Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Extravaganza is Not a Book

Is Thanksgiving the Christmas of food blogging? I don't know for sure (I need to do some more research!) but I think that for you, it should be.

And with your delicious presents (it shouldn't come as a surprise that they're recipes…), comes one (two) thing(s) more: some announcements.

I've decided that it'll be easier to provide you all (I say like I have oodles of readers) with delicious food and some book chatter if I sometimes separate the two. Sometimes, I'll post food. Other times, I'll talk about my favorite books (or my least favorite books or books that I haven't developed a clear opinion of). And then there will still be the times when I combine the two. After all, how will I resist coming up with my own butterbeer recipe to combat the dozens of others there are online?!

And that brings me to announcement number two. For the month of December, I will be focusing on making delicious beverages for you all. Most (maybe all) of them will be warm, ready for sipping inside while the temperature outside drops. And let me tell you, I'm really quite excited. Even before I could cook, I was making a couple of these every year. I can't wait to share them with you!

But now, it is time for food. Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Have you done your shopping? Claimed your contribution to this year's menu? Put away your belts and your skinny jeans until next week? Found your buckles and bonnets and maize?

Four pilgrims and a Viking. He got lost.
Just me, then?

Oh well. No matter.

Turkey pot pie muffins? Sugared cranberries? Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese topping? Am I spoiling you or just preparing your stomachs for Thursday? These were all delicious. I cannot stop eating those cranberries.

Turkey Pot Pie Muffins
(Adapted from Betty Crocker)

1 T oil (vegetable, canola, olive, etc)
1 lb boneless skinless turkey breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
½ c chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
½ c chicken broth
1c frozen vegetables (I used peas, carrots, and corn)
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper
¼ t ground mustard
¼ t celery seed
¼ t garlic powder
¼ t basil leaves
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (4 oz)
¾ c Original Bisquick® mix
¾ c milk
3 eggs

I don't think I need to tell you that these are delicious topped
with cranberry sauce... or the sugared cranberries!
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190.6 C) and prep a muffin tin by spraying it with nonstick spray or using muffin liners.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the turkey for 5-10 minutes until it's cooked through.

3. Add the onions and chicken broth and heat until it's simmering.

4. Add the frozen vegetables and seasonings. Feel free to add whatever you think will taste best!

5. Heat while stirring until almost all liquid is absorbed, then turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the cheese, then make sure to test it because it's delicious.

7. In a medium bowl, stir Bisquick®, milk, and eggs until well-mixed.

8. Scoop about a tablespoon into the bottom of each muffin cup, then top with about a ¼ cup of the turkey mixture. Finish it off with another tablespoon of the Bisquick® mixture.

9. Bake 25-30 minutes, and use the toothpick test to make sure it's done. Cool for five minutes and then chow down!

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Topping

1 c all-purpose flour
½ c wheat flour
1 c canned pumpkin
c vegetable oil
2 eggs
¼ t pumpkin pie spice
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t cloves
¼ t cinnamon
1 c sugar
¼ c brown sugar
½ t salt

These muffins joined me for a nerdy/awesome weekly ritual.
Sadly, that was not a natural 20. I put it there.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190.6 C). Prepare that muffin tin again!

2. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, spices, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

3. Sift together flour and baking powder.

4. Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture a little bit at a time, mixing until just combined.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, once again employing the toothpick test.

6. Let cool, then frost with this frosting.

Cream Cheese Topping 
(Really it's frosting, but muffins + frosting = un-sweet cupcakes)

1 pkg cream cheese
Powdered sugar (3-5 cups, depending on various factors)
2 T melted butter

1. Preferably using an electric mixer, mix the first three ingredients until they achieve the proper texture. Start with 3 cups of powdered sugar.

2. Frosting too runny? Add more powdered sugar. Too thick? Add a splash of milk.

3. Frost them like this.

Sugared Cranberries

2 c cranberries
2 c water
1 ½ c white sugar plus extra for coating
½ c brown sugar

1. Rinse the cranberries and set them aside.

2. Make simple syrup! Put water and 2 cups of sugar into a saucepan and heat until it's simmering (not boiling!) and the sugar has all dissolved. 

3. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for a while.

4. Pour the syrup over the cranberries.

5. Cover it up and refrigerate it! I did it over night, but you'd probably be good after 5 or 6 hours.

6. Drain the cranberries and toss them in some sugar. Let them dry on a baking sheet for a few hours.

7. Toss the cranberries in sugar again and let them dry for one more hour. It'll be worth it.

8. Pop these into your mouth. Or on top of one of those turkey muffins. Or on some ice cream. Or anywhere that they will eventually end up in your mouth. And aren't they so pretty?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Immortal Lemon Cookies

Imagine you were given a longer time on this earth than others. You age more slowly, and you are able to spend years perfecting skills, learning languages, making millions, watching your world change around you… (Maybe even learning how to cook like a professional!)

But then you're given a choice. You could choose life, and live on for centuries, seeing things you never even dreamed were possible and play your role longer than everyone else.

Or, you could choose love. You could choose the greatest love, worthy of poetry and song, a love unlike anything you've experienced before. But this love will be your downfall. It will end and it will tear you open and it will (quite literally) be the death of you.

Luca Bastardo, the protagonist of Immortal, faces this choice. Without a second thought, without a moment's hesitation, he chooses love. He chooses suffering and death and loss over longevity. He knows nothing of his true love's identity, looks, home, or even when she might appear in his still-longer-than-ordinary lifespan… except for one thing. In a moment like a dream, he gets a whiff of a lemon-lilac scent, a perfume that carries him through decades of becoming a better person and surrounds her once they finally meet.

Meet my lemon zester
You may feel like I've told you a lot about this beautiful book, but I've barely scratched the surface of a long and full tale that I truly hope you choose to pick up and read. It isn't a popular book, and it isn't a perfect book. It is flawed, but that is beautiful.

These cookies (don't they look good?) are another recipe I can credit to my lovely mom… I mean, of course, that she found a recipe and handed it over, letting me do to it what I wished. The result was this. 

These cookies are tart and sweet, like love lost and gained. They are lemony, like the scent that haunts Luca most of his life (and I bet they'd taste great with lilacs as well, which are in fact edible). And they are delicate, melting in your mouth like another fleeting moment passing by. In plant symbology, lilacs represent innocence, and lemons, immortality. Can innocence last that long?

Immortal Lemon Cookies & Frosting

Lemon Cookies

1 c unsalted butter (room temperature)
¼  t salt
½ c powdered sugar

1 t vanilla (I still always like to use the paste rather than the extract)
Zest of 1-2 lemons (the recipe I based this on says one lemon, but I would definitely use more if I had it)
1 ½ c flour
½ c cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150 C) and prepare your baking sheet.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, salt, and sugar until it's light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes (if using a mixer) or 8 (if by hand). 

3. If you're using a mixer, reduce the speed to low. If you're using your arm, slow down. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.

4. Sift the flour and cornstarch in and mix until just combined.

5. Roll the dough into evenly sized balls (mine were about the size of a paddleball) and squish them onto the baking sheet.

6. Bake for 20 minutes.

Lemon Frosting

½-1 c powdered sugar
¼ c unsalted butter (room temperature)
Juice of one lemon (one very big lemon, or two smaller ones- just use whatever you used as zest in the cookies)

Beat or whisk or mix all ingredients until it's fluffy! If you don't have a mixer, beat the butter separately first, then add the sugar and lemon juice. Add more powdered sugar if you want it thicker, and less if you prefer my drippy version.

These cookies are best enjoyed with a good Italian wine and a good book.

Picture courtesy of