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My blog is now located at www.elephanteats.com and is no longer redirected from http://www.elephanteats.wordpress.com!!! If you are seeing this page, YOU ARE ON THE WRONG SITE. Click here to get to the new site.

I moved my blog over to wordpress.org and lost all my readers. Please resign up to receive my blog one of two ways:

1) If you were subscribed my email:

Go to http://www.elephanteats.com and scroll down to the part that says:

“GET ELEPHANTEATS.COM SENT TO YOUR INBOX!” and sign up.

(*note, you must do this even if you received that weird looking new blog post today)

2) If you were “Following” me as a WordPress.com user:

Go to the wordpress.com homepage and log in. Click on the “Read Blogs” tab:

click Edit List:

In the text box at the top of the page, enter http://www.elephanteats.com and click “Follow.”

Now you’ll receive my blog posts by email again!

Sorry for all this annoyance…I’m so frustrated that this happened.

Thanks,

Amy

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Sorry I’m a little late with these cookie recipes. I realize Hannukah is today and Christmas is this weekend, but maybe you’re a baking procrastinator? I hope so. But you see, I’ve been a busy girl. I found my perfect wedding dress this weekend! And I think bridesmaid dresses too…and I picked a florist. I feel very productive 🙂

Anyway, whenever I’m creating my list of cookies/candy that I will be making for my annual holiday cookie-baking, I try to get a good assortment of flavors.

I feel that it’s necessary to have at least one “seasonal” item, like a spice cookie, something fruity, something nutty, and most definitely something chocolate.

I’m a creature of habit when it comes to my cookie-making. Although I love trying new recipes, when it comes to baking the cookies, I don’t usually have the time or energy to try a new recipe and risk it turning out awful.  Because the cookies I’m making this year are mainly just for Nate and a few lucky friends, I figured what the heck!

For the chocolate cookie, I usually default to a recipe my mom discovered a few years back called Chocolate Truffle Cookies. They are even more delicious than their name implies. But since I wanted to branch out a little bit this year, I went with a different cookie I found in my mom’s recipe box called Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

I wasn’t sure what they’d taste like, but the picture on the notecard indicated a pretty presentation. I think I must have made the cookies a bit bigger than intended, because they took longer to cook, but the result was like a crispy, chewy brownie! It’s going to be a tough call deciding whether I should make these again next year or go back to my old favorites. Luckily, I have 365+ days to decide 🙂

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
From my mom’s recipe box

Print this recipe!

makes 4 dozen

2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla
4 egg whites

Sift flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a large bowl

In med sized saucepan, combine chocolate and oil on low heat, stirring frequently until just melted. Remove from heat, let cool slightly.

Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla til well blended. Using whisk, beat in egg whites until no lumps of brown sugar remain.

With spoon, gently stir chocolate into dry ingredients just until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 2 1/2-8 hours until firm.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease pans.

Put remaining confectioner’s sugar in bowl. Dusting hands with additional sugar, roll dough into 1″ balls. Dredge in conf. sugar til heavily coated. Arrange on sheets 1 1/2″ apart. Bake 8-10 min til almost firm when tapped. Let stand 2 min. Transfer to wire rack with spatula.

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I’m really bad at keeping surprises. Obviously, I’d never tell a secret if you told me not to, but when I have a surprise of my own, it’s practically impossible for me to keep my big mouth closed until the secret is properly revealed.

For 3 months I created and tested the perfect recipe to submit to the Pillsbury Bake-off. For another 6 or so months I kept the recipe to myself since the competition wasn’t over til October. I SO wanted to tell you guys what I was up to, but I knew I needed to keep it a surprise until it was finally submitted and judged. I’ve never actually created a recipe from scratch, without basing it on anything. And let me tell you it’s not easy, especially when you have a specific way in your mind that you want it to turn out.

I went through 5 batches of these babies until they came out just right. Nate, poor guy, had to sample every single batch and he probably doesn’t want to eat another one of these again for a really long time.

The recipe, which I gave you a teaser of (although that was batch #1) are for a Butterscotch Rum Banana Spiced Blondie.  I’m not exactly sure how I came up with this idea, but it may be the best one I’ve ever had. The flavors, while seemingly unrelated, go together perfectly. I wanted them to be dense and chewy, and not too cakey but not too moist. I think I finally achieved the right consistency in batch #5.

Everyone who has tasted these has said they’re delicious. But the only people whose opinion I really care about are the Pillsbury judges, being that the grand prize is a cool $1 million.

Unfortunately, I guess those stupid judges weren’t thinking straight on the day they read over my recipe, so alas I was never contacted. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these babies at home. Go make a batch now!

**update since I wrote this post (before I actually published it)- Nate recently requested these last week and I was quite surprised. The last time he ate them was probably 3 or 4 months ago, but after having to taste so many of them I thought it would be at least a year til he wanted them again. That’s a good sign.


Butterscotch Rum Banana Spiced Blondies

Recipe by Me

Print this recipe!

makes 24

11 oz(s) plus 1/2 cup Butterscotch Chips
1.5 cup(s) light brown sugar, packed
10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
3 Tbsp  spiced rum
3 large eggs, beaten
1.5 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1.5 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
2 cups All Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup very ripe banana, mashed (about 1)
1.5 medium ripe but firm bananas, cut into 24- 1/4″ thick slices

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 glass baking pan.

Put a large metal bowl over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. In bowl, melt 11 oz. butterscotch chips, brown sugar, butter, rum, and mashed banana. Stir often until butter is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

When mixture is cool, whisk in the 3 eggs.

In a small bowl, combine spices, flour, and salt. Add to butterscotch/sugar mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup butterscotch chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and put in oven.

Bake blondies for 15 min. Remove from oven and place the 24 banana slices evenly spaced on top, in a 4 slice x 6 slice rectangle, so that there will be one banana slice in the center of each cut piece. Don’t push banana slices into batter, as they will sink while cooking.

Return pan to oven and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until bottom is golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Rotate halfway through cooking.

Cool blondies on rack before cutting. Serve room temperature or cold. They’re not as good hot…and believe me I tried sampling them right out of the oven 😉

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Turkey day 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I’m currently on a plane on my way to Florida where we’re going to have our usual gourmet Thanksgiving. My mom, brother and I split the cooking duties as we all love to be in the kitchen. Although, we don’t usually do well when we’re all in the kitchen together. Luckily my mom got her cooking out of the way already, and hopefully my brother and I can behave ourselves while we share the space.

This is the first year we’re having the holiday in FL instead of NJ and I can’t say I’m happy about having turkey in warm weather. But it’s all about being with those you love, right? I think it will feel like Thanksgiving regardless of the palm trees outside because the table will be set with the good dishes and all my favorite familiar foods will be filling our plates.

Next year I’ll get it together a little more, hopefully, and share some of our favorite recipes for Tday with you. I hope that you all have a wonderful time with your family and/or friends 🙂

See you all on Sunday for another Daring Bakers challenge!

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This stupid fall weather can’t make up it’s mind.

First it’s so cold that I pull out my hat, scarf, gloves, even crank up the heat. I’ve been walking around the apartment in my velour sweatpants and a sweatshirt I inherited from my mom that’s probably about as old as I am…and it has a hole in the armpit (I just typed airport instead of armpit. I’m obviously ready for a vacation).

Needless to say, Nate hasn’t been too pleased with my appearance. He told me that, according to Seinfeld, when you walk outside in sweatpants (which I may or may not have done to make a quick trip to the grocery store… They were velour!), that “you’re telling the world: ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'” And comfortable I was!

But the thing is, I don’t complain about the cold weather. I love being chilly and bundling up. I love piling on the comforter in bed and getting all snuggly. I mean, you can always make it warmer inside.

Then the weather got all hot again. Come on, autumn, make up your freaking mind. The stupid air conditioner in our apartment building got turned off because it’s not summer anymore. I go to bed with the comforter still on which feels right at the time and then in the middle of the night I kick everything off because I’m so hot. I toss and turn and then pull the comforter back on at 4am when I’m shivering, because the next morning it’s cold outside again. I’m so tired from this lack of sleep!

I think I need a better place for taking my photos…or a less nosy cat.

I figured I’d go along with the warm weather and pretend like it’s summer. So the other night I cooked up some pulled chicken bbq sandwiches. If you can’t beat the heat, you might as well embrace it, right?

Now if I could only get them to put on the A/C.


Black Pepper and Molasses Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Recipe from Cooking Light

Print this recipe!

serves 2-4

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 (2-ounce) sandwich rolls, cut in half horizontally
12 dill pickle chips

Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 23 minutes or until chicken is done and tender.

Remove from heat; shred with 2 forks to measure 2 cups meat. Place 1/2 cup chicken on bottom half of each roll. Top each with 3 pickles and top half of roll.

Serve with coleslaw if desired.

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…here’s another recipe for you involving squash!

And if this plus the last two posts is enough squash recipes for one season for you, then I have nothing more to say to you.

Nate doesn’t really cook. Ok, he doesn’t cook at all. He tells me that when he was single he used to make himself spaghetti and put jarred sauce on it, but I really can’t see him even doing that. He mostly lived on Trader Joes frozen dinners. I don’t feel that bad for him though, because those dinners are pretty tasty.

Despite the fact that Nate doesn’t really know his way around a kitchen, he likes to send me recipes that he comes across in his morning perusal of the New York Times.

He usually sends me the link in an email with a message saying something like “This looks good. Doesn’t it?”  But I believe what he really means to say is “This looks good. Can you please make it for dinner?” Luckily I’m good at reading people…and taking not-so-subtle hints.

Usually the recipes do sound pretty good. And when they don’t, I ignore his emails. So when he sent me this recipe for Quinoa With Roasted Winter Vegetables and Pesto the other day, I took note of it and wrote down all the ingredients so I could have it waiting for him when he got home. It helped that I had some homemade pesto in the freezer that I had been saving. It made putting this dish together way easier. Of course buying pesto would have been equally simple.

I also made it for me, of course, because I can always eat some more squash.

*I didn’t alter the recipe at all, so visit the above link if you’d like it 🙂

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Nate and I went down to PA this weekend to visit his mom. We also went to an open house at the venue we wanted to possibly use for the wedding and loved it. So we put our deposit down and officially booked the venue and have a date! So exciting. I can’t believe we’re going to be married next October!

While there, we went pumpking picking because Nate had decided that I was going to carve a Where the Wild Things Are pumpkin. There were slim pickins at the pumpkin patch this year. I think maybe all the rain we got wiped out their supply?

I did a lot of walking around and comparing, assessing my canvas, until I found one that would be perfect for carving the image I wanted.

Nate found a good one too.

I spent a little while browsing pictures online til I found one I liked:

I then removed the pumpkin top and scraped it out. I saved the seeds and roasted them with some salt, paprika and garlic powder…taaasty! Totally reminds me of carving pumpkins when I was little because my mom would roast the seeds for us.

Next I sketched out the image freehand on the pumpkin with a pen.

Then I used some wood carving tools I got at Michaels to scrape away the image to the best of my ability. I realized that you have to kind of carve a reverse relief. The parts that you want to look the closest have to be the deepest, and hence the brightest. I found putting the pumpkin in my lap made the carving easiest.

And here’s the final product, all lit up on the front porch!…Nate chose to do a traditional Jack-O-Lantern 🙂

Now, what should I carve next year. Ideas?!

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