recipes


I think I finally understand the meaning of “cabin fever.”  And “perspective.”  It did not occur to me exactly how much snow I was suffocating in before I went out and tried to shovel it yesterday.  It also didn’t occur to me how much pain I was going to be in the next morning…

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There’s only so much I can do to entertain myself indoors.  But you know, I relish the feeling of being bored nowadays.  Nothing feels better than wondering what the heck I want to do.  Besides, if this is cutting into my summer break, then hell yes I’m going to enjoy myself!  Watch TV?  Blog?  Play video games?  Bake?—that became my favorite way to waste time.  I’ve baked twice this week already, which is more than I have in my entire, albeit short, life.  There’s something magical about squatting down in front of a bright oven with hot air gushing out of the vent, watching piles of goop miraculously puff into glorious, richly-spiced muffins, or stiff balls of chocolate-studded dough expand into half-spheres of heaven.  (Feel free to be liberal with your interpretation of that :P)

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Okay, well, that last part made the kitchen smell like smokin’ hot oil.  Hot.  I didn’t happen to have proper cookie baking sheets on hand, and I wasn’t about to ask for a trip to the grocery store, so I had to be resourceful.  Friends, aluminum foil + PAM can answer all of your oven woes.  Even if you’re using the grill spray for cookies.

My first batch of cookies (EVER) came out a wee bit burnt.  Just a smidgen, see?

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If only those were raisins at the bottom.

Luckily, I still had a few balls of dough left over and ready to be baked!  And this time, I actually followed the recipe and baked for 15 instead of 24 minutes, so they came out the way I assume they were supposed to.  Cookies are supposed to be soft when they come out of the oven, Candice.  Lesson learned: cooling = firm cookies, extra baking = burnt cookie butts. 

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I can’t follow a recipe without adding my personal touches along the way.  This was no exception, even though it was my first batch of cookies ever.  I tried to follow the recipe for chocolate cherry granola cookies from bella eats, but a combination of my hate-to-waste mentality and weird imagination made it physically impossible to follow the it to the letter.  Though, I think I’ll just stick to twisting the ingredients around next time.  :P

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I was surprised by how much my family loved these cookies.  If it helps, I baked them yesterday, and they are all gone now.  o__o

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Just as the title of this post implies, these are on the crunchy side, with gooey chocolate chunks, nuttiness from whole wheat flour and oat bran, and a distinct grittiness from the instant grits I threw in there.  They’re the little white specks—you can see them if you look closely.  Not only did they add grit, but they also contributed a nice cornbread-y flavor.  It’s unconventional, but it’s pretty good, if I must say.  :] 

I’m not gonna lie—I was seriously doubtful about how these would turn out when I took the cookie dough out of the fridge after a nearly-24-hour winter vacation.  It was hard, smelled sort of like Play-Doh, and seemed like it would become burnt little cookie dough balls in the oven.  And whaddya know—the burning was MY mistake, and the cookies were gone within a day.  More culinary trash –> worthy of critics’ cash action?  Mmhmm…

Recipe is here if you’re interested.  I was going to sprinkle a little coarse sea salt over these to make them extra delicious, but lo and behold, I ran out.  Bought a huge bag for $1.99 at the Korean supermarket today… nice.

Q1: What was the first thing you ever baked?
Q2: How many days does it take for you to get “cabin fever”?

Off to bed now.  Sweet dreams!

ox ~ c a n d i c e

… and this:

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Poor trees!  Everything is drowned in snow.  There is no way they’re going to open schools tomorrow, seeing as how we lack the awesome snow-removing equipment of the more northern states (and Canada, lol).  Maybe not even for Friday.  NY trip = as good as rescheduled.  Please cancel the bio field trip.  Please, please, please… I love how my bio teacher is the only one who doesn’t keep us posted on schedule changes.  We’re not seriously going to just keep using the calendar from the beginning of February that is now completely invalid?!

Sigh.  Well, let’s talk burgers.

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After turning my failed spaghetti squash-black bean pancakes (with no eggs for a binder… thank you, rustique! ;]) into baked “burger” patties, I well, built a burger from it.  I confess: I’ve always hated veggie burgers.  “Gimme the real stuff!” I would proclaim in elementary school as I stood in line in the cafeteria with my pink Styrofoam tray, eager to grab my burger and baked potato wedges.  Well, those burgers were actually straight-up nasty. But they weren’t as horrible as the veggie burger I grabbed by mistake in my rush to stuff my face one day.

*shudder*

I’ve mostly avoided veggie burgers since then.  However, the ones I ordered at Ruby Tuesday’s not too long ago (or at least it seemed that way) weren’t so bad, so I decided that maybe veggie burgers aren’t evil after all.

Cue crazy burger ingredients time!

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I actually bought this jam awhile ago, but it’s just been sitting in my pantry unopened, since I had all these other random jams /fruit butters still open and waiting to be eaten.  Well, I finally finished my vanilla-cantaloupe jam from I-don’t-want-to-think-about-how-long ago, so I decided that it was time to open the fig jam.

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Spread it on a Thomas English muffin like so.  It’s really, really sweet, so just a little was enough for a flavor pop.
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This is a post-toaster oven picture of the whole thing.  On the right, we have the last of the emmental cheese (in cubes) sprinkled with a little fine sea salt (I’m saving coarse for something else) with the last of the roasted cashew pieces atop the fig jam.  I forgot how delicious cashews tasted charred. My tastebuds threw a party. Spicy, hint-of-miso-flavored burger + sweet fig jam + nutty, rich cheese + CHARRED, CRUNCHY CASHEWS (self-explanatory) = holy flavor explosion.

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And on the left, we have the burger.

Of course, no burger is complete without a side of fries.  However, seeing as I was too lazy to slice potatoes, season them, preheat the oven, and wait, I settled with my new favorite snack from TJ’s: lentil-potato crispy things.  I forget what they’re really called, but they’re absolutely amazing.  Potato-y from the potato, but with a new dimension of nuttiness from the lentil flour, and perfectly crispy and airy.  If you have a TJ’s nearby, get these ASAP!

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I’m obsessed.

Threw a few edamame crackers in there, too…

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Holy. freaking. yum. :]  I’m going to try and perfect this recipe (or a similar one), hopefully one that solidifies the first time I fry it.  :P

Yesterday was spent watching FFVII: Advent Children Complete, playing Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and finishing up a bio note card for Chapter 37 at 2 AM.  o__o  Erm… well, I had to get something done, ya?  The thing is, though I woke up four hours later than usual, so it balances. out.  :]  5 AM on school day vs. 9 AM?  I take the latter.  x)

Things to accomplish today:
* Chemistry problems
* Reading for 3 chemistry chapters (midterm prep)
* Chapter 38 note card
* Chapter 35-36 articles
* Finish the vertebrate notes chart for hominoids/hominids.  I’ve been putting this off because I haven’t been having bio, and the last thing I want is to study and forget everything by the time I actually have to know it!
* Bake cookies if there is school tomorrow. It was my friend’s birthday yesterday, and I already had the cookie dough prepared, but *BAM* no school.  I hate living so far away from all my friends.  I can’t go to gatherings as frequently (e.g. the one yesterday for her birthday), and I don’t have anyone in the vicinity who(m?) I really know or can talk to.  I’m living practically in the middle of nowhere, close to the ‘burbs but not close to my friends, my school, or my dad.  :(

The cookies were an experiment. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, seeing as this is my first time baking cookies!  I’ll let you guys know how it goes once they’re done!  :]

Q1: What is your favorite burger combo?
Q2: Have you ever felt isolated from your friends?  How did you deal with it? Give a girl some advice.  :(  Email + Facebook don’t quite cut it for me…

Love you ALL!
ox ~ c a n d i c e *

Well, lo and behold, I was “blessed” with another snow day yesterday when the county miraculously decided to close schools yesterday, as my friend put it, “before 4:30 AM!”  :)  I tried not to push myself too hard.  After all, if I have to make up President’s Day (boooo), I might as well enjoy my time now, y’know?  Thank you all for your kind words and advice.  I’m still an inexperienced young’un, after all.  To give you some perspective, let’s just say that I can’t even drive yet (legally) in the U.S. of A, and that I get up at 5 AM each morning to ride a big yellow school bus for almost two hours to my school.  Oh, the joy of magnet schools.  It’s so much easier to sleep on a bus though, y’know?  Plus, everyone’s exhausted, so the entire bus is pretty much silent at least half of the ride.  I cuddle up by the window with my fluffy hood on, plugged into my iPod, wrapped in a fuzzy scarf, heater on full blast… you get the idea.  :]   

I haven’t been talking much about f-o-o-d lately.  I miss food.  It was my sister’s eighth birthday today (time flies!), and as homemade gifts, especially if they’re edible, are the sweetest, I baked up a batch of muffins for her.  :)  If Mother won’t let me see a movie with my friends (“Dear John,” though I heard it wasn’t that great anyway), then I’ll seize the day by baking!  Yes!  Snowy days = baking anyway, right?  ;) 

I was actually planning on making some tropical fudge things at first.  These babies were going to be a tropical explosion with pineapple, guava, dates, and the last of my butter-toffee almonds.  Whipping out the ingredients and my just-received blender…’

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Mmmm.  However, disaster struck as soon as the ingredients hit the blender.

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My blender started to burn hotter than the Caribbean sun.  It began exuding that awful burning plastic-stench and, sadly, I knew I had to turn it off.  Since dried pineapple made up the majority of the fruit, the mixture lacked the moisture needed to… well, not kill my blender.  But I knew I couldn’t stop there.  I knew I couldn’t waste the pictures I took of the ingredients together.  And plus, I didn’t have anything else to give to my sister.  So the adventure continued…

I gave my sis a choice between a cake or muffins, and she chose muffins.  Muffins it was.  Remembering my first cake, I decided to soak the remaining tropical-fail mixture in hot water to soften up for incorporation into muffin batter.  And as the fruit softened up, it came to me.

candice’s stream of consciousness:
softened fruit –> moisture –> blender won’t die –> let’s blend into mush! –> muffin surprise filling!

I didn’t take any pictures of the mushy tropical mixture, as it pretty much looked like barf, but that’s beside the point.  I’ll shut up and let the pictures do the talking.

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Put it in the oven…

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et voila!  Warm, toasty, the teensiest bit of “healthy”-tasting muffins with a top secret, sweet-sour filling.  ;)

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Because it is every eight-year-old’s dream to frost their own cupcakes, I figured that muffins were close enough to cupcakes, and that marshmallow creme was close enough to frosting.  I let my sister decorate her muffins with an eclectic mix of random foods that I use in yogurt or cereal, like pumpkin spice granola, grain-sweetened chocolate chips, and star anise wafers.

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Oh, and holiday sprinkles.

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So random, but so good!

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She loved ‘em.  :)

The recipe for these tropical cardamom muffins is here, if you’re interested.  I’ll probably do even MORE baking tomorrow for my friend’s birthday on the 9th.  And then more for my other friend’s birthday on the 16th.  And then more for mine not long after that… wow.  Hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough not to start with a failure next time.  I plan on baking cookies sometime, Sarah.  :D

After dinner in the dark (my sister’s idea… who knows what she’s thinking), there was german chocolate birthday cake.  My sister was originally supposed to have a party today, but it had to be postponed until next week since we were smacked down with a blizzard.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend next week, as on (most of) Friday and Saturday I’ll be in…

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK!

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:D 

Q1: Any culinary trash –> worthy of critics’ cash stories out there?  Yes, I made it rhyme on purpose.  ;)

Have a great evening, loves! 

The morning my aunt’s family left, my mom had to wake me up to say good-bye to them (oops), and apparently, my cousin cried again.  :/  He’s an only child, so I guess he’s lonely?  My mom said that he was tying his shoelaces and tried to cover it up with the age-old, clichéd, only-in-the-movies excuse: There’s sand in my eyes. :(  Poor thing… He’s such a boy.  Wouldn’t even let me hug him, so I went with the shoulder-pat.  :/

I was an only child for the first eight years of my life, and I practically begged my parents for a sibling (specifically, a sister).  Now that I have one, I feel like I don’t appreciate her half as much as I should.  I need to improve on that.  Later on in life, I want to be as close to my sister as my mom is to my aunt.  They have the ultimate sibling relationship—growing up in a poor household (and only being a few years apart…) really squishes a family together, I guess?  I suppose it was the same with everyone in China at the time…

2010 Goal #1: Be a better sister.

Apparently, our house is funhouse, because we have MORE company now.  Wahoo.  They brought us a nice gift basket from Florida and homemade treats!  :)

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Organic citrus and jams and locally-made candies!  I think they’re mind-readers, because I LOVE this kind of stuff.  I’ve already eaten two of the chocolate-covered coconut patties, and they’re deeelicious!  The citrus, although ugly, is super sweet, too.  :)

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I think there were chocolate-covered cookie bars, peanut butter bars, and hello dollies.  I had my first hello dollie last night, and it was good, although a little too sweet.  I love anything with coconut.  :)

And now’s the time for random.eats!

Noodles in chicken broth with sesame seeds and a single carrot slice was consumed for lunch.  I had some nice slurping action going on here.  That’s the best part of noodles, am I right?!  Vermicelli is no fun at all unless it’s in a salad.

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With a baby apple, the iconic fall fruit.  I’m just a tad late for the season, I know.  I saw Stef stuff her apple with nut butter the other day and thought it was brilliant, but I really just needed something fresh and juicy today.  (Gotta find me some blood oranges!)

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And a fab snack: half-banana + Maranatha crunchy peanut butter + sea salt.  Get this: I do not like Maranatha PB anymore.  o__o  I used to be obsessed with the stuff!… but now I really crave sugarless, super-peanutty peanut butter.  Weird.  Thus, I needed extra salt to counter the sweetness here.  Warning: food porn barrage coming your way.  Normally, I choose a few pictures to post from a selection, but this time, they all looked equally good!

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And a date stuffed with Crazy Richard’s creamy peanut butter, my next love.  Well, that is, until I use the jar up.  Then I’ll be making my own peanut butter… and THAT will be true love.  ;)  Topped with course sea salt once again, since Crazy Richard’s is just plain ol’ peanuts:

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Love!  <3 And speaking of making nut butter, that was precisely my very first adventure with my new toy!

How to Make Nirvana: A Step-by-Step Guide

You will need:
*
~2 1/2 cups pecans
* ~1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

(Errr… like I said, I don’t exactly measure.  ^_^;)

Step 1: Microwave pecans until perfectly roasted and just slightly burnt.  I would’ve used an oven to roast a whole batch at once (I had to microwave twice), but last time, I completely burnt the pecans beyond recognition, so I won’t be trying that again.  :|  I microwaved for 4 minutes total (mixed them up after 2 minutes to even out the roasting), but I have no idea whether the setting was on high or medium or what.  Sorry!

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Step 2: After the pecans have cooled (important!), pour them into the blender and start whizzing.  I had mine on the “nuts” setting.  Here they are half-pulverized:

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Step 3: Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape the edges down if necessary.  The butter comes pretty quickly with pecans, since they’re oily, though not so much with certain other nuts/seeds.  *coughpumpkinseedscough*

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Step 4: Add coarse sea salt into the blender with the luscious pecan butter it’s created for you.  Pulse for a few seconds to fold in the salt crystals.  They’ll add a delightful crunch in the final product.  :]

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Step 5: Pour into a jar and devour (not necessarily with something).  I promptly had an unpictured dried calimyrna fig dunked in nirvana.  I’ll be sure to catch that sneaky hand of mine so I can snap a pic next time… ;)

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Sorry for the dark/crappy action shot + final pic—I’m still working on shooting motion (holding a heavy blender while trying to focus is not very easy), and I was anxious to try the pecan butter at the end.  Forgive this amateur.  :|

Q1: Are you an only child?  If so, do you ever wish you had a sibling?
Q2: What is one goal you have for 2010?
Q3: What’s your favorite type of nut/seed butter? Me?  I like allll of them except for bitter tahini.  ;)
Q4: Thin or thick noodles?

Off to an Asian party today.  Have a great post-holiday day!  :)

From one of the most addicting songs ever… “Come Back to Me” by Utada :]

Babies have been rampant across blogland lately, no?

Thanks, Katie.  Thanks to you, blogland has now become babyland.  o__o  How scary!  I find babies cute and all, but once they start crying, I am out! I would be such an irresponsible parent.  And you must now forget that I even mentioned that last word.  (No worries; I won’t be making any nerdy fertilization jokes.)

Food babies are annoying too… but THESE babies are hothothot~

That’s where my baby is.  <3

:D

I didn’t use a specific “baby” recipe to make these, because I’m too lazy to look up the recipe splendidly spontaneous.  I also don’t have specific measurements for the ingredients because I’m way too lazy to measure everything out.

cherry almond babies
makes a hunk of… stuff

* ~10 Medjool dates
* 2 large handfuls roasted, salted almonds (if using unsalted, add salt to taste)
* 3 large handfuls dried cherries

Since I have a weak, crappy blender, I decided to use my head and blend the almonds into a powder first.  Then, I pitted the dates and tore them into fourths.  Threw them into the pile of almond dust along with the dried cherries, and blended into submission.  The key flavor component here was the almonds, to be honest.  They were from Costco—coated with a thin layer of sea salt and possessing a sinfully deep, toasted flavor.  Amazing.

The big hunk of poop “dough” that’s produced once everything is whirled together is soooo much fun to play with!  It’s like actually edible play-doh (no, I was a good kid and did not eat that stuff!)!  My sister and I had a little too much fun shaping it though… :P  Pictured above is my heart, some kisses, dice, and a snowman that had its head cut out of the pic.  :c

I judge the success of these babies based not on my tastes, but my sister’s.  She hates almonds and the “weird” food that I eat, which includes Larabars and Pure Bars, so I wasn’t sure how these would go over with her.  But she loves them, I think, more than I do!  :]  Again, thank you, Katie!!!  I’ll never have to dish out $1.xx for a Larabar again!  ;)

On another note…

My presentation went quite well.  :D  Thank you all for supporting me! I just thought about all of your sweet comments before presenting and all of my worries dissipated.  I was super prepared . . .

. . . ^_^; Alright, so that’s not exactly what happened.  Actually, the worst possible scenario occurred.  o_o  I ended up trapped in my worst nightmare—apparently, I was supposed to present more than I had practiced!  I was forced to do truly last-minute preparations and memorize more slides on our powerpoint right before the presentations began!  That also meant that my stomach was growling like mad during class.  :( 

But, I was surprisingly calm during the presentation!  We were the last group to go, which always makes me nervous, because I end up sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, going over my points over and over and barely paying attention to what the other groups are talking about.  ><  Do you prefer to go first or last for speeches/presentations? I just like to go first and get it over with!

… Annnnd our group got the highest grade in the class.  ;)  Score! Grades > food in bringing joy into my nerdy heart.  :P  (Just too bad that I think I failed my test on Monday.  Hehhh…)

I just took a nice, hot shower to offset the crazy cold I had to wait in this afternoon.  My mom also tried to make me drink ginger soup to “push” the coldness out of my body, but I’m a little wary of that (taste-wise, I mean).  o_o  Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely, lovely evening!

… onto my walls, my floor, my clothes, etc.  D:

Ahem, before I get into all that, let’s start with Thanksgiving morning.  Thanksgiving morning greeted me like so:

Hello, I am impending doom.

Yes, that is a super thick, impenetrable layer of fog out my window.  Good morning indeed…

It was a bad omen.

The crust was the good part.  I actually got a little creative with that—I can say that I have a recipe for it.  :D  My first ever, haha!  I was too lazy to make actual dough, so I resorted to using a “press in pan” crust.  It turned out pretty good.  :)

On the other hand, the pie filling was MESSY.  o_o  I screwed up a thousand times during the process of making it!  Actually, everything was going great… until the mixer. *shudder*  Electric whisks are dangerous.  When your squash ain’t fully blended.

-___- *facepalm*  How could I forget to purée the squash when the recipe calls for squash purée?!?!  Because I’m a nerd with no common sense, that’s why!  I ended up having the take out all the random hunks of squash in the mixture, along with any leftover seeds that were not scooped out initially… yeah, I’m fabulous at preparing squash purée.

Bleh.  It was a bleh experience, that’s what it was.  Cleanup was a pain in the (_|_).   However, I refuse to let my first go at pie-making bring me down for eternity!  I’m going to keep destroying my kitchen until I can make pie like someone’s grandma!  Yesss!  Who’s with me?!

puffin-pepita pie crust
makes 1 10-inch crust

– 2 + 1/2 cups Barbara’s Bakery Original Puffins
– 1/4 cup Barbara’s Bakery Peanut Butter Puffins
– 3 large handfuls pepitas
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
– pinch of sea salt
– handful of granola

Throw all ingredients into a blender and pulse until fully combined.  The mixture should have a slightly sticky texture when it’s done.  In all honesty, I eyeballed all of these measurements (except the butter), so this is just a guestimation of what I actually used, but you should end up with 2 1/4 cups of cereal “flour” to combine with the other ingredients.

And the results, after divvying up among the family—

Yes, I topped it with black sesame seeds.  Yes I did.

My piece, with ahem, whipped topping:

Eat me, good friends.

The verdict? My family loved it.  :)  Granted, it was just three people… four, if you include myself, but it was pretty tasty for my first pie!  I was really quite scared that they would hate it, and we’d have to resort to the store-bought pumpkin cheese chocolate ganache pie.  Uh, that sounds better than lame “kabocha pie” by a long shot.  But anyway, I’m pretty happy with the results, even though the steps that it took to get there were partial agony.  ;)

Our turkey this year happened to be incredibly juicy.  OMG.  Succulent, tender white meat… no gravy even needed.  The trick was to flip the turkey upside down to bake and fill the dish with water (something like that), according to my brilliant mom.  The best turkey I’ve ever had, period.  I don’t think I’ll get sick of the leftovers this year :)

I was also responsible for mashed potatoes this year.  Although I’d much prefer to eat mashed squash or sweet ‘taters (mmmmmm), my family is just… one potato.  :/  I did put a little spin on the more “traditional” butter-and-milk recipe though.  Anyone care to try it out?

miso-olive oil mashed potatoes with oregano, garlic, sea salt
serves 4

– 6 yukon gold potatoes
– 1 tsp red miso
– 2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
– splash of milk
– sprinkle of dried oregano
– sprinkle of garlic powder
– sprinkle of coarse sea salt

Boil potatoes until fork-tender.  Mash with your trusty potato masher until well-mashed.  Add a splash of milk and continue mashing—if the texture of the mash is still too dry, add another splash.  Continue adding milk until the potatoes reach the desired consistency.  Add olive oil (as much as you want—measurements are just an estimation of what I used), oregano, garlic powder, and sea salt to taste.  Mashmashmash.  The resulting mash has the slightest tint of red due to the miso, which I love, but of course, you could substitute any type of miso you happen to have on hand.

… I know, I know—I’m a terrible recipe-writer.  But I can’t help it—when I’m in the kitchen, I don’t think about measurements or anything (unless it’s extremely precise, like… oats).  I just do everything to taste and eyeball all the ingredients (which is why my crust recipe measurements may not be entirely accurate…).

I’m thankful for my sort of stellar Thanksgiving, the chance of reconciliation, and overall positivity for living in our new house.  Thanks for reading.  :)