Savory bread pudding–how to use your share from Week 2

Hello, everyone!  I thought we were getting morels this week in our share.  But they didn’t arrive on the truck.

I know!!  Major. Bummer.  We’ll try again next week.

Despite not having morels to include in tonight’s dinner, it still turned out fantastic!  All you need is some stale bread (it doesn’t really have to be stale…you can use fresh bread), some eggs, milk, and your choice of veggies.  Easy!  No formal recipe yet; hopefully I can get to that soon.  So you’ll just have to watch the video if you want to make it.  Enjoy!

Week 1: use 6/7 of your CSA share to make a delicious salad!

CSA season is here at last!  For some of you, it has been a long 6 months since our last CSA pickup, which was right before Thanksgiving.  Well, rest assured, you have 20 more weeks (and potentially 4-5 weeks of a fall share) to keep you eating delicious, healthy, locally grown organic produce.  Ahhhh, that sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it?

I took the liberty to show you how to make a salad.  I know, that sounds pretty dumb.  But this is a pretty spectacular salad, if I do say so myself, and since it’s been a while since I’ve posted a video I thought ‘What better way to ease back into the swing of things than with a total home run of a video?’  So here it is.  Enjoy!

Spring is for lemon meringue pie!

I’m back!  I was traveling for work recently and once I got home I got hit with a whirlwind of writing reports, playing birthday dinner hostess, preparing for upcoming field work this summer, and my favorite: doing quality control on data entry into our master database at work (kidding).  And I think spring has FINALLY arrived in Helena–we’ve had 2 nice weekends in a row and I have spent as much time as I can outside working in the yard and garden.  And you know what?  The garden is alive! More on that later…

First things first: my little lemon tree produced 7 lemons this year, a record for me.  For many people growing lemons in a warm climate, this may seem unimpressive, but I was quite pleased to have 7 fully ripe lemons in Montana.  I gave away a couple of lemons to friends and I had 4 left.  What to do with my bounty?  Then one day it hit me: lemon meringue pie!  Of course!  And I can use eggs from my gals, too!  And it was settled.

Meyer lemons are quite a bit smaller than the lemons you find at the grocery store but they have a wonderful flavor.  I ended up using 3 lemons, which means I still have one more–maybe I’ll make some lemon rosemary shortbread cookies.

If you want to watch my kitchen calamities, the video will hit on a couple of good ones. If you just want the darn recipe without any of the monkey business, you can find it here.

 

Chocolate & red wine cupcakes

I embarked on a cupcake experiment today.  Chocolate and red wine are one of my favorite pairings, and I thought, “Why not fuse the two together into a cupcake?”

Yesh, why not?

Behold!  It is done.

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And I made a video detailing my adventure in the kitchen today.  You can check it out below.  And if you are interested in trying the recipe yourself, you can find it here.

Let’s make hummus!

I love hummus, but I have to be honest here, I don’t love store bought hummus.  Sure, I eat it, but I usually only buy it for camping or field work.  I much prefer homemade hummus, and you know what?  It’s really easy to make!  And the best part is you can make it any flavor you want.

The video below will show you how to make it entirely from scratch using dried chickpeas.  You can also use canned chickpeas if you want to skip cooking the beans yourself, but if you have a pressure cooker, it doesn’t take long at all to cook dry beans, soaked or not.  More on pressure cooking in future posts.  I absolutely love mine and I’m a huge proponent of using them to save time and preserve nutrients in food.  Check it out:

The best birthday cake ever: hazelnut carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

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I have the same birthday cake every year: carrot cake.  I cannot even remember a time that I did not have carrot cake, though I remember (vaguely) of a Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake like this one from my early childhood:

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I actually had the original cake form up until I last moved 7 years ago, along with several other cake forms for Blue Clues, Tigger, and many more cartoon characters that I can no longer recall.  But for years and years and years, it has been carrot cake.  I love carrot cake.  No….wait.

I LOVE carrot cake.

Last year I switched things up a bit, like I always do, and instead of using pecans or walnuts, I decided to try hazelnuts.  It was a freakin’ home run.  In fact, when I was first pondering what to make for my first YouTube video, this carrot cake was one I thought about making as my debut video.  But for some reason I didn’t.  Maybe it was for lack of time, who knows.  But the time has now come and yes, even though it was my own birthday, I made my own birthday cake.  Not-so-secret:  I always do.

I enjoy it, so why not?

And also…once someone, who may or may not be Hubby, made my birthday cake for me and made the comment that the batter looked like vomit.  Fair enough.  This batter doesn’t have a sexy, lick-the-bowl look to it, but it tastes phenomenal (both in batter and baked cake form).  So from that point forward, I decided it was just easier on everyone involved if I made it myself.  This year I had a particularly grand time making this cake, as you will soon find out if you watch the video.

Soon-not-to-be-secret: I lightened up the original recipe considerably and there is absolutely no compromise in flavor, texture, or overall quality of this cake.  It’s practically health food, as far as cakes go anyway, so you should definitely give it a try.

Recipe is here.  Video is below.

Winter Squash Brownies. Say what? You heard right.

Happy Solstice, everyone!  This is my favorite day of the year.  Why?  Because beginning tomorrow, the days start to get longer!  We have finally reached the shortest, darkest day of the year.  And on this longest night, it is going to be bitter cold outside so I am sitting by the wood stove while I edit my video.  We got about 8″ of snow in town yesterday and our local ski hill, Great Divide, got 18″ of snow.  We’re supposed to get several more inches in town tomorrow so we are going to take Friday to ski before the bitter, bitter cold moves in.

So…about those brownies.  I didn’t get a chance to let them cool completely before taste testing on camera, so the final verdict lies within this paragraph.  It’s pretty simple, really:  THESE BROWNIES ARE FREAKIN’ AWESOME!  The squash, which I could taste while the brownies were still hot, could not be tasted once the brownies cooled.  The wine taste wasn’t all that strong, which was a little disappointing for the cheesecake in particular.  But these went over really well at dinner Monday night, and some of the patrons are perhaps a little picky about what foods they like and don’t like, and winter squash is not high on the list of ‘likes.’  So since the picky eater(s) ate these with reckless abandon, I take that as a compliment.  If you have a hard time getting kids (also read: hubby or yourself) to eat veggies, this is a sneaky way to get more nutrients in your diet without even knowing it.  And they are much lower in fat than traditional brownies.  Bonus!

Check out the video below & the recipe is here:

Blueberry cake donuts with lemon icing– baked, not fried

I’ll post the recipe later this week, but holy cow, these are absolutely terrible!  Don’t even bother trying to make them and certainly don’t blame me if you make them and eat 4 of them just so your significant other doesn’t find them and discover how terrible they are, too…

Recipe is here.

How to dry brine a turkey

I love love love Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday.  And I am hosting this year, both friends and family, so we’re expecting a nice crowd of about 8.  But who knows?  If I see anyone in the neighborhood up for adoption Thursday, I might drag them along for our Thanksgiving ride, too (we play Scattergories after dinner–it’s so much fun!).

Since I love to cook, this is absolutely my holiday.  And I prep well in advance so that I don’t get too stressed out on Turkey Day.  I began my preparations on Sunday, FIVE days before Thanksgiving (one can never be too prepared).  I found my Thanksgiving menus from the past 3 years along with my list of To-Do and When, and created my Thanksgiving Timeline of Preparations.  And since I have a vegan friend joining us for the big day, nearly everything is vegan.  Here’s the menu of what I’m making:

Non-vegan:  Turkey with gravy  /  cheese log

Vegan:  gravy  /  ‘Thanksgiving’ rolls  /  pumpkin pie  /  mashed potatoes  /  corn casserole  /  curried fruit  /  sweet potato casserole  /  roasted carrots & parsnips  /  French cornbread dressing  /  chocolate hazelnut-blueberry pie  /  mulled apple cider

Stepdaughter # 2 is bringing chocolate pie, coconut cream pie, cranberry sauce (from a Harry Potter cookbook, no less), and a sweet potato & apple dish.

THAT’S A LOT OF FOOD!

And in case you’re curious, here’s my what my Thanksgiving Timeline of Preparations looks like:

Sunday:

  1. toast hazelnuts & skin.  chop.  toast pecans. chop.
  2. make vegan pumpkin pie–from scratch–& video
  3. start sourdough starter
  4. make curried fruit topping
  5. make vegan pie crust for chocolate hazelnut pie

Monday:

  1. make French cornbread
  2. make turkey rub
  3. roast garlic
  4. make sweet potato casserole topping
  5. make herb/spice mix for ‘Thanksgiving’ rolls

Tuesday:

  1. brine turkey & make video
  2. grate cheese for cheese log
  3. bake sweet potatoes in skin
  4. cut & toast French cornbread
  5. mix together dry ingredients for chocolate hazelnut pie

Wednesday:

  1. slice / steam carrots & parsnips
  2. make chocolate hazelnut pie
  3. assemble curried fruit
  4. assemble sweet potato casserole
  5. prep corn casserole
  6. prep dressing
  7. make sourdough roll dough (bread maker)

Thursday:

  1. make ‘Thanksgiving’ roll dough (bread maker)
  2. bake curried fruit
  3. roast carrots & parsnips
  4. roast turkey
  5. bake sweet potatoes  / corn casserole  / dressing
  6. bake rolls (Dutch oven & solar oven &/or in kitchen)
  7. mulled apple cider (Crock Pot)
  8. pressure cook potatoes
  9. make gravies

Wednesday night will probably be my most ‘stressful’ night in part because I will work Wednesday afternoon and I teach barre that evening.  So by the time I get home & showered, it will be quite late to begin some of the prep.  But the good news in all this is if it doesn’t get done on Wednesday night, it will just happen on Thursday.  And Thursday won’t be all that crazy, despite the long list of things I have to do.  The turkey will take up the largest chunk of time, and while it cooks I can prep other things.  Then while the turkey rests, I’ll bake the casseroles and such.  Should be a fairly relaxed day, all things considered.

Now, about that turkey.  I prepared my turkey this afternoon with a rub and dry brine.  I had a near turklamity while bagging the turkey, and you can witness the look of horror on my face when I thought I was about to lose it.  If you want the rub recipe, it will be posted here.  And here’s the video:

Homemade pumpkin pie–totally from scratch!

I’ve been radio silent for a couple of weeks–other priorities have taken my time away from videos and blogging.  Such is life, I suppose.  This is the last week of the CSA and then I’ll have a bit of a break.  We had a really good season, but I am looking forward to focusing on other things for a few months.  Videos will continue throughout the winter, but may be more sporadic–who knows?

But I’ve got two, count ’em TWO, videos specifically tailored to Thanksgiving this week.  This is the first installment, which walks you through how to make a pumpkin pie, completely from scratch:  from pumpkin to pie.  And you know what?  It’s really not that hard!  Sure, it’s more time-consuming than opening a can of pumpkin puree, but this is better.   Waaaaaaaay better than pumpkin from a can!

The second video will show you how to dry brine a turkey.  Never tried it?  Well, you should!  I think this will be my go-to turkey preparation for Thanksgiving forevermore.  Look for that video tomorrow!