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Change is Good!

Did you notice that you were re-directed?  When I got home from work today, I was greeted with a little surprise...Joel bought me my own domain name!  Introducing!  I guess Christmas came a little early this year! :)

So what will 2012 bring?  If all goes well, we will soon be hosting our own space, and a new design is in the works, too.  Change is a good thing :)

Have a great night!!


Pizza Pinwheels

Since I wanted to bring more to Thanksgiving dinner than just a dessert, my mom told me to bring an appetizer.  There were only only 8 of us at dinner, including my 2 uncles who always come each year.  I didn't really feel like spending too long in the kitchen making something, so I relied on a few things I had in my fridge/freezer already.  I didn't really use a specific recipe, but these are inspired by an appetizer that somebody brought to a party at Joel's cousin's house a few years ago.  Feel free to use anything as a filling. I think spinach artichoke dip may be the next one I try!

1 sheet Puff Pastry
1/2 cup Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup Pepperoni Slices
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese

Thaw out the puff pastry and spread sauce over the top of it.  Slice the pepperoni rounds into thin strips and sprinkle it over the top of the sauce.  Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Roll the puff pastry, jelly roll style, and slice into 14 slices, about 1/4 inch rounds.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and place each slice onto the sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow to cool before serving.


Breton Apple Cake

On Thanksgiving morning, I ran our annual Turkey Trot.  I haven't exactly been training, or doing any sort of exercise for that matter, so it took me just about an hour to finish the 5 mile run.  Luckily, my 17 year old cousin isn't much of a runner, so we ran together the whole way.  It was fun to watch all the cool costumes that people wore as they ran past me.  But, you know you are running slow when 2 men run past you, each carrying a full-sized canoe over their head...yeah, that happened!  Anyway, when I got home, I started to put things together to bring to my mom's house for dinner.  My sister-in-law was making a pumpkin pie, so to have a non-pumpkin option, I chose to make this cake, which I found on Baking Bites.  Though I was quite full after dinner, I did manage to try a tiny slice before leaving for my in-law's house for after-dinner drinks.  I ate it plain, but I'm sure it would have been equally delicious sprinkled with powdered sugar or next to a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
3/4 cup Sugar
3 Eggs, separated
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 Apples, peeled and thinly sliced

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the vanilla and yogurt.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix just until all ingredients are well combined and no streaks of flour remain.  The batter will be quite thick.  In a medium bowl, beat together the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Stir about half of the egg whites into the cake batter (using an electric mixer on low) to lighten the batter, then gently mix in the remaining egg whites.  Fold in the apple slices.  Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan (I just used a 9-inch cake pan).  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for at least 40 minutes before serving.  Serves 8.


Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

I'm Polish and German, so I grew up eating kielbasa and sauerkraut.  In fact, my grandparents make their own fresh sauerkraut each year.  I remember when I was young, helping my grandparents add salt to the barrel of cabbage in the basement and pressing it down with our fists.  Their fresh kraut is great, but unfortunately I didn't have any to use in this recipe, which I found on Brown Eyed Baker.  I halved the recipe and altered the cooking method, as this original recipe is cooked in a slow cooker.  The way our schedule works out would leave the crock pot cooking too long, so I just cooked it in a dutch oven on the stove.  Paired with pierogi and a pretzel roll, this was one great "Octoberfest" style dinner!  The recipe below reflects my (minor) changes.

6 ounces Beer (drink the other 6 ounces!)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 pound Polish Kielbasa
1 can/jar/bag Sauerkraut (15 ounces), drained

Combine the beer and brown sugar in a dutch oven over medium heat until the sugar melts and the mixture is slightly thickened.  Cut the kielbasa into links and place them in the dutch oven.  Mix in the drained sauerkraut.  Cover the dutch oven and cook on low-medium heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.


Holiday Salad with Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette

Of course, on Thanksgiving we ate until we were stuffed.  So, the next day, we were looking for something light to have for dinner.  Sure, you technically don't need a recipe for a salad, but this one from Oh She Glows is so delicious that you should follow the recipe.  I never think to put fruit in my salad, aside from dried cranberries, so I really enjoyed the addition of apple and pear.  The pepitas and walnuts give a great texture and Now for the dressing...What an amazing combination of flavor.  And the color is so beautiful!  If you are looking for a festive and gorgeous salad to serve to guests this holiday season, give this one a try!

For the Salad:
1 container Mixed Greens
1 Apple, cored and chopped
1 Pear, cored and chopped
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Chopped Walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup Pepita Seeds, optional (I lightly toasted them)
Cranberry Dressing (recipe to follow)

For the Dressing:
1 cup Cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon Fresh Orange Juice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

In a medium pot, heat the cranberries, syrup, and vinegar over medium heat until the cranberries burst, about 7-10 minutes.  Slightly cool the cranberry mixture and place in a blender along with the rest of the ingredients, except the salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth.  Add the salt and pepper, to taste.  Blend again, then adjust the other ingredients to taste, if necessary.  Place in the fridge to chill.  Keep in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 7 days.