Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes: Turkey Pot Pie with Mashed Sweet Potato Topping

leftover thanksgiving turkey pot pie DSC_0007

I bought a 23.5 pound turkey for Thanksgiving. There were four of us. As a result, it will be "Thanksgiving Leftovers Week" at Food Blogga's.

I'm kicking things off with my favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipe: Turkey Pot Pie with Mashed Sweet Potato Topping. This turkey pot pie is chock full of savory turkey meat, tender vegetables, and an herb cream sauce. With the sweet potato topping, it deliciously evokes memories of the recent feast (but without the football this time).

leftover thanksgiving turkey pot pie DSC_0014

Thanksgiving Leftover Turkey Pot Pie with Mashed Sweet Potato Topping
Serves 6-8
Print recipe only here.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 cup diced peeled carrots
1 cup diced celery
3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5-6 sage leaves, finely diced
1 medium sprig rosemary, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked diced turkey meat
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes (If they aren't already seasoned, then add 1/2 cup milk and 2 tablespoons butter to the mashed potatoes and heat a for a couple of minutes on the stove top.)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large baking dish, such as a 10-12 inch round or an 11 X 7 rectangular dish with cooking spray. (You could also make individual pot pies in small dishes or large ramekins.)

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute 5-7 minutes, or until just tender. 

3. In a medium bowl, whisk milk and flour, until flour dissolves. Add herbs, salt, and pepper.

4. Add turkey to the vegetables. Add the milk-flour mixture. Stir occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken. Stir in the peas. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes, leaving about 1/2-inch space between the potatoes and the dish. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce begins to bubble around the edges and the potatoes are lightly browned.

You might also like these holiday recipes from Food Blogga:
Persimmon and Date Bread
Winter Jewel Fruit Salad
Turkey, Proscuitto, and Gorgonzola Sandwich
Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans

You might also like these turkey pot pie recipes:
Leftover Turkey Pot Pie recipe from White Trash BBQ
Turkey Pot Pie recipe from Kalofagas
Upscale Turkey Pot Pie recipe from The Expatriate's Kitchen

Congratulations to Leslie of Leslie's Cookery! She is the first winner of a Santa's prize for this year's Eat Christmas Cookies and will receive a copy of Elinor Klivans's The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook. There are several more Santa's goodies to come. So send over your Christmas cookies for a chance to win! Find out how here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Best Christmas Gift for 2009: Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

maple bacon chocolate chip cookies DSC_0007

Bad news: if you haven't already purchased Chunk, Pip Squeak, Mr. Squiggles, Num Nums or Patches, then you're too late to get this year's hottest toy: an electronic hamster -- the Zhu Zhu artifical rodent.

Good news: you won't be giving someone an artifical rodent for Christmas this year.

It's OK, though. Research has shown that what people really want for Christmas is cookies. (Study done by Food Blogga et al, October 2009). And since there are hundreds of cookies to suit any taste, they make the ideal gift, even for those difficult people on your list.

maple bacon chocolate chip cookies DSC_0002

One of the hottest cookies this year is Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you haven't yet hopped on the bacon dessert bandwagon, then now is the time. The pairing of bacon with sweets sucah as chocolate, caramel, and maple syrup makes sense if you consider how much we love sweet and salty foods-- think kettle corn and chocolate covered pretzels. I have made these cookies with different ingredient pairings, and the maple smoked bacon and walnuts is my favorite. The salty, slightly smoky bacon intensifies the cookie's sweet, rich chocolate flavor, transforming an otherwise ordinary chocolate chip cookie into something extraordinary.

So forget about the Zhu Zhu rodent, and give the gift of maple bacon chocolate chip cookies instead. Unlike this year's hottest toy, you won't have to worry about your supermarket running out of bacon.

These Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies are my first entry for Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 3, the Zhu Zhu pet of Christmas Cookie Blog Events. Want to share yours? Find out how here.

Today is also the first Eat Christmas Cookies Give-Away! From now through the December 20th, Santa and I will be giving away several sweet Christmas gifts to participants who submit cookies. For your chance to win Elinor Klivans's The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook, simply submit your Christmas cookie anytime between now and Saturday, November 28th.

The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook contains 45 scrumptious chocolate chip-centric recipes ranging from comforting Chocolate Chip Gingerbread and Cinnamon and Chips Chiffon Cake to outrageously decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars and Hot Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae Cakes.

Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Makes about 18 large cookies
Print recipe only here.

Thin and Chewy
5 strips maple smoked bacon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon. Cook, turning several times, until browned and cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Chop finely.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt.

4. In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and maple extract and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until just incorporated and the flour is dissolved. Stir in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and bacon.

5. Drop one large tablespoon of cookie dough 2-3 inches apart, as they will spread. (I put 6 cookies per sheet.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until firm and golden brown around the edges and still slightly soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes. 

Thick and Chewy

5 strips maple smoked bacon
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ stick butter unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts

Follow the same instructions as above.

You might also like these dessert recipes from Food Blogga:
Tootsie Roll Fudge
Chocolate Stout Pudding (Made with Guinness stout!)
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Pumpkin Pie Pudding with Candied Pecans and Freshly Whipped Cream

Here are more bacon desserts you might like:
Candied Bacon Ice Cream recipe at David Lebovitz
Candied Bacon and Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe at Food Geekery
Bacon Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from Bacon Unwrapped
Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Frosting recipe from Vanilla Garlic


Oh, and here's another great Christmas gift idea: An HP Touch Smart Computer!

My friend Michelle of Scribbit asked me to help spread the word on her BIGGEST give-away ever! She is giving away an HP Touch Smart Computer! Visit Michelle for the details. But don't delay. The the give-away ends at 11:59 pm, Friday, November 27th. Good luck!

One last thing! Stephanie of the wonderful Wasabimon! has posted an interview with me on her site as part of her series, Food Bloggers Spotlight.

Monday, November 23, 2009

San Diego's Food 4 Kids Program and a Give-Away

My friends and fellow food bloggers, Caron of San Diego Food Stuff and Alice of Alice Q Foodie, are co-hosting a fundraiser for San Diego Food Bank's "Food 4 Kids" backpack program.
According to the program's official site, the Food 4 Kids Program is "an emergency food assistance program designed especially for chronically hungry kids during the school year. Food 4 Kids allows children who are hungry to access food for themselves and their siblings for the weekend and/or holiday vacation. The food is placed in a backpack for the student to carry home, thus removing the stigma a child might experience with carrying home a bag of groceries."

The fundraiser has two main components:

1. If you'd like to donate money, Caron and Alice have set up a fund raising page on at www.firstgivingcom/food4kids.

2. If you'd like to donate a food-filled backpack, here's how:
1. Buy a gender neutral, plain backpack, so it can be given to a boy or girl.
2. Fill it with non-perishable foods such as cereal, granola bars, juice boxes, peanut butter, or anything else you'd like.
3. Drop it off at the Food 4 Kids table at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturday, December 12th. The market is open from 9:00am-1:30pm and is located between Date and India Streets.

For more information, check out Caron's latest piece on

And now... it's a give-away!

My friend Michelle of Scribbit asked me to help spread the word on her BIGGEST give-away ever! She is giving away an HP Touch Smart Computer!

Visit Michelle for the details. But don't delay. The the give-away ends at 11:59 pm, Friday, November 27th. Good luck!


Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 3 is underway, and some cookies have already been posted. Have you posted yours? Find out how here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Carried Away with Savory Butternut Squash Muffins with Apples, Caramelized Onions, and Cheddar Cheese

Savory Butternut Squash Muffins with Apples, Caramelized Onions, and Cheddar Cheese

The other day at the market, a woman approached me and said, "Excuse me, but may I ask you a question?"


"What do you do with that?" she asked, and pointed to the huge pile of squash in my carriage.

"The acorn squash?"

"No. That one."

"Oh, you mean the spaghetti squash." (No one ever knows what to do with spaghetti squash.)

"No, no. I know how to cook spaghetti squash. I meant that one," she said, and pointed to the only other squash in my carriage.

"You mean the butternut squash?" I asked, incredulous.

"Yeah. I never know what to do with them," she said.

I was shocked. To me, butternut squash is like your best friend. It's always there when you need it; it's dependable and rarely disappoints; it gets along well with others and is happy to try new things. Unfortunately not everyone has a long-standing relationship with butternut squash. The woman wanted easy ideas and stressed easy. Well, it doesn't get much easier (or tastier) than roasting butternut squash with some olive oil and herbs. She agreed. And it's a wonderful addition to fall salads, soups, pastas, and pizza. I had her until I said, "pizza." That's when her eyes widened in disbelief. I got carried away in the moment.

Butternut Squash Muffins with Apples, Sage and Cheddar Cheese

I didn't tell her I was going to use mine to bake a batch of Savory Butternut Squash Muffins with Apples, Caramelized Onions, and Cheddar Cheese. After the pizza comment, I was afraid she'd ditch the squash and run screaming from the store.

So I'll share my savory butternut squash muffins with you. I have made several different versions of these muffins, but this one is my favorite. Caramelizing the onion and roasting the butternut squash gives these muffins pleasant depth of flavor. Since they're laced with fresh herbs and sharp Cheddar cheese, they're also enticingly fragrant. You could eat them plain, but why would you, when you can smear them with herb butter? They get along really well with hearty soups and chilis as well as salads. I plan on making another batch for Thanksgiving dinner because savory muffins just seem so much more festive than plain old sliced bread.

Savory Butternut Squash Muffins with Apples, Caramelized Onions, and Cheddar Cheese
Makes 12 regular size muffins.
Print recipe only here.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil, plus 2 teaspoons, divided
1 small yellow onion, diced
a pinch of sugar
1 medium mildly sweet apple (such as Fuji), peeled and shredded
1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash
1- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary and sage
3/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Simple Herb Butter:
Add 2 tablespoons fresh minced sage and/or rosemary to 1 stick of softened butter and whisk until smooth. This can be made ahead and refrigerated. Just take butter out about 30 minutes prior to serving.

1. Place rack in center of oven, and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 mold regular size muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine flours, baking soda, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl and stir well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine milk, honey, eggs, and 1/3 cup oil and whisk well.

4. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, warm 2 teaspoons oil. Add onions and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until tender and lightly caramelized. Remove from heat. 

5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Whisk until combined. Fold in onions, apples, squash, herbs, Cheddar, and walnuts. 

6. Spoon the batter evenly into the into 12 muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

Here are more Food Blogga recipes you might like to add to your Thanksgiving bread basket:
Dill and Beer Bread
Persimmon and Date Bread
Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Bread
Date, Fennel, and Pistachio Scones

Here are more wonderful baked goods featuring butternut squash:
Butternut Brioche recipe at Wild Yeast
Butternut Squash Bread recipe at Dine and Dish
Butternut Squash Cake recipe at Food and Style
Butternut Squash Muffins with Crumbs and Cloves recipe at A Southern Grace
Jamie Oliver's Butternut Squash Muffins with Frosty Tops at Under the High Chair

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 3! A Food Blog(ga) Event

The holiday season is officially here. This I know for sure, not because of the blustery weather -- it's in the high 70s -- but because stores are packed with singing Santas and silver tinsel, I counted seven Christmas commercials during the Sunday Night football game, and I just returned from the store where I executed an impulsive shopping trip of epic proportions. I blame it on the Christmas music that was playing.

Currently in my pantry, I have 10 pounds each of all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, white sugar, and brown sugar. I've got fresh containers of baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, powdered buttermilk, and three cans of sweetened condensed milk. I've got every chip imaginable: semi-sweet, dark, milk, white, and peanut butter. Well, that is, except for cinnamon chips. I'm seriously starting to doubt their existence. Five-pound bags of nuts from pecans to cashews share a shelf with raisins, dates, apricots, cranberries, and candied ginger. My two-tier lazy Susan is weighted down with bottles of every flavor extract I could get my hands on, including coconut and maple walnut. Then there's molasses, peanut butter, maple syrup, and POM, just in case.

Oh, and I can't forget the decorations: confectioner's sugar, festive Christmas sprinkles, and jimmies (chocolate sprinkles for you non-Rhode Islanders). I even picked up a box of Santa Claus printed paper cups for fudge and truffles. And a box of candy canes. Not for baking, but for eating on the way home, since I was suffering from hypoglycemia after all that shopping.

Did I mention that I have an overwhelming desire to bake cookies? Dozens, even hundreds?

That's how I know the holiday season is officially here. Today I'm happy to announce Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 3! That's right. It's time to bake and swap your favorite Christmas cookies with us. Check out the amazing round-ups from Season 1 and Season 2, which include hundreds of spectacular Christmas cookies from around the world.

So start baking and send me any and all Christmas cookies; truffles, bark, and brownies count too. Just no pies, cakes, or muffins, please. Santa really prefers cookies.

Here's how you can participate:

Post about a Christmas cookie from today, November 17th through Sunday, December 20th at midnight PST. I will be posting your recipes as I receive them, so the earlier you send them in, the more likely someone else will see your recipe and try it for Christmas.

Within the post:
  • Please link to this page so others can participate.
  • Please link to the round-up page.
  • Santa would sure appreciate it if you'd include the cheerful Christmas Cookie Logo below. He might just leave extra goodies in your stocking, if you do. I'm just saying....

Email your entry to foodblogga [at] yahoo [dot] com, and put Christmas Cookies as the subject. In the e-mail please include:
  • Your preferred name
  • Where you live
  • Your blog’s name and URL
  • The URL of your entry
  • The name of the cookie
  • If you know how to re-size pictures, then please send along a 200 X 200 pixel pic of your cookies. If I don't see a re-sized pic attached, then I'll come get it at your blog.
  • Multiple entries are great, but please submit only new, current posts.
Don’t have a blog but would like to participate? No problem. Just email me your name, location, recipe, and brief description or story about the cookies. Please attach a 200 X 200 pixel picture to the email if you’d like it to accompany your recipe.

Like years past, there will be prizes, but Santa hasn't decided on them all yet. So stay tuned!

Questions? Comments? Cookies? Leave them below or Email me. Well, just leave the questions and the comments below. For the cookies, I'd recommend FedEx.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Congratulations to Laura of Laura's Best Recipes!
She is the winner of the Quaker Oats "Awaken Your Senses" Challenge
and will receive $10,000 for her charity, Food For The Poor.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Chocolate Stout Pudding Recipe for Adults Only

chocolate stout pudding DSC_0012

Chocolate pudding. Is there a more quintessential kids' dessert? There's something about the cold, creamy texture and sweet, rich chocolate that invariably makes kids happy.

Why should something so deliciously comforting be just for kids? Adults need comfort too. After all, are kids worrying about their 401Ks tanking? The foreclosure crisis? The rising price of eggs? (Hey, eggs have gotten really expensive.)

As good as chocolate pudding is, it may not be enough to allay your concerns about your 401K. But beer will help with that. So I present today's cooking with beer recipe: Chocolate Stout Pudding. This adult-only chocolate stout pudding is dense, rich, and creamy. And, unlike a lot of desserts with beer, you can actually taste the Guinness stout in this pudding. It's subtle, but that distinctive smoky, chocolate-y flavor is detectable, and it's fabulous.

Chocolate Stout Pudding
Slightly adapted from an original on
I just added more chocolate and changed the cooking method from a double boiler to a saucepan. I tried it both ways, but the pudding wouldn't thicken with the double-boiler method.

Makes 3-4 servings
Print recipe only here.  

4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 pinches salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup stout beer, such as Guinness or a chocolate stout
4 ounces (1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 6 ounces (3/4 cup))
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
freshly whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder, optional garnishes

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cornstarch, salt, and sugars. Add milk and heavy cream. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the cornstarch and sugars are dissolved. Add the beer. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Lower the heat. Continue stirring frequently until pudding begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove pudding from heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract and return to the stove top. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until thick, stirring several times. Remove from heat.

2. Pour pudding into 3-4 small dishes or 1 large one. Cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate until chilled. If you'd like, top it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.

For more recipes with beer, check out my Dill and Beer Quick Bread and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Smoked Bacon and Beer

Here are more desserts from Food Blogga that will make you feel like a kid again:
Hello Dolly Cookie BarsThe Best Ever Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Pumpkin Pie Pudding with Candied Pecans and Freshly Whipped Cream

Here are more boozy chocolate desserts you might like:
Spicy and Stout Irish Ginger Cake with Spiced Cream recipe at B More Sweet
Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe at Pinch My Salt
Chocolate, Whiskey, and Beer Cupcakes recipe at Smitten Kitchen
Chocolate Sout Cake with Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting recipe by Closet Cooking

The Two Winners of Modern Spice Are....

Congratulations to Ruthy and Maria!

You are the winners of last week's give-away.
Just email me your full names and addresses, and I'll mail you each
a copy of Monica Bhide's Modern Spice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cooking With Beer: A Rockin' Recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Smoked Bacon and Beer


The Food Blogga Getting Guys To Eat Vegetables Algorithm:
1. Don't tell them they're vegetables.
2. If #1 fails, then bread it and fry it.
3. If #2 fails, then add bacon.
4. If #3 fails, then add bacon and beer.
5. If #4 fails, then, well, #4 never fails, so don't worry about it.

I created this recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Smoked Bacon and Beer in honor of San Diego Beer Week and used one of my favorite local San Diego beers called Arrogant Bastard Ale. (Is that the best beer name ever?) This dish rocks. It's sweet, salty, smoky, and tangy. It's great with beer buddies like pork and beef and goes really well with chicken sandwiches and salmon burgers.

So give it a try, and let me know how things work out for 'ya.


For more about San Diego Beer Week and cooking with beer, check out my last post, which includes a recipe for Dill and Beer Quick Bread, and my SDNN piece "Eight Great Events Brewing at San Diego Beer Week."

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Smoked Bacon and Beer
Serves 4 or 2 hungry guys
Print recipe only here.

2 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or Garnet yams
olive oil to brush on the flesh
6 strips maple smoked bacon
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2/3 cup beer, preferably dark ale
2 tablespoons maple syrup
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, for easy clean up. Wash potatoes and pat dry. Brush flesh with a little bit of olive oil. Place flesh side down on the prepared baking sheet. Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, add bacon. Cook, turning frequently, until browned and crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper-toweled lined plate to drain. Cool completely. Chop finely, reserving one slice for garnish.

3. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes. Scoop out the flesh and set aside.

4. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add sliced onions and brown sugar; stir occasionally, until the onions caramelize and turn a deep golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Add beer and cook 2 minutes. Add maple syrup. Stir well and cook 3-4 minutes. Add roasted potatoes and bacon to skillet. Stir well. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with reserved bacon.

Here are more guy-friendly vegetable recipes from Food Blogga: 
Roasted Asparagus with Breadcrumbs and Parmesan 
Mediterranean Jacket Potatoes
Caramelized Plantains with Honey and Lime
Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Sage Glaze
String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon

Here are more tasty sweet potato recipes:
Smoked Chile Scalloped Sweet Potatoes recipe at One For The Table
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime Syrup and Chives recipe at Rookie Cookie
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Red Onion recipe at The Passionate Cook
Sweet Potato Pancakes at Serious Eats

Monday, November 9, 2009

Celebrating San Diego Beer Week by Cooking with Beer!

Guiness Stout DSC_0019

It's a great week to be in San Diego. Yesterday the Chargers beat the Giants in dramatic fashion; today is going to be sunny and 72; and all week long we're celebrating our first-ever San Diego Beer Week, which runs from Friday, November 6th through Sunday, November 15th.

You know San Diego for its pristine beaches and delicious fish tacos, but did you know we were recently named the country's top beer city, beating out the perennial favorite, Portland, OR? Yup. There are an amazing 33 San Diego breweries creating hand-crafted beers, and that's not including all the folks who brew their own at home.

So to celebrate our thriving craft beer community, there will be over 200 beer-centric events taking place across the county. From beer and chocolate pairings to meet-the-brewer events, there's something for everyone. So whether you live in San Diego or are just visiting between now and the 15th, check out San Diego Beer Week's schedule of events. You won't be disappointed.

As a San Diegan and a beer lover, I want to do my part. So this week I'll be sharing some recipes that feature beer. It won't be easy for me (or Jeff), but the blog must come first.

Dill and Beer Quick Bread DSC_0001

Today's recipe for Dill and Beer Quick Bread is adapted from an original posted on NPR's Kitchen Window, by personal chef and friend, Kevin Weeks, of the blog Seriously Good. Kevin also co-founded the blog A Year in Bread, so it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about making good bread. And trust me, this bread is seriously good and seriously easy. It tastes like rye bread but with more complexity thanks to the dill and beer. If you'd like less rye flavor and more dill, then just reduce the amount of caraway seeds and increase the dill. I indicated my slight adaptations in parentheses. As Kevin says, this bread is terrific for sopping up juices in stews, but it's also wonderful simply toasted with a smear of butter. Oh, and Jeff wants me to tell you that it makes one "kick-ass good breakfast sandwich" with eggs, cheddar, and bacon. So, there you have it.

Dill and Beer Quick Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Print recipe only here.

3 cups all-purpose flour (I used half ap and half whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar (my addition)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/4 cup freshly chopped dill
1 (12 ounce) bottle porter beer

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook an 8X4 loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl stir together all ingredients and spoon into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Here are more Food Blogga recipes that taste great with a cold beer: 
Turkey Burger with Apples, Gruyere, and Sage Mayo
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Pie
Fennel Sausage and Rapini Pizza

Here are more great beer bread recipes to try: 
Beyond Easy Dill and Cheddar Beer Bread recipe at Farmgirl Fare
Homemade Bubby Beer Bread recipe at Zesty Cook
Finnish Rye Beer Bread recipe at Green Gourmet Giraffe
Guinness Bread with Molasses recipe from Hank Shaw posted at Simply Recipes

Friday, November 6, 2009

Drop In and Decorate: Bake, Decorate, and Donate Cookies

With the holidays approaching, many of us will be knee deep in flour, sugar, icing, and sprinkles making scores of holiday cookies. Of course, many of us make scores of cookies year-round because cookies just make us happy. Well if you're a cookie lover and love to make people happy, then you should know about Drop In & Decorate, a year-round, nonprofit organization, created by food writer and friend, Lydia Walshin of The Perfect Pantry.

Lydia founded Drop In & Decorate in 2002, and before the end of this year, the 10,000th cookie will be decorated  and donated . Here's how Drop In & Decorate works:

1. Bake some cookies.
2. Gather a group of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. to decorate them
3. Donate the cookies to a nonprofit agency serving basic human needs in your own community.

If you’d like to host your own Drop In & Decorate® event, Pillsbury and Wilton would like to help. Pillsbury has donated 50 VIP coupons, worth $3.00 each, off any Pillsbury product -- including sugar cookie mix, icing and flour -- to be distributed, first come, first served, while supply lasts, to anyone who plans to host a Drop In & Decorate event (max. 5 coupons per person). And Wilton will throw in a Comfort Grip cookie cutter, while supplies lasts. Write to lydia AT ninecooks DOT com for more information on how to get your free coupons and cookie cutters.

Now, let's bake some cookies!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Modern Spice Cookbook Review and a Cookbook Give-Away

If you love Indian food but are intimated by authentic recipes with 20+ ingredients -- most you've never heard of -- then Monica Bhide's new cookbook Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen is for you.

Bhide's book presents authentic Indian flavors in refreshing, modern ways. She often blends traditional Eastern and Western flavors creating unique, contemporary Indian dishes that are sure to inspire. The recipes tend to be short and straight forward, many ideal for easy mid-week meals. There are several vegetarian options and many meat dishes could easily be made vegetarian. The 100+ recipes are divided into the following categories: chutneys and marinades; modern drinks; appetizers, snacks, and salads; vegetables, beans, and lentiles; poultry, meat, and eggs; fish and shellfsih; rice and breads; and desserts. For each recipe, Bhide gives cooking tips and/or serving suggestions, and she personalizes the book by including several engaging stories about her family life. By the book's end, Bhide feels like a friend.

saffron and cardamom macaroons DSC_0377
Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons; I will post this recipe in the near future.

I highly recommend reading Bhide's introduction prior to starting in on the recipes. In the section "The Modern Spice Pantry, she provides an extensive list of Indian spices and ingredients, such as tandoori  masala, paneer, tamarind paste, and fenugreek seeds. She defines them, explains how to store them, and where to buy them, including online sites. If you do this step first, it'll make the actually cooking a breeze. It also helps to read "Monica's Kitchen Rules," which address issues such as the best cookware for Indian cooking (nonstick) and ingredient substitutions (coriander seeds, for example, are not a good substitute for fresh coriander leaves).

As for photos, the few that are included are beautiful. My only regret is that there weren't more.

Here are the recipes I made and my thoughts about them:

Pomegranate Chutney is made from pureed pomegranate seeds seasoned simply with lemon juice, ginger, chaat masala, and light brown sugar. This colorful chutney takes minutes to make and is wonderfully versatile. The sweet-tart flavors pairs well with chicken, pork, and, my favorite, sauteed shrimp.

Green Beans Subzi consists of green beans (I used fresh) and potatoes sauteed with garlic, tomato, and spices, including cumin seeds, and turmeric. This dish is easy to prepare and makes green beans and potatoes a lot more exciting than usual. The flavors are bold without being overwhelming, which makes this an ideal side dish for chicken, fish, pork, or beef.

Monica's Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry: Bhide's recipe introduction enticed me to make this one. She writes, "I have been cooking [this] for as long as I can remember. It is a favorite with adults and kids alike. My dad once told me it was his favorite. I cannot tell you how happy I was, since he has such discerning tastes." I'm with Monica's dad on this one: this recipe was my favorite as well. Catfish stars in this dish and is elevated to something special. The fish is gently cooked in a tomato-coconut milk bath that is seasoned liberally with spices such as mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, and turmeric. It's a perfect mid-week meal, since it's inexpensive, fast, and easy. I served it atop brown basmati rice. Although Bhide says one pound of catfish fillets serves 4, Jeff and I nearly finished it all.

Saffron-Cardamom Macaroons: I'm a sucker for macaroons and baked goods laced with cardamom, so it didn't take me long to make these cookies. They were amazingly fragrant and very sweet. I think they'd make a lovely holiday gift since they're both unusual and travel well.

Modern Spice will definitely secure a spot on my cookbook shelf; in fact, I already have a few more recipes marked to try soon. I hope you'll be making some of Bhide's recipes as well. 

Now for the exciting part! Two lucky Food Blogga readers will receive a complimentary copy of Monica Bhide's Modern Spice cookbook. Here's how to enter for your chance to win:

Just leave a comment below telling us about your favorite Indian dish. That's it. The deadline for entries is next Monday, November 9th, 11:50 pm PST. Winners will be selected randomly and announced on the 10th. Each winner must provide her or his full name and mailing address to receive the cookbook. Good luck!

Tomato and Coconut Catfish Curry DSC_0372

Monica's Tomato and Coconut Fish Curry
Recipe from Modern Spice
Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 40 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoons black mustard seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
1 inch piece peeled fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small green serrano chile, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound catfish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 of a 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)

1. In a large skillet heat the olive over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the mustard seeds. As soon as they crackle, add the curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and green chile. Saute for a few seconds to combine.

2. Add the tomato. Cook gently for 10-12 minutes, until the tomato is soft and the oil begins to leave the side of the mixture. You can add some water if the tomatoo begins to stick. I sometimes add a quarter-cup of water and cover the pan for 5-6 minutes. This helps cook the tomatoes faster. Then I uncover it and continue to cook until all the water evaporates.

3. Stir in the turmeric, chile powder, and salt. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Stir in the fish and cook 5 minutes.

5. Add the coconut milk. Let the mixture come to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fish is tender. Serve immediately.

Monica Bhide was born in India and moved to the U.S. in 1991. She resides in Washington D.C. She is the author of The Everything Indian Cookbook and The Spice is Right and also writes a blog called A Life of Spice. Click here to view a short trailer about Bhide and Modern Spice narrated by the author.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Don't Like Oatmeal Cookies? Then Try My Oatmeal Everything Cookies Recipe.

oatmeal everything cookies

I love cooking for Jeff. He's open to trying new food. He's not fussy. And he likes virtually everything. That is, except Shepherd's pie (can't say I blame him); broccoli (unless it's made with bacon or prosciutto); and oatmeal cookies (that's just inexplicable). I mean, really, who doesn't like oatmeal cookies? Jeff. That is, until he tasted my Oatmeal Everything Cookies.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I wanted him to like oatmeal cookies, maybe as much as I do. To me, not liking oatmeal cookies is sad; it's like missing out on something special. So I was determined to make an oatmeal cookie that Jeff liked. Really, really liked.

Batch #1: Oatmeal, Raisin, and Apricot Cookies

Jeff bites into the cookie and frowns slightly.

Me: "What? You don't like them?"

Jeff: "Well, they're good but they don't taste like a cookie."

Me: "What do you mean they don't taste like a cookie?"

Jeff: "They taste too healthy."

Batch #2: Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Walnut Cookies

Jeff bites into the cookie.

Jeff: "Mmmm.... You put chocolate in this batch. These are much better."

Me: "See, I told you you'd like oatmeal cookies."

Jeff: "But those were walnuts, huh? You know what would be even better? Pecans."

Batch #3: Oatmeal Everything Cookies

Jeff: "Another batch of oatmeal cookies? Wow! What's in them this time?"

Me: "Not walnuts."

He takes a bite, and smiles slowly, then pushes the rest of the cookie into his mouth.

Jeff: "These rock! Seriously, what's in them?"

Me: "Everything."

Jeff: "Hey, that's what you should call them. Oatmeal Everything Cookies."

oatmeal everything cookies

Oatmeal Everything Cookies
Makes approximately 40 cookies.
Print recipe only here.

Feel free to substitute your favorite add-ins. After all, they are "oatmeal everything cookies."

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, stir oats, flours, baking soda, salt. and cinnamon.

3. In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugars. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until just combined. Beat in the dry ingredients. Stir in the cherries, chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans.

4. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of cookie dough 2 inches apart (as they will spread) on the parchment-lined baking sheets.

5. Bake cookies for 18 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Transfer to a rack to cool. Cool completely before storing and place in an air-tight container.

Here are more cookie recipes from Food Blogga you might enjoy:
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans 
Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

Here are more oatmeal cookies I'd like to try:
Carrot Oatmeal Cookies recipe at 101 Cookbooks
Apple Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies recipe at Dragon's Kitchen
Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies recipe at Passionate About Baking
Pumpkin Oatmeal Drop Cookies recipe at Kitchen Gadget Girl Cooks
Oatmeal, Browned Butter, Pecan Praline Cookies recipe at Cookie Madness

Here's a friendly reminder to please vote for my Quaker Oatmeal topping by Friday and help me win $10,000 for the charity, Action Against Hunger. Thank you so much to everyone who already voted.

Here's how to vote for me:

1. Go to Click on VOTE. Click on my video entitled "Cinnamon Comfort."

2. Click on the BIG GREEN THUMBS UP to cast your vote. Voting closes this Friday, November 6th.

3. Please tell your family and friends to vote too!

4. If you'd like, please spread the word on your blog, Twitter, and Facebook! I'm @foodblogga on Twitter.

5. Now, accept a BIG virtual HUG and THANK YOU from me!