turnip mash

this is the only time all year i am sick of mashed potatoes. i come from a group of potato lovers, and i count myself as one of them, but a girl can only eat so many. time to change it up. with turnips.

i've never had turnips before. at least not that i can remember. they were good. not great, but a definite contender for those i'm-sick-of-potatoes days. how can anything be bad simmered in milk & garlic and mashed with a stick of butter?


chicken & wild rice soup

need a break from the sweets? yea, me too. how about a bowl of vegetables spiked with chicken, half & half and wild rice?

really? that's it? that's all you've got? but what about something a bit more festive? a bit more complicated? i mean, just throw some vegetables, chicken, rice & cream into a pot. that's it?!

yep. that's all i'm asking of you.


because it's simply one of the best soups i've ever had. ever. 


holiday shortbread cookies

wanna impress your friends/coworkers/family/significant others with the easiest and least time consuming cookie recipe ever?

then whip up a batch of shortbread. butter + sugar + flour + mixins. and make them holiday by mixing in white chocolate, dried cranberries, and pistachios. that's it. virtually impossible to screw up.


chocolate peppermint pinwheels

one last christmas cookie post before the big day. as if you even have time for one more or haven't had your christmas cookie plan together for the last three weeks.

...or up to your ears in candy canes? add them to the peppermint half of the dough for extra crunch and minty flavor.

anyway, nothing says christmas like peppermint. how about peppermint + chocolate?


spiced thins

more interested in the cookies than the coffee? i don't necessarily blame you...

these super crunchy spiced thins are perfect with coffee. whether gingerbread flavored or not.

the secret? roll them out super thin. i'm talking a sixteenth of an inch - no, i did not measure - but get them as thin as you possibly can. towards the end of the batch, i got sick of rolling and did one sheet pan thicker. instead of the characteristic crunch, they were a bit chewy. the flavor was great, but the crunch is what i really wanted.

these are one of the few things crunchy enough to dunk in my coffee and not get soggy!

spiced thins
adapted from everyday with rachael ray
prep: 15 minutes, chill: 1hr+, bake: 1hr; makes about 6 sheet pans full

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves, allspice, and nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsulfured molasses
4 cups all purpose flour
  1. using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, butter, and shortening until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. mix in the spices, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. mix in the molasses.
  2. at low speed, gradually mix in the flour until incorporated. the dough will be quite thick.
  3. divide the dough into quarters and roll each into a ball. place each ball on a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten it with your hand into a disc, and wrap with plastic. chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  4. preheat your oven to 325F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8" to 1/4" thick. cut the dough into whatever size and shape you'd like. place on the cookie sheets. the cookies don't spread much when baking, so leave about a half inch space between them on the sheets. reroll the scraps until all the dough is used up.
  6. bake about 12 - 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. let cool on the cookie sheet a few minutes until set. remove with a spatula and let cool completely on a wire rack. store in an airtight container.


gingerbread spiced coffee

those cheesy dunkin donuts commercials get to me. the one on the radio about making a gingerbread house out of dunkin donuts gingerbread lattes, coffee, and muffins. not only because i love dunkin donuts, but even more so, i love gingerbread.

so rather than forking over my hard earned money set aside for presents for pretty girls and boys, i decided to make my own. all you need is simple syrup spiked with the perfect mix of gingerbread spices. couldn't be easier. (or cheaper.)

while i'm sure the half and half or whatever your milk of choice is for coffee could be infused with the spices (similar to chai), i want to keep is as easy as possible. if you know how to boil water, you can make simple syrup. boil equal parts water and sugar until all the sugar dissolves and it's clear. mix in spices. add a spoonful or two to your coffee. done. perfect warm & spicy start to a dark, cold, blizzardy december morning.

gingerbread spiced syrup for coffee drinks
10 minutes, makes about 2/3 of a cup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. bring the water and sugar to a boil. boil for a minute or so, until all sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear.
  2. remove from heat. stir in the molasses and spices.
  3. strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, if you wish.
  4. store in the refrigerator and shake well before using. addto taste in coffee, about a tablespoon per cup.


butterfinger cupcakes with chocolate ganache buttercream

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

it's almost christmas and i still have halloween candy left. i have been eying the few snack size butterfingers left in our pantry for the last two months, trying to come up with a good use for them. so i smashed them up with a meat mallet and mixed them into my all time favorite yellow cake. topped with the best chocolate buttercream and it's the perfect butterfinger cupcake.

except the butterfinger flavor isn't as pronounced as i'd like it to be. yes, they taste like butterfingers. no, they aren't as peanut-buttery as butterfingers. and as my all time favorite yellow cake and favorite chocolate buttercream, it's the perfect cupcake anyway. as jason and i stuffed our faces with the "rejects" we brainstormed ideas to make the butterfinger concept even better:

  • chunks vs pulverized candy bars. when i crushed the candies, i did a pretty good job of crushing them almost into a powder. larger chunks might be better instead.
  • peanut butter cupcake, chocolate buttercream, and top with crushed candies. plain and simple.
  • swap the cupcake & buttercream flavors. instead of making the cupcake taste like peanut butter, make a chocolate cupcake topped with butterfinger buttercream. how exactly to make butterfinger buttercream we didn't get to, but it sounds delicious.

butterfinger cupcakes
adapted from yellow butter cake in martha stewart's cooking school
30 minutes, makes 20 cupcakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 mini or 2 full size butterfingers, crushed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. line cupcake pan with paper liners. preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. stir in the butterfingers and set aside.
  3. in a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. reduce speed to medium-low and add eggs one at a time. gradually add the flour mixture. stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. fill each cupcake cup about halfway with batter. bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. while the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. let cool in the pan about 10 minutes, remove from pan, and finish cooling on a wire rack. frost cupcakes when completely cool.
chocolate ganache buttercream
adapted from alton brown's chocolate buttercream in i'm just here for more food
30 minutes, makes 3 1/2 cups

1 cup semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are ok, chocolate bars work better)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  1. in a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and butter over medium-low heat until smooth. remove from heat.
  2. stir in the confectioner's sugar.
  3. place the pan in an ice bath. using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed until frosting gets lighter and holds it's shape. the frosting will slowly change in color from dark dark brown to light brown and will take about 10 minutes to beat. do not allow the pan to sit in the ice bath without beating the frosting, or the chocolate will actually freeze to the bottom of the pan.
  4. frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool.


teriyaki mushroom, spinach, and chicken salad

need a break from all the pie and cookies and stuffed birds and alcohol and pasta and all the other heavy foods we stuff ourselves with this time of year(...and we haven't even gotten into the thick of it yet)? yea, me too. this salad is perfect this time of year. the mushroom and chicken is perfectly spiced and just hot enough to wilt the spinach ever so slightly. and since it's thrown together in an easy thirty minutes, it's also the perfect weeknight dinner after an evening of battling the christmas crowds.

want a vegetarian meal? skip the chicken and double the mushrooms. you won't miss it.

teriyaki mushroom, spinach, and chicken salad
adapted from mark bittman, as seen in cooking light
30 minutes, serves 4

1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 pound sliced baby portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons peeled minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon (~ 2 cloves) minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin, sweet marsala wine, or dry sherry
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
6 ounces baby spinach (about 8 cups)
1 1/2 cups chopped green onions, dark green parts only
vegetable oil, salt, & pepper
  1. do all of your cutting and measuring before you start cooking. once you start cooking, it will go fast.
  2. heat a wok or large skillet over high heat and coat with vegetable oil. add chicken, season with salt & pepper, and cook about 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  3. add mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper. cook about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are mostly cooked and almost all the liquid has been cooked off.
  4. add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, ginger, and garlic. cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant.
  5. return the chicken to the pan. add the soy sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar. cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. remove pan from heat. toss the spinach and green onions together and serve the chicken and mushroom mixture over the spinach.
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