19 December 2014

A sugary, butter sauce to dress up any holiday dessert (and weekend links)

The next calorie-laden family feast is just around the corner, and I'm collecting dessert recipes.  The best thing I ever do in the kitchen?  This ooey, gooey butter-rum sauce, which you can pour over any kind of cake, pie, or ice cream.  Or just dip everything you eat into it while it's hot.  Here it is over gingerbread cake:

My favorite rum sauce (cake no included):

1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon rum
A generous pinch of salt

Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter is melted, sugar is dissolved, and the sauce is smooth.

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I may or may not have the ambition to try some of the particularly beautiful desserts gracing the web this holiday season, but here are my favorite ideas, if you're still working on your menu:

These Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes from Delish look delicious and reasonably easy. Gaaaah cheesecake...

Macadamia-White Chocolate Brownies sound like a great idea, and I love the food styling for this photo at The Nest.

OMG look at these beautiful Mini Cheesecakes with Wine Gelées from Food and Wine!  If anyone makes these, can you please post a photo?!

Aaaw, these cake pops from The Girl Who Ate Everything are too cute. I hate making cake pops because you have to wait between steps, but I would joyfully eat those if anyone tried out the recipe and brought them to my house...ahem...

16 December 2014

Eggplant-Curry Sauce with chick peas and cauliflower

With a clever technique stolen from traditional Indian Baingan Bhurta, this recipe uses blended, roasted eggplant to thicken a coconut-based curry sauce.  The list of ingredients may look long, but once you invest in these spices, you'll want to use them all the time.  And most importantly, this dish is a comforting, exciting feast while you're waiting for the next big holiday meal as an excuse to pig out.

Eggplant-Curry Sauce with chick peas and cauliflower

Serves 6

1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
½ yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup cauliflower florets (fresh or frozen)
1 cup frozen peas
1 can (15 oz.) chick peas
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Basmati rice for serving

Heat the oven to 380°F.  Toss the eggplant with a little bit of oil and salt and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast until soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds and toast until seeds begin to pop (4-5 minutes).  Add curry powder, garam masala, cayenne, black pepper, salt, tomatoes, cauliflower, and peas.  Stir to combine, reduce to low heat, and cover; allow to gently simmer while you wait for the eggplant to be done.

When eggplant is done, combine in a blender with the coconut milk, vegetable broth, and lemon juice. Blend until chunky-smooth, and stir into the skillet along with the chick peas.  Heat through, season with more salt and the black pepper, and sprinkle the cilantro on top. Serve over rice.

12 December 2014

Wild Rice Crustless Quiche

Is it too late to make suggestions for your leftover wild rice?  Because this brunch-dinner-anytime recipe is definitely a keeper.  Really, any leftover rice will work well here, but since I still had wild rice in the freezer from my Thanksgiving feast, that's what ended up in the bottom of this simple crustless quiche for brunch last week.  Sub any veggies you like, as well. 

Wild Rice Crustless Quiche

Serves 6

4 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
4 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or rosemary (or a mixture)
1 heaping cup cooked wild rice (or wild rice mix)
6 eggs
½ cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup shredded cheese of your choice ( prefer smoked cheddar)

Heat the oven to 325 °F. Prepare a 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp.  Drain on paper towels and reserve about 1 teaspoon of the grease.  Crumble bacon when cool enough to touch and set aside.

While bacon cooks, combine eggs, milk, yogurt, mustard, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whish thoroughly.

Place the skillet back on the burner and increase the heat to medium.  Cook the onion, garlic, and mushrooms in the bacon grease until onion is soft, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the fresh herbs and wild rice.

Spread the rice mixture evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the egg mixture over the top and place in the oven to cook for 20 minutes.  Then, sprinkle the bacon and cheese evenly over the top and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until the quiche is firm and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

09 December 2014

Gifts for the traveler in your life

Whether you travel by car, plane, or train (ah, but who does that in this country? Stupid lack of public transportation *shaking tiny fist*), sometimes being on the road is just a little uncomfortable.  Or maybe it's just a good excuse to use cool gadgets.  I hate large and/or overpriced things, but I would be totally into receiving any one of the following for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus...


Audio-Technica QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones I don't like flying near kids. Unfortunately, everyone has kids. These ear buds successfully quiet them while providing pretty good sound quality for your music or audio book, and they even come with a nifty volume control slide built into the wire for easy access. 

The Branch Earphone Splitter allows up to three people to listen to the same music, audio book, or movie at once.  It's cheap, tiny, and keeps you from drifting off into the crappy movies you pay for on the plane out of sheer desperation. 

Not sure if your bag is overweight? Use the tiny portable Heys Touch Scale to find out. It's also fun to strap your cat up and see how much he's weighing these days, along with any inanimate objects that fit easily on to the hook...

Tired of holding up your phone and/or asking random strangers to take your picture?  Don't get a stupid selfie stick--get the Keizus Quadropod + Clamp.  The photo on eBay shows a smart phone ever-so-smartly wrapped around a tree for some reason, but I think it would be nice to just stop holding my phone in my cramped hands when reading on long trips. 

Sleep phones are a dorky looking (but very soft and plushy) headband with a wireless, bluetooth-enabled set of headphones inside.  Having trouble getting to sleep in your weird-ass Motel 6? Turn on a podcast about the Senates's performance or the Supreme Court's terrible decisions, crank up the sleep phones, and you'll be snoring in no time.

Ultra-Compact External Battery Charger for SmartPhones and Other Portable Devices This nifty little guy is the size of a tube of chapstick and is one of the cheaper options on the market. 


La Fresh Travel Wipes, because after you've been in the car for fourteen hours, it's nice if your family doesn't have to smell your truly rotten self right away.  Come to think of it, these antiperspirant wipes, too. And sunscreen wipes. Yeah!

Not Your Mother's Girl Powder Volumizing Hair Powder sops up the grease when you can't get to a sink with some proper shampoo, and it comes in a travel-friendly, non-aerosol application (we're OK with powder on airplanes these days, right?)

Scrubba, the world's first pocket-sized washing machine! After a few days, and particularly if you are trying to pack light, you need more than your hands in the hotel sink to get some of your stuff clean. Click on the link for a cute demo video. 

Tide To Go Mini Instant Stain Remover because sometimes you eat spaghetti while wearing a white shirt, or any number of foibles that happen both close to and far from home.  I keep these in every bag I ever use when I walk out the door. 


eBags Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit has lots of compartments so you won't spend five minutes digging around for your floss after a long night, and it really does pack about as close to flat as you can get.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder allows you to make your clothes as flat as they can possibly be (I promise it's even better than rolling), and even a blazer comes out looking relatively wearable.