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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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Please forgive me for possibly not posting as regularly as usual in these next few weeks. As soon as I get the basics worked out for my wedding, I will definitely be right back on schedule.

In the meantime, since some of you asked, I figured I’d share a bit more about the proposal since it’s easier than cooking dinner, taking photos, editing photos, coming up with something to write, etc 🙂

Nate and I had planned to take a hike in upstate NY at this park called Poet’s Walk.  I can’t remember how we first heard about it, but after seeing the photos, we knew we had to go.

I was really the one who was planning the whole thing. A month or so ago, we were supposed to go but then Hurricane Irene prevented us, so it got postponed.

We decided to push the hike to last Saturday. Then last Friday, Nate IMed me at work and told me that he had to go into work on Saturday for about an hour and we’d have to move the trip to Sunday. I wasn’t too upset since it didn’t really matter which day we were going to go…this park is only about 1 hr 45 min away.

So Nate went into work (or so I thought!) on Saturday and I spent the day doing little things around the apartment. Sunday morning we got up early for brunch with my friends before grabbing my car and heading upstate.

The drive along the way was beautiful and Nate even said he wouldn’t mind living up there, eventually. It’s close enough to the city but still has lots of trees.

We arrived at the park at around 11:30ish I think and Nate and I got out of the car. Within 1 minute, I was already bitten by 2 mosquitoes. You have to know that mosquitoes LOVE me and I’m extremely sensitive to their bites so I try to avoid being outdoors anytime after dusk in the summer. I guess all the rain we’ve been having left a lot of standing water around, so there were tons of bugs.

I was already worried about getting bitten, and then some woman with her dog came running out the entrance and warned us that there were swarms of mosquitoes. At this point I was seriously worried. We drove all the way up there so I didn’t want to just get back in the car and drive home, but I was scared of what could happen if i got a lot of bites (just to give you an idea, last year after sitting outside at dinner and getting about 6 bites on my feet within a few minutes , they swelled and itched so badly I had to go to the E.R. ).

So I told Nate that we would speed through this trail while I furiously swung my arms in the hopes that mosquitoes wouldn’t land on me. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

We got started down the trail and I was several yards ahead of Nate. The trail wove around and into the forest and we passed this beautiful wooden bridge…but I wouldn’t stop to admire it lest I get bit!

I approached a stone bridge a few minutes further and saw Nate trailing behind. As I began to speed over it, I heard Nate call out, “Wait, wait.” So in a huff I replied, “Well if you want to take pics you better hurry up cuz I don’t wanna get bit!” It was at this point that Nate caught up to me while I was standing in the middle of the bridge and he promptly got down on one knee.

I honestly thought Nate was joking. I thought he might propose but I didn’t think it would be for several months, and I definitely didn’t think it would be on this trip since it was rescheduled so many times. I also know that Nate likes to purposefully push my buttons, so I thought he was just stalling so I would be forced to slow down and enjoy the walk rather than rushing through it.

I asked Nate, “Are you serious??”

And then he pulled a box out of his pocket.

I have no idea what went through my head at that moment. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that he was proposing. It was just so unexpected…and I honestly didn’t believe he had planned all this behind my back! I’m a hard one to trick since I ask so many questions:)

But then he opened the box and I saw the most beautiful ring ever, and I knew it was for real. I got teary-eyed (I so didn’t expect that!) and I just kept saying “oh my god, oh my god…” Nate asked me if I would marry him and after finally snapping out of it I said yes.

The ring didn’t exactly fit on my finger so I wore it on my pinky for the rest of the hike. Every 5 feet we walked I kept saying to Nate “I can’t believe we’re engaged!” It was so surreal. Even now it hasn’t really sunk in. But as of Sunday, the ring has been resized and I’m actually wearing it so it’s starting to feel more real.

I just keep looking down at my hand, seeing the ring, and smiling. I can’t believe I’m engaged!!!

I love you, Nate 🙂

(Unfortunately, we forgot to take a pic of the actual proposal spot! But we’re going to go back when the weather gets cooler and take a pic)

Afterword:

There are a couple of funny parts to this story. First of all, Nate told me later that he didn’t actually have to go into work on Saturday. The ring was supposed to be ready Friday, but they ended up not being able to finish til Saturday, so Nate actually went to pick up the ring!

The other funny thing is that on Saturday night I was reading a New York magazine and came across an ad for Little King jewelers. Because it said they specialized in antique style rings (exactly what I wanted), I said to Nate, “hey Nate, this store here says they specialize in antique style rings…make sure you write that down.” Little did I know that Nate had already picked out a ring from that very place and it was sitting in his desk drawer at that moment! He picked out a gorgeous ring that was more perfect than I could have even picked out for myself 🙂

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An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Well, that’s what they say. I’m not sure how true it is, though, because I eat an apple almost every single day and I get sick way more than Nate. Although, come to think of it, Nate eats an apple every.single.day with his lunch (I told he he’s a creature of habit!). So maybe the old saying IS true 🙂

Regardless, I think apples are pretty tasty. As soon as fall comes and the air starts gettin chilly, I do a lot of apple-eating. So when October’s #lovebloghop got announced with the ingredient-of-the-month as apple, I was pretty pleased.

Since I’ve been on a flatbread kick, I decided to do a little experimenting. I don’t how this zany little idea got in my head, but I wanted to make a dough out of sweet potato that wouldn’t require yeast.

Because the dough would hopefully have a nice sweetness to it, I wanted a topping that would complement it. I settled on sauteed onions and apples with rosemary. I just felt that those flavors would all meld so well together.

And then, I added cheese. Cheese? Yes, please.

You know what else they say about apples? An apple pie without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze.

Ok, so I’ve never actually had apple pie with cheese, but I’m told that putting a little cheddar in the crust or on top is just delightful.

I’m not usually a recipe-creator, but I thought I did a pretty good time this time around.

October is #applelove month!  Hosted by:

Baker Street http://bakerstreet.tv/
Bloc de recetas http://blocderecetas.blogspot.com/
Bon a croquer http://www.bonacroquer.com
CafeTerraBlog http://www.cafeterrablog.com
Cake Duchess http://www.cakeduchess.com
Elephant Eats http://www.elephanteats.com
Hobby And More http://hobbyandmore.blogspot.com/
Knitstamatic http://knitstamatic.wordpress.com
Mike’s Baking http://www.mikesbaking.co.uk
Mis Pensamientos http://juniakk.blogspot.com
My Twisted Recipes http://www.mytwistedrecipes.blogspot.com
Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives http://lisamichele.wordpress.com
Queen’s Notebook http://www.queensnotebook.com
Skip to Malou http://www.skiptomalou.net/
Teaspoon of Spice http://www.teaspoonofspice.com
The Daily Palette http://www.thedailypalette.com
The Spicy RD http://www.eastewart.com/blog
Vegan Miam http://www.veganmiam.com
Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen http://versatilekitchen.blogspot.com

Please join in on the #applelove fun by linking up any apple recipe from the month of October 2011.  Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #applelove event. The twitter hashtag is #applelove :). 

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Yeast-Free Sweet Potato Flatbread with Apples, Carmelized Onions, Cheddar and Rosemary

Recipe by Me

Print this recipe!

Serves 6 as an appetizer

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
s+p to taste
1 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1-2 small potatoes)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup shredded cheddar (or more if you like things cheesy)

Heat oil in saucepan over med-hi heat.

Add onion and cook 10 min or until soft.

Add 1 tsp vinegar to deglaze, scraping up all stuck bits, and add apples and rosemary.

Cook 5 min or until soft. Add rest of vinegar and sugar and cook 5-10 min more.

Bake (or microwave) sweet potato until soft. Remove skin and mash. Combine sweet potato, flour and baking soda in a small bowl and combine well. Add more flour as needed. Knead until dough forms into a ball. Dough will be slightly sticky.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle (or desired shape) until 1/4 inch thick. It should fit on 1/2 of a baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle with more olive oild and spread apple mixture and cheese on top. Bake 5 more minutes at 350 or until cheese melts.

Cut into squares and serve immediately.

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Ooops!

If you’re a subscriber, please disregard the email/post you just got! I totally hit the wrong button and published it by mistake 😦 I will publish it again on the correct date for Daring Bakers…

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