Posts tagged ‘Holiday’

November 19, 2012

Chipotle-Roasted Carrots

I’m thrilled to be hosting Thanksgiving this year! Without a doubt its my favorite holiday. Great food, family, friends and good drinks. What else is there to live for.  It’s a time to give thanks for all that we are grateful for and all that we often take for granted. My daughter lost a grandma this year. She will be missed and in our thoughts this holiday season. Many of us have survived various degrees of Hurricane Sandy’s impact. I know those of us who spent extended time without electricity will be happy to light candles illuminating our Thanksgiving tables, because we want to, not because we have to.

For some reason, the last month has caused the side of my brain that organizes stuff in my life to shut down. I’ve tried to fix it, but it’s not cooperating. I had high hopes of a beautiful photo of a big turkey on my homepage, obviously that didn’t happen.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be weeks of preparation and days of cooking, leaving you exhausted and unable to enjoy the big day. Try to simplify things a little. There are many recipes that you can make ahead or that require little prep with delicious results. I just made these carrots from Food and Wine as a trial run for Thanksgiving and this dish is a keeper! Sweet and spicy from molasses and chipotles, I love how their flavor adds a nice kick to the Thanksgiving plate.

Adapted from Food and Wine, November 2012

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)

  • 2lbs carrots, peeled and halved on an angle
  • 1 tbsp unsulfured molasses
  • 1 chipotle, minced (from can of chipotle and adobo sauce)
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Generous sprinkling of sesame seeds (about 1 tbsp) – toasting is optional, I didn’t
  • Handful of watercress, stems removed (about 2oz)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

On a sheet pan toss the carrots with the minced chipotle, adobo sauce, molasses and olive oil. Spread the carrots out evenly on the pan and roast for about 35-40 minutes until tender. Timing will depend on how thick your carrots are. Check the thickest one on the pan, using a fork, after about 30 minutes.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and allow the carrots to cool slightly. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and watercress leaves. Toss to combine and serve.

NOTES: I’ve changed the original recipe to make it even simpler and to reduce the amount of olive oil just a little. The recipe calls for 30 thin baby carrots (2-3 bunches) with the tops discarded. These are the pretty carrots that remind me of Peter Rabbit. I know these can be hard to find, so I made this using a 2lb bag of carrots from the grocery store. It turned out perfect. In addition, this is spicy! I used only one chipotle. The original recipe calls for two. Feel free if you can take the heat. Serve it with some plain greek yogurt or sour cream  if you want to cool it down.

March 4, 2012

Martha’s Irish Soda Bread

I’m not really the Martha Stewart type. I’m not crafty, inventive or much of a farm girl. In fact, I find her very intimidating. Just this week she made rock dominos and draft dodgers. Do I need rock dominos? She also decoupaged a chest of drawers. That will never happen here. She taught her followers how to store bread, wallpaper glass coasters and decorate pencils. Uh oh! I didn’t know I was supposed to decorate my pencils? We’ve got a lot of pencils lying around here – I’m going to be busy.

She made half a dozen different kinds of cookies and included how to turn cookies into an art project (really?). She’s also offering crowd-pleasing casserole recipes in the food section of her website. Aren’t you exhausted? I am, thank God I’m lying in bed writing this post.

The emotions that come over me when I think of Martha are a combination of admiration (25%), disbelief (25%), and irritation (50%). Am I less of a woman because I didn’t have a Valentine’s Day Crafternoon? Yes, she called it Crafternoon. I’m always misplacing my sewing machine when it’s time to make my heart-shaped pot-holders. I’ll try harder next year. Truth be told, I don’t even know how to sew or decoupage. I don’t think my lack of craftiness is holding me back in life. At least I can cook. No more kvetching!

Although the admiration I feel for Martha only makes up 25% of my total Martha emotions, let’s focus on admiration. This Martha Stewart Baking Handbook is truly my favorite. I love it, but shhhh, don’t tell Martha. I’m more of a cook than a baker, so when I have a baking question I often turn to this book. She includes lots of helpful information on baking techniques, measurements, bakeware and tools. She has included what seems to be, every basic baking recipe I’ll ever need – with photos! If you want to add one comprehensive baking book to your cookbook library, I would buy this one.

When a special occasion rolls around, I can always count on my fabulous aunt to send a new cookbook my way. Until this moment, I don’t know if she knew how much I’m looking forward to receiving my next book. She gifted me this Martha Stewart book, and my whole family thanks her when I make Martha’s black and white cookies. They’re the cookies that eat like a cake. I know my New York/New Jersey followers know these cookies well. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, I’ve made her Irish Soda bread. I’m really the only one in the house who likes it… alas, I end up eating the whole thing. I can attest that it’s simple to make and delicious. If you love Irish Soda bread and live close to me, please come over and help me eat this, I’m getting full.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and thank you Martha!

Martha’s Irish Soda Bread

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups raisins (I like to use a combination – 1 cup golden and 1 cup regular raisins)
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, caraway seeds, baking powder and salt. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender. You want the mixture to look like pea sized crumbs. It’s ok for there to be larger crumbs throughout the mixture as well. Toss in the raisins and combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the whole egg with the buttermilk and baking soda until properly combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture. Using a rubber spatula, begin to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Make sure you scrape from the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients. Combine until the dough just comes together.

Now use your hands to form the dough into a round dome shape and transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Beat the remaining egg yolk with the heavy cream and brush the top of the dough with the mixture. Using a sharp paring knife, cut a cross on the top of the dough, in the center, about 3/4 inch deep. Bake in your preheated oven until it turns a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean – about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Store leftovers at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Bread will last for up to 3 days.

Enjoy slathered with lots of good butter!

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