cranberry, caramel and pecan tart
|After seeing the almond version at smittenkitchen, I knew I'd have to try this. We went to Fredericksburg this weekend, a charming German town in the heart of Texas and bought plenty of new harvest pecans, so I switched out the type of nut. (Fredericksburg was very cute--it was a great place to celebrate six months of marriage!)|
It was a lot easier to make caramel than I thought it would
be. One of the wedding
pans was perfect--it was deep and came with a splatter guard that I poured the cream/butter combo through, then I used it to strain the caramel into a bowl. I used the great unshrinkable sweet tart shell, which I did not love. It was really hard to get it together and I had to press it in bits into the tart pan. I made America's Test Kitchen's sweet tart dough right after this dough (I'm experimenting and knew I'd need a second one for pecan tart on Thursday), and that came together far more easily.
This is the great unshrinkable dough on the left. Do you see the cracks in it? I couldn't get rid of them and didn't
want to risk handling the dough for too long.
I can't wait for my husband to get home so we can try it. We're having grilled chicken salad for dinner to make up for the calories in this one. With 560 calories for a tenth of the tart, it's definitely an indulgence! I hope it's yummy.
just a week until break
not quite ina garten
|I've been baking up a storm lately and making all kinds of yummy things for work (mostly his work). On Sunday last week I made my famous reduced-fat pumpkin bars. Don't let it fool you, though, these still have a lot of sugar. Oh well. Then I made a chocolate-orange bundt cake for my husband's work on Friday. He was sick, so I ended up taking it to my work instead. It was good, but I was disappointed that the sugar syrup didn't make the cake a little crunchy. I wonder if I put it in the cake container too soon. Now I'm making banana bread with streusel topping. I'll slice it up later today and freeze it so we can grab a piece for breakfast in the morning this week. |
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars:
Reduced fat version (the type we made for the office party). In order to reduce the amount of oil in the original recipe (1 cup!), you need to replace the oil with applesauce, increase the amount of spices, and add more baking soda in order to keep it tasting good. You can also replace all the spices with pumpkin pie spice for a slightly different flavor.
For the Batter
1 3/4 cup mashed pumpkin (the smaller sized cans of pumpkin are exactly this much)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbs canola oil
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I prefer Guittard)
For the frosting
8 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted - optional
To make the batter
Preheat oven to 350
In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, applesauce, oil, eggs, and sugars until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves. Toss in mini chocolate chips and stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet and stir until moistened.
Scoop batter into a 10 x 15" baking pan coated with nonstick spray. Bake until the center springs back when lightly pressed in the center - about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting
In a large mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix until smooth. Frost bars and sprinkle half with walnuts and grate some chocolate over the other half if desired. (Can also top with freshly grated nutmeg for a spicier bar.)
Makes about 42 bars.
|I've been trying to cook a greater variety of dinners lately to make things a little more exciting. I'd like to cut down on our eating out expenses by half, and I figure that if I'm a little more adventurous in the kitchen, we'll be less likely to want to eat out. We'll see how this theory pans out.|
Last week I made Baked Gnocci with Ricotta and Spinach, Chicken Enchiladas Suizas (the key is using raw/homemade tortillas), and Turkey Chipotle Chili. One night we had grilled cheese with Provolone and Asiago with the chili.
Tonight we had salad made with dried cranberries, walnuts and gorgonzola along with individual Cheesy Shepherd's Pies (I made them in ramekins). For the rest of the week, we're going to have Chicken Tikka Masala with naan and chickpeas and finally Spinach Pie with a side of hummus, kalamata olives and pita.
Here are my basic rules for cooking:
1) I cook enough for two nights. Neither I nor my husband mind eating the same dinner two nights in a row, and it cuts down on dishes and time.
2) I cook one meat-free dinner every week.
3) I try to cook one new dish every week while rotating in and out the dishes that I've cooked before.
4) If I know the week will be crazy (long meetings, grades are due, etc), I make sure that there's a meal that my husband, a notoriously bad cook, can make. Generally this means spaghetti or something he can grill out. He makes delicious hamburgers after we had some tutorial sessions.
I'm going to start recording our weekly meals here so that I can roughly track the dishes that we've been eating and how often I repeat certain things. The enchiladas are probably the most repeated item since my husband requests them once a month or so.
My recipe for super-easy Chicken Enchiladas Suizas
1 jar Tomatillo Sauce
1 package fresh (raw) tortillas
1 pound chicken breasts (you can mix with dark meat if you like a richer taste)
1 8-oz package of shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove
chili powder to taste
9x13 baking dish
Pan for frying
Deep saute pan or pot for poaching (the one Iinked is one of our most-used wedding gifts)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Poach the chicken in water with a crushed garlic clove. While the chicken is poaching, saute the onion an bell pepper until crisp-tender. Fry the torillas using cooking spray.
While the tortillas cool off enough to be touched, shred the poached chicken using two forks or your fingers. Add the sauteed onion and bell pepper along with chili powder to taste. Allow to cool slightly, then add half the cheese to the mix.
Spread a thin layer of the tomatillo sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. Stuff the tortillas with the chicken mixture, placing each full tortilla seam-side down in the baking dish. Tortillas should fit in one layer. Once all the tortillas are stuffed and placed, pour the remaining tomatillo sauce over them, topping with the remaining cheese. Cover baking dish tightly with foil. Bake in hot oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.
We generally eat this with spanish rice and black beans, cooked with chipotle adobe peppers and garlic. I sometimes also throw in whatever veggies we have sitting in the fridge (squash, mushrooms if you like them, etc).