Holidays are long over

I am the woooooooorst.

I baked 5 different types of cookies for Christmas this year, just finished the last of them last week and I got exactly zero pictures of them.

My dad lives in the Mid-West, so my big gift to him every year is a healthy shipment of cookies for the holidays. This year was the most I’ve ever made, and it took me nearly three days to complete all the cookies.

Everyone else in my family gets in on the cookies, including boo thang’s parents in Florida. I even made a few wheat-free cookies since finding out this year my brother is allergic to wheat! He shouldn’t be excluded from Christmas baked goods, and I found some of Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour on sales (50% off!) I decided to make TWO different baked goods without wheat!

Here are the 5 cookies I made this year – with reviews, substitutions and successes/failures.

Hershey’s Kisses Peanut Butter Blossoms

 

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Photo from SavorySweetLife

 

These are classics and made per special request by my step-dad. However, I made the first batch and threw it away. I was so disappointed. The dough was so dry and crumbly it would barely stay together when I was adding the kisses. I think the peanut butter I was using was low in oil or something, because I cannot figure out what went wrong! I ended up using this recipe for regular ol’ peanut butter cookies and adding a Hershey’s kiss at the end. All ended well, they were a hit! And no one knew of my failed batch (except boo thang).

Peppermint Brownie Blossoms

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Photo & recipe from Small Town Woman

In a twist on the classic peanut butter blossoms, I found a recipe for a colorful, minty version! With more chocolate! These cookies were amaaaaazing! They were so…soft and creamy? I didn’t know a cookie could be creamy until biting into these babies. There is peppermint in the dough as well as using the peppermint kisses as well.

I also wheat-free’d these! I didn’t have an xantham gum on hand (suggestion per the flour packaging) but they turned out just fine. They weren’t as smooth on the outside, but apparently still tasted great, according to my brother. Win!

Better Crocker Candy Cane Cookies

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Mine didn’t look like this. Photo & recipe from The Kitchen Magpie.

I’m never making these again. My baking skills, as well as my patience, is not extreme enough to ever make these cookies again. The dough falls apart SOOO easily, they take FOREVER to roll out, then as I was forming them, the candy cane shape kept breaking. I ended up doing candy cane sticks, no crook at the end, because I could not get them to stop breaking and looking like absolutely shit.

Tasty, though.

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

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So pretty! Photo & recipe from Clean & Scentsible.

These were my absolute favorite. My advice: read the comments! I found it much easier to roll the dough into a big long log and cut with some dental floss. It kept my cookies perfectly circular. I like that these weren’t too sweet and I was able to use different color sugar flakes on the edges to make them festive and colorful. These were my favorite discovery this year and I will absolutely make them in the future. I don’t know if everyone else has my same love of red velvet… but I don’t really care. They’re tasty, a gift and I enjoy eating them. I’m assuming everyone else will enjoy eating them, too.

Funfetti Shortbread Bites

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So adorable! Photo & recipe from Cooking Classy.

Obviously, these aren’t cookies, but I still made them as a holiday baked goodie gift. These were also SUPER SIMPLE to make wheat free. I did have a slight problem with them burning on the bottom but still not quite being cooked. They tasted fine, but weren’t as pretty as Cooking Classy’s adorable little bites. I’m not sure if I should have cooked them higher or lower in my oven, because regardless of my pan color (dark or light) they still burned. I also had a slight problem with spreading, but not too bad. I *might* make these again, they were still very cute.

I will probably make the red velvet ones for myself throughout the year because I LOVE them – they would probably be really fun to make for 4th of July as well! Just add blue sprinkles around the outside and *boom* Independence day ready. I still have some other things to work through but hopefully I can find some more delightfully adorable and delicious recipes for next year!

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup with Poblano Peppers

This autumn is looking GREAT in the Pacific Northwest. Why? Because it’s supposed to be cooler and wetter than normal, and I am a HUGE fan of that. The rain doesn’t get me down, it just make me snuggly. I snuggle with boo thang, snuggle with the cats and snuggle up to some tasty soup!

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My poblano peppers were starting to get a little scary, so my solution was some chicken tortilla soup. The chicken in my freezer has poor texture when thawed, a nice sign that it’s filled with water, so I paid way more for it than I should have. Thanks, water weight chicken. Shredded chicken hides that pesky little problem. Also, while making this, I thought the package had two chicken breasts in it. Nope, it was one MONSTER chicken breast. Basically I bought this chicken while I was frantically speed shopping before a camping trip, it didn’t get used so it ended up in the freezer. I’ll never buy this brand of chicken again!

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So many pretty colors!

For the most part, this is a nice, straight-forward recipe, but it does take a little time, even thought it’s a slow-cooker “set it and forget it” recipe. You can always buy tortilla chips, but I like seasoning mine, which add another half hour or so to the prep time.

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As it happened, my brother ended up coming over for lunch after I made it so I had a guinea pig other than boo thang to test my food on. He gave it two thumbs up, but he’s a college student and it was free, so ya know, take that review with a grain of salt!

RECIPE: Serves 4 – 6 

4 – 5 small poblano chili peppers

2 chicken breasts, whole

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can petit diced tomatoes, with juice

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

6 cups of vegetable -or- chicken broth

2 T chili powder

Salt & pepper

For Tortilla Ribbons

4 – 5 corn torillas, cut into 1/4 in thick ribbons

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

salt & pepper

  1. Blister the poblanos. Cut poblanos in half and remove seeds. Place peppers on a baking sheet, insides down and coat with olive oil. Broil on high until the skin is blistering and browning. Keep a close eye on it!
  2. Once the peppers have blistered, let cool. Remove waxy skins and cut into squares/cubes
  3. Add chicken, poblanos, bell pepper, tomatoes (including tomato juice from the can), corn, black beans, onion, garlic chili powder and salt and pepper to crock pot. Cover with broth, about 6 cups. Cook on high for about 4 hours.
  4. While the soup cooks, make your tortilla ribbons. Preheat oven to 425. Toss olive oil, seasonings and tortillas together. Spread on a baking sheet so it is mostly just one layer, with a little overlapping of tortillas as possible. Bake for 5 minutes, flip the tortillas over with a spatula, and cook for about another 5 minutes, until crisp but not burned. Keep a close eye on the tortillas after you flip them.
  5. After the soup has cooked for a 4 hours, remove and shred. You can use forks if you’d like, but a pro tip is dropping it into your KitchenAid with the mixing (not whisk) attachment, it’ll shred the chicken in about a minute. No fuss! Return shredded chicken to crock pot and cook an additional 15-30 minutes.
  6. I had a whole mess of garnishes. Sour cream, limes, avocado, sliced jalapeños, and obviously the tortilla ribbons. Add what you’d like and enjoy!

 

Recipe: Sunbasket’s Green Curry Shrimp with Pan Seared Bok Choy

I apologize in advanced, I don’t really have any pictures of this recipe, but I thought it was important to share my experience here.

Why?

Well, you’ve seen my Blue Apron posts, right? Sunbasket is their competitor who, in addition to just super tasty foods with exactly the right amount of ingredients, also ships paleo/gluten-free recipes. They ship everything in compostable paper (a main gripe of mine with BA), the ingredients are organic and, unfortunately, they are also a more expensive service. I thought it was only fair to test out the competition.

Also, this recipe calls for 3 of the things from my Full Circle bag this week! I also happened to have EVERYTHING on hand for this recipe. Green curry? Check. Shrimp? Check (holla out to frozen shrimp!). Coconut milk? Check. Also crimini mushrooms, baby bok choy and a shallot from my  Full Circle basket this week.

The only thing I’d change about this recipe is the baby bok choy. Now I LOVE baby bok choy. My favorite baby bok choy is from Ding Tai Fung. I have *almost* figured out how to make it exactly the same at home, but it’s not quite there yet. When I figure it out, I’ll post the recipe. In the recipe I did here, I didn’t cook the bok choy long enough, so the ends were a little rough and boo thang was NOT HAPPY about it. He isn’t as fond of the baby bok choy as I am.

Remember when I made the Crispy Catfish from Blue Apron? The un-credited star of that dish was the lime zest rice. So while this recipe didn’t call for rice, I did make a side of the lime zest rice as well, just put the rice on after you put your first round of bok choy in the pan. Make rice as you would usually, but add the zest of half a lime when it’s finished. KAPOW! You have some tasty-ass rice to go with your curry.

Since I did modify this recipe a bit, we ended up with three servings, which was fine with boo thang, he took it for lunch the next day.

Check out the original recipe.

RECIPE – Serves 3 (unintentionally)

6 heads of baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise

1-1/2 cups frozen tiny shrimp, thawed

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 medum/large zucchini, cubed

6-8 crimini mushrooms, cut into quarters

3/4 cup jasmine rice

2 T green curry

1 can full fat coconut milk

1 lime, with half of the peel zested

1/3 cup cashews

Sesame oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Mix cashews, some salt and oil well in a baking dish. Broil on hi for 3 – 5 minutes, or until cashews are a medium brown. Let cook and roughly chop.
  2. In a non-stick pan, heat sesame oil to medium-hi. Add bok choy, cut side down, to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned. Cook in batches of about 3-4 halves. Put aside in a warm place.
  3. While the bok choy is cooking, start your rice. We did 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup rice, but I’d recommend actually only doing 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup water.
  4. Once all the bok choy is done, using the same pan, heat some more sesame oil. Add shallot and cook until sot. Add the green curry paste, cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add your mushrooms and zucchini and cook until almost soft.
  5. Add your coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer about 5 minutes, until vegetables are fully soft. Add shrimp last, since it is already cooked, it just needs to warm up. If it is cooked too long, they’ll shrink and be a funky texture. Don’t do that.
  6. By now your rice should be done (about 15 minutes), so add the zest of half a lime and fluff with a fork. Divide between two dishes for serving.
  7. Before plating, squeeze the juice of the whole lime into the curry and stir. Promptly serve over the rice, then add your still warm baby bok choy to the mix. Top it all off with the roasted cashews.
  8. Garnish! This dish wasn’t too spicy, so we added some garlic chili sauce, it was a great addition. You could also add cilantro, basil or some extra lime. Enjoy!

Full Circle: November 4

I opened up my door this morning to go grab my bag and WHAT someone brought it straight to my door! It’s the little things that make your day, right?

The only thing really grabbing my attention in this bag is the red cabbage. Now, I’m pretty lukewarm on red cabbage. First off, it should be called purple cabbage, look at that thing! Second, it’s a pretty strong flavored cabbage so I find it a little harder to work with. Third, I don’t want to eat coleslaw when it is this cold outside! I’m gonna have go dig into my German roots for some recipes for this one.

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What’s in the bag?

Left to right: Red (purple) cabbage, crimini mushroom, kiwis, cucumber, garnet yams, radishes and leaf lettuce (?). Not pictured: Jonagold Apples, because for some reason I put those away before taking a picture.

The “leaf lettuce”was already a bit wilty when I pulled it out of the bag. Sad lettuce. So that will have to be used this weekend. I’m thinking about pulling out my fancy grilled cheese sandwich cook book… To be continued!

Recipe: Autumn Veggie Bowl with Delicata Squash and Kale

Ho. Lee. Butts.

This is a delicious fall meal. I used mostly my Full Circle ingredients from this week to make this super tasty lunch bowl. I had one fairly small delicata squash, a bunch of kale and an inspiration from a recipe I found on Yummly.

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All the foods, ready to assemble!

While this isn’t 100% my own, I altered the recipe and made it myself (while cleaning my kitchen, it was a tricky situation for a minute!).

This also uses my absolutely favorite way to make kale. My old roommate would make kale this way – I didn’t know it could be this good! It opened my eyes to using kale more often as a simple side dish. Lemony garlicky perfection.

The delicata squash caramelizes on one side, it ends up being a fairly sweet dish and so, so good. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Delicata squash, yummmmm

RECIPE – Serves 2

1 small delicata squash, cut into 1/2 in rounds

4 leaves of curly kale, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup basmati rice

1 T tumeric

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp Paprika

1/2 lemon

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. On a medium baking sheet, combine some oil, delicata squash rounds, making sure they’re completely coated. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook (do not turn!) for 35-40 minutes.
  3. While the squash is making magic happen, in a medium (or small) pot, heat up a smidge (less than a tablespoon) of oil. Add 1/2 of the garlic, cooking until it is just brown. Add the basmati rice, heat through, about 1 minute. Add a cup of water and the tumeric. Stir for a hot second and cover. When the water start to boil, turn down the heat so it simmers (keeping covered) until rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. With about 7-10 minutes, start making your kale. In a non-stick pan, add about a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add kale and cook till fragrant. Add kale and salt and pepper. I keep this at medium instead of medium-high heat so my kale doesn’t burn. When the kale is nice and wilty, squeeze 1/2 lemon over, stir quickly and remove from heat.
  5. Your squash, rice and kale should all finish about the same time. Split everything between two dishes and enjoy nice and warm!

Full Circle: October 28th

Mmmmmm, squaaaaaash.

Sorry for the super late post! Halloween weekend got the best of me. I went out as Cat Nap Woman on Friday then ended up with a stomach bug Saturday – Monday, so this is a wee bit behind.

I got  little extra extra in my bag this week though! I accidentally got some sweet potatoes. They were not listed on my sheet, but I was still happy to see ’em – I had a little squee of glee!

Unfortunately it was *actually*sunny out today, so my photo is a little washed out, I’m sorry!

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What’s in the bag?

Left to right: Curly kale, delicata squah, purple potatoes, persimmons, carrots, Honeycrisp apples, bonus sweet potatoes and spinach.

I love squash, but I’ll probably have to eat it all myself. My boo thang doesn’t really like squash and he’s eaten it… a lot more than he’d like this fall. Looks like I’ll have to use that for some lunch.

Purple potatoes! I love my potatoes with a bunch of color! If I had kids, I probably make them purple potatoes all the time. They’re like regular potatoes but fun colored!

The persimmons are still a bit firm, so they’ll have to ripen up a touch before I can use them. Boo thang has eaten persimmonsn(from his grandma’s garden… can’t beat that) but I still am just a bit perplexed with the orange tomato lookin’ thing.

My last thought: Honeycrisp and Pink Lady apples are my favorite, so I’ll definitely just eat these babies plain, right down to the core, like a true Washingtonian.

Keep your eyes out for how I use these bad boys!

Blue Apron Review: Crispy Catfish with Yellow Curry and Bird’s Eye Chile Sauce

Mmmmm I love curry, I was so looking forward to this dinner! I was tasked with the catfish dish this week because last time partner made a catfish Blue Apron meal he claimed it was “nerve-wracking,” so I took point on this fishy recipe.

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Sorry I did a shit job of putting things on the table, but can you spot the chili?

This recipe is pretty straight forward, it’s delightfully browned catfish with a thick curry served over lime rice with a spicy ponzu sauce.

First, the chili they gave us WAS SO TINY! Not including the stem, the chili wasn’t much longer than my fingernail – and I have pretty tiny hands. We like the heat in this house, so I really wish they gave us a bigger Bird’s Eye Chili.

I also had some mixed feelings about using powdered coconut milk. I should have just scrapped it and used the coconut milk I had on hand, but that’s not how most people experience this recipe. Also, I would have ended up with a 1/4 cup of powdered coconut milk and nothing to use it on. The end result: it made the curry SUUUUUUUPER thick and was incredibly difficult to get the powder to fully incorporate into the water. I did not achieve success there, I still had a few lumps after whisking it FOREVER. I kept going back to it, trying to get the chunks out with no success.

This recipe did make me realize I need to use rice flour to coat my pan fried foods more often – its light, doesn’t get lumpy as easily as regular flour and still gives a delightful crisp.

My biggest gripe with this was the curry! My curry was basically a gelatinous kale blob. I cooked it for less time than it called for, as well as used more liquid… I’m blaming that damn coconut milk powder #neveragain

A tasty surprise and best part was the side that didn’t make it into the title: lime rice. It isn’t lime juice rice, but lime zest rice, with a pinch of salt. It was SO GOOD and I think I’ll use this as as my main type of rice to serve with curries as most South Asian curries are served with lime and this rice just adds a bit of a citrus kick.

Side-note: I’ve never cooked catfish outside of a Blue Apron recipe. My mom and brother hate catfish because of the “distinct” flavor, but I haven’t had a recipe yet that makes me balk at finishing the fish. In this case, we served the ponzu sauce over the fish, and BOOM a little chili pepper, salt and the fishy, funky flavor is controlled!

As usual, the serving size was a bit larger than necessary, less rice would fix that. The amount of curry the recipe yielded was smaller than anticipated, so there was some extra rice that was left un-curried.

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Forgot to take a proper meal photo, but see what I mean…the curry is weird and chunky and there is too much rice!

Get the recipe and instructions here. All the Blue Apron recipes are on their site.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Have you made this recipe before? Let me know what issues you ran into while making it – or if you’ve solved any of mine!

This post was not endorsed by Blue Apron in any way, I’m just a big fan!