin tin with leftover filling to munch on when you are cooking the big Thanksgiving meal the next day, or just because you want a warm treat. Brush with a beaten egg, the white and the yolk, to give it shine and crunch. Bake for desired pie instructions.

Thanksgiving Apple Pie
Mom and I representing the Bruins, while scheming Thanksgiving dinner 11/15/11

Mom’s Homemade Apple Pie

This Thanksgiving, my mom, my sister, and I are in charge of bringing 2 pies, stuffing, wild rice, and sweet potatoes. I think I am going to also make a Roasted Garlic Mushroom Tart… we’ll see if I have time. For the pies, my dad has an amazing pumpkin tart at his restaurant, Cafe Midi. We decided we would just bring one of those and then leave the apple pie making to me. And who better to lend her expertise then my mamma.

8 Granny Smith or Galveston apples (you want a tart, firm apple)

                            NOTE: I usually buy 10 as they vary in size

1 1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 tbs cornstarch (if your apple mixture doesn’t look a bit sticky, add another one before you bake it)

First start by peeling all the apples. Slice each apple into 1/4 inch slices. You want to make sure you are accurate with the size of the apple pieces, so they all cook at the same time. It would be terrible to have some really mushy apples and some hard ones.

One of my tricks is to actually take an apple corer/slicer, and slice each apple into the designated 8 slices. Then, I cut each slice into 3rds. It is SO much easier, and out comes consistent, easy to do slices. Try this once and you will never go back to attempting to evenly slice each apple.

Mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, white sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and the lemon juice all together. Once well incorporated, toss the apples into the bowl, and coat them with the above mixture.

Natalie and Willie helping me prep the apple pie

Place cellophane over the bowl or place in a zip lock baggy. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to tenderize the apples and pull some of the juice of the apple out.. I do this the day before so they can marinate overnight. For those of you skeptical about the lemon, don’t be! It is a must to keep the fruit from browning. As well as a tasty pie, you want a pretty pie, so no brown apples! Once done marinating, taste the apples to see if sweet enough. The sweetness depends on you and your guests. I like my pie a little tart. If you need to add more sugar, I would only add a couple of tbs more of sugar, maybe 2.

Make the crust per the instructions below. Once the bottom crust is done pour your apple mixture into the crust. Dot the pie filling w/ 2 tbs butter on top, then cover it with full or lattice crust, depends on your style. If you do a full crust, remember to poke holes in the top of the crust so the pie does not burst and bubble over. Brush with beaten egg to give it shine and crunch. Bake at 375 for approx. 45 min.


Voila. The most amazing, homey, fresh apple pie you can make. This makes any store bought pie shameful!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your holidays!

Cookie-Brownies with Pumpkin

Today was one of those days where chocolate is in order. And butter.

Thinking of something sweet to make, and not being able to decide between brownies and cookies, I went for both. Cookie-Pumpkin Brownies. So easy, so good, and they so hit the spot. The best part is, these can be made with pre-packaged mixes to save on time, which is what I did, making it a 3 ingredient desert.

1 package brownie mix
1 package sugar cookie mix
1 10 ounce jar Pumpkin Butter
9 x 13 cake pan
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Do not grease the pan. Make the brownie mix per the directions on the box. I chose the Ghiradehlli Triple Brownie mix, which is by far the best and richest brownie mix I have tasted. Next, make the sugar cookie dough per directions on the box. For this recipe, I used Krusteaz mix, which calls for lots of butter, so it’s rich and moist.

Once both mixes are made, grab your ungreased cake pan. Like most sugar cookie doughs, you won’t need to grease whatever surface they bake on. To make sure this cookie-brownie does not come out oily, keep the pan ungreased. Pat the sugar cookie mix down into the pan, forming an even layer.

Once done, pour all of the pumpkin butter onto the sugar cookie mix. For mine, I used Trader Joes’ pumpkin butter. They also have an Apple and Honey, and Cranberry Butter. I think both of those flavors would be equally as good in this recipe. Make sure to spread the pumpkin butter evenly over the whole cookie base.

You should see 2 distinct layers; one of sugar cookie and one of pumpkin butter. Now, for brownies, you have to make sure to grease your pan, or else the brownie would stick to the sides. So, once you have layered the cookie mix and the pumpkin butter, take non stick spray and spray the remaining sides of the pan. Also, make sure to lightly spray the top of the pumpkin butter layer. I did this to make sure the brownie glides over the pumpkin butter as I pour the mix on top, and doesn’t mix around or move the layer of pumpkin butter. Once the layer and sides are sprayed, pour in the brownie batter.

You should see 2 layers. Bake the cookie-brownie according to the instructions on the brownie mix. For mine, I was told to bake it for 45 minutes, which I did, and it came out perfectly. For those of you worried about over-baking the cookie, you won’t. Trust me on this. It too will come out perfect.

And there you have it. Buttery. Seasonal. Chocolaty. These bars really hit the spot :)


Rosemary Steak Fries

I went against my previous post and instead of baking a cake, I baked fries. And I am so happy with that decision. Usually, I like thin fries, crispy, delicious, oily… bad for you. For tonight, I chose to do steak fries. With rosemary. And they are were so good.

This recipe makes a heaping pile of fries for two people. It was only me and my honey for dinner tonight.

2 Russet Potatoes (about 5 inches long)
4 tbs olive oil
1tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Get out a cookie sheet. Next, place a large skillet on the stove, turn on medium high, and add the olive oil. Cut the potatoes in half. Lay them face down on the cutting board, and then cut each half into 6 slices. Just cut down on the potato starting at the ends.

If you don’t like potato skin, you can peel the potatoes. I happen to like the skin. When the olive oil is hot, place the potatoes into the oil.

Once in the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the rosemary and garlic powder. Move the potatoes around so each gets coated in spices. Cook until the potatoes are beginning to get soft and golden brown.

Once semi golden, place on the cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes is done, flip each fry and bake for 5 more minutes.

When done, take out of the oven. Eat with ketchup or your other favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

My fries accompanied our burgers that evening. Yum!

Arugula and Garlic Pesto

There are a 3 girls I work with who have some uncommon allergies. Unfortunately, when I bring stuff to work, they sometimes can’t partake in my snacks for the office. One of them is allergic to basil, which puts a damper on many Italian foods. Today’s dinner recipe is inspired by her and my want for pasta tonight. I also didn’t want my leftover arugula to go to waste from my Arugula and Pear salad, so this was the perfect Sunday night dinner pesto!

2 cups, packed Arugula
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup shredded mozarella
10 cloves garlic
1tbs dry thyme
1tbs dry oregano
1/4 cup dry chopped onions
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
salt and pepper to taste

Pack 2 cups of arugula into a measuring cup. Make sure the arugula is packed; you want a full amount of the greens. Next, measure 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Place the arugula into a blender or food processor. Pour the olive oil over the top.

Gather 10 cloves of garlic, peel them, and place them into the blender. Add the sliced almonds and cheese. Just a side note, I didn’t want to use Parmesan, because it is a strong cheese. Arugula is a strong flavor, so I balanced it out with a milder cheese.

Measure out the thyme and oregano. Add them to the blender. Next, add the dried chopped onions to the blender. Shimmy the blender to have the ingredients on top fall a little bit to the middle/bottom.

Blend until everything is pureed together. The end result should produce about 2 cups of pesto.

Since the holidays are coming up, this would make a vibrant gift. Make some in advance, place in a mason jar, and send it off with a cute label or tag. Original, homemade, and delicious.