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Winter has arrived in the Carolinas in full force. It is freezing but I won’t complain about the temperatures because I know I have many readers who live in cold, snowy climates…I don’t know how you do it! One thing I will say is that cold days and even colder nights make me crave warm, hearty dishes like soup. I’ve had this Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas bookmarked for months and the perfect opportunity finally arose to make it on a chilly night when Brandon was out to dinner with friends.

I didn’t know how receptive Brandon would be to the soup. While he loves curry dishes, I didn’t know if he’d go for a vegan soup for dinner so I made it on a night he wasn’t home. I loved cooking this dish. It was so fragrant and very easy. I was extremely pleased with the results – the soup was flavorful and filling. I am happy to report that Brandon loved the leftovers for lunch the next day. I will definitely be adding this soup to the “winter warmers” recipe collection.

A few notes about the recipe…I almost doubled the curry powder and could have gone for a bit more. If you are a curry lover don’t be afraid to be a bit heavy handed. Next time I make this I am going to experiment with adding other spices like cayenne pepper to up the spice factor and cumin or coriander. This recipe was great as written but I would love to play with developing the flavors a bit more.

One Year Ago: Pork Chops with Cider Cream Sauce and Sauteed Apples
Two Years Ago: Greek Pasta

Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
(Recipe source Epicurious, March 2009)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
1-2 teaspoons mild curry powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium heat. in a medium stockpot. Add onion, bell pepper and chili and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and stir until onion mixture is coated. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 servings

I thought these cupcakes would be the perfect thing to share in celebration of my second blogiversary! Since I launched Bakin’ and Eggs two years ago I have posted over 200 recipes, including 68 from Gourmet Magazine. I love that my blog allows me to share recipes with friends, family and readers from all over and also that Brandon and I now have a great resource of all our favorite recipes.

While we’re on the topic of my second blogiversary, I want to use this opportunity to discuss the future of this blog. Many of you know that I launched a healthy living blog back in April. Since then I have been asked many times if I am going to combine the blogs. As of right now, I have no plans to do that. I like that Bakin’ and Eggs is dedicated to recipes and that I have the freedom to publish anything I want without feeling that it has to fit in the “healthy living” bubble. And while my version of healthy living includes all things in moderation, I know that it wouldn’t work for everyone to see things like cupcakes and macaroni and cheese on Peanut Butter Runner.

Enough serious talk…let’s get to the cupcakes. ;)

I made these a few weeks ago for my niece’s first birthday. I will admit that I much prefer baking cakes and cupcakes to decorating them but when there’s a special occasion I can’t resist. Luckily, Brandon is very creative and helps tons when I take on these baking projects.

The simplicity and cuteness of the piglets and frogs seemed like a great fit for a first birthday party and the pink and green color scheme gave them a fun and girly touch. I used vanilla cake for the piglets and dark chocolate for the frogs to offer a flavor choice. I iced them both with buttercream that I colored with food coloring.

They were a hit with everyone at the party…including the birthday girl!

One Year Ago: Flourless Chocolate Cake (my first blogiversary!)
Two Years Ago: Dad’s Chili (my very first recipe!)

Piglet Cupcakes
(Inspiration from Parenting)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes (your choice of flavor)
Vanilla buttercream
Red food coloring
Black decorating icing (you can buy this in a tube)
Large pink marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Pink decorating sugar

Directions:

Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, color the icing pink with red food coloring. Frost cupcakes.

Snip a ¼-inch thick slice from a marshmallow, crosswise. Dip cut side of thin marshmallow slice into pink sugar to coat. Cut sugared slice in half crosswise and form into two ear-shaped triangles. Save larger piece of marshmallow for the snout.  Repeat with remaining marshmallows.

Press the larger piece of the marshmallow, cut side down, onto the lower half of the cupcake for the pig’s snout. Press two sugared marshmallow ears into opposite edge of cupcake, as pictured. Press the chocolate chips in for the piggy’s eyes, pointed end down (or use the black decorating icing). Pipe a mouth onto the cupcake with the black decorating icing.

Frog Cupcakes
(Inspiration from Cutest Food)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes (your choice of flavor)
Vanilla buttercream
Large white marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Red decorating icing

Directions:

Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer, color the icing green with green food coloring. Frost cupcakes.

Cut marshmallows into thin slices to form the eyes. Press chocolate chips into eyes (we randomly placed ours so they were not all the same) and press into frosting. Draw smile and tongue (if desired) with red decorating icing.

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away! I am in the midst of planning for this year’s meal and though it would be helpful to create a post with some of my favorite recipes. I hope this provides ideas and inspiration for your holiday feast.

Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green EggBrandon and my dad cooked the turkey on the Big Green Egg last year and it turned out wonderfully. Alton Brown’s method for preparing a turkey is perfect and roasting it on the Big Green Egg instead of in the oven added so much flavor.

Classic White Dressing – This dressing recipe has a short ingredient list but tastes great!

Sweet Potato Casserole - With alternating rows of crunch and marshmallow topping, this sweet potato recipe is sure to please everyone at your table. I’ve been making this one for several years now. It’s delicious and you just can’t beat the presentation.

Macaroni and Cheese – I first tried this recipe as part of my 68 Days of Gourmet project. It totally won me over and I’ve been singing its praises ever since. Try it, you won’t regret it!

Creamed LeeksWhile searching for nontraditional sides for last year’s meal, I came across this highly rated recipe for creamed leeks. This dish ended up being a surprise hit with the whole family – even those who had never tried leeks before.

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Shallots – This was another of the dishes that came out of my effort to mix up our sides. This recipe even had self-proclaimed brussels sprouts haters professing their love.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake – Pumpkin cheesecake is a fun addition to a dessert spread full of pies.

Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust – This tart is unbelievably easy to prepare and delicious. The gingersnap crust is what really sets this off, especially when topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Classic White Dressing

My dad made this dressing recipe from Cuisine at Home several years ago and it’s been a family staple ever since. There is nothing fancy about this dressing and the ingredients list is surprisingly short but it sure is good – especially topped with gravy!

My grandmother has always been the dressing maker for our family Thankgsivings but even she got on board with this recipe. If you’re looking for a classic, traditional dressing recipe, this one’s for you!

One Year Ago: Macaroni and Cheese and Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake (both great Thanksgiving recipes!)

Classic White Dressing
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home, December 2007)

Ingredients:

8 cups French bread, cubed and staled (cube and let sit until dried out)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups onion, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten until frothy
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place casserole dish on a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Soak bread in milk while you prepare other ingredients.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and celery and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft. Stir broth, onion mixture and herbs into bread and then add eggs, salt and pepper and gently stir until incorporated. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for one hour or until center is set.

Yield: 10 servings

Sweet Potato Casserole

Big news! This is my 200th post and the second blogiversary of Bakin’ and Eggs is coming up very soon! :D

Let’s get to the food. I have another holiday recipe for you! I discovered this sweet potato casserole several years ago when Brandon requested a marshmallow-topped casserole and I wanted something a little different. This recipe was the perfect compromise and with the alternating layers of pecans and cornflakes and marshmallows, you can be sure that everyone at the table will be pleased. Also, I love the presentation of this casserole. It’s a pretty addition to a holiday spread.

I will be posting a Thanksgiving recipe round up tomorrow so stay tuned!

One Year Ago: Asian Marinated Tuna Steaks

Sweet Potato Casserole
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar (you can reduce this a little)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon of butter melted (divided)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions:

Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake for one hour, or until tender. Let cool and then peel. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, beat sweet potatoes, sugar and next 5 at medium speed until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.

Combine cornflakes cereal, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, pecans and brown sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle diagonally over casserole in rows (do not add the marshmallows yet!).

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle alternate rows with marshmallows; bake 10 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8-10 servings

Let’s get the important facts out of the way. This coffee cake has three sticks of butter in the cake and another half stick in the topping. If you find this shocking you may want to leave now! ;)

That said, this is the perfect coffee cake for the holidays. I made this last Thanksgiving for breakfast (you just have to go all out on Thanksgiving!) and my family loved it. I am a big fan of fresh cranberries in baked goods and this cake had just the right amount layered throughout. The streusel topping was a nice finish and the toasted pecans added so much.

This Cranberry Coffee Cake would be a lovely treat anytime during the holiday season – take it to work, bring it to a friend or serve it for houseguests. I guarantee it will be a hit…just dont’ tell anyone about the three and a half sticks of butter.

One Year Ago: Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg

Cranberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home)

Ingredients:

FOR THE STREUSEL
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest

FOR THE CAKE
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 1/4 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line pan with parchment paper so it hangs over edges to create handles and spray again with cooking spray.

FOR THE STREUSEL
Melt butter and stir in flour, pecans, dried cranberries, sugar and orange zest. Set streusel aside.

FOR THE CAKE
Pulse fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar and orange zest in food processor and set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs and egg yolk and set aside. Using hand mixer, cream butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl. Add flour mixture and egg mixture alternately to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and then top with remaining batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries and top cake with streusel.

Bake 55 to 70 minutes or until streusel is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 16 servings

English Muffin Egg Casserole

Dinner tonight was supposed to be broiled mahi, roasted asparagus and sweet potato parsnip puree. There was a midafternoon change of plans when Brandon informed me that he just did not feel like eating fish tonight. He is fighting a cold (that I may or may not have given him…oops) and was in the mood for something simple and comforting. I decided to do a spin on breakfast for dinner and made a healthier version of a traditional breakfast casserole.

This casserole features whole wheat English muffins, a few veggies, faux sausage, eggs and cheese. I got the idea for this dish from the Whole Foods website but winged it in the kitchen. The original recipe instructs you to let this sit overnight in the fridge but a one hour soak worked for us. I was able to quickly assemble this before yoga this evening and Brandon put it in the oven so that dinner was ready when I got home from class. Easy and delicious.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to cheese, sausage and bacon laden casseroles this holiday season I encourage you to try this recipe! I think you could further lighten it by using a mixture of eggs and egg whites and reducing the cheese. But we loved it just the way it was…a little cheese never hurt anyone!

One Year Ago: Buttermilk Biscuits and Jeweled Rice

English Muffin Egg Casserole
(Recipe inspired by Whole Foods Market)

Ingredients:

4 whole wheat English muffins, halved
2 meatless sausage patties (I used Morningstar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
5 eggs
1/3 cup skim milk
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Lots of salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Prepare an 11 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Line with English muffin halves and set aside.

Defrost sausages in microwave and crumble. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add sausage and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then stir in chopped spinach and dried basil. Season generously with salt and pepper and then spoon over English muffins.

While mixture is cooling on English muffins, whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over English muffins and top with cheese. Let rest at least one hour or up to overnight in the fridge.

Remove casserole from fridge while you are preheating oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until set and cheese is slightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings

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