November 22, 2014

Green Beans with Garlic-Herb Butter

Thanksgiving is often filled with carbs, especially for vegetarians, so I'm trying to add as many non-potato vegetable dishes to the menu as possible.  This green bean recipe from Woman's Day will definitely be on my Thanksgiving menu!

Compound butter is easy to make and this garlic-herb version is ideal to serve on your Thanksgiving table along with homemade bread.  Using a high quality butter, such a Kerrygold, will be noticeable in this type of recipe and I find it's worth the splurge for a special occasion like Thanksgiving.

I used a small Oxo scoop to portion out the remaining garlic-herb butter, so I would have individual portions to serve with crusty homemade bread.  I froze them on parchment paper and then transferred to an airtight container.  Due to the small portion size it doesn't take long for the frozen butter to soften into a spreadable state.

Green Beans with Garlic-Herb Butter

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Bring a large saucepan (3-quart) of water to a boil. Add green beans to boiling water and cook just until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Drain the beans and return to the pan. Add garlic-herb butter and toss until the butter is melted.

  • Recipe Source: Woman's Day - November 2014
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November 19, 2014

Baby's Grand Adventure - Thumbprint Cookies

It's time to celebrate, Chelsea of This Grand Adventure is having a baby!  Since the gender will be a surprise I chose to decorate my thumbprint cookies in pastel colors.  You might be thinking thumbprint cookies should be filled with jam, but I promise you, buttercream frosting is the way to go!

There are very few recipes that I use shortening in and not surprisingly, they're all recipes I grew up with.  I've read advice online about substituting butter for shortening and from what I've see it can definitely be done but the taste will be a little different and the cookies will spread more.

This is a recipe that my family makes each year at Christmas, if not more often, and I liked the idea of sharing a recipe with many happy family memories as Chelsea and her husband start their own family.

Check out the other cute & delicious treats made for this virtual baby shower and thank you to Phi for organizing it!

Thumbprint Cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes (each batch)
Ingredients (3 dozen cookies)
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup shortening
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 eggs, separated
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
    • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
    • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
    • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Using a stand mixer, combine brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolks (setting egg whites aside). Mix in flour and salt until dough holds together.
    • In a small bowl, beat egg white slightly. Add half of the chopped nuts to another small bowl (as the nuts get coated in egg white and no longer stick well, replace them with the other half of the nuts).
    • Shape dough into 1-inch balls, then dip each ball into egg white and roll in nuts. Place about 1-inch apartment on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
    • Press thumb deeply in the center of each cookie to create a well for the frosting (a synthetic wine cork also works well). Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly brown (longer will result in dry cookies). Be careful when removing from the pan as they're quite fragile when warm. Cool completely on wire racks.

    • While the cookies are cooling, using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine powdered sugar and butter. Then mix in vanilla and milk. Beat until smooth and spreadable. Add food coloring, if desired.
    • Add frosting to a decorating bag with a star tip (I use Wilton 21) attached and pipe frosting into each cooled cookie.


    November 12, 2014

    Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad in Peppered Parmesan Bowls

    I'm still testing recipes for Thanksgiving but the colors in this brussels sprouts salad also make it ideal for a Christmas meal.  This salad pairs pomegranates and brussels sprouts which are readily available this time of year.

    I really liked this salad while Chris said he prefers roasted brussels sprouts.  I too love them roasted but oven space is at a premium on Thanksgiving so this salad has made its way onto the menu.

    Here's the thing with the peppered Parmesan bowls I made to serve the salad in, they're very cute and a festive way to serve salad however if you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you'll likely want to serve this salad in a regular bowl to save time which is what I'm leaning toward.

    If you're making this salad outside of Thanksgiving, definitely give the Parmesan bowls a go!  First, you start by shredding 2 cups of Parmesan cheese (I used a rotary cheese grater).  You'll want to buy an 8-ounce wedge of Parmesan for this recipe because you'll need 4-ounces for the salad bowls and another 3-ounces for the salad.

    The three Parmesan bowls below reflect the first three that I made.  It reminded me of making pancakes where the first one is absolute crap and then they quickly start to look much better.

    It doesn't take long to recognize when the cheese is at the perfectly bubbly stage and ready to flipped onto an inverted ramekin.  I had trouble draping the cheese around the ramekins because it cools very quickly and I wasn't moving fast enough but asymmetrical bowls look pretty cool too.

    After your Parmesan bowls are made, it's time to start the salad.  This was my first time buying pomegranate seeds instead of whacking them out of a pomegranate and it's because I've had terrible luck with buying pomegranates in Miami.

    I've followed the advice I've read (a ripe pomegranate should feel heavy for its size) but inevitably the seeds end up being pale pink with very little juice (a problem I never had buying pomegranates in Milwaukee).  So from now on, I'm buying seeds because I can easily see the color.  I found that Trader Joe's has the best price per ounce, at a cost of $4 for 5.3-ounces.

    You'll start by shredding the brussels sprouts.  I used the thinnest slicing attachment for my food processor but you could also use a mandoline...if you're not scared of mandolines like I am :)

    After a quick saute, you combine the brussels sprouts with a red wine vinaigrette, Parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts.  I would love to eat more brussels sprouts salads this season, so if you know of a great recipe, please leave a comment.

    Ingredients (6 servings)
      Peppered Parmesan Bowls

      • 4 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
      Brussels Sprouts

      • 1 pound small brussels sprouts, trimmed
      • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

      • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
      • 1 tablespoon Dijon
      • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

      • 3 oz Parmesan cheese, shaved into small strips with a vegetable peeler
      • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
      • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from one pomegranate or a 5 oz package of seeds)
      Peppered Parmesan Bowls
      • In a small bowl, toss cheese with pepper. Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium heat (a little higher is recommended if you have an electric stove, but not as high as medium-high).
      • Even sprinkle a 1/4 cup of cheese mixture into the pan to form a 6-inch circle; cook, uncovered for 2 to 4 minutes or until bubbly throughout. Remove pan from heat and let stand for 15 seconds.
      • Using a spatula, loosen the edges, then remove the cheese and drape over an inverted 4-ounce ramekin. Quickly, but gently, use the spatula to form a bowl shape. Cool completely before removing from ramekin. Repeat with remaining cheese, making 6 bowls total.

      Brussels Sprouts
      • Using a food processor fitted with the thinnest slicing attachment, thinly slice the brussels sprouts.
      • In a deep 12-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts and salt. Saute until sprouts are just barely tender, about 3 minutes.  Spread the sprouts on a baking sheet to cool. 

      Vinaigrette and Salad
      • In a large bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients. Add the cooled brussels sprouts and toss to coat. Fold in the Parmesan, walnuts and 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds. Divide salad among the 6 Parmesan bowls and sprinkle each with the remaining pomegranate seeds.

      • Recipes adapted from: Taste of Home - December 2013 and Woman's Day - November 2014
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