The great turkey experiment of 2013

When it comes to Thanksgiving, I’m a dreamer in theory and a traditionalist in practice. I spend the first weeks of November imagining all kinds of possibilities, and this year at least, filing them on Pinterest.

But when it comes down to the day-of, I stick to what I know which is what we all know from way back when – the cornbread, the sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and the big ole Norman Rockwell turkey.

Spoiler: it all came out awesome.

That’s where things went differently this year: the turkey. After doing this the expat way for years here in Israel, we discussed trying something new. Our Thanksgiving dinner invitation list has shrunk since the kids, and we end up wasting much of the turkey – namely, dark meat.

This year, we ordered the whole turkey – which is expensive in Israel, no ‘free turkey with your purchase!’ – but hacked off the thighs, legs and wings before preparing. They went straight into the freezer to be used for soups (mmm… winter’s coming).

I was a little worried it would affect flavor, but with the white meat still on the frame, I was promised by the internet it would be ok. While I was at it, I figured, my disfigured turkey may as well cook flipped – breast down – which I never normally do for the classic turkey effect.

Result? Totally. Worth it. No basting required – though I did once out of habit. It cooked for about 3 hours down in its own bed of olive oil, water, celery, onion, garlic and spice juice, and then another 40 minutes breast-up to brown it.

If you can get past looks, you can make yourself a kick-ass white meat turkey and later on, some kick-ass turkey-based soup.

By the way, I’m taking a percentage of credit for, after 4 or 5 years, finally influencing the acceptance that people in my neighborhood order whole turkeys from our supermarket enough to require a sign:

Made doughnuts. Ate doughnuts. Feeling appropriately smug.

I’ve felt a need to make doughnuts for the last month. I guess chodesh Kislev will do that to ya.

Kept it simple though… after spending too much time drooling on Pinterest, I googled ‘simple doughnut recipe’ and found this: Applesauce Doughnuts.

They were actually super easy to make. The lesson learned was not to have the oil heat too quickly. The outsides fried so fast that for a few of the doughnuts, the insides were still raw when we broke them open.

I would totally do this again. The recipe made about two dozen of these guys, and they are small enough to eat one or two and not feel horrible about yourself.

The time I hacked together chocolate crinkle caramel cream cookies.

This post is clearly brought to you by the letter C.

Here’s what I was trying to make:

Right?! ‘Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

WhatEVER fancy cookie bakers. Here’s what actually happened.

I got swept away in the need to make these cookies right now. The problem with that is you tend to lack 1. ingredients and 2. time. The one thing I needed was the caramel chews (also the course sea salt but I figured I could live without it the first time even if it sounds DELICIOUS). I did not have any handy and neither did my local supermarket, so I bought caramel cream; the kind of crap that they stuff sufganiyot with. It had to do.

Also, the lack of time, had to deal. I knew I wouldn’t be able to put the batter, if sticky, in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour as instructed. With that information handy and totally ignored, I got started.

As far as ingredients, here’s the list:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – yep
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder – yep
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder – yep
  • 1/4 tsp salt – yep
  • 10 tbsp salted butter, softened – yep
  • 1 cup granulated sugar – yep
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar – yep
  • 2 large eggs – yep
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract – yep
  • 2 dozen caramels (such as Kraft) or Rolos, unwrapped – NOPE.
  • coarse sea salt – NOPE.
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar – yep

It makes a ton of batter – the original recipe says two dozen cutie crinkle cookies! The original recipe, which you should definitely check out, also gives a lot of info about being smart when making these cookies.

However, since my batter turned out sticky, I didn’t have time, and only attempted a 15-minute freezer break, I just went for it.

Which meant I ended up with these globs of chocolate caramel goo:

Extremely unattractive. But they had potential, I promise. I sprinkled some powdered sugar in a flurried hurry and shoved them in the oven:

Unbaked cookie batter versions may appear MUCH SMALLER than they actually were.

And then a funny thing happened. THEY CAME OUT ENORMOUS:

You see the texture on that baby?

And then when I opened one, here’s how that went down (my face):

Well, it’s alright. I was close enough in that I did indeed stuff them in my mouth as fast as possible.

Thank you, Cooking Classy bakestress!

Note: One thing about using caramel cream instead of caramels is that it doesn’t harden after baked. So there’s an advantage to consider. 

And then I blew my kitchen’s mind: Chocolately chocolate cake with ICING!

Felt it was important to update the universe on the following big baking news from my kitchen; even if baking comes easy to you, when I bake I’m like a kid in a finger paint factory crossed with a panicked dog when its owner leaves the house (does that even make sense?).

Point is, I took it up a notch in my most recent venture and made ICING. Uh huh.

I wanted to surprise the huz since yesterday was his last exam for this round of insurance agent licensing courses of evil and I haven’t really seen him much in the last 5 months since they started. I was pretty sure he still likes cake so the kids and I went in that direction.

It’s a from-scratch chocolately chocolate cake recipe passed to me from a friend which is actually fairly easy and realistic (meaning you can easily have/acquire the ingredients): Hershey’s ‘Perfectly Chocolate’ Chocolate Cake recipe. I didn’t use any Hershey’s ingredients but I sincerely thank them for the inspiration.

Really wasn’t hard to do though prep time always takes me longer than it probably does normal people. My oven also cooks slower. Also I’m slower. Kid in a finger paint factory. So it all probably took, from start to finish, an hour and a half.

Notes:

  • Instead of the fancy double layered cake there, I did a small pan cake plus a dozen cupcakes. Plenty of cake to go around. I’m actually freezing the cupcakes.
  • It’s dairy but can easily not be though I imagine you end up lacking something.
  • It makes a generous amount of icing since I didn’t do the round double layered version.
  • I only did >2 cups of powdered sugar in the icing; it seemed ridiculous to do more than that. I also cut the 2 cups for the cake down to give or take 1.5.
  • It’s a very rich cake. Actually delicious. Since I usually make 15 minute mixes.
  • Have plenty of napkins ready for the cute (underage) chocolate faces.

Do it!

How to make homemade chai latte (‘winter’s coming’ edition)

So after yesterday’s mixed berry chocolate chip cookie goodness, today I decided we needed to kick off winter with a new hot drink. (The sky agreed because it’s dark and grey and I’m pretty sure we heard thunder.)

In the past we did a ghetto chai latte with a chai tea bag and some warm milk. But I’ve grown up since then.

Presenting… my first totally homemade chai latte!

If you want a more detailed shpiel, check this: How to make chai latte, step by step

The whole thing took about ten minutes. My quick recipe, with a couple modifications:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tea bags (I used black tea)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4-1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/4-1/8 tsp cardamon (I didn’t have this but it was still tasty)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (note: I did this as per the original recipe, but it ended up too sweet for me… next time I’d do half the sugar)
  • 2.5 cups milk

In a small pot, I added the water and spices and boiled for five minutes. I actually included the sugar in that step but the original recipe says to add it after (oops). Then the milk, and then it all happens fast so stay on top of it.

We used a French press to clean the tea so that the extra bits of spice stay out of the end drink.

It made four tea cups worth, which was enough for the whole fam. Kid-friendly process and they loved drinking it, too.

Ok, winter, we’re ready.

 

Mixed berry + chocolate chip cookies are in my kitchen right now

This morning I felt a wave of need-to-create energy crash over me and because all the other DIY projects I’m pumped about starting require getting out of my house and buying materials, I decided baking something new would be part of that.

My freezer is currently stocked with kilos of frozen berries so I took that direction and googled and found this.

Inspired, but I altered a bit since it’s mixed berries and I prefer brown chocolate to white chocolate (seriously, who doesn’t?!).

So…

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven. Fluffed the butter + sugar. Added eggs and vanilla. Added flour/baking powder. Added the chocolate chips, mixed, and then added berries.

It was super quick and I actually used a hand mixer – whoa!

Super quick Nutella cupcakes

Inspired by Pamela’s promises of how easy it would be, we tried out these Nutella cupcakes to celebrate abba’s unbirthday. (Kids + easy cupcake recipe + abba not home = it’s abba’s birthday!)

Essentially Nutella replaces a boxed brownie mix, except slightly cheaper and more Nutella-y.

Super simple instructions:

  • 10 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (280 grams) of Nutella

Mix, dump in cupcake holders or cake pan, bake for +/- 30 minutes. Makes 12.

Delicious!

 

The time I made muffins! Sweet Potato Banana CHOCOLATE CHIP Muffins!

Oven disco!When a lazy person loves muffins, and has a motivated friend who loves muffins, amazing things happen. In the mouth.

Yesterday, inspired by a friend who refuses to give up on my baking potential, I made the decision to bake these incredibly simple Sweet Potato Banana Muffins. Except, I realized all too late, I wasn’t prepared… so I made these incredibly simple No Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies instead.

Which should have meant I wasn’t to bake again for another 3 or 4 months. But in a total bakethrough, I went for the muffins today, making this a two-day streak.

For the lazy non-bakers like myself, you’ll need to prep a little in advance to make sure you have sweet potatoes (already baked BEFORE you want to start, right Yesterday Liz?), ripe bananas, and in my case, whole wheat flour (or flour of any kind) in the house.

And, naturally, I did not keep to the recipe completely in that I added chocolate chips. I tend to do that.

So… here’s what I used based on Kristina’s original recipe:

  • 2 chunky sweet potatoes
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (except it spilled and was probably more)
  • 1/2 cup butter/margerine (originally called for coconut oil, but wha-?)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/1/2 -2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Chocolate chips! I chucked in whatever I had left which was 1/3 of a bag. Scientific, I know.

Kristina offers a few other optional ingredients, and I took her up on the vanilla extract. Check the original for the rest of the process. Her recipe’s amounts made about 20+/- smallish muffins. Perfect size for kiddies.

These were great to bake with the kids since it involved a masher. Also, they’re a lot healthier than, say, yesterday’s chocolate chip cookies. Not overly sweet, but the amount of chocolate chips I used was enough to make it awesome with no overkill.

Hello there, delicious breakfast dessert.