Friday, December 25, 2009

Random Food Gift #12 - Merry Christmas!

Ah, Tea Time Tassies. Just the name gets me excited. My Mom loves these, and she is the dear friend that I made them for! Many a Christmas my Mom would make these and look pleased. I would take a bite and feel pleased. These delightful little cookies are so comforting to me. I love the name, I love the flavor, and I love the loose Christmas tradition they have become. The ingredients are simple and tasty - I used a combination of walnuts and maple syrup, but you can experiment with almonds and vanilla extract or pecans and butter. I hope you make these and feel as delighted as I do about them, and to all a very Merry Christmas!

Tea Time Tassies
Makes 24

Ingredients for the Crust

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 cup Earth Balance (trans fat free margarine)

Ingredients for the Filling

1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1) Beat together the crust ingredients with a hand or stand mixer. Form dough into a ball and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2) Finely chop nuts and mix together with other filling ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

3) Grease a mini muffin tin that has 24 cups. Roll dough into 24 balls. Press into muffin cups with thumb.

4) Spoon filling onto dough in slightly rounded teaspoon-fulls. (Don't overfill it - it's a pain to unstick the extra filling from pan!) Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes. To test if it's done, pop a tea time tassie out of the pan. If the crust is golden brown, it's done. Let cool slightly and remove from pan.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Random Food Gift #11


For my very best friend, my husband, I made muffins. It was only fitting, for Justin is a muffin fiend. He gets so excited about them and looks forward to having one with breakfast and one for dessert. These Sour Cream and Blackberry Muffins are exquisite. After we tried them warm from the oven, we oohed and aahed. But we both agreed that, as tasty as they are, they don't top oat-y muffins. While we prefer Benjamin Muffins or Blueberry Squash Muffins, this recipe is a nice change from our traditional taste. The sour cream makes them so rich-tasting, but the texture is very light. Even though the original recipe from Food & Wine Magazine calls for blueberries, I only had frozen blackberries on hand and I'm glad I did. Big, sweet blackberries burst with flavor and blend nicely with the creamy bread part of the muffin. The overall muffin is not too sugary and just rich enough to feel indulgent. I would consider these more of a special treat than a standard morning muffin (see my ramblings on what the ideal muffin should be). Enjoy!

*Updated 6/22/11. I made these muffins again with blueberries this time, and I changed some of the measurements. You can make the original muffin for a more cake-like muffin (which I think should not be called a muffin) or you can use the adapted whole grain recipe to make a more muffin-like-muffin, but still full of flavor and rich texture.


Sour Cream and Blackberry Muffins
Makes 10 muffins (or 12 smaller muffins)

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

Ingredients for the Topping:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for the Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 rounded cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 rounded cup frozen blackberries or blueberries (or any berry, really!)

Directions

1) Mix the topping together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it's crumbly. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3) In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg until it's frothy. Add the sugar and softened butter and whisk vigorously until well-blended. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest and whisk well. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until blended.

4) In a greased muffin pan, fill 10 cups 3/4 full and sprinkle with topping. Fill the remaining 2 cups with water. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a fork inserted in the middle comes out clean (you'll smell the muffins all of a sudden, and then you'll know they are done).

5) Remove muffins from the pan and let them cool on a wire rack. These are so good, even three days later, when stored in an airtight container.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Random Food Gift #10

For my friend Margot and her roomies, I made traditional Pumpkin Bread. Who doesn't like Pumpkin Bread? Classic spices, rich texture, walnuts on top. I was excited to give it to her, but when I showed up to drop it off at her house, we were more excited to see each other than talk about bread. It had been over a month since we last talked, and it was so nice to catch up. I suppose that's the best part about giving giftsto friends - the fact that we're friends, and there is lots to talk about! By the time I left I had almost forgotten the original reason I came in the first place.

The recipe from Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook says to use two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans, but I only had two 9 x 5's and they worked out fine. The bread is just a little short. If you want to make just one taller loaf, you could pour all the batter into one 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake it a bit longer.

Pumpkin Bread
Yields 24 slices (or 12, if you use one 9 x 5 inch loaf pan)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
15 ounces (about 1 can) pureed pumpkin
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1) In a large bowl, combine flours and next seven ingredients (through cloves) and mix well with a whisk. Make a well in the center and set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, combine sugar and next five ingredients (through eggs) and stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture and stir just until incorporated.

3) Spoon batter into two 8 x 5 inch greased loaf pans and sprinkle with walnuts. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Random Food Gift #9

I couldn't resist making this bread for my friends Jonathan, Alex, Scott, and Jason. They all live in an apartment together and two of them love baking. All four of them love food. I knew it would be a pain to post this recipe due to the long ingredients list and the multiple steps of directions, but I just had to try this Chocolate Babka. It was worth it. My hot oven made it just a touch overdone, but the flavor of the bread still shone through. It was delicious and I would really love to make it again sometime. The chocolate-cinnamon combination is unique and quite pleasing. It took me a whole afternoon to make because it wasn't rising quickly enough in my cold apartment. Hopefully if you try it out, it won't take quite as long.

Chocolate Babka

Ingredients for the Dough

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
3/4 cup warm low-fat milk (105 - 110 degrees; it should be pleasantly warm but not hot - otherwise, it will kill the yeast)
6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
5 tablespoons softened Earth Balance (trans fat free margarine)

Ingredients for the Filling

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces finely chopped semisweet chocolate

Ingredients for the Streusel

2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon Earth Balance

Directions

1) Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar with yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let it dissolve for five minutes. Stir in the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar, vanilla, salt, and egg yolk.

2) Add bread flour, whole wheat flour, and 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour to milk mixture. Beat with a dough hook attachment on medium speed for about two minutes. Add softened Earth Balance and beat well until blended.

3) Scrape dough onto floured surface (dough will be sticky). Add about 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour to dough, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking. Knead until smooth and elastic.

3) Place dough in a large, oiled bowl. Turn once to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

4) When you think the dough is ready, gently press two fingers into the dough. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen enough. Punch dough down, cover, and let rest for five minutes.

5) Line the bottom of a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Oil the sides of the pan.

6) Prepare the filling in a medium bowl and set aside.

7) Place the dough on a floured surface and roll out to a 16-inch square. Sprinkle the filling over the dough and leave a 1/4-inch border. Starting at one edge, roll up the dough, and pinch the seam and ends to seal it shut.

8) Holding the roll of dough by the ends, twist it four times as if wringing it out. Fit the dough into the loaf pan, even if it's a tight squeeze. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

9) Mix streusel together with a fork or pastry cutter until it is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the dough. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf is browned and it sounds hollow when tapped (my hot oven baked the bread in about 35 minutes).

10) Let cool 30 minutes on wire rack. Enjoy the Babka warm from the oven, or heated up in a toaster oven up to three days later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Random Food Gift #8

When I saw this Almond Cake recipe in the Cooking Light Holiday cookbook, I immediately thought of my friends Kate and Drew. I don't know why, I guess it was because it looked sophisticated, like them and their house. And it might have also been because we cooked an almond-themed Supper Club dinner in Kate's kitchen. (For the Supper Club, some friends and I cook a delicious 5-course dinner and invite guests). I wanted to make this cake gluten-free, since Kate has been trying to avoid gluten, and since there are only 1 1/2 cups of flour in the recipe, I thought it could work. I used half soy flour and half almond meal instead of all-purpose wheat flour. You can use raw slivered almonds and grind them in a food processor to get almond meal, or you can find it a Trader Joe's for a good price (I don't recommend buying it at Whole Food's - it's way overpriced!). The gluten-free Almond Cake worked out great. The texture was perfect and the flavor was nutty and rich. This cake isn't too sweet, which I like, and it was loaded with crispy almonds. You could even serve it at a brunch; I bet it would pair well with a good cup of coffee.

Almond Cake
Yields 8 servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup soy flour
3/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/4 Earth Balance (trans fat-free margarine), melted
1/4 cup amaretto (or 1/4 cup water + 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Directions

1) Combine flour, sugar, 1/4 cup of almonds, baking powder, and salt and stir with a whisk.

2) Combine the rest of the ingredients (milk through eggs). Add to flour mixture and stir just until mixed.

3) Spoon batter into a greased 9 inch round cake pan and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of almonds. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for almost 30 minutes or until a fork comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Random Food Gift #7

For the seventh day of food, I decided to make another long-distance food gift and send granola to my college friend Hong and her husband Dane. They both live just outside of Boston and had the most beautiful wedding this past summer. I thought they might appreciate it (especially since Hong asked if Boston was too far away for a random food gift). I'm not sure if they even received it yet, so if not, surprise! Get excited about a package arriving tomorrow.

The granola recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, www.nutritiontokitchen.com. I don't usually post recipes by other food bloggers, but Nutty Coconut and Cherry Granola was too good to pass up, and I've been wanted to try it for months. Here was my opportunity. It's crunchy and sweet with a bit of tartness. Perfect for Hong. :)

Nutty Coconut and Cherry Granola

Ingredients

2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup dried cherries

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2) In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except for the cherries and mix well. Pour mixture onto a pan and bake for about 15 minutes stirring the granola halfway through.

3) Allow the granola to cool on the baking sheet, about 5 minutes. Add the cherries in with the granola and serve.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Food Gift #6

Halfway there! It's time to start hurling random food gifts at friends, because Christmas is less than eight days away! I'll be putting up a new post almost every day (assuming technology is on my side). This newest recipe can only be described in two words: cool decadence. When you make these brownies and take a bite, you'll know what I mean. I made these for my friend Steph. She is a huge brownie aficionado. It's not uncommon for her to show up at a gathering with a pan of gooey brownies, or whip up a batch when we're hanging out at her house. So I couldn't choose any other friend than her to make these Peppermint Fudge Brownies for.

The recipe is from the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook. The only changes I made were to use 2 eggs instead of a combo of whole eggs and egg whites (I hate wasting eggs!), using a whole wheat flour blend, adding a topping of minty fudge sauce, and sprinkling them with crushed candy canes. The batter is very, very thick. I almost felt like I was using fondant for one of those fancy schmancy cakes. You really have to put some muscle into it when you stir in the flour, and then you need to pat the batter down in the pan to lay flat. The texture of the finished product is dense and fudgy, and the mint topping totally completes the brownie. Give them a try!

Peppermint Fudge Brownies

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Earth Balance (trans fat-free margarine)
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar (don't use turbinado - I tried it, and it wouldn't mix in well enough)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (or 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup half and half
2 tablespoons of Earth Balance (trans fat-free margarine)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate

2 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Directions:

1) Melt the 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Earth Balance and chocolate over medium-low heat in a saucepan, stirring often. Stir in cocoa powder, cook 1 minute. Stir in sugar, cook 1 minute (mixture will be very thick). Remove from heat, let cool slightly.

2) Lightly beat eggs in large bowl. Gradually add in chocolate mixture, stirring well with a whisk.

3) Combine flours and baking powder separately, then add to chocolate mixture. Stir well.

4) Spoon into greased 8 x 8 inch pan and pat down so that it's flat. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes (My oven bakes it at 25 minutes, so check it then -- if a fork comes out clean, it's done).

5) While it's baking, combine half and half plus 2 tablespoons Earth Balance in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until simmering. Remove from heat and stir in semi-sweet chocolate until melted. Spread over brownies.

6) Once everything has cooled, sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the brownies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Food Gift #5

Alright, I've had my share of mess ups with these random food gifts (flat biscuits, small muffins, too much ginger, crumbly granola bars...wow, I hope you still want to keep reading my food blog!) but this recipe is foolproof. Really! It's not a new recipe for me, but I've been wanting to post it for quite a while, and I figured it would make a great long-distance food gift.

Pepitas Trail Mix. "Pepitas" is Spanish for pumpkin seeds. More specifically, it's the inner green part of the pumpkin seed, toasted and lightly salted, and oh-so-tasty. It's got good fats and it helps curb hunger, which makes it great for trail mix. The only other ingredients in this simple mix are dark chocolate chips and dried cranberries. And there you go. I like to do a 2:1:1 ratio of pumpkin seeds to chocolate and cranberries, but you can fiddle around with it to achieve your perfect combination.

I sent this random food gift to my cousin Stephanie and her husband Brian. I received this email from her after they received it: "Imagine my surprise to look out on my porch this morning and discover that I was one of the lucky recipients of a Random Food Gift! What a lovely surprise! I had to wait all day for Brian to come home so we could sample it. How very DE-LICIOUS! Yum yum yum. We wanted to eat the whole jar in one sitting but managed to restrain ourselves!"

So, I hope you like it!

Pepitas Trail Mix

2 cups pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix together and store in a jar -- keeps for weeks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random Food Gift #4

Just as I love granola, I also love granola bars. But not just any granola bar. Lots of the store bought varieties have tons of sugar and junk added to it. It's junk food disguised as health food. (Like that Eating Right brand that appeared at my local grocery store - one glance at the label, and I knew it was a sham! Trans fat and high fructose corn syrup - ew).

I decided to try to make my own granola bars, and I found a delicious recipe in Ina Garten's "Back to Basics" cookbook. It's quite tasty - lots of dried fruit and almonds. I wanted to try a variation of it with mainly apricots and pistachios. It came out a bit crumbly, so I think I needed to leave it in for 10 minutes longer to get crisp. The taste, however, was delicious! I gave them to my mother-in-law, a fellow health-nut, and she was quite pleased.

Granola Bars

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

2) Toss the oatmeal, pistachios, and coconut (and wheat germ, if it's not already toasted) together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

3) Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

4) Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the apricots and golden raisins and stir well.

6) Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown (my oven needs to bake it for over 30 minutes, so just be sure it's golden brown when you take it out of the oven, and doesn't still look like the same color as when you put it in).Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Food Gift #3

Alright, so this recipe has nothing to do whatsoever with whole grains (the entire focus of my food blog), but you need a bit of chocolate every now and then (or every day, which I average). And that's no problem! As long as you control your portion size and eat dark chocolate, it's good for you (say the health studies). It's got anti-oxidants, gives you a natural lift, and I think it might even release endorphins, which makes you happy. I just eat it for the taste. This recipe also includes dried fruit, cashews, and crystallized ginger, all of which do very nice things for you. And furthermore, this makes a beautiful gift. Put it in some parchment paper in a holiday tin, and there you go. A word about the ginger though: I love ginger in a lot of things, but I thought it was a bit much in this recipe. It didn't blend with the other flavors, it just tried to claim all the fame. So the first time you make this, you may want to put ginger only on half and see how you like it. The recipe is from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics" cookbook and, as she says, only use really good chocolate.

This lovely bark was a gift to my friends Courtney and Becky. I presented it to Courtney when we went to D.C. to eat sushi and see Over the Rhine. They were phenomenal, and I also discovered a new pair: Vienna Teng and Alex Wong, a husband and wife team that has amazing folksy layered music and lots of unique instruments. But anyways, on to the bark.

French Chocolate Bark

1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
7 ounces really good bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% cocao)
7 ounces really good semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped if they're big
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (optional)

1) Heat the oven to 350 degrees. While it's warming up, roll out a piece of parchment paper and, with a pencil and a ruler, draw a 10 x 10 inch square on it.

2) Chop the apricots, ginger (optional), and (if they're really big) cherries into smaller pieces.

3) Spread the cashews on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes. Let cool.

4) Chop chocolate into small pieces. Place semi-sweet and half of bittersweet chocolate into a glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir vigorously. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is mostly melted. Add the rest of the bittersweet chocolate and stir until smooth.

5) Spread the chocolate to the edges of your parchment paper square. Sprinkle the dried fruit and cashews on top. Let cool for about 2 hours, then cut into 16 triangles. You can get two gifts out of this recipe.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Random Food Gift #2

For Random Food Gift #2, I chose to bring Fresh Cranberry Muffins to my office. It's not uncommon for me to bring food gifts to the office, so I couldn't not include my co-workers in the 12 Days of Christmas. These muffins have a nice hint of orange that ties all the flavors together. They, too, are out of the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook. The only change I made was to use half whole wheat flour instead of only all-purpose flour. The recipe is supposed to make 12 muffins, but you really have to stretch the batter to get 12. The size of the muffins is perfect for a small snack, but if you want a more substantial muffin, you may want to double the recipe. If you do double it, you may need to bake it a bit longer. Want to know the foolproof way to know when your baked goods are done? Use your nose. This is some of the best advice my mother gave me. When you suddenly smell it, it's done. You can kind of smell it all the way through baking, but only if you really think about it. You know it's done when all of a sudden the aroma hits you like a wall. This recipe was great, and I look forward to making it again after Christmas. Hope you like it too!

Fresh Cranberry Muffins

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cups turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
2/3 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

1) Sift together dry ingredients (flours through salt). Stir in the chopped cranberries and set aside.

2) Mix together the wet ingredients (milk through egg) and add to the dry ingredients. Stir just until incorporated and divide evenly among a 12 muffin greased pan.

3) Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean (you may need to bake it a bit longer if you double the recipe and use one muffin pan). Remove from pan immediately and let cool.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Random Food Gift #1

My biscuits are a work in progress. They usually taste great, but it's so hard for me to get them to rise! Rise up, O Biscuits! I try not to (wo)manhandle the dough too much, because I know that can lead to dense biscuits, but they still fall a bit short of the fluffy ideal that I strive for. If anyone has any biscuit advice, please do share it with me.

I came across this tasty pumpkin biscuit recipe in the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook, and made them for my friend Andrea. We went to college together and lost touch until we discovered that we both live in the Baltimore area. Happy surprise! We went hiking on Sunday, along with our husbands, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring her Random Food Gift #1. Along with the biscuits, I included some homemade cranberry sauce jam. It's a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that was originally for cranberry sauce. I revised it a bit and simmered it long enough to turn into jam. It's tart-sweet and goes well on savory sandwiches or paired with neufchatel cheese on a whole grain bagel.

Pumpkin Biscuits

1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk*
1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Mix together flours through nutmeg (all of the dry ingredients). Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine buttermilk and pumpkin, add to dry mixture and stir just until moist.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly five times. Roll dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into circles with 2.5 inch biscuit cutter (I used a wine glass). Gather up scraps to cut more circles. Place circles onto an oiled baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about 11 minutes or until golden (my oven cooks biscuits in about 7 minutes, so don't stray too far while they're baking). Serve warm.

*To make your own buttermilk, combine 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with enough milk to equal 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Twelve Days of FOOD!

Happy December, everyone! Now begins my favorite time of the year. The lights, the music, the coziness, the decorations...I just love it. What I don't love is all the commercialism, but since I don't go to the mall, watch TV, or listen to the radio (just call me a hermit), I can truly enjoy the season without feeling grossed out by commercialism. So anyways, the Christmas season is not very long, and there are so many good holiday recipes to try. I recently bought a Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook. I need more occasions to make holiday food, so I figured, why don't I just create an occasion? I'm going to give random food gifts! Twelve food gifts to 12 friends. The targets will be in my immediate Baltimore area (and maybe beyond). Never before have I posted 12 recipes in 31 days. Can I do it amidst all of the hustle and bustle of my favorite season? It is a festive challenge, indeed. You might be first!