November 2015 in food

November was a much more prolific cooking and baking month  — a very good thing, in my book! I’m hoping to keep it up next month as well… but just like last year, December has turned into a bit of a travel-filled month (I’ll be away two out of the four weekends), so it’ll be a bit of a struggle to make as much stuff.

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asian-inspired noodles with beef meatballs
recipe: made up
notes: Mixed ground beef with a lot of garlic, cilantro, green onions, salt, and ginger paste. Fried the meatballs in batches to brown the outsides, then transferred to a plate. Added more ginger and garlic along with chopped zucchini to the pan to saute, and deglazed with some water. Added meatballs and more water to the pot, brought to a boil. Added rice noodles and cooked them until done with the veggies & meat. I was pretty pleased with how this came out! I think adding a little bit of sesame oil and cilantro would have done a lot for the dish, but it was satisfying as it was.

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peanut butter oatmeal cookies
recipe: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/03/23/flourless-peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookies/
notes: We ate these, but they honestly tasted a little too “healthy.” Something was a little off about these… I’d  make peanut butter oatmeal cookies again, but not this particular recipe.

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pumpkin sage savory muffins

recipe: http://www.lovefoodeat.com/pumpkin-sage-savory-muffins/
notes: I wanted to make something with pumpkin but didn’t want to go the usual route by making a sweet pumpkin bread. I found this recipe doing a quick search online for savory muffins. They were edible and were fine as a grab-and-go breakfast food, but didn’t wow me and I wouldn’t make them again. Subbed Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour for these.

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tacos!
restaurant: La Choza
notes: Still as yummy as my last visit. I got the al pastor and the barbacoa, I think.

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nantucket cranberry pie
recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/nantucket-cranberry-pie/
notes: I have wanted to make this pie for the longest time! I first came across this recipe when I was living in Massachusetts, but it was summertime and fresh cranberries were nowhere to be found. Then I moved to NYC and didn’t have a kitchen… and I put off making this recipe because most people I know aren’t very fond of cranberries and there are always so many other recipes out there to try. When I saw cranberries on sale this month, I finally decided to stop putting it off and just went for it! I liked how this came out and I also liked how easy it was to put together. I think it might be nice to try next time with a touch less sugar in the cranberry mixture and add some grated orange zest.

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sweet potato hash browns

recipe: loosely adapted from http://thefitchen.com/2013/08/29/sweet-potato-hash-browns/
notes: THESE WERE SO GOOD! I generally mistrust random recipes found on blogs, but I really wanted to try making hash browns one night with some sweet potatoes. I used the recipe mostly to get an idea of rough proportion/ingredients to use. I didn’t rinse or squeeze dry the shredded sweet potatoes, mixed in an entire chopped onion, used garlic powder instead of chopped garlic, and eyeballed amounts of gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill) and olive oil. Fried four patties at a time (scooped out approximately a half cup of the potato mixture and flattened them out in the pan) for ~4 minutes on one side and then 3 minutes on the other. Will definitely make again!

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nibby nut and raisin cookies 

recipe: seriously bittersweet by alice medrich
notes: Yet another recipe I’ve bookmarked for a while and have wanted to make! I was SUPER happy with how these came out, they were one of the better cookies I’ve made in a while. I halved this recipe since I wasn’t sure how they were going to come out; next time I’m making a full batch!

modifications: Used Bella GF Flour instead of all purpose. (These made the cookies a little more crumbly / a little less chewy than normal cookies.) The recipe gave the option of using either raisins or currants — I used raisins because they’re what I had on hand. I baked the first batch for about 12 minutes which was a touch too long, next time don’t keep them in for any longer than 11 (maybe check at 10).

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teddie’s apple cake 
recipe: http://food52.com/recipes/19828-teddie-s-apple-cake
notes: To me, apple cakes are like the fish tacos of the dessert world. What I mean by that is that I always love the idea of fish tacos (and apple cakes) and they’re both generally enjoyable, but they’re never *quite* what I want them to be. The same was true of this apple cake — there was something not quite apple-y enough about it. It tasted mostly like a spice cake with a few apples sprinkled about as an afterthought. Not a bad cake, but I’m still in search of that elusive platonic ideal.

modifications: I halved the recipe, and baked for about 55 minutes… I was worried towards the end, because it was starting to smell like it was maybe starting to get overcooked at the edges/bottom, but the center was still on the wet side. Tossed the apples in 1/4 cup rum, and set them aside while I prepared the rest of the recipe. Used brown sugar instead of white, doubled the cinnamon, added dashes of nutmeg and allspice, used Bob’s Red Mill GF flour instead of all-purpose, used toasted pecans instead of walnuts, and used fresh cranberries instead of raisins. I’m pleased with how the cranberries turned out, since they add a tiny smidge of tartness against the sweetness of the cake — I think raisins (as originally called for) would have made the cake too sweet.

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honey cornbread

recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/honey-corn-bread
notes/mods: I subbed the cup of heavy cream with 2/3 heavy cream and 1/3 cup water to make it more like a “whole milk.” Other than that I kept everything the same. It was very good warmed up — I had some both with the Thanksgiving dinner and also with some poached eggs and salsa for breakfast. A little on the sweet side, but not too sweet. Next time I make a cornbread I’ll look for one that’s more explicitly savory.

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apple crisp with oat topping

recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/229088/apple-crisp-with-oat-topping/
notes/mods: Granny Smith apples were on sale at Sprouts for just 48 cents a pound! I was already buying a Granny Smith apple anyway for my Thanksgiving turkey, so I bought a bunch more to use for baking. I like crisps because they’re very easy to throw together… and who doesn’t like crisp topping? 🙂 I’ve started to come around on baked apples as well — I used to strongly dislike all cooked apple desserts, but now I don’t mind them as long as the apples are sliced thinly enough so that they practically melt in your mouth when you eat them. I doubled this recipe and it yielded WAY more than what would fit in a 9×13 pan, so I divided it between the 9×13 and another 9″ round casserole dish. I eyeballed the general measurements (didn’t measure as precisely as I usually do) and added a 1/2 tsp of salt because I think all sweet things need a little bit of salt to balance it all out. Was really tasty!

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Thanksgiving 2015 Feast

bacon bird with turkey neck gravy 
candied sweet potatoes 
– sauteed green beans with garlic (no recipe)
honey cornbread 
cranberry sauce 
Notes: I was quite pleased with how the turkey came out! Used a 12 pound turkey (technically, it was 11.8 pounds) and followed the bacon bird recipe exactly. I especially liked the gravy and how it went with the turkey… but I always like any sauce that has alcohol in it, and this one had both white wine and brandy! I subbed heavy cream for the whole milk since that’s what I had on hand and I don’t think that change hurt the sauce. 🙂 I made a basic cranberry sauce to go with the turkey and also revisited the candied sweet potatoes that I made last year since I loved them so much. This time I got the directions a little wrong and peeled/chopped the potatoes by accident before boiling them. I think they still came out ok, but the sauce seemed a little runnier this year, perhaps. Still yummy though!

Next year, I’ll probably get a bigger bird. Somehow the 12 pound turkey only yielded enough meat for five meals… which seems somehow wrong? I’d looked up serving estimates and apparently a 12 pound turkey is supposed to feed 8 people!

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