Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Vegetarian Day

Tomorrow, I will celebrate Thanksgiving the traditional way, but today it is a day of getting in tune with my vegetarian side. 

I whipped up a vegetarian Sheppard's Pie with the help of this hilarious website's recipe.  My family was quite pleased with how it came out. I followed the recipe as is, but next time I think I will try making a lighter gravy from scratch. I have never been a big sauce person and the dark color of this gravy esp. freaked me out. The recipe called for Gravy Master, which I thought sounded creepy and was skeptical. Next time I will try without the master.

Here's the recipe:

Vegetarian Sheppard’s Pie


For Mashed Potatoes:
- 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and quartered length-wise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tbsp heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp milk
For Gravy:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Handful of chopped onion
- 4 tablespoons of gravy master
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
For Filling: 
-1 can of red kidney beans
- 1/2 bag of frozen peas
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
-1 onion, chopped
- Seasonings (I used salt, pepper, parsley, and paprika)

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender and then drain.
2. Combine warm cream and melted butter with the potatoes and mash them up.
3. Lastly add milk and season them to taste. I added salt and pepper, as well as some paprika and parsley, but you do your thing.
4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
5. Put mash aside and start the gravy by melting butter in a saucepan and adding in onion and garlic. Cook until onions are golden.
6. Stir in the flour and whisk until it makes a paste and becomes smooth.
7. Add in vegetable broth and gravy master, alternating a little bit at a time. Stir and cook until gravy is thickened.
8. Next cook the carrots and onions in a sauté pan.
9. Add in the peas and kidney beans.
10. Finally stir in gravy.
11. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and then cover with mashed potatoes.
12. Cook for 35 minutes.
13. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Caramel lovers here is one for you.
It has been far too long since I have made cupcakes. This recipe incorporates my new favorite apple cider cake into cute cup form and paired with, what better sweet, then caramel.

I made my apple cider bread recipe as is. The recipe yielded 22 cupcakes.
The caramel frosting I made tasted devine. Super sweet and caramel-ly, but it didn’t allow for the presentation I was hoping for. I really like to pile on frosting. This frosting had a more sticky consistency and didn’t have enough body to withstand heights. Caramel is such a sticky texture I don’ t know if this would be possible.

Here’s the recipe for the frosting:

Caramel Frosting:

- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1. Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. 
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until syrup turns deep amber color. (This took a lot longer then I was expecting. Be patient.)
3. Remove from heat and add cream.
4. Put back over low heat and stir until caramel bits dissolve. 
5. In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks
6. Gradually whisk hot caramel into yolks.
7. Let this cool to room temperature.
8. Using electric mixer, beat butter and salt in large bowl until smooth. 
9. Add in caramel then powdered sugar and beat until smooth
10. Let stand for about an hour or put in the fridge to frost later.

(Frosting recipe was thanks to Bon Appetit.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spinach and Eggplant Lasagna

So I have been into making homemade pasta lately and as you are making it, before you cut it up into shapes you have these long strip......
Each time I make it and it is at this state, I think of how good it would be to have homemade pasta noodles in lasagna! So today I did just that. Here is my recipe for Eggplant and Spinach Lasagna:

- 1 serving of homemade pasta rolled into strips
- 3/4 cups of ricotta
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
- 1/2 package of frozen spinach
- 1 eggplant
- salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste

1. Preheat your oven for 375 degrees
2. Cut up eggplant in slices, place on baking sheets, and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
3. Let them sweat for 15 minutes, then pat dry with a towel.
4. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping over half way through.
5. While eggplant is in the over, follow these directions for making homemade pasta noodles.
6. Boil water and cook noodles for 1 minute. (I did not do this, but would next time around. I thought I could get away with not cooking the noodles since fresh noodles cook so quickly. The noodles inside were done, but the top layer came out crunchy, so better to cook them to an al dente state.)
7. Set noodles aside on a drying rack.
8. Defrost spinach in the microwave as stated on package.
9. In a bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan, and seasonings.
10. Next it is time to construct your layers. In a square casserole dish, start layering ingredients: pasta, cheese mixture, eggplant, Asiago shreds, repeat. I did this three times topping finally with pasta and just shredded cheese.
11. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
I was pretty happy with how this turned out. When I have made lasagna before I have had a béchamel sauce layer in there as well. I think it was fine without, but would be even better with this included. There is always next time!

Friday, November 2, 2012

New obsession: Apple Cider Oatmeal

Ok, I have been totally obsessed with all things apple this season and just found a new apple obsession: making oatmeal with cider as the liquid. I have had it everyday for breakfast this week! It is amazing and the cider is already sweetened enough that you don't have to add anything else. So simple! I have made it on the stove and also as overnight oatmeal. Both are devine!