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November 2012 Recipes

Posted Nov 30 2012 3:01am

It’s the end of the month and time to recap the noteworthy recipes and events from the month:

Cranberry Bliss Bars {Starbucks Copycat recipe} – One of the best desserts I’ve made in ages, with a white chocolate and cranberry blondie base, topped with white chocolate-infused cream cheese frosting, more cranberries and a white chocolate drizzle. It’s a good thing the batch size only yields eight wedges because they’re dangerously good and a dead ringer for the Starbucks version

Homemade Vanilla Extract – Making your own vanilla extract is extremely easy and between the cost savings and the wonderful flavor of homemade, you’ll never want or need to purchase storebought vanilla extract again. It takes about 8 weeks for the extract to be ready for use, but in those 8 weeks, there’s no work and it’s worth the wait. Makes fabulous gifts and people are always grateful for this easy yet impressive gift

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Jacques Torres) – I learned many valuable lessons when making these cookies, from loving bread flour in cookies to detesting cake flour in them; to baking bigger-sized cookies to stuffing in extra chocolate. The cookies are very good, and I loved them on the first day, and wrote extensively about my overall thoughts

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – As close to cinnamon rolls as bread can get and still be passed off as bread rather than dessert

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream – Small-batch recipe and makes just 6 cupcakes, perfect for times when more is not better and the recipe helps make use of that last little bit of pumpkin puree in the bottom of the can that you don’t know what to do with. The cupcakes are moist, dense, and robustly-flavored with fall spices. The sweet, creamy, fluffy yet dense, marshmallow buttercream is the perfect complement to the half-dozen little cupcakes

Baked Parsnip Fries with Creamy Balsamic Reduction Dip – (vegan, GF) Healthier than potato-based fries and baked, so you can have more. Parsnips have a nice warming little kick and the cooling creamy dip is a perfect complement

Honey Dinner Rolls – The best dinner rolls I’ve ever had and I will use this recipe over and over, for years to come. Soft, fluffy, scrumptious and they can be made in advance. Honey is both used in the dough as well as brushed on top prior to baking in a honey-butter mixture for golden tops. Many people have written saying they made these for Thanksgiving with rave reviews from friends and family members and they’ll be on their menus for years

Chocolate Molasses Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Glaze – Part chocolate cake, part molasses cake, with chunks of chocolate chips and soft, juicy, tender dates in every bite. The cake is moist, rich, and reads more chocolate-flavored with molasses undertones, in a pleasantly intense way, without being bitter the way some dark chocolate or molasses cakes become. The Baileys Irish Cream Glaze adds creaminess, richness, and a light sweetness and is the perfect compliment to the robust cake flavors. And an easy, one-bowl, mixer-less cake batter to make

Sugar-Doodle Vanilla Cookies – A new favorite cookie. Simple ingredients create cookies far more delicious than just the sum of their parts. A hybrid between a sugar cookie and a snickerdoodle, and are scented abundantly with vanilla. They have wonderfully chewy edges, thanks to the addition of bread flour, and soft, tender centers. This is a small-batch recipe and makes just one-dozen, perfect for times when you just need a quick dozen

Challah – Recipe and method is based on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking and is incredibly easy. It’s make-ahead dough, here’s no kneading, and it’s truly fuss-free bread making and great for new bread makers. The challah turns out light, fluffy, almost croissant-like, with just a hint of sweetness. I will make this bread for years to come and it’s my husband’s favorite bread

20 Healthier Thanksgiving Recipes – Or use the ideas for weeknight dinner ideas. Not a single recipe for turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, or pumpkin pie. Instead I showcased versatile sides, some that can double as entrees, and some meat-free mains. Although everyone’s definition of healthy varies, all the recipes are either vegetarian or vegan and many are gluten free; many can be prepped in advanced and reheated day-of

Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies – A new holiday favorite cookie. Soft, tender, yet chewy molasses cookies that are robustly flavored with molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Chocolate is used three times – cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and chocolate chunks. The best part of making these cookies is that the first twelve ingredients are combined all at once in a bowl and whisked, no need to even dirty a mixer

Oatmeal Raisin Rolls – Part oatmeal dinner roll, part cinnamon raisin bagel, and part soft and healthy cinnamon roll. Very chewy and chock full of texture from the raisins and oats. They’re lightly sweetened from honey in the dough and brushed with honey-butter prior to baking, which lends both a golden color to the rolls and infuses them with a subtle sweetness. The rolls can be made ahead of time or make a batch from start to finish, freeze the rolls, and pull them out as needed for dinner, brunch, snacks, a special meal, or holiday gathering

Creamy and Crispy Hash Browns Frittata (vegetarian, GF) – For eggs and hash brown lovers, this is a fast brinner (breakfast-for-dinner) or brunch to throw together in virtually no time. The cream-style soup gives the frittata an almost cheesy-like quality. The eggs are creamy and the potatoes crisp up, creating both softness and a bit of crispy texture and crunch

Roasted Cinnamon-Ginger Delicata Squash (vegan, GF) – Delicata squash is much easier to cut and work with raw, compared to much harder butternut squash. Cooked delicata is slightly sweet, not fibrous or stringy, and reminds me of roasted sweet potatoes. The warming spices used in this recipe complement the soft interior and slightly crisped exterior of the roasted squash

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies – This is my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. They are soft, chewy, tender, moist, a snap to make, and have two kinds of chocolate in every bite. I wrote extensively about why I love them and if you need a solid, fuss-free, and straightforward recipe for chocolate chip cookies that yields fabulous results on every level, try this one. It’s my new gold standard

Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze – All the flavor of cinnamon rolls without the work because you don’t actually need to make cinnamon rolls to make the cake. Rather, the finish cake just tastes like a cinnamon roll, warm and buttery, and loaded with baked-in crunchy streusel topping and the cream cheese glazes add cinnamon-roll authenticity. The cake is ready from start to finish in one hour and easy

Caramel Apple Crumble Pie – Apple pie meets apple crumble in this extremely easy and fast pie to make. The pie comes together in less than five minutes of active prep work with just a whisk and one bowl. The pie is dense, rich, with notes of cinnamon and plenty of caramel flavor, both from the caramelized brown sugar as well as a drizzle of caramel sauce added prior to serving. Easy and impressive with five minutes of work

Cranberry Pineapple Mango Preserves (vegan, GF) – Much more flavorful than traditional cranberry sauce from the addition of pineapple, mango, cinnamon, and ginger, which sweetly spice and enhance the fresh cranberries. The preserves are full of chunky texture from the variety of fruits used, and can be made in just over a half hour and will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator, and makes a nice gift

Events:

Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival – I went to Barbados last weekend for the Food & Wine festival and saw many famous chefs, sampled great food, and saw the beauty of the island. A whirlwind fun getaway

Reflections:

I feel like I lived in my kitchen this month and cooked a ton. If I wasn’t cooking, writing about it, taking pictures of it or editing the photos, I was researching what I was going to make next. It was a cook-eat-reserach-repeat cycle and because I knew I was traveling, even for just a few days, between cooking for my blog and cooking for my family in advance of the trip, I felt like I was never ahead and that I never left the kitchen all month, except to go to Barbados, which was fun and the three and a half days just flew by. Traveling from California was an 18 hour event, both ways.

The night I returned from Barbados, I walked in the door at 8pm, put my suitcase down, tied my hair up, and started baking. I had pies and bars in the oven by 10pm that night in advance of Thanksgiving. Between food I had committed to making for Skylar’s school’s Thanksgiving and our own Thanksgiving, I cooked and baked my heart out.

The first day of the month and the last, I posted cranberry recipes. The Cranberry Bliss Bars are one of the best bar recipes I’ve made in ages. They’re ridiculously close to the Starbucks version and people who’ve written to say they’ve made the bars have echoed what I’ve said; they’re shockingly good and better than you’d ever expect just from looking at the ingredients list.

I posted four bread recipes: Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Challah, Honey Dinner Rolls, Oatmeal Raisin Rolls. One of the reasons why I felt like I never left my kitchen in November was because dough was always in a state of rising, needing kneading or shaping. Bread isn’t like a pan of Rice Krispy bars that can be slapped together; it does require some attention, and four bread recipes was ambitious. However, of all the things I make, bread is without a doubt, the most rewarding. I feel connected to my food at a deeper level when I made it from scratch and kneading bread, watching the dough rise, and churning out loaves with my own hands is richly satisfying. All the bread recipes are easy enough for beginners and the Challah which uses the Artisan Method in Five  Minutes a day is no-knead, the dough makes enough for a second batch later in the week, and it’s extremely goofproof with stellar results. The honey dinner rolls are amazing, too, but shaping the rolls is slightly more work, but worth it.

I made four types of cookies: The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sugar-Doodles, Molasses Triple Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip and Chunk. I made all those cookies to have as recipes in advance of the holidays because I know that people love cookie recipes in November and December, but also it had been awhile since I made any noteworthy new cookie recipes and I was due. Three of the four were total hits in the taste department and I am thrilled with the results. The Sugar-Doodles are buttery, rich, smooth and taste far more sophisticated than the very simple ingredients used. The Molasses cookies will be in my holiday lineup for years to come, and I feel like I hit major paydirt with the Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies. I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I can and will make over and over, for years to come, with guaranteed success. I like the recipe even better than my previous gold-standard recipe, detailed extensively in the post. Even the New York Times cookies, although they weren’t really ‘my cookie’, I am glad I made them because not only can I check that recipe off my bucket list, but I learned many valuable lessons about baking in general and about my own personal preferences for ingredients. It was a situation where the process was far more meaningful than the results, so in that sense the cookies were a hit, too.

I made three types of cakes and one pie: Pumpkin Cupcakes, Chocolate Molasses Cake with Baileys Glaze, Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake, and Caramel Apple Pie, all of which were very different in terms of flavors, batch size, and methods. I challenged myself to make a variety of cakes and recipes, not just standard 9-inch round cakes or a basic Bundt. And over the years, I had only amassed three recipes for pie on my blog, but now I have four. I feel like with cakes and pies, people tend to not want to make them as much and the response to them isn’t as good as it is with bars or cookies; however the Cinnamon Roll Coffee Cake and the Apple Crumble Pie seemed to go over better than anticipated. In my experience, most of the time cakes (and bars) are easier than cookies or cupcakes; it’s one big thing in a pan rather than having to potion out two dozen balls of dough or frost two dozen cupcakes, after pouring batter into two dozen liners. But people seem to really love their cookies.

I didn’t totally neglect the savory department and had three savory recipes plus a recipe roundup. And although cranberries aren’t savory, they’re not a dessert per se; nor is bread.

My how-to post about making vanilla extract has been popular on Pinterest , and my how-to post for making homemade Peanut Butter also got popular again. Although I sometimes feel like the information is basic and almost hesitate writing about it, after I do, I’ll get comments thanking me for the tidbits I shared, reminding me that we all come from different backgrounds and what’s old to me may be new to others, and vice versa.

I am pleased with the month in that I made classics and stuck with my commitment to more classic recipes . These recipes will stand the test of time; from bread to chocolate chip cookies. Nothing gimmicky, nothing candy-stuffed, just good old-fashioned food that people can make for the long haul.

Previous Month Recaps:

January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012

Tell me about your month!

What did you do or make in November that was memorable?

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