Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

I love birthdays!  Especially, when it is someone else’s birthday.  Someone else getting older, and being the center of attention.  For Adam’s birthday, this year, we decided to take full advantage of the unusually warm weather in New York, and utilize our deck for a small gathering of friends.  I, of course, had great plans to make a fantastic feast for Adam, which I completely forgot to photograph.  I made a lovely Pappa al Pomodoro soup (Tuscan bread soup), green salad with grapefruit and mint vinaigrette, baguette with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese, roasted tomato caprese salad, and double chocolate brownies from the April issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  I was a busy cook on Saturday!

On Sunday, I made Ina Garten’s White Pizza with Arugula.  They were perfect for my tiny oven and lack of a pizza stone.  I’d never made pizza dough from scratch, but I can tell you, I will use this recipe from now on.  It was so easy and tasty!  The flavors of the 3 cheeses, the homemade garlic oil, and topped with the lemon peppery arugula, was divine!  It was a Happy Birthday for Adam & his tummy.

White Pizza with Arugula
by Ina Garten
Printable Recipe

For the Pizza
1 1/2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 TBS honey
olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
ground black pepper
3 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese such as Montrachet, crumbled

For the salad
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces baby arugula

For the dough, combine the water, yeast honey, and 3 tablespoons olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Wait approximately 10 minutes, until the yeast has dissolved.  Add 3 cups of the flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed.  While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough.  Knead dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.  When dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times.  It should be smooth and elastic.  Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the garlic oil.  Place 1/2 cup olive oil, the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces.  Place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and cover with a damp towel.  Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.  Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each parchment-lined sheet pan.  (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)  Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with Fontina, mozzarella, and goat cheese.  Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.
Meanwhile, for the vinaigrette, whisk together 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten.  Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and serve immediately.

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Okay, so this photo doesn’t do this recipe justice!  On the plate, it looks like pasta with a blob next to it.  But, let me tell you, this eggplant parmigiana is magic in your mouth!  It is completely unhealthy, breaded, fried eggplant smothered in cheese and homemade sauce, but it is absolutely amazing!

I couldn’t decide what to make the other night for dinner.  I started walking to the grocery store without a plan.  Adam would say that this is a disaster waiting to happen because he’s been with me at the grocery store when I haven’t made a list of groceries.  We come home with way more than we should!  On my way to the store, I witnessed a car accident – just a little fender bender.  No injuries. But, it happened right next to me and I got a bit of a jolt of adrenaline from the squeal of the tires and the smashing of metal.  The driver who caused the accident immediately got out and apologized to the other driver with a very heavy Brooklyn accent – in the style of “fuggeddaboutit”.  I immediately thought of having Italian food for dinner.  Eggplant Parmigiana!

Now, to do it right, you’ve got to bread it and pan fry the eggplant first to make sure it doesn’t get too mushy.  Also, I decided to make my own sauce from scratch so as to have some leftover for the pasta.  It takes some time to make, but it well worth it!  It was dynamite!

Eggplant Parmigiana
by Anne
Printable Recipe

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 onion, halved
4 TBS butter
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt to taste

Eggplant Parmigiana:
1 medium to large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 to 1/2 the recipe of sauce or 1 store-bought jar
1/2 to 1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
3 to 4 eggs
1 cup flour
salt and pepper
1/2 bag shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese
oil for frying

First make the sauce: Put a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and melt.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and onion, and bring to a low simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, taste and add salt as necessary.  Simmer for an additional 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread crumbs shallow bowl. Crack 3 of the eggs into another shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper and beat with a fork to mix.  Put the flour in another shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange the eggplant, flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs on a work surface near the stove.

Heat about 1/4-inch olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, dredge several eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip them in the egg, and finally coat them in the bread crumbs. Put as many eggplant in the skillet as will fit comfortably in a single layer and cook until tender and well browned on both sides.  Drain on paper towels. Cook all of the eggplant slices this way, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

To assemble the dish, first get yourself set up with a large, buttered baking dish. Have ready the eggplant, the tomato sauce, the shredded mozzarella cheese and the Parmigiano.  To start, spoon some of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Now add a layer of eggplant.  Sprinkle with about one-third of the cheeses. Repeat with tomato sauce, eggplant, cheese until the all of the eggplant is used and the last of the cheeses are on top.

Put the dish in the oven and bake for about 1 hour, until golden and bubbling. Let stand for about 15 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!

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Adam and I love Mexican food!  We were completely spoiled in Los Angeles with the abundance of great Mexican restaurants, and our wonderful friends cooking for us.  I honestly do not believe that I cooked any sort of Mexican food while in LA.  I didn’t have to, and how could I compete?  While my co-workers shared their homemade salsa, I baked a good ol’ apple pie.  I really should have taken advantage of the fresh California avocados, cilantro, tomatillos, etc., but, alas, I did not.  Now, I’m living in Brooklyn, NY, where places like California Burrito are packed, but the food is just not up to par.  I miss our burrito stand right around the corner from our house.  We could get a burrito for under $5 that would blow-your-mind!

Okay, enough about burritos and California.  Since I can’t find good Mexican food in Brooklyn, I decided I’d make it myself, and it took the form of Tortilla Pie.  I found a recipe on this really cute food blog, Pink Parsley.  I had the majority of ingredients, but had to send Adam out to the Bodega for the rest of the items to complete this dish – namely, the beer.  I love recipes that call for beer!   I love enjoying a nice cold beer with a warm, spicy meal.  This Black Bean and Tortilla Pie did not disappoint!  It was spicy, smokey, cheesy and satisfied my craving for Mexican food!

Black Bean and Tortilla Pie
adapted from Pink Parsley
Printable Recipe

4 (10-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
salt and pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen corn
1 12-ounce beer, or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
8 ounces cheese, shredded (I used Mexican cheese blend)
salsa and sour cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Using the bottom of the pan as a guide, use a paring knife to trim the edges of the tortillas so that they fit in a 9-inch springform pan.

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.  Saute the onion until soft, 5-10 minutes.  Add the garlic, chipotle powder, cumin, chile powder, salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the beans and beer to the skillet, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.  Mix in the corn, scallions, and cilantro, and remove from heat.

Lay one of the tortillas across the bottom of the springform pan.  Layer with 1/4 of the beans, and sprinkle with cheese.  Repeat 3 times, finishing with beans and cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted and the mixture is heated through, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and unmold the pie.  Garnish with remaining scallions and cilantro, and serve with your choice of topping (salsa, sour cream), or as is. Enjoy!

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Sometimes, trying to figure out what to make for dinner is harder than actually making it.  There are endless possibilities!  I usually surf the web, or peruse my cookbooks.  I always try to make something that I’m “in the mood for”, but sometimes, I just don’t know what that is.  Then, there are times, when I find a recipe & just know I have to try it!  That is what happened when I found this recipe for Tex-Mex Chili Topped Sweet Potatoes.  I knew I had to make it.  Adam and I love chili and sweet potatoes, so how this not be love?  It was hearty, spicy, colorful, and tasty.  It was everything I hoped it would be.  Trouble is, we had leftovers…

It was so hearty and flavorful, we each only had one serving.  The problem being, I had two already cooked sweet potatoes on my hands, and a good amount of chili leftover. The next day I had sudden realization of what I was going to do!   Soup!  I cut up the leftover sweet potatoes, threw in the chili, added water, adjusted the spices, and the result was a delicious, comforting soup!

I, again, have succeeded in using up leftovers!  I am feeling pretty proud of myself.

Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes
adapted from A Year in the Kitchen
Printable Recipe

4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, diced
Salt and pepper
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (with green chilis, lime, cilantro, etc. if preferred)
1 heaping tsp. chili powder
1 heaping tsp. cumin
1/2 heaping tsp. coriander
1/2 heaping tsp. smoked paprika
1/8 – 1/4 chipotle powder (or 1 chipotle pepper diced)
Sprinkle of cayenne powder
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used pepper jack)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pierce potatoes with a fork all over and place directly on oven rack.  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size.

Heat a pot over medium heat, add 1 TBS olive oil.  Add onion and red pepper, season with salt and pepper, and saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic, and saute for 1 minute until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, spices, cilantro, and kidney beans.  Bring to a simmer, stir and cook for about 20 minutes.  Taste, adjust seasonings.  Cut potatoes in half, plate, and top with chili, a sprinkle of cilantro, and cheese.  Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup
by Anne
2 cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 recipe for chili (from Chili-Topped Sweet Potatoes)
1-2 cups water
Cut sweet potatoes into cubes.  Place sweet potatoes, chili, and water in a pot.  Cook until some of the liquid has cooked off.  Taste, adjust spices, and enjoy with cheese or a sprinkle of cilantro.

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I have a confession to make…I’m terrible with using up leftovers.  I know, I know, this does not support my efforts of trying to “go green”, and is effectively increasing my carbon footprint.  I am proud of myself for reducing the number of plastic bags I take home by using my reusable canvas ones, and I recycle as much as I can.  Yes, I wash aluminum foil after cooking so that I can recycle it.  We’ve switched, for the most part, to compact florescent bulbs.   I even bought biodegradable cat waste bags (made out of corn), at one point, but found they were too cumbersome.  During the summer, it is fairly easy to shop locally for produce with the farmers markets on practically every street corner, and in the winter, I try to do most of my shopping at Trader Joe’s.  Not only are the prices attractive at TJ’s, they source their food locally, where they can.

Back to leftovers…I try very hard to come up with ideas of how to make leftovers into a new dish.  I sometimes feel like MacGyver – averting some type of crisis with some twine and a handful of veggies.  I am not proud that I often find myself throwing away fresh herbs, and items that I forgot I had.  This time, though, I found a way to use up the leftover red chard from the Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin, half and onion, and two sweet potatoes!  Add some eggs, and presto, Spanish Tortilla!

This Spanish Tortilla was actually quite delicious.  It was a sweeter version of my previous Spanish Tortilla, but felt healthier with the sweet potatoes and chard.  I also used up some fresh herbs that I had kicking around.  Not only did it taste amazing, just look how pretty it was…

Spanish Tortilla with Sweet Potato and Red Chard
by Anne
Printable Recipe

2 TBS olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch half moons
half a bunch of red chard, stems and leaves separated, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 onion
8 large eggs
salt and pepper
fresh thyme, fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350° F. Heat 1 TBS oil in an ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
In a second skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, and chard stems, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens.  Add the chard leaves, and cook until wilted.

Add the onion and chard mixture to the potatoes and mix to combine.  In a bowl, beat eggs, and add herbs.  Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes, chard and onion; stir to distribute the ingredients, and cook on stove top for 1 minute. Transfer the skillet to oven and bake until brown around the edges and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature, sliced into wedges, and sprinkled with fresh herbs.

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I have been making this lasagna for years!  It was the first thing of my mother’s that I learned to cook.  Back then, it felt like a huge task to make this dish, and a wonderful accomplishment when the lasagna came out of the oven bubbling, cheesy, and appetizing!  Now, this lasagna is something that I “have-in-the-bag”.  I can make it with little effort!  I decided to make this lovely layered pasta dish because soon we will be enjoying the feast of Christmas, and lasagna is not on the menu for our holiday dinner.

This lasagna is designed to be easy, quick, and flavorful.  I use store-bought spaghetti sauce to cut down on the preparation time, though I think it would be amazing to make your own sauce from scratch.  I also use frozen chopped spinach for the same reason.  After cooking the lasagna noodles, assembling it, you can just pop it in the oven and forget about it for an hour.  During that time, the house starts smelling of cheesy, saucy goodness!

Adam loves my spinach lasagna and I love making it for him.  It tastes just like my mother’s!

Spinach Lasagna
by Anne
12 lasagna noodles
1 -1 1/2 jars of spaghetti sauce
2 -3 cups of ricotta cheese
1 package frozen spinach, defrosted
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 13 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray, set aside.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions to just before al dente.  You’ll want to make sure the noodles still have a little “bite” to them because they will continue to cook in the oven.  Drain and let rest in the colander until cool enough to handle.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, egg, onion powder, garlic powder, Parmigiano Reggiano, and spinach until blended.

Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of the baking pan. Place 3 lasagna noodles lengthwise on top of sauce, and one at the end crosswise and trim. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cheese and spinach mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with noodles and sauce.  Sprinkle a little bit of mozzarella on top, reserving the rest of the mozzarella cheese for later.

Cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes uncovered to brown-up the cheese slightly.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy with garlic bread!

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Each year for Hanukkah, Adam and I make potato latkes.  For weeks, I thought Hanukkah started on the 12th (today).  My calendar says so.  Yesterday, however, in the late afternoon I got a text message from Adam telling me that Hanukkah actually started that day the 11th at sundown.  No potatoes in the house, no oil, no candles, no apple sauce, nothing.  Frantically, I ran to the grocery store to pick up the necessary items.

Latkes are potato pancakes.  Potato pancakes can be found in traditional Polish, Ukrainian, German, Irish, and Yiddish cuisines.  Latkes are eaten during Hanukkah and fried in oil.  The oil for cooking the latkes is reminiscent of the oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle.  This is also the reason for lighting the menorah.

Our wonderful friends let us borrow their menorah for Hanukkah this year!

I have had to learn how to make latkes over the years, as I was raised Catholic.  Adam’s grandmother gave us a recipe, but alas, it too is in storage.  I remember most of the ingredients and improvised the rest.  They turned out really well.  The outsides were crispy while the insides stayed nice and moist and flavorful.  Latkes can be served with a variety of condiments – from savory (sour cream) to sweet (apple sauce and  sugar).  We like ours with a sprinkle of sugar and apple sauce.

Happy Hanukkah!

by Anne
Printable Recipe

2 1/2 pounds russet, or baking potatoes (about 4 large), scrubbed, peeled, halved
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 large egg
2 TBS flour, or matzoh meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Mazola Canola Oil for frying

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with two layers of paper towels; set aside.

Using the grating disk of a food processor, shred the potatoes and onion together.  Transfer potato and onion mixture to a large colander set over a bowl.  Using both your hands, squeeze the potato mixture vigorously, trying to get as much of the liquid out as possible, letting the liquid drip through the potatoes and colander into the bowl underneath.  Once you have finished squeezing, let mixture stand over the bowl for a minute or two.

Lift colander out of the bowl.  Pour off the watery brown liquid in the bowl, but save the layer of pale beige paste at the bottom. (This chalky-looking stuff is potato starch, and you need it to help your latkes stick together.)  Scrape up the paste, dump in the potato mixture, and mix together with a spatula.

Mix in flour or matzoh meal, salt, pepper, baking powder, and egg until it is evenly incorporated – you may want to use your hands.

Pour oil into a large skillet  to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch.  Over medium-high heat, heat oil until a shred of potato mixture instantly sizzles when dropped in.  In batches, pack potato mixture in a 1/4 cup measuring cup and place carefully in the oil.  Repeat, with 2 or 3 others – do not overcrowd the pan.  After 1 minute of cooking, use a slotted spatula to flatten out into a small disk.  Let fry until deep golden brown, about 4 or 5 minutes, then flip over and continue frying until both sides are well browned, about 8 to 10 minutes for each batch.  Using the slotted spatula, transfer latkes to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet.  Place baking tray in the oven to keep latkes warm.  Once all of latkes are cooked, serve immediately with your favorite condiment (apple sauce, sugar, or sour cream).

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Beef Kabobs

I recently was able to rescue some of my pans from our storage unit, and lo and behold, my grill pan was included!  I missed this grilling-beauty over the summer months.  It is practically impossible to grill in New York on an outdoor grill, unless you illegally cart your BBQ grill to your local park.  Seeing as it is illegal, and that space in your apartment is precious (where would you store a grill in your apartment, come on!), I resort to a stove top grill pan.  I certainly put it to good use last night, and made beef kabobs.  Meat and veggies on a stick – Yum!

There are many different ways of spelling kabob – kebab, kabob, kabab – depending on where they are from.  Kabobs can be found in Turkish, Persian, Iraqi, Arabic, Greek, Indian, Asian, U.S., Armenian, and a whole bunch of other countries’ cuisines.  Each region, culture, and religion have their own way of making kabobs.  Usually kabobs include pieces of meat and some vegetables cooked on skewers.

In Los Angeles, we lived in an Armenian neighborhood, where the kabobs were dynamite!  I didn’t even attempt to make kabobs there because we could just walk (yes, we actually walked in LA) around the corner to find 3 different kabob houses that could blow mine out of the water.  I can’t remember the last time I made kabobs.  So, I decided to make an Armenian influenced beef kabob.

I marinated the beef and veggies (separately) for 4 hours before popping them on the skewers.  I chose acidic items to marinade the beef to break down the muscle fibers allowing for more absorbtion of the liquids, and thus yielding a juicier piece of meat.  Oh, and it was juicy & flavorful!  I served our kabobs over rice pilaf.  The butteriness of the pilaf with the succulent beef and the hearty vegetables was a winning combination.  There is something very medieval about eating meat off a stick!

Beef Kabobs
by Anne
Printable Recipe

1 lb beef, cubed
8 oz mushrooms, whole
1 red onion, cut into wedges, 1/4 of onion reserved for marinade
1 zucchini, cut into half-moons

marinade for the beef:
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp dried oregano
2 TBS red wine vinegar
1/4  diced red onion

2 garlic cloves minced
marinade for the vegetables:
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove minced

Place the beef in a resealable plastic bag, or bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients for the beef.  Pour over the beef and stir to coat all pieces evenly.  Seal the bag, or cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place onion wedges (each layer released), zucchini, and mushrooms in a separate container.  Whisk together the marinade for the vegetables in a small bowl, and pour over the vegetables.  Stir to coat evenly.  Seal or cover, and refrigerate both the meat and vegetables for at least 4 hours or up to 8.
If you are using bamboo or wood skewers, make sure to soak in water for 30 minutes to an hour to prevent burning.

Thread on skewers, alternating the meat and vegetables.  Make sure to leave a little space between each piece to ensure even cooking.  Broil or grill the skewers until the beef is nearly cooked through – approximately 3-5 minutes per side.  Serve hot with your choice of side dish.

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Adam and I love breakfast for dinner nights.  It feels like a real treat to have pancakes, french toast, even eggs and hash-browns during the week.  Usually, I reserve making pancakes and eggs for the weekend, or we go out for brunch.  Brunch is definitely my favorite meal for dining-out.  I love stuffed french toast, pastries, coffee rolls, and anything sweet.  Adam usually goes for eggs or omelets with bacon and sausage.  This breakfast for dinner night was all about me, but I knew for sure, that Adam would love Pumpkin Pie French Toast.  Oh, and he did.  I had to make an extra half-batch!

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Pie French Toast on Closet Cooking several weeks ago, and was immediately drawn to it.  The idea of combining french toast with pumpkin pie flavoring was pure genius!  I wish that my grocery store carried “Texas Toast” or some sort of thick bread.  I think a thicker, heartier bread would have been spectacular, but my whole-wheat bread worked just fine as a delivery system for the pumpkin batter.  The Pumpkin Pie French Toast was velvety, smooth, and the vanilla extract made the spices pop.  It was like having dinner and dessert all-in-one.  I served the french toast with a generous pour of Vermont maple syrup!

Pumpkin Pie French Toast (from Closet Cooking)
Printable Recipe

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
8 slices of bread

Mix the eggs, milk, pumpkin purée, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and brown sugar in a bowl for easy dipping.  Dip the bread into the egg mixture on both sides and cook in a pan until lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minute per side.  Serve with maple syrup.

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We saw the first signs of snow yesterday.  It was actually raining with large snowflake globs mixed in.  Very cold, very wet.  I decided it was time for a warm bowl of chili.

Usually, I make a very simple chili with chicken, veggies, and chili powder, but this weekend I wanted to try something a little different – a spicy, smoky chili with beef and beer.  I always get a little nervous venturing away from how I normally do things.  I figure, why mess with a good thing.  How could I go wrong with a recipe that calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and beer!

We live in a very Polish neighborhood, hence the reason I chose a Polish beer.  We discovered Zywiec beer at a restaurant nearby where you can get an appetizer, Polish plate entrée, dessert and a beer all for around $12.  This price for the amount and quality of the food is highly unusual in New York.

The best thing about chili is that it is low maintenance and versatile.  You can pop all of the ingredients in a pot and in a couple of hours, it’s done.  Chili can be enjoyed on its own, on french fries, on hot dogs, on a baked potato, etc.  We like our chili with Jiffy cornbread, cheddar cheese, and a cold beer.

Football and a pot of chili on the stove.  What could be better?

Chili (adapted from The Eclectic Cook)
Printable Recipe

1 TBS olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 onions, diced
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS chili powder
2 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS cumin
2 TBS chopped chipotle chiles in adobo, plus a few TBS sauce
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 lbs ground chuck
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
2 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 bottle beer
2 cups beef broth or stock
2 (19 oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt to taste

Sauté the onions, pepper, jalapeno, and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, chipotle peppers, oregano, coriander and cayenne pepper.  Cook for another few minutes, until the spices are fragrant.  Add the beef and cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, beer, beef broth or stock, brown sugar and the kidney beans.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer partly uncovered until chili has thickened, 1½ to 2 hours.  Taste for salt and adjust other spices as needed.  You may want to add a few TBS of adobo sauce.  Serve with grated cheese and cornbread, if desired.

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