thanksgiving leftovers + stuffed cinnamon sweet omelet

So my main contribution to Thanksgiving dinner was a little experiment. <– I'm into those these days. We had Thanksgiving dinner with our family friends and our task was to bring a yam/sweet potato dish. My mom was debating a bunch of different recipes and consulting me for advice. Somewhere along the way we got all mixed up at to which recipe we were going to be using and ended up with canned sweet potatoes + raw sweet potatoes, whole apples, walnuts + pecans, and a lot of brandy. Since we had more than enough ingredients we went with TWO recipes. My mom did a mashed sweet potato with marshmallow and pecan/walnut topping from Melinda Lee and decided to wing it. I know that’s totally not what you’re supposed to do if you’re bringing a dish to share with people other than your family or significant other who won’t judge you if it’s a failure BUT I’ve never been one who enjoys following those traditional rules. Throw something together and see what happens?! Yup.

I envisioned a casserole dish, so I decided to do a sort twist on baked apples and did an apple + sweet potato casserole with a pecan and walnut crumble.

Apple Sweet Potato + Pecan-Walnut Crumble Casserole
This recipe was inspired by Melinda Lee’s Praline Yam recipe. Tastes very similar to baked apples, with the addition of sweet potatoes. And don’t worry, it was definitely a Thanksgiving hit!

For casserole
5 medium sized sweet potatoes (about 1 lb) – peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
4 large apples – sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2 t cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter – melted
1/3 cup, light or golden brown sugar – packed
5 tablespoons, brandy

For crumble:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup, light or golden brown sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter – melted
1 t cinnamon

Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer your sweet potato and apple slices any way you like so that pan is filled just to the top. Combine your melted butter, brown sugar, brandy, cinnamon and ginger and pour over the apples and sweet potatoes. Combine ingredients for pecan-walnut crumble and layer over top of the casserole. Bake at 350*F for 30-45 min until sweet potatoes are tender.

Note: The dish comes out slightly liquidy – I would recommend using slightly less butter + brandy if you’re not feeling all that goodness. Although I bet if you poured the excess liquid over pancakes you might feel like you’d died and gone to post-Thanksgiving-sugar-overload heaven. Not a bad place to be in my opinion.

So that was that. And then there were leftovers. I honestly like Thanksgiving leftovers better than the dinner. Is anyone else with me on this or am I just weird?

BUT I woke up today not really feeling like leftovers. Instead, I wanted French Toast. The only problem with that ideas was that I really really don’t like French Toast unless it’s made with slightly sweet, super light and fluffy bread. Something like brioche or Hawaiian bread – a.k.a. the kind you probably don’t regularly stock in your kitchen. And I felt like I carbo-loaded to the extreme yesterday. So I went with this fun little recipe.

Stuffed Cinnamon Sweet Omelet
I used Ashley’s @ Edible Perspective recipe for the omelet. It taste just like French Toast and has the texture of a sweet crepe. You wouldn’t believe it’s made from just eggs, vanilla, milk, and cinnamon.

2 eggs
2T milk – any kind with some fat, I used whole
small pinch of salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
any fruit you have on hand or leftover Apple Sweet Potato + Pecan-Walnut Crumble Casserole

Heat a pan on medium-low. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. When 1 T butter melts and bubbles on pan add your egg mixture. Don’t touch egg mixture but wait for it to set. Once egg has set, scoot it onto a plate. Add your desired sweet stuffing and consume!

Instead of stuffing a turkey, I’m stuffing omelets.

This is seriously the best.thing.ever.

Happy long weekend + Thanksgiving leftover consuming!

Lauren

doctored and chocolate-covered pumpkin cake mix biscotti

Day before Thanksgiving, who’s excited?! Most likely you’re either:

a. Stuck in traffic
b. Waiting in a ridiculously long line at the grocery store
c. In a daze in the kitchen realizing you have SO much cooking to do
d. Barely functioning because you have been starving yourself all week for maximum Thanksgiving stuffing-yo’-face action.
e. Both a and d
f. Both d and b or c

I just took a multiple choice test, forgive me for feeling the urge to write my own multiple choice question. Thankfully there is no wrong answer.

Back to business. With the holidays in mind, you are going to be needing lots of gifts and tasty hostess treats handy. Sure pulling up a totally homemade recipe is tons of fun. But it’s also tons of work. Then there are tons of boxed, pre-made goodies, but it feels like a bit of a cop-out. Solution? A doctored cake mix, with a twist.

Cake mixes are really easy to doctor. You only need to know some basic properties of cake mixes to know what will work and what won’t when you go about your alterations. Cakes are generally made with flour, eggs, sugar, and either butter or shortening. The gluten in flour works to bind all the molecules together and causes the cake to rise. See my post on Gluten Free Baking for all the details. Eggs are 75% water and tend to provide all the moisture to a recipe however, other ingredients such as milk, buttermilk, and sour cream may also be included. Sugar is used to incorporate air into the mixture. This is done by beating the sugar and fat first, then adding the eggs. I actually had no idea why every cake recipes calls for you to do this until I did research for this post. Air is carried into the mixture by the sugar molecules and the beaters, and the fat (which retain air in a solid + semisolid state) immobilizes the air as it gets beaten into a crystalline liquid fat mixture. Vegetable shortening actually does a better job of incorporating air bubbles into a cake batter as manufacturers fill vegetable shortenings with nitrogen bubbles and bubble stabilizing emulsifiers. The moisturizing and tenderizing effects of fat, not the air trapping ones, can be mimicked with the use of purees and concentrated fruits such as apple, pear, and apricot. Fruit (or in this case pumpkin) purees can be used to replace some of the fat in a recipe. The resulting cake will be more moist and dense than a full-fat cake however.

To summarize:
1. You can add moisture to a cake by subbing some of the necessary eggs with dairy products.
2. You can replace butter with vegetable shortening.
3. You can add fruit/vegetable purees to cake mixes in place of some of the fat. The resulting cake will be moister and denser. But be wary about subbing all the fat as the fat + sugar aerates the cake.

With a box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin bread handy, I decided to experiment. I wanted to boost the flavor by adding pumpkin puree and extra spices. So it went from just an awesome cake…

To biscotti…

To chocolate covered biscotti. Oh yeah.

Doctored and Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Cake Mix Biscotti
You can leave this cake as is, or turn it into biscotti, chocolate covered or not. Feel free to experiment.

1 Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cake Mix
1 t each – cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, nutmeg
canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips – melted in microwave for about 30 seconds – 1 min

Follow instructions on box to prepare cake mix. Sub oil for canned pumpkin. Add spices. Bake cake mix according to instructions. If planning to make biscotti bake in a square pan. After cake has baked and cooled, slice cake lengthwise. Lay slices on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 20-30 min at 450*, turning over once. When cake feels just toasted on each side, take out of oven and let cool. Cake will continue to harden to a biscotti texture as cools. Once biscotti has cooled, you can dip in melted chocolate. Let chocolate harden on biscotti in fridge or countertop, just make sure your biscotti are on wax/parchment paper or they will stick to the plate!

Enjoy with your favorite hot beverage.

I’m off to prep some Thanksgiving dishes! Gobble gobble.

Lauren

nut butter magic + honey-roasted almond, pecan, and peanut butter

I’ve got a bit of an obsession.

And apparently I’m not the only one. According to this highly reliable article, around 90% of all American households have at least one jar of peanut butter in their kitchen cabinets.

If you haven’t heard, this year’s peanut crop is supposed to be great. In Georgia, where nearly half of the nation’s peanuts are grown, the annual fall harvest has yielded a record amount of peanuts that farmers say taste better than average. This means that peanuts and peanut butter prices should start dropping. The crop has nearly doubled compared to last year. And unlike other regions where peanuts are grown, Georgia ‘runner peanuts’ have a compact shape and a fine texture, which makes them ideal for peanut butter, oil and fillings for candy bars and other processed foods. Well come on over!

Just be wary of organic peanuts, specifically ones sold at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. A salmonella outbreak was linked to the nation’s largest organic processing plant in the U.S. At least 35 people in 19 states have gotten sick from the peanuts, and more than 400 products have been recalled including raw peanuts, energy bars and peanut butter sold in stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Source

So if you’ve ever wanted to whip up your own nut butter, now’s your chance! And it’s so much easier than you think.

A food processor would be ideal. But since I don’t have one, I opted for my next best choice. My Magic Bullet! Yes, I admit it, I own a Magic Bullet. Guilty. I actually received it as a Christmas present last year. Not that I wanted one or anything.

The only real trick to making nut butters is to roast the nuts first. Or use pre-roasted nuts.

Honey Roasted Almond Butter
Makes 1/2 cup almond butter

1 cup Trader Joe’s sliced honey roasted almonds (also delicious on this salad)

Place almonds in Magic Bullet/food processor/blender and blend on high until smooth consistency is reached. Should look something like this:

Peanut Butter
Makes a little over 1 cup peanut butter

2 cups roasted peanuts
1-2 T peanut oil (as needed)

Place peanuts in Magic Bullet/food processor/blender and blend until peanuts start to turn into a butter. Scrap down the sides as needed. You may need to add 1-2 T peanut oil to get your appliance to appropriately cooperate. Alas, the only down side to using a Magic Bullet is that it’s motor is just too weak to completely butter-ize peanuts. Adding a bit of oil helped and thankfully I don’t mind crunchy.

Pecan Butter
Makes 1 cup pecan butter

2 cups roasted pecans – roasted my pecans myself and saved half for this salad. See how productive making nut butters can be.

Place cooled pecans in Magic Bullet/food processor/blender and blend until a smooth consistency is reached. This nut will butter-ize the easiest thanks to the high fat content of pecans.

Nut butter lovers unite!

Lauren