{made for dinner} recipe round-up

I've been too busy this week to keep up with my Google Reader (and even Pinterest - gasp!), so instead of Link Love I thought I'd recap a few of the recipes we've made lately. I found all of these on Pinterest, and am happy to report that they all turned out very well.

  • Avocado Pesto Pasta on Chef Chloe - Good dairy-free pasta recipes have been surprisingly hard to come by, so my taste buds perked up when I saw this unique take on a traditional pesto pasta. It's super easy to make, and the avocado makes it very smooth and creamy. I was worried the dish would end up tasting too much like avocado, but it's surprisingly subtle and is balanced very nicely by the basil. It does make the pasta pretty rich, though, so small servings are more than enough.
  • Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts on Cooking Light - This pasta is also very tasty, even without the parm (Jared added it to his... lucky guy). The pine nuts and pancetta cook while the water and pasta are boiling, making this a fairly quick weeknight dish. And you could easily substitute bacon for the pancetta.
  • Baked Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs on Tasty Kitchen - These are supposed to be little appetizers for a party, but we made them regular sized and served them over rice and steamed broccoli for dinner. I especially loved the teriyaki sauce, which could be used in a lot of different applications. I'd be interested to try these with ground pork, for a slightly less healthy but tastier alternative.
I hope you all have a great weekend! We're heading up to Seattle for the going away party of two very dear friends who are leaving the rainy Pacific Northwest for sunny California. I'll be very jealous of them until approximately next July. Oh, and I had a wonderful 30th birthday. Pics and a party recap coming soon! (While I'm still 30, I promise.) :-)

thanksgiving redux

If I had to score our Thanksgiving dinner this year I'd give it a solid B+.  There were a few things that could have been better, but I feel like we're getting much closer to a solid t-day lineup.  Here's the menu:

Bonnie's Cheese Ball...

I don't know if this is the real name of the recipe but we got it from my mom's friend Bonnie and that's what we've always called it.  It's so simple, yet so delicious.  I love any and all cheese, but this cheese in particular works really well as a Thanksgiving dinner warm-up act.

Basically all you do is mix together green pepper, onion, pineapple, and cream cheese then roll it in chopped pecans.  Easy peasy!

Here's the recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 2  8 oz packages of cream cheese
    • 8 ¼ oz can of crushed pineapple (drained really well, using paper towels or a potato ricer - this step is very important or the cheese will be watery)
    • ¼  cup chopped green pepper (chopped small)
    • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
    • ½  teaspoon salt
    • Chopped pecans
  1. Bring cream cheese to room temperature.
  2. Add all ingredients.
  3. Roll in chopped pecans.

Makes one big or two small balls.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance of serving.  Also freezes well.

Creamed spinach...

The mashed potatoes were kinda m'eh, so I won't bother writing about them.  We'll try again next year with those.  Onto the creamed spinach...

I've never been a big green bean casserole or brussel sprout fan, so I set out this year to find a good alternate green.  I hadn't really thought of spinach as an option, but we had creamed spinach during our amazing dinner at Lahaina Grill in Maui, and when I saw it listed under the Thanksgiving sides on Food Network I was sold.  The only thing I'd change about this recipe for next year is to use half of the red pepper flakes.  I like heat, but it overpowered the dish and left a pretty strong after burn.  Other than that, though, the dish was super tasty and I definitely plan to make it again next year.

Luby's Cornbread Dressing...

My friend Sarah is going to be disappointed to read this, but I wasn't crazy about this stuffing.  I prefer my stuffing to be more bread-like, with visible chunks of moist bread, and this was more like a casserole or egg bake (you add eggs to mixture before you pop it in the oven.)

Maybe I just didn't make it right, I don't know.  The flavor was really good, I just wasn't crazy about the texture.  I think for next year I'll go back to the last year's stuffing, Tyler Florence's Carmelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing.

Cranberry Sauce...

I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce, so I wasn't quite sure what would be involved in making the real stuff from scratch.  Thankfully it was super easy.  The orange zest overpowered the cranberry flavor a bit more than I would have liked, so next year I'll probably reduce it to half an orange.

Parker House Rolls...

I loooove me some Flaky Grands, but when I saw this recipe in Food Network magazine for pull-apart dinner rolls from scratch I had to try them.

Oh man were these good.  They were so tasty and filling... like a little meal all by themselves.  The recipe made at least double the rolls we actually needed, so if you're not cooking for a lot of people I recommend halving the recipe.


Jared added a twist to his Simon & Garfunkel butter this year... bacon.  That's right - parsely, sage, rosemary, thyme, and bacon.  Yum!

After the butter was shoved under the skin, Jared popped it in the Big Easy for about an hour and a half... and voila!


Random Order Coffeehouse pies...

I know what you're thinking... store bought pies?  I have a blog about all things DIY and I went and bought pies instead of making them myself.  But I firmly believe that every good DIYer needs to know when to admit that something is over their head.  I don't know what it is about pie... I've made pies in the past and never been wowed.  Maybe it's the crust, maybe I'm just not patient enough.  I don't know.  But I do know that Random Order here in Portland makes a heck of a good pie.   In addition to ordering these bad boys for Thanksgiving day, we also stopped by earlier in the week to pick up a few pieces of their Oregon Cherry pie and man oh man... these people know their way around a pie.  If you're ever in Portland I highly recommend stopping by and getting a piece.  Of anything.  I don't think they make a bad pie.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh right, thanksgiving pies.  Here you go...

I had never actually had Pecan Pie before this Thanksgiving... crazy, huh?  Well I am a convert.  Holy moly was this pie good.

So there you have it.  Thanksgiving 2010.  I'm full all over again.

the bird is the word

Thanksgiving in our house this year was far less stressful due to one essential addition to our appliance arsenal: The Big Easy Infrared Turkey Fryer from Char-Broil.  I was skeptical when Jared first told me about it, but after he tested it out with a small chicken a couple weeks ago, I knew he was on to something.  In addition to cooking perfectly juicy poultry in half the time of a normal oven, using the fryer this year meant one important thing: a free oven ALL DAY.  All of you who've attempted the chaos of trying to perfectly time all of your Thanksgiving dishes without a double oven - put this fryer on your Christmas list.

And here's the delicious turkey Jared cooked:

The seasoning was his Simon & Garfunkel blend of parsely, sage, rosemary, and thyme whipped into butter with crumbled bacon

We tried a new stuffing this year, Tyler Florence's Carmelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing, and it was a big hit! Easily one of the best stuffings I've ever had. We couldn't find cornbread muffins, so we used an 8x8 tin of cornbread from Whole Foods instead, and it worked great.  Some of the reviews on Food Network said the stuffing turned out too dry, so I added a few extra splashes of heavy cream and stock just in case.

For dessert we had Martha Stewart's Old Fashioned Apple Pie and Sarah brought down a couple dozen of her famous cupcakes as a belated b-day/thanksgiving treat.  The most popular were the carrot with cream cheese frosting, and classic yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing (honestly, if there's a better cupcake on earth I have yet to find it.)  Sarah even made custom cupcake picks for the occasion using paper punches and her own little bird template.  Let me know if you'd be interested in a tutorial and I'll ask her to put one together.

For more food pics from our yummy little Thanksgiving dinner click here.

Thanksgiving weekend coming to an end can only mean two things: 1) running, yoga, and pilates are all very much in order, and 2) I have less than a month to finish a long list of Christmas crafts. Ack!