K: 12 Days of Cookies – Ginger-Pear Bites

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any pears when making the first Christmas cookie, but substituting a Honeycrisp apple was equally delicious!  Since my apple was fresh, I didn’t boil it in the water before mixing it into the dough.  The results were a little bit messy, but very tasty!

Apple Ginger Bites

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K: Twelve Days of Cookies!

November’s Daring Baker’s challenge was to make cookies based on the twelve days of Christmas.  Our host was Peta of Peta Eats, and I have to say that she created an impressive spread of cookies:

See? Deliciousness!

Anyways, November was surprisingly busy for me (between flying out to CA to walk a half marathon with my mom and hosting a delicious Thanksgiving dinner for friends, on top of all of my normal graduate research and school), so there was not that much time for baking.  Now that December is here, it’s time to actually tackle some of these cookies.  (And no, I don’t suddenly have more time to bake, but it’s Advent, and Christmas cookies were a long-standing tradition with my dad, so it’s happening.  Bam!)

Every other day in December (starting tomorrow, and ending on Christmas), I’ll be posting a new delicious Christmas cookie.  They will be (roughly) themed with the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song that everyone loves to hate, but makes for an excellent set of themed cookies!  I hope you enjoy the ride of the cookies and baked goods, and that some of these make their way into your repertoire this Christmas!

2012 Cookie Roundup:

Day 1: Ginger-Pear Bites

Day 2: Chocolate-Caramel Turtle Bars

Day 3: French Sables

Day 4: Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies

Day 5: Piped Shortbread Rings

Day 6: German Lebkucken

Day 7: Seven Layer Cookies

Day 8: Foaming Milk Cookies

Day 9: Lady Fingers

Day 10: Gingerbread Lords

Day 11: Pipers Brown Butter Shortbread

Day 12: Filled Chocolate Cookies

D: Thanksgiving Recap

Since this is a food blog, and presumably you are reading because you want to know about food, and because Thanksgiving is traditionally a time when you eat food, I thought I’d do a recap of what we had:

Startin on the left, in counter-clockwise order: shrimp and scallop ceviche, papas rellenas, fried plantains (chopped and fried in olive oil and brown sugar), and Empanadas (personal-sized instead of pie-sized; cook for about 20 minutes). For dessert, we had delicious spiced chocolate pudding:

Now, I know haters gonna hate, but this actually is a traditional thanksgiving dinner. The papas rellenas had ground turkey, cranberries, and mashed potatoes in them; the fried plantains are basically the same thing as candied yams, and the empanadas had a spinach stuffing, which is just like green bean casserole. So there!

(I did have the brilliant idea of attempting to come up with the craziest, yet still delicious, ways to combine traditional Thanksgiving ingredients into a non-traditional meal. Next year, perhaps?)

(I also have to say that I don’t like turkey all that much, so I’m not interested in making it myself. Also, Mark Bittman agrees with me:

…although the [turkey] in its wild form may be traditional and is indisputably indigenous, whether the one you buy is free-range, wild, natural, organic, pumped up with antibiotics or even injected with “butter,” it’s just about the worst piece of meat you can roast.


Anyways, I’m not going to post a big long “making-of” post, because most of this stuff we’ve done before, the plantains are easy, and I didn’t make the pudding so I don’t have the recipe. But I’ll put some pictures of the process below the fold for y’all:

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K: Happy Thanksgiving!

As is traditional for us, we’re doing a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner:

Papas Rellenas, Ceviche, Empanadas, and Pudding.   (Hey, we’re using ground turkey in the papas!)


I hope you’re all having a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that it’s a time of relaxation, fellowship, and delicious food!

What’s on your menu?

K: Indian-Spiced Bean and Tomato Soup


It’s soup week (as evidenced by D’s colorful guest post)!  I wanted to play along on our own blog, so I’m including Tuesday’s soup.  It’s a Martha Stewart recipe, and it could have been even more delicious (I didn’t fully cook the beans – whoops), but the flavors are awesome, and I would definitely recommend it!

Indian-Spiced Bean and Tomato Soup

Prep time:
20 mins
Cook time:
20 mins
40 mins
Serves: 4-6


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3/4 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 dashes ground ginger (or 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger, if you can find it)
  • 2 chiles, shopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 can (29 oz) peeled plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
  • 4 cups cooked beans, plus 2 cups cooking liquid
  • Yogurt to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 8 minutes. Add ginger, chiles, and spices, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and beans along with their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened (10-20 minutes).
  3. Coarsely mash a third of the beans in pot.
  4. Top with yogurt, and serve!


K: Daring Bakers – Mille-Feuille

Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

This was a delicious challenge, even if my final product wasn’t quite a traditional mille feuille.  I was surprised by how easy it was to make a puff pastry that was delicious and flaky, but I could definitely see making this again!

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K: Pots de Crème

Last week we had the opportunity to have dinner with some good friends.  I’m always impressed by how decadent the desserts and the appetizers are when we go to their house, and I wanted to try to create something equally rich and delicious.

Although my trust source of Martha wasn’t quite up to the challenge, Sunset magazine had a delicious pots de crème recipe that looked perfect.  And I think it came out pretty well – we described it as crème brûlée, except with chocolate, and slightly creamier.

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D: How to Fix a Gross Dinner

Don’t throw it in the trash, rename it!

… Instead of a culinary masterpiece, I was left with a soupy pot of pale duck bobbing under a slick of its own liquefied fat. Had the same thing happened to me today, I would have simply changed the name of the dish to “duck confit with potatoes and olives.” If people were expecting that layer of fat, it wouldn’t have bothered them. Or if I wanted to get fancy, I could translate the whole thing into French.

I’ll have to remember this technique. What’s that? Your steak has the consistency of a hockey puck? That’s not steak — it’s charred blackened hunk of cow. You’ll eat it all, and you’ll like it, dagnabit!