November 21, 2014

Holiday Eats: Cranberry Pie

Thank goodness for bookmarks. I saved this recipe years ago after tripping across it in the wilds of cyberspace. It still took a long while before making it, and I'd be so mad at myself for that if it did any good. Instead, I will just make it as many times as I can to make up for all the missed opportunities!

Called Nantucket Cranberry Pie (original post here), this is texturally more like a cake, but let's not fight over semantics, shall we?

This recipe is dead simple, and simply delicious. You can put it together in mere minutes, and it's a tart and tangy treat to mix it up in a sea of pumpkin and pecan pies.

It's a one-bowl, easy-peasy, satisfying recipe. Chop the cranberries and nuts (I used pecans, though the recipe calls for walnuts), toss them with a 1/2 cup of sugar, and dump them in your pie tin.

Next, add 2 eggs, melted butter, flour, sugar, and almond extract to the same bowl you used to mix your berries & nuts. You'll have a thick, yellow batter ready to pour over the berries.

I made this for a work potluck and it was gone in no time. The tart cranberries and the mellow almond flavor were a great pairing, and more than one person asked me for the recipe. I think it might be on a few tables this Thanksgiving!

It's not the most photogenic dessert when sliced, but everyone will eat it too quickly even to notice! I loved this so much that I made it again 2 days later for company.

This dish has earned a spot in my immediate rotation of recipes. It's easy to prepare, bakes in less than 40 minutes, and goes just as well for dessert (I'll add some orange zest and top with whipped cream next time) as it does for breakfast, next to a steaming hot cup of coffee. I hope you'll give it a whirl!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 14, 2014

Wafels & Dinges Restaurant

A group of us gathered one EARLY Sunday morning, hoping to have some of my favorite pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Company. When our expected wait of an hour turned into TWO hours, and then we heard it would be THREE HOURS, we collectively said Oh HELL NO, and walked north to find a better option, ANY option. Three hours for pancakes? You must think I've lost my mind and then some. No. NO NO NO NO NO. I'm mad we even waited that long, but sometimes optimism can be a real kick in the head.

We walked two blocks up and saw the brick and mortar version of the Wafels & Dinges, an amazing Belgian wafel truck that was really at the forefront of the food truck movement. In fact, back in 2008, I organized a Wafels & Dinges Day at the talk show where I worked. Everyone chipped in about 10 bucks and the Wafels truck came just for us outside work. Sigh..that was a great day. But back to the future...

He's putting BACON in the wafels--thank you, Sir. THANK YOU.
We walked in, immediately ordered at the counter (where they serve sweet AND savory), and were seated in under five minutes. Hello, THIS is how I like to do brunch. Screw that waiting in line nonsense. And I had an icy cold, bracingly strong iced coffee-- FINALLY!

I like to start with savory first thing in the morning, so I ordered the chicken and mushroom wafel. It sounded so good, and tasted even better. It was like a wonderfully comforting stew. Impossible to eat with your hands, but I'm not complaining. I was not expecting the savory wafels to be so incredibly flavorful. Bright, green herbs and BACON cooked into the wafel!! It came with a side of lightly-dressed arugula and pickled, tickle-your-tongue onions. Killer combo.

ABF ordered the Wake Up Grumpy: an egg, bacon and cheese with two savory wafels replacing the biscuit. Drizzled with a generous portion of honey, it looked gorgeous, and ABF gave it two forks up, happily.

For dessert, ABF & I shared the sweet raspberry wafel, lightly dusted with confectioner's sugar and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with honey. This was great- ABF is coming around to really liking raspberries (one of my favorite foods), and I'm happy to share with him. As tasty as this was, I actually rate the chicken & mushroom wafel as even more fantastic.

See that stunning chocolate concoction? I think that was my friend Travis's pick-- I was so full at this point I couldn't even fathom trying it, but it smelled glorrrrrrrious.

The prices are reasonable, coffee is strong, flavors are fab, and the servers were all cheerful and welcoming. Skip waiting ANYWHERE for brunch and try out this spot!

Wafels and Dinges

209 East 2nd Street

NY, NY 10009

(866) 429-7329

November 06, 2014

Personal Shepherd's Pies

I'd made mini pot pies a while back (for St. Patrick's Day), but I hadn't tried them yet the low-carb way. This dish was one of the few ways my mom could get me to eat vegetables when I was a kid. Now that I'm older and FAR less picky an eater, I find myself making this dish on my own. On a chilly November night, I decided to make a few personal servings of Shepherd's pie, with some tweaks.

I switched out the ground beef for ground turkey, and instead of peas, I used carrots. I'm not a registered dietitian, but I'll take the carbs in some organic carrots over junk food any day. Plus, the carrots looked so bright and colorful in what can be a dreary-looking dish. I also added mushrooms to the mix to sneak in some more veggies.

I boiled some cauliflower for 8 minutes, then put it in my food processor along with some roasted garlic, salt, pepper, and a small knob of cream cheese. I used this as the topping instead of heavier mashed potatoes. Most of the time, when I sub roasted cauliflower instead of white potatoes, no one even notices! Much lower carb count, still delicious!

After 30 minutes in the oven (at 400), they were perfectly browned on the top, and delicious inside! I had some that night for dinner with a good friend, and will be enjoying the leftovers this week for lunch!

Mini Shepherd's Pies:

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

Worcestershire sauce

1 bag (16 oz) frozen cauliflower

Salt, pepper, roasted garlic cloves, or garlic powder

Sauté the carrots and onions until softened, set aside (I don't like burned onions!)-- Add ground turkey to pan, brown. Once it's almost browned through, add mushrooms. As turkey is almost cooked through, splash a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire sauce and blend. Add a dash of salt & pepper to the meat, set aside.

While browning turkey, boil the frozen cauliflower for about 8 minutes, until softened. Blend in food processor with salt, pepper, a clove or two of roasted garlic (or garlic powder), and an ounce of cream cheese.

To assemble pies: add 1/4 cup of turkey and mushrooms into a ramekin. Add layer of carrots & onions. Top with the pureéd cauliflower, and use a fork to make little peaks in the cauliflower.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops are browned. Let ramekin cool 5 minutes, but still use caution when handling the dishes (pot holders are key). This dish gets even better the next day!

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