Cranberry, Orange, and Ginger Chutney

Thanksgiving is nearly here!!!  As I'm sure you can imagine, this is one of my favorite holidays.  A whole day devoted to delicious food and thinking about the things in our lives that are truly wonderful, what's not to love?  This year, I've really tried to branch out and try new recipes beyond the old favorites my family makes every year.  The first of these recipes is a chutney I discovered on Kitchen Confidante.  Having never made a chutney, or in fact canned anything before, I was a little nervous as to how time consuming and difficult the whole process would be.  The recipe did end up taking about an hour and a half to complete, but the results are well worth it.  The chutney is both savory and festive with a slight bite from the tartness of the cranberries.  It will taste fantastic by itself on crackers, and I'm looking forward to serving it on brie as an appetizer on Thanksgiving day.


Broccoli Pesto

Yup, you read the title correctly.  Broccoli. Pesto. Now I know right now your head is spinning with questions like, "What does it taste like?" "Can I have that if I'm on a diet?" and the answers are a resounding "awesome," and "Duh."

Let me begin by saying my Granny is the most healthy woman on the planet.  I'm serious.  She goes for long walks every day, only eats sugar once a day, and can do really cool things like make her own berry sauce for pancakes (of course in lieu of maple syrup).  In short, she's amazing and you wish you knew her.  This recipe, right here, is not only Granny approved, it is Granny given.  Like regular pesto, it makes a fantastic sauce for pasta with it's "green" flavor, but contains less than a quarter of the fat!

Also, if you were concerned about it tasting too "healthy," know that I am not exaggerating when I say I have literally never served it without being asked for the recipe.


Easier Than Pie

Honestly, I never understood that expression, "easier than pie." Pie is hard to make! The expression should be "Easier than easy mac," or "easier than scrambled eggs," or at the very least "easier than pie filling."  Pie filling is an easy thing to make, the difficult part is the crust. Pie crust always seems to be too hard, too soft, too wet, too dry, or a myriad of other "too's" that can go wrong.  My personal pie crust issues always seem to stem from holes magically appearing once the crust is already in the pan, aka after "the point of no return." I then spend the next 20 minutes or so crafting an incredibly intricate patch out of the leftover remnants only to find out that it did, indeed, leak while baking.

This morning I was up before the crack of dawn to do some last minute studying for an exam I have today, and surprisingly, found myself completely prepared.  There was literally nothing left for me to study!  Normally, I would have gone back to bed for a few hours, but I'd already drunk a *significant* amount of coffee and there was no chance of falling asleep.  So, what's a girl to do at 5:30am when she's bouncing off the walls with caffeine?  Why, bake of course!  I had a whole bag of apples on hand, and although I wanted to make a pie, the thought of dealing with that inevitable hole was more than I could handle.  Instead, I opted for a galette.  A galette is much like a pie's effortlessly chic french cousin: unfussy, fabulous, and has a fun to say name. I modified an old family recipe for apple pie (I would be drawn and quartered if I blogged the actual recipe) and I couldn't have been happier with the results.  The crust came out beautifully, and as usual, the filling was delicious.  If only I could justify having warm apple galette for breakfast every day!


Berry Berry

Every so often my roommates and I get together to have a roommate night.  No boyfriends, no outside friends, just the four of us together.  Each of us makes a course for dinner and brings a bottle of wine (don't bother doing that person per bottle math), and we spend the evening cooking, and talking.  After Jess moved out in June, vacations, work events, and just plain busy schedules took center stage and our roommate nights sort of went by the wayside.  So when Jess came to visit us a few weeks back, OF COURSE we had to have an evening just like old times.  As usual, I was elected to make dessert.  I wanted to make something reminiscent of summer, and after some careful consideration (and polling of the apartment) I made a cobbler with berries and nectarines that had been tempting me for weeks.


Viva Italia

-When you're little, what you imagine as an ideal dinner is something along the lines of cookies on top of pizza covered in ice cream.  This is sort of the grown up version of that dish.  Last night I came home completely exhausted from the week looking for something fast and delicious.  I literally looked in the fridge, grabbed all of my favorite foods, and threw them into a pan hoping the result would be better than cookies on pizza.  Maybe I'm just lucky all of my favorite foods on hand had a distinctly Italian theme, but this will definitely become a "making dinner fast" night staple.


Gimme Dat Bacon

I spent the large majority of my childhood essentially vegetarian.  Because of this, the first time I tasted the GLORY that is bacon was when I was about 18.  No seriously, eighteen.  Obviously bacon is the reason God created life, so since then I've been making up for lost time. When I saw "praline bacon" on the Good Eats episode about salt ("The Ballad of Salty and Sweet" 2010) I knew I just had to try it.  The results were spectacular and I single handedly ate 4 pieces.  I probably would have eaten more, but one of my roommates came into the kitchen and for some reason it feels...weird...to inhale strips of pure fat and sugar like its your job with someone watching.


Vegetable Soup

My favorite part of dinner is actually the part that comes just before dinner.  There is something so relaxing about everyone hanging around the kitchen, having a glass of wine, and talking while a pot simmers on the stove.  Between a full time job and grad school it's very rare I have an entire evening to spend however I chose, so when I somehow got home early last night I decided to take full advantage.

I started with the goal of making a simple vegetable soup that could walk the line between comfort food and health food. As usual my eyes were bigger than my...pot.  I absolutely hate when vegetable soups are more broth than soup, so I came prepared with a mountain of veggies to include.  I chopped and added, and then chopped and added some more, until I realized I had literally run out of space to add anything else.  Thankfully, soup freezes beautifully, and I'm really looking forward to enjoying my mistake some busy evening this winter.

This recipe makes a huge quantity so feel free to cut it in half.  The most important thing is that you have a good friend, a glass of wine, and preferably a baguette and brie on hand to enjoy while it cooks!

The Happy Onion

Onions are a pain in the butt.  Delicious, yes, but a pain in the butt.  You love them.  You WANT to put them in everything.  You WANT your house to smell like the delicious awesomeness they produce when they're sweating *ever so gently* on the stove......but.....they don't love you back.  Onions, just like Ryan Reynolds, will never love you back.  (Side note: I wonder if they love Blake Lively?)  They will sting your eyes, they will make you cry, they will make your life hell, and they will REFUSE to feel bad about it.  So what ON EARTH is a girl to do????


Take a step away from the ski goggles, girlfriend. They're not the answer!!!

And take that bread out of your mouth you look stupid.

I have a secret, and the secret is called how to properly chop onions and not cry.  Ok, maybe it's not a secret.  It's pretty basic technique.  Whatever.

1) Begin with a VERY sharp knife.  Super duper sharp.  When onions cells break they release propanethiol S-oxide nasty gas that combines with your tears to form sulfuric acid, which makes your eyes sting and tear.  A sharper knife breaks fewer cells.  Baddabing baddaboom.

2) Cut the onion in half directly through the root so each resulting half, has root attached to it.  The root holds the onion together during the cutting process so everything stays neat and organized, and the gases stay in there.

3) Cut off the tip of the onion and use this edge to peel off the outer most layer of flaky onion skin so you're left with just the flesh.

4) Make 1 to 2 horizontal cuts into the onion, toward the root but being careful to stop before cutting through it.

5) Make vertical cuts into the onion, again, being careful not to cut the root.

6) Make horizontal cuts perpendicular to the last ones you made.
7) Throw away the root, and you have a perfect onion chop!