Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Roundup

A roundup of sweets & treats that could warm your home this holiday week. I've been prepping away for all the family to arrive in Arizona for a desert Christmas, so here are some recipes we love that you can use to welcome the ones you love! For more holiday pie recipes, please see Thanksgiving roundups One and Two, which list almost all of our favorite pies.

Holiday Snacks
Orange Chipotle Spiced Pecans: A great Christmas gift, or a snack to be made in advance of carloads of family arriving at your door. 

Cranberry Chutney with Baked Brie:  This recipe was included in a past Thanksgiving roundup, but really belongs in your holiday party or lunch line-up, so I'm cross-posting here. 

Baked Feta: Writing this roundup reminded me that I haven't written up a recent Parady sister discovery: almost all baked cheese is magic, feta included.

Ricotta and Roasted Grape Crostini I pulled some recipes from an impressive party menu Sarah once created, but I'm pretty sure I've had these elsewhere and they were excellent.

Stuffed Dates: Sarah does hers with bleu cheese & marscapone, I've had them with parmesan and drool just thinking about it.

Roasted Tomato and Rosemary White Bean Dip: K made this for a Christmas spread one year, and it's perfect party fare - a lovely warm dip, without being too heavy.

Gin-Marinated Olives


Holiday Cookie Roundup  I shouldn't even need a cookie section, because almost all the cookies you could need can be found in this post here, from a year where Sarah was clearly amped on holiday cheer and let it all out in the form of baking.

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies: The way gingerbread is meant to be: dark, strong, and with a kick.

Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies: Another place these flavors blend together perfectly is this pie

Sweet Potato Biscotti: A guest post by one of our mum's co-librarians!

G-Free Salted Oatmeal Cookies

Grown-Up No-Bake Cookies

Flourless Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Christmas Wreath Cookies Inexplicably, these cookies that I made as a college student in a tiny apartment reign supreme as one of the top five  most popular recipes ever posted on this blog. 

Eggnog Florentines

Pie & Other Desserts

Chocolate-Covered Candied Oranges My favorite stocking gift as a kid were those chocolate oranges that you "whack and unwrap".  Here, a much classier version. 

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Pie: A recent original Parady pie recipe.

Black-Bottom Citrus Pie: Four & Twenty Blackbirds makes a black-bottom lemon pie that is a dream during citrus season, but I've played with the idea of hearkening to the above-mentioned chocolate oranges by replacing the lemons with oranges here. Let me know if you try it!

The Molasses Pie!: Another cross-post...I know I tell you to make this every Thanksgiving, but you should make it every Christmas, too.  

Egg N' Grogg Pie: Another Four & Twenty Blackbirds creation - all the boozy, creamy goodness of eggnog wrapped up in a pie. 

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate CakeCan you think of anything else a dessert needs to contain? I can't. 

For Christmas Morning: Growing up, our family used to be gifted with a homemade potica by an old family friend, and I would always have a slice on Christmas morning. Seeing as how I haven't yet mustered the energy to tackle that kitchen challenge, I'm forever in search of a Christmas breakfast that is both festive and minimal effort the morning-of, lest breakfast stand in the way of present-opening.

Applesauce Sticky Cake with Dates

Stromboli: This is a guest post by my very good friend, whose family is filled with chefs, and who whip this up quickly for their family each year while making hundreds of cinnamon rolls for family and friends. 

Orange, Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Green Chili Souffle K & S made this for a long-ago Christmas morning for which I was not present, so I'm thinking I'll force them to make it again this Christmas, no? 

Gingerbread Dutch Baby: Dutch Babies are SO much easier than pancakes and waffles, and here's a perfect Christmas one!

Dark, Stout Gingerbread

Drinks - the warm and the boozy

Winter Marshmallow Trio: Chai, Peppermint, and Espresso: If you're going to get fancy enough to make your own marshmallows, you might as well go to town on the flavors, too. 

Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix: I often find myself disappointed in hot chocolate, and have searched high and low for a recipe that's foolproof to creating a rich, sturdy mug of hot chocolate without being sickeningly sweet.  Deb, of course, had the answer.  You will never need another hot chocolate recipe again.

Italian Amaretto Cookies and Bourbon Hot Toddys: Our hot toddy recipes on this blog are extensive (here, here and here). In this edition, Kate paired them with some lovely cookies for a Christmas celebration.

Coconut Curry Hot Chocolate: Make your hot chocolate with coconut milk and add curry marshmallows, because we all need a little sweet & spicy for our holidays. 

Gingerbread Latte Make a batch of syrup in advance and you're set for holiday coffee without the drive-through line.

Cranberry Sorbet Fizz

Fairytale of New YorkThis is described as a "winter-spiced old-fashioned", so I made a batch of the syrup in advance of our whiskey-loving family arriving.  It made my kitchen smell like heaven. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Baked Feta

K told me a secret about a year ago - that Brie isn't the only cheese that gets 5x dreamier if you slip it in the oven before serving.  She has a different baked feta recipe, but below is the version I've been adding to every cheese plate since.  It's a simple way to knock your hor d'oeuvres spread out of the park. I'm confident it would be excellent with any manner of herbs.


1 block of feta (doesn't need to be fancy, as you're about to fancy it up anyways)
Crushed Red Pepper
Olive Oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover the top of your feta liberally with herbs and crushed red pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Bake until just soft, 10-15 minutes.  Serve immediately with your favorite crackers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Winter Salad with Pear and Pomegranate

When I'm planning my week's lunches, I often shy away from salads because I convince myself that it won't be enough food, or that they won't be as good as I want them to be.  A few years ago, I threw this salad together and it proves both of the above fears unfounded. It also shows that winter salads can be a dream, not just a sad echo of summertime.  It's my favorite desk lunch for this time of year, a welcome contrast to holiday potlucks and winter's more carb-heavy offerings.

Pear (I've happily substituted apple as well)
Pomegranate Arils
Pecan Pieces
Cooked Quinoa (I use red here)
Olive Oil

I unfortunately don't have exact measurements for you, because I think most of us like different proportions in our salad and I tend to just make one serving.  I wash my spinach and cut it with clean kitchen shears into small pieces.  Then I cube the pear and remove the arils from pomegranate before adding them, the pecans, and the quinoa.  Last, I crumble the feta over the salad and drizzle it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Pie

Rich, easy and a show-stopper, this is a recipe that I dreamt up for our Thanksgiving meal, but that I think may actually belong on the Christmas table. My inspiration came from pomegranate bark, where one nestles pomegranate arils in dark chocolate so that the tart juices bursts in contrast to the bitter and sweet.  I'm pleased with the results, but it is incredibly rich, so enjoy in thin slices. If you're worried about the richness, you could reduce one of the ganaches by 1/2, but I recommend keeping the amount of arils consistent regardless.

For the crust:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped, bean reserved (or sub with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Truffle Ganache:
4 oz semisweet choc
4 oz bittersweet choc
1/2 cup cream
1/2 pomegranate worth of arils

Ganache Glaze:
4 oz bittersweet choc
1 cup cream

For top:
1/2 pomegranate worth of arils

Before you begin:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Remove arils from pomegranate.

For the Crust:
Combine butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and salt in a large bowl, stir until incorporated. Add flour, stir until just combined and a dough begins to form. Sprinkle dough over the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (alternately, a shallow pie pan also works just fine). Press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown.

For the Truffle Ganache:
Chop both types of chocolate very finely.  Heat the cream until hot, just before simmering.  Add the chocolate and stir continuously, until the mixture is glossy.  Stir in the pomegranate arils. Pour into crust and chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes, until firm.

For the Ganache Glaze:
Chop chocolate very fine, heat cream until hot, add chocolate and stir until glossy. Pour over chilled truffle filling.

Sprinkle remaining arils on top in a decorative pattern.
Chill in fridge until firm, at least a half an hour but I recommend 2 hours.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup 2

Our poor blog is beyond neglected, perhaps bordering on forgotten, but one year ago I set a reminder to finish and post a follow-up to last year's Thanksgiving Roundup of recipes, so here we are. Hopefully, I've given you enough time for you to plan or adjust your menu and buy the ingredients for some of the worthy offerings below.

Turkey and Stuffing
Crockpot Turkey and GravyA great option if you have a smaller number of people to host this year, or simply don't feel like hauling a full turkey in and out of the oven.

Ancho Turkey: K made an ancho chile turkey in a slow cooker for P their first Thanksgiving away from the desert in Boston.  Email exchanges at the time suggest that this could be accomplished as follows: Season turkey breast with lemon, butter and garlic salt. Cook ancho chiles, garlic and onion together on the stove until browned, transculent, and/or slightly blistered. Blend the mixture into a sauce, and marinate the turkey breast in it overnight.  Cook in a slow cooker, likely 4-5 hours on high. (If this inspires you to find a more exact recipe, please send our way!). You could do the same to a full turkey, and roast it.

Roasted Chestnut Cornbread StuffingLast year I hosted Friends-giving in my cozy Boston home, and this was a perfect New England addition to the table.  I replaced the white bread with cornbread, and would do that again.

Southwestern Green Chile Cornbread StuffingCornbread is best with jalapenos, right?  Cornbread stuffing probably is, too.

Vegetables and Sides
Smoky Scalloped Sweet PotatoesK made these scalloped sweet potatoes last year, and added smoked paprika along with the thyme to make them smoky, spicy and creamy.  She doesn't remember exactly how much paprika, but she strongly suggests you do the same.

String Beans with Ginger and GarlicAnother addition from K's table last year, when her goal was a straightforward, but hearty Thanksgiving meal.  These fit the bill as a simple but flavorful side.

Mary's Cranberry Orange RelishP's mother Mary makes this relish every year, so it's become a staple for us as well.  It's bright with flavor, and great for those who aren't fans of the usual homemade cranberry sauce.

Bejeweled RiceIf you have vegetarians on the guest list, this dish is a good staple to have on your table - with the opportunity for a stunning presentation as well.

Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce: A genius friend of mine once had a booze-themed Thanksgiving (yes, I agree, I need to hear more about her menu, too), and says this recipe was one of the best of the year.  

Mom's Turkey Pot Pie: If you were over-zealous about your pie crust making, as we often are, transforming your leftovers into a portable desk lunch is going to be a breeze.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Stuffing Waffles: Our brilliant cousin guest posted these on our blog last year, they've become a tradition in her household.  They also involve a cheese sauce made with your leftover gravy.

Mashed Potato WafflesAnother Thanksgiving carb turned into waffles, this time by Joy the Baker.  Last Thanksgiving, I accidentally made 5 pounds of mashed potatoes for just 4 people, so this recipe came in handy when I had brunch the following weekend.

Turkey Enchiladas: K's idea for when she had some additional family come visit a few days after Thanksgiving. Dip some tortillas into a mole sauce. Place tortillas in a 9x13 pan, fill with shredded turkey and queso fresco.  Wrap tortilla, continue until pan is filled. Top with  more mole sauce and cheese, bake at 350 degrees until bubbling (just 10-15 minutes).  Could also be done with an enchilada red sauce, instead of mole.

Classic Turkey SoupWhen Kate posted this years ago, she said to bookmark it for your Thanksgiving leftovers I'm just helping you along.  

Turkey, Kale, Date Salad: After making this salad (subbed with kale, as mentioned in my last Thanksgiving roundup!) and having plenty leftover, my genius friend Sarah suggested we throw some leftover turkey in it for a healthy and fast reset meal.  It was the perfect post-Thanksgiving work lunch!

Turkey and Stuffing Dumpling Soup:  Another turkey soup, yes, but this one turns the stuffing into dumplings!  Using multiple leftovers in one dish is ideal.

Pie, Pie, Pie
New England Cranberry Walnut PieK made this last year when her table started to transform from Southwestern to New England. Consider it a good sign that it's a menu contender again for this year, as we have a lot of pies that we love.

Hatch Chile Apple Pie with Cheddar CrustThe perfect Southwestern pie twist from the New York Times.  The spice level will depend on the heat of your chiles, but serving it a la mode allows the vanilla ice cream to mellow the kick.  You can use canned green chiles if you're a desert person adrift in an Eastern city. (But I'm sorry, it's really so much better with real hatch chiles).

Salty Honey PieThis February, a friend and I took a pilgrimage to the Four and Twenty Blackbirds shop in New York City for our birthdays.  There, this pie changed my life.  Make this pie, and use good honey.  (Perfect for a Thanksgiving table with someone who has a nut allergy, but also as a compliment to almost any other pie).

Pumpkin Cream Pie: For when you need the easiest pie you can imagine, in order to attend to other parts of the meal.

Pear, Fig and Hazelnut Crumb PieFigs are a highly underrated fall fruit, and I've been looking for a way to put them between pie crust.  This may be just the ticket. Although, it sounds like it has many steps, so perhaps I'll just crumble some hazelnuts on top of this one.

Cardamom Custard Apple PieI have a deep love of cardamom, which is a lovely and unexpected winter spice.  This pie suspends apples in a sour cream custard laced with cardamom.  I've used pears and even peaches in place of the apples, and each was dreamy. Bonus points: the custard makes your top crust bake perfectly flat, making it easy to make a very attractive pie to impress your guests.

Cranberry Pie with Pecan CrumbleYes, this is another cranberry + nut pie, but this one is my personal favorite.  It has a tart, pure layer of cranberry buried underneath all the pecan crumble your heart desires.

Apple Hot ToddySarah's husband, Chris made these as a Thanksgiving cocktail years ago, so I'm reviving them here. They include muddled baked apples and I'm definitely requesting these from him this year when our family gathers in Boston.

Cranberry Margarita: Did I offer you enough opportunities to put a Southwest spin on your Thanksgiving, yet?.

Cranberry Sorbet Champagne Fizz:  Easy, and easy on the eyes.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Mom's Crockpot Turkey and Gravy

This was a staple of wintertime in our childhood home, so it feels a little wild that it's not posted on the blog yet.  I'm sure I've texted Mum for the recipe many, many times over the years. Without further ado, the perfect thing to come home to on a cold winter day...creamy, warms-you-to-your-bones turkey and gravy. All of the Thanksgiving comfort, with much less of the fuss.

Turkey Breast (Easily found at Thanksgiving, these look like a mini turkey when wrapped up in the produce section. We use the boneless, skinless turkey breast. Buy a couple if you have the freezer space)
1 to 2 boxes of chicken or turkey broth
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup Cornstarch
Cold milk

Heat broth in crockpot until hot - enough broth + water to cover the turkey breast.  Once hot, add the turkey breast, and sage and pepper (as desired).  Add the cream of mushroom soup now, or later if you like. Cook on high for four to five hours, until meat is cooked through and easily shredded. Cooking for longer won't hurt, if you need, and once the meat is cooked through you turn to low heat. Once cooked, put cornstarch in a mug or bowl. Stir cold milk into cornstarch. Heat in microwave until thickened, stir well. This mixture is a roux, stir the roux into the broth in the crockpot until thickened into gravy as desired.  Shred meat, serve meat and gravy over rice or mashed potatoes.

Food considerations:  Could be gluten free, so long as you use gf broth and soup.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Vermicelli Bowl

Except with no vermicelli (just rice) and many many items from my fridge allowed to join the party:

- At base of the bowl are some black kale, snow peas and firm tofu slices cooked in the skillet with soy and peanut oil (the only hot item)
- Then cold leftover rice on top
- Then vermicelli sauce (lime juice, mirin, and fish sauce with finely chopped scallions)
- Then toppings!  Avocado, radishes, sprouts, mint, cilantro, leftover baked sweet potato, peanuts, fried garlic, these chickpeas, and the best part....... quick pickled watermelon!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Curried Vegetable Fritters

Using Deb of smitten kitchen and The Kitch'n as a guide, I set out to make vegetable fritters without realizing that they are a tad more time-consuming than my night allowed for (mainly due to grating).  Never fear, I read about anti-poverty policy with my computer propped next to the sizzling frying pan. The result was a happily veggie-filled dinner to fuel my homework, paired with tomato soup and topped with my most recent Deb obsession: the crispy egg.

These portions are great for two, or for one single lady's dinner + lunch.

1/2 sweet potato
2 carrots
1/4 medium yellow onion
2 large florets cauliflower
1/4 cup feta
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
Handful of cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
Salt, black pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup flour

Boil cauliflower in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, grate sweet potato, carrots and onion into a medium bowl (if grating onions makes you weep, metaphorically or literally, slice it finely). Once soft, use a potato masher or fork to break up the cauliflower, add it to the bowl.  Chop ginger, garlic and cilantro finely, add them along with spices and feta.  Toss it all around with a fork. Add beaten egg, then flour, toss it all around some more.  Make sure the mixture will hold together well if you press it into a ball.  If not, add more flour (I wished I'd had).

Heat a frying pan with a thick coating of olive oil in the bottom of the pan over medium heat. Roll a roughly 1/4 cup sized portion into a ball. Drop into pan, flatten with a spatula. Let sit for a few (2-3) minutes, then flip and do the same on the other side.  If it's not quite ready to flip without crumbling, wait a bit longer. Once both sides are nicely browned, transfer to a plate.

Deb serves it with a nice yogurt dip.  I stirred together yogurt, cumin and lemon juice for my lunch fritters tomorrow, but really enjoyed these with a fried egg on top.