Monday, November 29, 2010

Egg + Nog

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday with friends, family, and fun :)

Ours involved a lot of driving to make sure we covered all families.  This was also a great time to introduce Bromley to the rest of the family!

He was pooped out!!  Spend most car rides like this:photo3
He likes Brian’s lap, even when he’s driving haha.

After Sunday’s pre-Thanksgiving, and two family gatherings on Thursday, when we finally got home on Thanksgiving night all I wanted was this:


The anti-turkey dinner: Pita, hummus, and spinach salad with olives and feta!


as much as I love stuffing, I am always ready for Thanksgiving dinner to be OVER.

Not only did I spend time with family this weekend, I got to meet some 20 new family members!
My cousin actually got chickens!!  20 Chickens!! 

Now I grew up in the ‘burbs, the burbs right outside the city, in fact my hometown is so big it probably should be a city.  So having your own chickens is not something I saw too often. 

Which is why I find it sort of awesome and hilarious at the same time!  He just lets them out of the coop and they roam around…and get chased by Daisy, the boxer :)  This picture is awesome!


Don’t worry, Daisy just likes to play, there were no chickens harmed :)

Well the best part is this:


A dozen FRESH FRESH eggs!!  I mean straight out of the chicken fresh, there was one that was just laid and still warm!! 

Our first egg meal was, of course, egg sandwiches!



I egg + cheese on toast, with another half slice of toast with PB + J.  I am a big fan of salty and sweet in the same meal.


IMG_6545Finally, some iced coffee with milk and a splash of Egg Nog.  I also jumped on the stainless steel straw bandwagon after I saw them at West Elm!!  So far I like it!


Eggs, Egg Nog…eggy French Toast with  Egg Nog??  YES!

I love having a carton of Egg Nog in the fridge this time of year.  It’s delicious, creamy, and Christmassy.  However, it’s VERY filling…I compare it to melted ice cream (in taste and nutritional info).  So a little here and there is all I need.

It’s especially amazing splashed into French Toast batter


and added to your milk before foaming…


subtle, sweet, and delicious.


Try it in your coffee!! 

Any other fun uses for Egg Nog??           

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Skip to Dessert: Cranberry Almond Tart

As I’ve said before, when I host my “House-Thanksgiving” for my friends, I don’t really stray from the classic dishes I’m used to. However, when it comes to dessert…I do what I want! :)

In the past I seem to trend towards mini-pies or other personal sized items (seen in years past), but not this time. There was a request for cheesecake, and I really wanted to make a tart of sorts.

I love making tarts…it’s way easier than making pie crust and it always looks so “fancy” that people think it took forever.

This was also the first year I had to do some do-over's of various pieces of this tart…starting with the crust.

Now this was my own damn fault. I was looking at like 5 different recipes to come up with what I wanted and along the way second-guessed myself which turned tart crust #1 into tart crust shortbread cookies :)

I knew I wanted to try my hand at making frangipane (basically an almond cream), and I wanted to use cranberries. I found many references for a Cranberry CARMEL Almond Tart and that sounded spectacular.

Martha’s Version

Smitten Kitchen’s Version

Ina’s Tart Crust can be found here

So here it is…Adventures in making my:

Cranberry Almond Tart


Very simple ingredient list IMG_6402

and BONUS it all goes into the mixer! No need for the pastry cutter this year :)IMG_6403 IMG_6404

The BEST part of this crust is that it is pressed into the shell. That means no rolling (or ripping) the dough!

The first part of the baking took place with weights in the form of dried beans over a piece of foil which had been lightly greased with butter.


After removing the foil + beans, it continued to bake and came out golden brown.


This is where things went awry. I was looking at yet another recipe which involved a frangipane tart where the tart was NOT baked first. So I thought this was a gonner as it was already baked…so I did this:


Delicious: yes! Unnecessary? YES! After all that, I deemed that, YES, I still need my tart shell baked first….ARG! Oh well.

So back at it, but this time using the dough recipe from Martha’s version.IMG_6447

If I did it again, I’d either make a bigger batch or use Ina’s recipe…this one felt a little sparse when placed into the tart pan.

In the meantime I prepped my cranberries and almonds


IMG_6451Later on, I got to work on my caramel.

This was another re-do. Again, all my fault, I read 1 1/4 cup cream but somehow turned that into 1 3/4 cup and my caramel was way too thin and was not thickening up!

Take 2:


This time I went with Smitten Kitchen’s version as I did not want to use Corn Syrup. I also only used about 1/3 of the butter as I’ve seen other caramel recipes that don’t use butter at all.

I am now kind of addicted to making caramel. I used to be so freaked out by the furry of bubbled created when you add the cream, but now I love it!!


Now here’s where the good pictures end. The last hour leading up to dinner for 13 people is a bit crazy and I managed to miss a LOT of photo opportunities for my food. Luckily there is always leftovers.


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To recap my recipes:

  • Martha’s Dough, barely enough to fit my rectangular tart pan.
  • bake crust
  • make Frangipane. I used the recipe from my new Flour Bakery cookbook. This recipe was different from the Martha version, as it doesn't use Almond Paste, but rather Almond Flour. I also added 1/4 tsp Almond extract for more almond flavor :)IMG_6410
  • Lucky for you (and me) I can share the Frangipane recipe as it is on


Joanne Chang, from the Flour Cookbook

Yield: makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup blanched whole almonds, or 1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons unbleached all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

1. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

2. With the mixer set on low speed, beat in the egg, flour, vanilla, and salt.

NOTE: I added 1/4 tsp Almond Extract


  • I then poured the frangipane in the shell and baked for 15-17min at 350*.
  • Once cool, mix caramel with cranberries and almonds and place topping on top of frangipane. Bake for another 6-8 min just until cranberries begin to pop :)

Can’t wait to make more things with caramel…

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Different Morning + Thanksgiving Preview

Whoa, where have I been?!  I do apologize for my absence…such a slacker!  Well not really, you see this past weekend was House Thanksgiving!!

If you’re a long time reader you know I do this every year.  My college roommates and I started making Thanksgiving dinner the weekend before the actual Turkey Day since Junior year…that means this is the 8th YEAR!!  Holy Crap! 

Here’s a look back at past Thanksgiving Posts (most of the recipes remain the same year to year…if it’s not broke don’t fix it!)


Part 1 – Pie Crusts and Groceries

Part 2 – More pies, prep, and mini orange cheesecakes!

Part 3 – Finished cheesecakes, cranberry sauce, and the BEST stuffing of your life…yes it’s true. 

Part 4 – Chocolate Pecan Pie, Butterscotch Pie (!!), the bird, and the rest!


Part 1 - First T-day at the house, seasonal decor, all the dinner items

Part 2 – Desserts: Profiteroles, Ricotta Cappuccinos, Mini Pies!

Most of the dishes will never change year to year…esp. the stuffing (I’ve converted all my friends and it’s now their favorite stuffing ever too!!)

This year I did the squash a bit simpler, as well as the mashed potatoes.  I also did a couple new desserts that I can’t wait to share!

But let’s rewind… Friday.  I took the morning off to get a head start on my grocery shopping.

Times like these I really wish I could work from home….mostly to eat a nice breakfast and lunch, on my dishes, in the sunlight, at my table :)

Breakfast starts with a B-eautiful cappuccino!

IMG_6374 IMG_6371 IMG_6372

Sorry Starbucks, but my foam is way better ;)

Breakfast continued with, what else, oatmeal!  So much better when I can make it on the stove.


The usual base:

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • pinch of salt
  • couple shakes of cinnamon


  • homemade granola
  • Justin’s Maple Almond Butter
  • homemade blueberry preserves (made by my friend!)
  • shredded coconut
  • 2 choc. chips, 2 PB chips :)


This breakfast just made my morning.


The day continued with trips to 3 different grocery stores, and a few other errands.

Then lunch time!



  • Baby arugula
  • pecans
  • chopped pear
  • gorgonzola
  • Dressing: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard

Fresh fall flavors! 


This is one of my favorite homemade, SO EASY, dressings!  Tart but with a little sweetness.

The pear was also nice and juicy, and I had the rest sliced up.


The other half of my lunch was a slice of Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane, spread with Dijon mustard, and topped with ham and gruyere cheese…toasted.

IMG_6397I wasn’t thrilled to head into work after lunch, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment…I hope you “work from home” people know how lucky you are!!      

The rest of the weekend was jam packed with cooking and lots of friends!

I’ll leave you with some select shots from the weekend, and can’t wait to share more about the food:



IMG_6446  IMG_6463  IMG_6466



 IMG_6476 IMG_6477 IMG_6479 IMG_6480




Happy Thanksgiving week! 

So have you dared to prepare an entire Thanksgiving feast??  It’s a lot of work, but so fun and so worth it!  Plus it gets easier every year!

King Arthur Discounts!

Well for now here’s a special offer to help with your Baking this holiday season!  The awesome people up at King Arthur want to offer a special offer to you all! (just click the picture)


Happy Baking :)