Day 366: Elk’s Own

Elks' Own Last night, I made my final creation for my 365 project. Since it was New Year’s Eve, I decided that a fancy beverage would be the perfect thing so I whipped up a batch of Elk’s Own cocktails. I followed the recipe in my Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide but added a bit more sugar so as to mimic the drinks I’ve had at establishments like The Whistler and Scofflaw in Chicago. They turned out pretty good–impressive considering it was my first time ever even using a cocktail shaker–and the port wine in the recipe gave the drinks a lovely color. See below for the recipe.

Jim and a DrinkHere’s Jim enjoying his Elks’ Own and looking rather dashing in his suit.Friend in Party HatChristina was celebrating the night (which was New Year’s Eve and her birthday!)  by dancing around with the flowers her husband gave her. She also wore the party hat I made for her all night. Yay!

RoomiesTo maintain some semblance of order, Christina wrote our name on all of our drinks. Here’s mine next to Jenny’s drink. She’s my roomie now, but she’s moving out at the end of January. I’m going to miss her!

Annnnyways, it was a fun night and a nice way to end a good year. I had many good times with friends and family over these past 12 months (examples: a lovely March campfire in my parents’ backyard, Sunday dinners with friends, an amazing birthday party), and I also feel like I achieved a lot with my 365 project. I made so many things, learned so much, and really proved to myself that I could take on such a difficult challenge.

Thanks so much to all my friends, family, and blog followers for all your support this year! You’ve been wonderful!

Elks’ Own Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (I used Old Overholt)
  • 3/4 ounces good port wine
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of simple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously until a soft foam forms. About 30 seconds.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously to cool the drink.
  3. Strain into a small glass and enjoy!
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Day 345: Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats On Saturday, I’m running the Jingle Bell Run/Walk 5K! The event is being held as a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, so I’m doing a bake sale at work this week. On Monday evening, I made some tasty rice krispie treats with little sprinkles to sell at work the next day.

If you’d like to make a donation to support the Arthritis Foundation, please donate on my fundraising page.

Day 343: Polenta with Ground Pork and Kale

Polenta with Ground Pork and KaleOn Saturday night, I made a pork dish using the following recipe from Everyday Food. It turned out okay, but it was a little bland, I think because I didn’t have Parmesan on hand and used cheddar instead.

I used a little some of the leftovers in eggs the next morning and added garlic and cumin. It was super tasty once I added those flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
  • 1 large bunch kale, trimmed, stems and leaves separated and roughly chopped (the recipe originally called for chard, but I used kale instead. Not a fan of chard.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fine cornmeal, divided
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan (3 ounces), divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a cast-iron skillet, cook pork over medium, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 7 minutes. Add onion and Swiss chard stems, increase heat to medium-high, and saute until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in Swiss chard leaves and cook until wilted, 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons cornmeal, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook until liquid thickens, stirring occasionally, about 14 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Whisk in remaining 3/4 cup cornmeal and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and spoon over pork and greens. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, transfer to oven, and bake 20 minutes. Heat broiler and broil until top is golden brown and mixture is bubbling at edge, 2 minutes.

Day 331: Onion Tarts

Onion TartsOn Monday, I made these delicious onion tarts in order to use up some some of the extra onions we have leftover from Thanksgiving. I think we had five large purple onions and a whole bag of small yellow onions (we still have plenty left, anyone need some onions?) Although it took awhile to make the dough, caramelize the onions, and do the assembly, the tarts were really easy to make.

These would make for an impressive hors d’oeuvre for a party!

Tip: Since you’re already caramelizing onions for this, my recommendation is to make some extra and keep them in a ball jar in the fridge. I cut up an entire extra purple onion for this, and just had a piece of toast with the stuff. So good!

Purple OnionsEek! The onions hurt my eyes. I should have gotten out some safety goggles or turned on a fan.

Browned Onions

Pizza Dough

Dough

Baked Onion TartsIt’s pizza in a tart shape. Yum! Note that you could pretty much fill these with anything: pasta sauce and mozerella; goat cheese and tomato; chorizo and chihuahua. It would all be good.

Tasty Onion Tart

To make these beautiful little onion tarts, you’ll need about 1.75 hours. It’s a lot of time, but it’s worth it!

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • 1 batch of dough made with the Joy of Cooking pizza dough recipe. Note that if you’re using salted butter for browning the onions, you should cut the salt in half for the pizza dough recipe.
  • 1 very large purple onion
  • 1.5 tablespoons of butter (I used salted butter)
  • .75 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of shredded gouda
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • Cooking spray
  • Muffin tins or small muffin-sized ramekins for a ten tarts

Directions:

  • Start by making the pizza dough using the Joy of Cooking recipe linked above. Again, if you’re using salted butter for the onions, cut the salt in half.
  • While your dough is rising,which takes about an hour, dice the onions and add them to a frying pan. I used my enameled cast iron skillet.
  • Add the butter and olive oil to the same pan and then set the heat to medium-low. Cook the onions until they caramelize and turn a deep brown. This will take 45 minutes to an hour.
  • When the pizza dough is ready, roll it out to be about the thickness of about two or three stacked quarters (a.k.a. 25 cent pieces) in thickness
  • Cut the dough into circles with a 4 inch diameter, give or take. I used the top of my Bodum french press to do this, which is kind of funny. Basically, you just need a circle of the right size to use as a cutter or to cut around.
  • Spray you muffin tins (or ramekins) with cooking spread and then lay the dough circles into them. You just want to press the dough into the muffin tin so it follows the contour of it.
  • Mix the gouda and mozzarella together and then add about one tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each dough cup.
  • Add about one tablespoon of the caramelized onions into each dough cup.
  • Top each little proto-tart with a tablespoon or so of the cheese mixture.
  • Cook at 450 degrees for approximately 18 minutes (or until the tarts look fully browned)

And that’s it! The tarts keep pretty well in the refrigerator. Just zap them in the microwave for about 15 seconds or heat them in the oven for a few minutes to revitalize them.

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Day 327: Thanksgiving Dinner

Biscuits

Leeks Frying

Soup on the Stove

Biscuits Before Baking

Thanksgiving Dinner

We had a great Thanksgiving at my sister’s house! We did the dinner potluck style, which made it pretty easy on everyone. Jim and I made a pork roast, biscuits, soup, and cranberry chutney (we made the last two the day before), my mom made the turkey, and my sister and bro-in-law made everything else. The food was all delicious, and it was a lovely day with my family!

Day 326: Cranberry Chutney

Cranberries

Cranberries and Apples

Cranberry Sauce Cooking

Cranberry Sauce

On Wednesday night, Jim and I began our Thanksgiving preparations. Jim made a delicious squash soup and I made two varieties of cranberry chutney. One was from a recipe on AllRecipes and the second was from a recipe on the website Evil Mad Scientist.

They both turned out pretty tasty, although I think they both could have used a little more sugar–they were a bit tart!

 

Day 310: Sweet Potato Chili

Sweet Potato ChiliLast night, I made a nutritious sweet potato chili with kale and beans. I’ve had this giant sweet potato sitting around my house for days, maybe weeks. Since I was already thinking about making chili, I decided I might as well make a sweet potato chili so I can finally make some use of it. I also had some rather sad kale and cilantro around so I added those as well, which was an extra bonus.

Sweet Potato and Red Onion

Chipotle PeppersI added a few chipotle peppers that I had leftover from a can I opened last week, which gave the chili some smokiness and some heat. These peppers are a new favorite chili ingredient because they are an easy way to add depth and richness of flavor.

Kidney Beans

Cilantro on Cutting Board

Pot of Chili

The soup turned out absolutely delicious! It was a bit spicy last night, so I served it with some light sour cream to cut the heat. I bet the leftovers will be perfect tonight, though. Chili is so good the second day!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1 large onion, sliced into medium-sized pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 chipotle peppers (from can)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water, coarsely diced
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to large pot at medium-high heat.
  2. Add sweet potato and onion to pot and brown them.
  3. Then add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle peppers, and salt and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add water and then bring it to a simmer.
  5. Then cover the pot and cook until the sweet potato is tender – will take around 10 minutes.
  6. Add the beans, tomatoes, and kale and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Finally, add the lime juice and cilantro and simmer for 3 to 5 additional minutes.
  8. Serve the dish with a slice of fresh lime and, if you want to cut the spiciness, a spoon of light sour cream

Day 302: Family Dinner

Family Dinner

On Sunday, we invited my whole family over for dinner and Jim and I made pork chops, brussels sprouts, pan-fried potatoes with rosemary, and a delicious salad. The dinner turned out really well, but I was so busy preparing that I forgot to take a picture until the end. Oh well!

Thanks, family, for coming over! It was a fun evening!