Thursday, December 27, 2012

Moving to Wordpress!

Hello out there!  Especially to those of you who subscribe to this blog via email!  As you'll see very soon, this blog is moving to Wordpress.  If you'd like to continue receiving emails, please head to anerdcooks.com and subscribe by email there.  Thanks!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Skinny Green Bean Casserole

I made this casserole for Christmas Eve dinner at Sean's grandparents' house, and then we ate the leftovers on Christmas day at my parents' place.  

This recipe comes from the blog Skinnytaste.

You'll need:

For the topping
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup shallots, finely diced
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tbs grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme

For the green beans
2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed, halved, and washed
1 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup shallots, finely diced
16 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Boil a large pot of water.  Add the green beans and blanche for 2-4 minutes (you can do this for 6-8 minutes if you like softer beans).  Drain them into a colander and run cold water over the to stop the cooking.

To make the topping, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute for 3-5 minuts, or until they are golden.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the bread crumbs, cheese, and thyme.  Saute for 5-6 additional minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan.

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 1/3 cup of shallots and saute for a couple of minutes.  Add the mushrooms, stirring to coat with the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms, stir to coat.  Continue stirring for about a minute.  Slowly add the chicken stock and milk.  Bring it to a low boil, and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until it starts to thicken up.  Stir occasionally.  Stir in the rest of the grated cheese.

Add the blanched green beans and mix well.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper.  Pour everything into the prepared baking dish.

Top with the toasted bread crumbs and bake for 30 minute.

Now eat it!

I'll definitely be making this again.  Though the traditional green bean casserole with condensed soup is good, this recipe blows it away.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

{Homemade Christmas Gifts!} - Part 5 - Sugar and Spice Candied Almonds

Folks, this is the fifth (and final!) installment of homemade holiday gift posts.  Hopefully you've been inspired to make some delicious homemade gifts of your own!

There are tons of recipes like this out there, but I found mine on the blog Smitten Kitchen.

You'll need:

1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
generous pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tbs water
1 pound almonds (Alternately, could use pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix the sugars, salt, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Beat the egg white and water until frothy, but not stiff.  Add the nuts, and stir to coat evenly.  Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  

Bake for 30 minutes, stopping to stir them around occasionally.  Remove them from the oven and separate the nuts as they cool.

When completely cool, pour into a bowl, or other vessel.  Eat!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{Homemade Christmas Gifts!} - Part 4 - Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats

For the fourth installment of homemade holiday gifts, I bring you homemade dog treats.  Don't forget your furry friends this holiday season!

My dad forwarded me an email he received from the American Kennel Club that included this recipe.

You'll need:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat or barley flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
3 tbs peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir the flour and cinnamon together.

In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, and peanut butter.  Whisk until mostly smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.  The mixture will be pretty dry and crumbly.  Add a bit of water until it's workable.  If it gets too wet, add a bit more flour.

Roll the dough out until it's about 1/2 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters to cut into various shapes.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until hard and dry.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Holiday Gift Recipe Roundup

In case you're in denial and are managing to avoid the reality of the situation - There are exactly 7 days until Christmas!  Still in search of some homemade holiday gifts?  In case you missed 'em, check out the ones I've blogged about:

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Cookie Mix in a Jar
Homemade Peppermint Schnapps

AND check out these bad boys that I found on Foodgawker:

Homemade BBQ Spice Rub - Back to Her Roots
Flavored Coffee Syrups - Feed Me, Seymour
Homemade Vanilla Extract - Apron Strings
Peppermint Bark - Fork Knife Swoon
Homemade Mulling Spice Mix - 30 Pounds of Apples
Salted Woodchuck Hard Cider Caramels - Bakeaholic Mama
Chocolate Truffles - K & L Food Blog
Homemade Ketchup - A Duck's Oven
Cookie Cutter Fudge - Chocolate Moosey
Homemade Orange Marmalade - Vegan Yack Attack
Dal Fry Mix in a Jar - Veggie Belly
Cranberry Orange Preserves - Curly Girl Kitchen
DIY Infused Olive Oils - Just Putzing Around in the Kitchen
Citrus Sea Salt - For the Love of Food
Truffle Dust - My Man's Belly
Chai Concentrate - Munchin with Munchkin
Vanilla Bean Sugar Scrub - Good Life Eats
Homemade Creme de Menthe - Boulder Locavore

If you feel like living on the edge, check back as the week goes on.  I have at least 1, and possibly 2 more homemade gift ideas for you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

{Homemade Christmas Gifts!} - Part 3 - Homemade Peppermint Schnapps

For the third installment of homemade Christmas gifts, I bring you homemade peppermint schnapps.  Schnapps always makes me think of "The Backwards Episode" from Seinfeld.  Haven't seen it?  Go watch it.  You'll thank me.

You'll need:

2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tbs peppermint extract
1 handle (1/2 gallon) vodka

Create a simple syrup by first boiling the water.  Once boiling, add the sugar and stir fairly continuously.  Allow it to come to a boil again and stir for a minute or so longer.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.  Add the peppermint extract and continue to cool until it comes to room temperature.

Combine the vodka and simple syrup.  Voila: homemade peppermint schnapps!

If you can wait, let it hang out and mature for a week or two.

I will be gifting mine, so I poured it into these cute little 8.5 oz swing top bottles and tied some ribbon around the neck.  I was able to get 9 bottles (plus a little extra for me) out of this batch. 

Need some help figuring out what to do with all this schnapps?  Maybe make a cocktail or two.  Here are a few ideas:
The Mint Icicle
White Lightning
Candy Cane Martini
Mint Chip; Peppermint Kiss; Icy Apple Martini

Or you could do what I was planning to do: add a little splash to some hot chocolate (preferably made using some of this homemade hot chocolate mix!).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

{Homemade Christmas Gifts!} - Part 2 - Cookie Mix in a Jar

Cookies in a jar!  Pretty cute, right?  Want to know how to do it, too?  Head on over to Bakerella's blog and check it out!

In the mean time, here are some photos to help you get into the Christmas spirit =).  I took these this weekend while visiting 34th street with friends.