Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Top 10 Recipes of 2011

2011 was a busy year!  My twins arrived in September, so I didn’t spend quite as much time in my kitchen as I usually do.  Despite this, I did try several new recipes that were really good.  Here is a list of my favorite recipes that I made in 2011.  (Most of them are sweets – I definitely had a sweet tooth while I was pregnant. :)  )  Happy New Year!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Twix Caramel Brownies

S'mores Cake

Cinnamon Rolls

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Muffins

Focaccia

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Asian Glazed Salmon

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a difference a year makes.  Last year I celebrated the holiday by hosting my very first Thanksgiving.  We had 19 guests at our house and I spent a lot of time planning and then preparing the meal.  It was so much fun to prepare everything and I loved being in charge of the menu, decorating the tables, and celebrating with our families.  You can read all about it by clicking here.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our two month old twins, who we are so incredibly thankful for.  Last year, I was busy baking and decorating turkey sugar cookies.  This year, I was busy dressing up my girls in their adorable little turkey outfits and celebrating their 1st Thanksgiving.  We also enjoyed a delicious meal and good company with my in-laws.

Eventually, I hope to get back to cooking and baking so that I can post some new recipes on my blog.  But for the time being, I’m spending all of my free time playing with and cuddling my sweet babies.  I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Favorite Fall Recipes

Happy first day of Fall!  Fall is my favorite season, for many reasons.  I love the cooler weather (perfect for cozy scarves and boots!), aromas of pumpkin, spice and pine, and celebrating the Holidays.  Another thing I love about Fall is all of the delicious food.  So in honor of the first day of Fall, here are some of my favorite Autumn recipes.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes with Cinnamon Spiced Whipped Cream

Golden Winter Soup

All-American Chili

Beef Bourguignon

Halloween & Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies


Two Little Cupcakes (An Announcement!)

You may have wondered why I haven’t been updating my blog very frequently lately.  Well, I do have a good reason!  In just a few months, my little family of two will become a family of four.  That’s right; Eric and I are expecting twins!  :)  We are having two girls and we are so excited!  Needless to say, I have been quite busy preparing for their arrival.  But I promise I will share the recipe for these yummy funfetti cupcakes very soon!

I also want to thank my sisters, Kristine and Lisa, and my Mom, who hosted a baby shower for me and my twin girls this past weekend.  The shower was so much fun and our friends and family were all so generous.  Please head on over to Kristine’s blog to see a recap of the baby shower, including all of the creative and adorable details and decorations, delicious menu, and fun games that we played. 

 

Sugar Cookie Gallery

There is now a “Sugar Cookie Gallery” page at the top of my blog – click here to check it out!  This page will be updated periodically.  Most of these cookies have already been featured on my blog (if you click on the photo it will take you to the original post), but I thought it would be helpful to have all the cookie photos in one place.

Top 20 Recipes of 2010

In the past year, I’ve posted 89 recipes here on ‘Cooking with Karen’.  I love each and every one of these recipes, but there are some that do stand out above the rest.  Here are my top 20 favorite recipes from 2010.  I have listed the desserts first, followed by everything else.  Enjoy!  And have a very Happy New Year!

Top 10 Desserts of 2010:

Mocha Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream – These are the perfect chocolate cupcakes – they are rich, moist, and sweet.  And the espresso buttercream is one of the best frostings I’ve ever had – it’s creamy and silky and has just the right amount of coffee flavor.

Gingerbread Cookies – I adore these cookies.  The chewy texture and flavor of molasses and spices is irresistible.

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes with Oreo Whipped Cream – These oreo cupcakes are so fluffy and light, and I love the oreo chunks throughout the batter.  Oreo cookie whipped cream is the perfect complement to these cupcakes – it’s cookies ‘n’ cream at its finest!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting – The frosting for these cupcakes is amazing.  It’s super rich, thick, creamy, and so chocolaty!  I could eat this by the spoonful.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars –These peanut butter bars are so enticing.  You can never go wrong when the main ingredients in a recipe are peanut butter, chocolate, and sugar!

Dark Chocolate Espresso cookies – These cookies are chewy, chocolaty, and have a nice espresso flavor.  If you are a coffee and chocolate lover like me, then these cookies are for you.

Mississippi Mud Pie – This mud pie is a very easy-to-make, yet impressive dessert.  The crunchy oreo cookie crumb crust plus ice cream and chocolate ganache is an incredible flavor combination.

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing – Decorating cookies with royal icing is one of my hobbies.  I make these cookies at least once a month.  In 2010 I made so many fun shapes: presents, peppermints, candy canes, trees & holly for Christmas; turkeys for Thanksgiving; ghosts, candy corn, bats & spider webs for Halloween; footballs; cupcakes; onesies and rattles for a baby shower; beach balls; watermelons; Mother’s Day cookies; butterflies; Easter cookies; fruit-shaped cookies for a ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ birthday party; and Valentine’s Day cookies.

Pumpkin Pecan Cupcakes – If you like pumpkin puree, then you will love these cupcakes.  They are very fluffy and have a nice pumpkin pie spice flavor.  The pecan chunks and cinnamon scented whipped cream make these cupcakes extra tasty.

Snickerdoodles – Snickerdoodles are such a classic variety of cookies and this is by far the best recipe for them that I’ve ever tried.  They are chewy, buttery, and irresistibly cinnamon and sugar flavored.

Top 10 Main Dishes, Breakfast Foods & Appetizers of 2010:

Italian Sausage Skewers – These cute and tasty little appetizers are perfect for a dinner party because they are super easy to make, can be prepared in advance, and they are healthy.

Monkey Bread – Monkey bread is something I dream about.  The cinnamon sugar dough balls that comprise this bread are so decadent, and the glaze takes this bread over the top.

Beef Bourguignon – Of all the recipes I made in 2010, this one definitely stands out among the rest.  It is full of flavor, and smells amazing as it is simmering away on the stove.  It’s hearty, healthy, and pure comfort food.  If you’ve never made beef bourguignon before, I highly recommend you try this recipe asap.

Shrimp Scampi with Linguine – This is one of the dishes that Eric and I first made together, way back in 2004, and it’s still one of our favorites.  I make this several times every year, and it’s always so satisfying.  I just love the garlic butter wine sauce, parsley, lemon, shrimp, and pasta together.

Italian Sausage Ragu – This is a delicious, easy, and fairly quick pasta recipe.  I make it all the time and it never disappoints.  I love the flavors of bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, & sausage in it.

Lemony Couscous with Peas and Chicken – This is the perfect weeknight meal because it’s really easy to make, and it’s also very healthy and flavorful.

Italian Sausage, Red Pepper, & Mushroom Risotto – This risotto has such a wonderful and complex flavor from the sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions, and parmesan.  I make it all the time and always enjoy every last bite of it.

Meatballs – I’ve tried several meatball recipes over the years, and this is the one I keep coming back to.  These meatballs are perfect in every way.

Stuffed Peppers – These stuffed peppers are easy to make, can be prepared in advance, healthy, colorful, well balanced, and so delicious!

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart – This tart is essentially just an elegant version of margherita pizza.  It’s comprised of a delicious garlic and basil flavored crust topped with lots of cheese, tomatoes, and more basil.  It makes for an excellent appetizer or main course.

Turkey Sugar Cookies & Herb Roasted Turkey

Even though Turkey Sugar Cookies and Herb Roasted Turkey are two very different things, I decided to combine these two recipes into one post since Thanksgiving is over and everyone is probably in Christmas-mode by now.  I made both the cookies and herb roasted turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner last week.

Turkey-Shaped Sugar Cookies

For the cookies and royal icing, I used the same recipes I always use, which can be found by clicking here.  I have tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes over the years and this one is my favorite.  The cookies always taste delicious and the dough never spreads when it bakes, so the cookies perfectly hold the shape of the cookie cutter.  These cookies were fairly easy (and fun!) to decorate too.  All you need is a few #2 decorating tips, piping bags, squeeze bottles, and royal icing that has been tinted black, brown, red, orange, and yellow.  If you would like to see how to decorate these cookies and create the feather details, click here to see Bridget’s tutorial on her blog, Bake at 350.

Source: Bake at 350 blog

Herb Roasted Turkey

Since this was the first turkey I’ve ever cooked, I spent some time researching different recipes.  I ended up narrowing it down to 3 recipes, but all of them seemed to be missing something.  So I took the parts I liked from each recipe and combined them to make my own turkey recipe.  I’m very happy with how it turned out and I will definitely use this recipe again!  It was a simple recipe too – basically I just stuffed the turkey with lots of fresh herbs, vegetables, and a few orange wedges (to keep the turkey juicy).  I also rubbed the turkey with herb butter to add an extra layer of flavor.  Additionally, I added some vegetables and chicken broth to the roasting pan to flavor what would become the gravy.

I decided not to brine the turkey because logistically, I don’t think it would have worked.  There wouldn’t have been enough space to store it in our fridge, and since we were hosting Thanksgiving for 19 people, we needed a fairly large turkey.  We went with a 22-pound bird, which provided us with lots of yummy leftovers!  This is a great recipe for a flavorful, juicy, herb-roasted turkey.  Enjoy!

Herb Roasted Turkey

Ingredients

For the Turkey & Roasting Pan:

  • 6 ribs celery, largely chopped & divided
  • 6 carrots, largely chopped & divided
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges & divided
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 1 whole turkey, 18-22 pounds, thawed

For the Herb Butter:

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. each chopped fresh thyme, sage, & rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and set oven rack to lower position.  Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and discard.  Rinse the turkey well and pat dry with paper towels.  Set the turkey on a large baking sheet.
  2. Line a roasting pan with half of the celery, carrots, & onion wedges.  Add 2 cups chicken broth (this will help keep the turkey moist and add flavor to the juices for the gravy). Place a roasting rack on top of the vegetables & set aside.
  3. Stuff the turkey with salt & pepper, half of the onion wedges, celery, carrots, thyme & rosemary sprigs, sage leaves, & orange wedges.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  4. For the herb butter: Process the softened butter, thyme, sage, rosemary, and salt in a mini food processor.  Rub the turkey all over with the herb butter, making sure to reach the crevices of the legs and wings.
  5. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the inside thigh muscles, but not touching the bone.  Transfer the turkey to the roasting rack, breast side up.  Roast the turkey for 2 hours, occasionally checking on it to make sure it doesn’t brown too much or burn.  Once the turkey is golden brown (this should take approximately 2 hours) tent it loosely with foil (make sure to leave air space between the bird and foil).  If the vegetables begin to scorch, add some additional chicken broth to the pan.  Continue roasting the turkey until the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 F.  (Our 22 pound bird roasted for approximately 6 hours until it was done).
  6. If desired, baste the turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices. (Basting helps keep the skin moist & helps it to brown—I did not baste my turkey.)
  7. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board set on a jelly roll pan, tent it with foil, and allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.  Carve the turkey, arrange on a platter, and garnish as desired.
  8. Strain the pan drippings into a large glass measuring cup & reserve them for the gravy.

Source: Inspired by recipes from Real Simple, Sur La Table, & Cuisine at Home


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