Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Whiskey Apple Soda

'Twas the week of Thanksgiving and I'm not with my I'm drinking to dull the pain. Just kidding! I was browsing the Williams-Sonoma website for Thanksgiving recipe ideas and came across the Whiskey Apple Cider recipe. It included Bourbon (JJ's favorite) and Ginger Beer (my favorite) so I declared it the Official Cocktail of Thanksgiving 2013. Of course I had to test it out first just to be sure, and it's a winner! The bourbon is a bit strong but I always find bourbon to be strong. I diluted mine a bit with the ginger beer and loved it. I think this would also be a nice punch option if diluted a bit as well for a Fall party.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving. If you want to follow my cooking you can get updates on twitter (@veggieash) and instagram (@ashmelzorn) where I've been posting some recipe trials as well as my NaNoWriMo updates - I won!

Whisky Apple Soda

 Ice as needed
2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz apple juice/cider
1/2 oz. ginger beer
1 oz. soda water

Fill a shaker with ice, add bourbon, apple juice and ginger beer.
Shake well for 5 seconds, strain into a glass.
Top with soda water and serve immediately. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs

When I looked in the Thanksgiving grocery store circular there was an ad on the front page - 10lb. bags of Idaho Potatoes for $.99! It took everything in me to not buy ten bags, I can't pass up a good deal! I'm usually one to spend a bit more on Yukon Golds (my favorite) or small red potatoes but I've been trying to give the Russet some love. I've been reading more and more about the benefits of potatoes, even white potatoes. While we still love and eat sweet potatoes/yams often, I'm trying to incorporate more regular potatoes into our diet.

I stumbled across this recipe on the Cooking Light website and thought it would be a nice lighter meal as we gear up for Thanksgiving. The recipe calls for frozen shredded potatoes but that's not happening! I also skipped on the turnip just because I had so many potatoes to use. I cooked the eggs almost entirely through as we're not drippy yolk fans but other than that made the recipe as written. The only change I would make is to use a larger, more shallow pan to maximize crisp crust.

Rosti Casserole with Baked Eggs

10 oz. low-fat Greek yogurt (I use Fage 2% plain)
2 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
5 oz. grated Gruyere cheese
1 tbsp melted butter
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
2.5 lbs. fresh shredded potatoes (I shredded them directly into a colander, added a pinch of salt, tossed and squeezed out the moisture) or 1 30 oz. package of frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
8 large eggs
1-2 tsp Fresh or dried chives

Preheat oven to 400*
Combine yogurt and flour in a large mixing bowl, whisk well. 
Add Gruyere, butter, chives, salt, black pepper and nutmeg, whisk well. 
Add potatoes and fold until they are well coated in the yogurt mixture.
Spread evenly into a 13x9 baking dish (or larger if you want more crisp edges).
Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubble.
Remove from oven, use a spoon to create 8 divots and crack an egg into each divot.
Return to oven and bake for another 10-20 minutes, until eggs are cooked to desired doneness.
Sprinkle with fresh pepper and more chives.
Serve immediately. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baked Samosas

I love Indian food but hate paying for take out. I've been trying more and more to make it at home but it never tastes quite as authentic. Sometimes I think my 'make your own take-out' meals aren't *as* good because I don't use butter/oil/sugar with reckless abandon the way restaurants do. My absolute favorite Indian appetizer is the Samosa. Generally they're fried dough pockets full of curried potatoes, peas and onion and they're served with a chutney of some sort. These are of course healthified by using wonton wrappers and baking rather than frying the samosas. However they still have the same delicious flavor and crunch of their less-healthy original version. 
 made a simple pear-raisin chutney and would have preferred something not so chunky. A sweet chutney condiment definitely lessens the heat and saltiness of these and adds a nice balance. I used large wonton wrappers but you could also make these bite-sized for appetizers and go with the small squares.  

Baked Samosas
adapted from Foodtv

2 large Idaho Russet potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice 
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. frozen peas
1" square nub of fresh grated ginger root
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. spicy curry powder
1/4 c. cilantro leaves, minced
1 package wonton wrappers

Mango, Date, Pear or Tamarind Chutney, if desired

Preheat oven to 400*
Wash and dry potatoes, pierce with a fork and wrap in aluminum foil.
Bake until cooked through, about 60 minutes.
Cool, peel and discard skins, then dice potatoes (they'll crumble some, it's ok), add to a large mixing bowl
Heat a skillet over medium, add oil, onions and garlic. 
Saute for 5 minutes, until softened, add cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, curry powder and peas.
Pour into mixing bowl with potatoes and gently toss to combine. 
Lay wonton wrappers out on a dry surface, keep a small bowl of water closeby
Add 1/4 c. spoonfuls to the wonton, then use finger to paint water around the edges, fold over and close.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
When you're finished with all samosas, place in the oven and bake for 10-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. 
Serve immediately. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pimento Cheese Layered Cornbread

After recently making the Mexican Layered Cornbread I've been playing around with the method to make a few varieties. One of my favorite easy weeknight dinners is black-eyed peas in the crock pot with cornbread and a vegetable. To give this cornbread recipe a southern flair, I came up with a pimento cheese type filling. This cornbread was so delicious, we devoured it. I can't wait to come up with many more!

Pimento Cheese Layered Cornbread
adapted from Food Network

1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
2 tbsp. baking powder
2/3 c. milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. honey
1 14 oz. can creamed corn
1/2 c. corn kernels (defrosted, if frozen)
1/2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c. grated Monterrey cheese
1 c. pimentos or minced roasted red peppers
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350*
Grease a 8"x8" square or 10" round pan, set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, salt, yogurt and honey.
Add flour, cornmeal and baking powder.
Fold in creamed corn and corn kernels.
Pour 2/3 of the mixture into the pan, spread in an even layer.
Toss pimentos with cayenne and lemon juice.
Top with the cheddar and pimento mixture, then add remaining batter, spread evenly over top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden on top and a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve warmed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Curried Pumpkin Soup

This November marks my third attempt at NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write 50,000 words of nonfiction during the month of November. That averages out to 1,666 words a day. I am up to 34,000 words right now with 20 days to go so I'm in great shape. This is why I am able to blog. It's been quiet since November started around here and that's my reason! I did "win" in 2010 and got to about 20,000 words last year before I fizzled out. 

It's an interesting concept to write a novel alongside 200,000 strangers. Many of them become virtual friends when it's over (or real friends if you go to a city write-in event). I just hope and pray that when November ends and my novel is ready for my first revision the nightly dreams about my characters end. I thought pregnancy dreams were vivid and non-stop - they were nothing compared to this! I'm happy to share my writing with anyone who'd like to constructively criticize, so shoot me an email if you're interested :) 

This soup powered me through a solid two hours of writing, it's so simple but full of flavor with some delicious spice and heat. It's also light and healthy so I didn't feel so guilty dunking my cheesy cornbread into it (recipe will be up next!). An option to make this a velvety smooth soup is to puree it, but I liked the little bits of texture and color. I added to this as I went along so I encourage you to do the same, start cautiously with the spices and add more as you please. 

Curried Pumpkin Soup
Veggie by Season original

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 c. vegetable stock
1 28 oz. can pumpkin puree
1/4 c. split red lentils
Kosher salt 
Black pepper
1-3 tsp. curry powder (I use the spicy kind of World Market)
1/2-1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe's)
1/4 c. roasted pumpkin seeds toasted with a sprinkle of curry powder

Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. 
Add olive oil, onion, carrots and garlic. 
Season with kosher salt and black pepper, stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock, pumpkin, lentils, 1 tsp. curry powder and 1/2 tsp. pie spice, stir and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, taste and add more curry, pie spice and salt/pepper as needed.
Ladle into a bowl and top with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Cilantro

As I said in my recent Brussels Sprouts post, I've been working my way through many of the delicious looking recipes in the November Everyday Magazine issue. There are many foods that Violet has loved one day and hated the next, but sweet potatoes have always been a trusty fall-back food for me. I was worried she might not like the cilantro mixed in with the potatoes, but she gobbled it right up. The lime zest and juice adds a great brightness and the cranberries are plump and sweet from the cooking method. I think next time I make this I might actually use fresh cranberries, but if they're out of season, dry are fine. We all loved this dish, and it might end up making it back to our Thanksgiving table! 

Thanks to all who entered the give-away, our winner is Carrie. Please email me at 

Sweet Potatoes with Cilantro and Cranberries

2/3 c. dried cranberries
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. sugar (omitted with dried cranberries, would use with fresh)
1 tsp. lime zest
3 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes cut in 3/4" cubes
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp. ground  cumin
Salt and pepper
1/4 c. chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 450*
In a small saucepan, bring cranberries, lime juice, sugar and 1/4 c. water to a boil, add zest and cover, remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, coriander, cumin and 3 tbsp. olive oil, toss to coat potatoes. 
Spread on a large sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes.
Pour cranberry mixture on potatoes, toss to coat.
Roast for another 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
Remove from heat and toss with cilantro, serve.