Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving, the ultimate foodie holiday

Honey and Walnut Pumpkin Bread
Since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I will be baking like crazy tomorrow. I'm tasked with bringing the desserts -- pumpkin pie and apple pie. This is quite a foodie holiday, isn't it? The food at Christmas is always great as well, but for this holiday, it's really all about the food.

I saw a friend at church yesterday and she was excited but nervous about making her first Thanksgiving meal for her family. It wasn't too long ago that I was in her shoes. The one thing I learned from making turkey on Thanksgiving is that it's not as difficult as you might think. I'll leave it to the experts (1-800-BUTTERBALL) to give you tips and tricks about turkeys, but I remember thinking after making my first one that I should make more turkeys throughout the year since it was fairly simple and provided great leftovers. Perhaps the most difficult thing on Thanksgiving is coordinating all the side dishes -- baking or reheating so that every dish is perfectly warm when you're ready to eat. For that, all I suggest is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time and have a few helpers in the kitchen.

But since I'm only tasked with making dessert this year, I'll give you some recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth. As I said, I'm making pumpkin pie and to let you in on a little secret, I use the recipe on the back of the Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin can. The pumpkin pies have turned out perfectly every single time, so why mess with a good thing? In addition, I found a more healthy pumpkin bread recipe from Whole Foods. It was delicious, but a little too healthy-tasting for me. However, a good friend of mine said that it suited her tastes perfectly.

Whatever you make (or just buy) for Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful food-filled day with friends and family!

Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie
(Courtesy of Libby's)

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F; bake 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Note: Do not freeze pie, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.

Note #2: 1 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, however, the taste will be slightly different.

Honey and Walnut Pumpkin Bread
(Courtesy of Whole Foods)

Canola oil cooking spray
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran or wheat germ
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 tablespoons cane sugar
1/3 cup canola or sunflower oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups fresh or canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch loaf pan with canola oil cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oat bran, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. In a second large bowl, combine sugar, oil, honey, milk, pumpkin, egg and vanilla then add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and bake until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and set aside to let cool completely.

Serves 8-10

Per serving (1 piece/113g-wt.): 320 calories (150 from fat), 17g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 39g total carbohydrate (5g dietary fiber, 19g sugar), 7g protein

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Free Lattes and Other News

I think Trader Joe's being a block away from where I live is going to be my downfall. I've already been there twice since it opened. But to be fair, I needed two receipts so that both my husband and I could enjoy free lattes at South Block Smoothie & Wrap Co. in Clarendon this weekend. All we needed to do to get that great deal was to show a receipt from Trader Joe's. So the two shopping trips were worth every sip of those delicious free lattes! The deal ends today so make plans to stop at both places if you're in the neighborhood.

Speaking of my new neighborhood grocery store, a really nice thing happened on Friday. The Clarendon Culture blog showcased some of the photos I took from the Trader Joe's opening. You can see the post here. Clarendon Culture often showcases a lot of Arlington eats, among other neighborhood news, so definitely check out the site. It's one of my favorite daily reads.

If you're new to my blog, or even if you've been following my site for awhile, please take a minute to "like" my page on Facebook. Just click here or you can search for "Cooking in Clarendon" on Facebook to sign up that way. I'm posting recipes that catch my eye (that I may not have gotten to try yet) and other food-related news. Sometimes it's just easier that way, especially with a toddler running around (or with me running after my toddler, that is).

Hope you're enjoying this beautiful, unseasonably warm fall day!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Trader Joe's in Clarendon is finally open!

Chris, Claire, and I were some of the first customers through the doors of the new Trader Joe's in Clarendon at 8 am today. Greeted by cheering employees handing out free Trader Joe's reusable shopping bags, leis, and food samples such as apple cider and pumpkin cheesecake, we became glad really quickly that we got up early and braved the cold weather. At 16 months old, Claire officially became the youngest customer to set foot in this store.

Welcome to the neighborhood Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe's Clarendon
1109 North Highland Street
Arlington, VA 22201
(703) 351-8015

Welcome neighbor!

Grand opening!
Chris is enjoying the free apple cider...

Beautiful murals and food...
Claire, the youngest customer in Trader Joe's Clarendon store

At the Clarendon Metro "stop"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A hiatus from chicken...

I guess it can be easy to fall into a groove of using the same main ingredient. I didn't realize I had done that until my husband said he didn't want to eat chicken for at least two weeks.

So my chicken hiatus sent me scurrying back to my cookbooks. This was going to be a challenge for sure.

Oh, if I only had a grill! I tend not to make steak or burgers very much because of that reason, and besides, if I want either of those, so many restaurants in Arlington do a much better job.

So what would I make? I decided on something with shrimp -- Jambalaya with Shrimp and Ham to be exact. I had made this awhile ago, and thankfully, it was rather simple to prepare and tasted delicious too.

That would take care of one meal. Back to the cookbooks...

Jambalaya with Shrimp and Ham
(Courtesy of Ellie Krieger)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more, to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 ounces diced, smoked ham
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
Hot pepper sauce

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and saute until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in the next 11 ingredients, salt through the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the rice, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Add the shrimp and cook, covered, for 5 minutes more, or until shrimp is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with hot pepper sauce.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Hot dogs. Wagon wheel pasta. Sliced carrots from a can. French fries. Goldfish crackers. Kiwi.

What do all those things have in common?

Claire will eat them.

Of course, she will eat just about whatever she can fit between her fingers as long as its sweet, fried, or tastes like a hot dog and doesn't require me feeding her with a spoon. (Sigh...cue the nods of agreement from moms who've been through the toddler phase.)

I don't think I've ever bought so many packages of hot dogs in my life.

But today I'm back to trying something else that worked a few weeks ago -- salmon cakes, in baby-sized portions. Babycakes, for short. (Yes, I know she's technically not a baby anymore, but she's still my baby and always will be.)

So hopefully, she will just love this for dinner tonight, along with her carrots from a can. I guess I can always give her another hot dog. Sigh...

Salmon Cakes (a.k.a. Babycakes)
(Courtesy of Kelly Oliver)

2 (5 oz.) packages of salmon
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried dillweed
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
Dash of salt
1 cup dried bread crumbs
2 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients, except for the 1 cup of dried bread crumbs and olive oil, in a bowl and mix well. Form into small patties. (This recipe makes about 6 small patties.) Put the 1 cup of dried bread crumbs into a separate bowl. Cover each side of the patties with the bread crumbs.

Heat a skillet over medium, and then add the olive oil. Pan fry each patty on both sides until golden brown, roughly 2-3 minutes on each side.

Serve to your baby, or to yourself!

These also freeze really well in case your baby likes them one day and not the next.