Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beer Bread

I love quick breads. I’ve told you this before. They’re just so, well, quick to make! And I’m all about tasty results with minimum fuss. Except when I have moments of major fuss and kitchen destruction… but that’s another post for another day.

Most of the quick bread recipes I’ve posted thus far are for sweet, fruit-flavored breads. We’ve had cranberry orange nut bread, banana bread, lowfat oatmeal banana bread, banana chocolate chip oatmeal bread – are you seeing a trend? I like me some bananas. (Plus quick breads are the perfect way to use up dead, mushy bananas.)

On the savory side, I’ve told you about a delicious, rich, savory cheddar-chive bread. That one was good, but today’s recipe takes the cake in our house. Beer bread – so easy to make you will not believe. Take six ingredients and less than five minutes and you can have homemade bread baking away in the oven. (Minus the scary yeast part. The natural yeast in beer does all the work for you!) I’ve made this bread three times in the past two weeks and have the recipe committed to memory.

Beer bread is great with dinner; it’s great with eggs for brunch; and man, is it good alongside a steamy bowl of soup. The recipe is also quite adaptable. Use more or less melted butter to adjust the richness (and calorie count) of the bread. Throw in a handful or two of grated cheese to make it a little gooey. Try adding some seasonings like garlic or onion powder. However you make it, just try it. And then be sure to tell me if you come up with something delicious!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon

Friends, I am in trouble. Big, calorie-laden, gut-busting trouble. You see, I have learned how to make baked macaroni and cheese in a whole new way. A you don’t have to cook the noodles, you don’t have to make a cheese sauce kind of way. And best of all, it is crazy delicious.

All you need for this miraculous mac and cheese is a blender – and your oven, of course. You take some milk and cottage cheese (weird I know, but trust me), whirl them up in a blender with some seasonings, and pour the mixture over dry pasta. All that’s left to do is stir in some cheese and bake it in the oven. That’s pretty much it.

Before trying this recipe, I’ll admit I was skeptical about how the finished product would turn out. Would the pasta be cooked all the way through? Would it be overcooked and mushy? Would the cheese sauce thicken up the way a proper baked macaroni and cheese sauce should? Yes, no, and yes. I don’t know how it happens, but this process, quick and easy as it is, results in some rockin’ macaroni and cheese.

You can use this basic method to make pretty much any kind of macaroni and cheese you desire. Stick with basic sharp cheddar cheese and standard seasonings for classic mac. Switch up the cheeses and spices for a French or Italian twist. Or try it out this way, with a little garlic and a smoky chipotle kick. The bacon on top is purely optional. I used turkey bacon because real bacon grease kind of freaks me out. All together, the flavor combination is so good I have had to force myself not to make it every week. Try it yourself and see what I mean. You may never make traditional baked macaroni and cheese again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is one of those things I only typically think about around Thanksgiving time. No particular reason for that, just tradition I suppose. I grew up eating cranberry sauce only one time per year… maybe twice if we were lucky enough to have leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. However, even if we did have leftover cranberry sauce, until very recently, chances are good it was from a can.

Let me tell you friends, all of this cranberry sauce tradition is going to change. First of all, no more waiting all year for a day or two of cranberry sauce goodness. Why should it have to be such an infrequent treat, especially when it’s so easy to make? And that brings me to my second point. Never again will I willingly serve canned cranberry sauce. While I grew up loving, and if I’m being honest, requesting, jellied cranberry sauce complete with can ridges, I’d like to think my palette has matured a bit. I can handle, and indeed love, fresh cranberries and all the juicy things you can make with them.

And making cranberry sauce? It’s ridiculously easy. Take some fresh cranberries, some sugar (white and brown for this recipe), and some orange juice. Stir them together in a pot, and heat it all up until the cranberries pop and everything magically turns into sauce. Seriously folks, this is easier than waiting in line at the grocery store. And the taste is so much better than anything you can find in a can. The sauce is a perfect balance of sweet and tart. The orange flavor adds dimension without overpowering the cranberries, and the color is incredible. While there are some family traditions that I would never mess with, reserving cranberry sauce for one day a year isn’t one of them. If you’re with me on this one, I strongly suggest you don’t wait until next year to give this recipe a try.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Easy Chocolate Fudge

I have a question for you. It’s super important, so please, stop whatever else you are doing and think long and hard. Here goes: do you know how easy it is to make homemade fudge? If you do, why didn’t you tell me?! I could have been making fudge way too often, eating way too much of it, and gaining way too much weight. Okay, on second thought maybe it’s not such a bad thing that you didn’t let me in on your fudge-making secret. For those of you, like me, who didn’t know how easy it is to make homemade fudge, prepare yourself to get excited… and maybe let out your waistlines just a little bit.

This chocolate fudge recipe is easy from start to finish. The ingredients are basic, easy to find, and inexpensive to buy. We’re talking chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, salt, and nuts if you want them. Even better, the process is simple, quick, and dirties very few dishes. Oh how I wish I had known all of this sooner. I’d have been making fudge for parties, to take to work, to eat in front of the television… In other words, if you’re looking for a quick and easy dessert this holiday season, look no further than this easy chocolate fudge.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Island Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

Hello friends, I finally have my computer back up and running (stupid broken charger…grrr), and I must say, I’ve missed you. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and houseguests for us. We’ve either been out of town or had friends visiting every weekend for the past five weeks. And while we certainly love spending time with family and friends, it is good to be home with nothing to do but watch tv in our pajamas and spend some time in the kitchen.

I don’t know about you, but after frequent travel and lots of eating out, I start to crave healthy, hearty, soul-warming foods. Especially when it’s freezing cold and raining outside, and the sun doesn’t seem to want to show its face any more than absolutely necessary. You know the kind of days I’m talking about. The ones with gross weather that make you feel sluggish and in dire need of quality time on the couch. The ones that make you turn down socializing for snuggling. The days that are made for soup.

This Island Kale and Sweet Potato Soup is the perfect antidote to all of those heavy holiday meals and nights out on the town. A riff on the Caribbean dish callalou, this soup is simple to make yet has surprisingly complex flavors. Full of nutritious kale, creamy sweet potatoes, rich (light) coconut milk, and a lick of heat, this soup will warm you up on even the rainiest of days.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chicken, Broccoli, and Artichoke Divan

(Sorry folks, I know I promised you a new post every day ‘til Thanksgiving, but we got to my parents house last night much later than planned. Please excuse the delay and have a very happy Thanksgiving!)

Stan and I are in Ohio for Thanksgiving this year. We’re looking forward to spending time with family and friends, eating traditional favorites, and watching the Ohio State-Michigan game. (Go Bucks!) What we’re not looking forward to are the freezing cold temperatures. I mean c’mon, we live in the South for a reason!

There is, however, one good thing about colder temps, and that is the seeming necessity of rich, hearty, comfort foods. These are the foods with cheese sauces and all other kinds of decadent goodness that would make you feel guilty at any other time of year. Yet somehow when the weather gets frigid, there’s nothing better than a bubbling casserole.

Today I offer you an updated take on the classic chicken (or turkey) divan. In this casserole-like version, bite-sized chunks of chicken are mixed with fresh broccoli, tangy artichokes, and a creamy cheese sauce. The whole mixture is then baked in the oven until bubbling and golden brown. Served over egg noodles or rice, this chicken, broccoli, and artichoke divan is winter dinner perfection.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baked Oatmeal

I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that we like oatmeal a lot at our house. We’ve put it in muffins (here and here), banana breads (here and here), and desserts. We’ve served it up breakfast-style and made it taste like cookies. One thing we’ve never done before now though, is bake it. And what a mistake that was.

Baked oatmeal is a perfect breakfast food. It’s warm, hearty, nutritious, and incredibly filling. You can jazz it up with whatever fruits and nuts you like. Same goes with the spices. No matter what you add to it, you’ll end up with a breakfast treat that tastes and looks like cross between a traditional bowl of oatmeal and an oatmeal cake. Even better is the fact that you can make a big pan and enjoy a warm bowl of baked oatmeal all week long.

Basically, if you’ve never baked your oatmeal before, now is the time to try!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese

Me thinks it’s time for something a little bit healthier. Not that there’s anything wrong with cakes and cookies, but I figure we all need a few deliciously healthy recipes to balance out our seasonal indulgences. You know, so we can fit into something besides our seasonal sweatpants.

Today’s salad is the perfect way to lighten up your fall cooking. It’s an addictive combination of smoky, spiced butternut squash, hearty French green lentils, creamy goat cheese, peppery arugula, and crunchy pumpkin seeds. The flavors, colors, and textures balance each other beautifully and will leave you marveling over how just a few ingredients can come together to make something so incredibly tasty. Filling enough to be served as a vegetarian entrée, this salad would also be a fantastic first course at a dinner party – and maybe Thanksgiving, too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I am feeling thankful. Thankful for family and friends. Thankful for a nice place to live and plenty of food to eat. I’m feeling thankful for all of you, too. You come here and read my ramblings, check out my pictures, and read my recipes. Knowing you’re out there keeps me cooking, trying new things, and figuring out entertaining (I hope) ways to tell you about it. And so I thank you. Stan thanks you too, since he gets to eat everything I share with you.

Because I’m feeling thankful, I’m going to post a new recipe every day until Thanksgiving. Some of them will be things you might want to put on your Thanksgiving table. Others will be lighter, healthier options you might want to check out after your Thanksgiving feast. Either way, you’ll want to check back often because there is going to be some serious culinary goodness coming your way over the next five days.

To kick things off, I’d like to tell you about some cookies that might just rock your world. I made these for a party recently and to say they were a hit would be an understatement. To illustrate my point, picture a grown man walking around with a cookie in each hand, alternating bites between the two. That actually happened, and it wasn’t my husband – though he couldn’t stop eating them either.

The star and show-stopping ingredient in these cookies is dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is basically a caramelized milk product. It is thick and rich and sweet. You can buy it already prepared in cans or jars or you can make your own by caramelizing sweetened condensed milk. Look for prepared dulce de leche in the baking aisle of your supermarket next to the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk (that’s where I get mine) or in the international foods aisle in the Latin American section.

For these cookies, dulce de leche is added to the cookie batter and is used as a filling for the sandwiches. The cookies themselves are soft, chewy, and richly flavored. They are also a breeze to make if you have an electric mixer. Sandwiched together with a smear of dulce de leche in the middle, the cookies are a decadent, easily portable treat. They aren’t as fancy looking as many other desserts, but they are special enough that they will leave those lucky enough to try them begging for more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranberry Applesauce

I know I’ve been inundating you with fall flavors lately. I hope you don’t mind. I just can’t seem to resist the allure of crisp apples, bright pumpkin, and cozy spices. They call to me. They beg me to take them and make them into something delicious. And really, who am I to resist the siren song of my favorite season?

So bear with me, if you will, and indulge my fall flavor fanaticism just a wee bit longer. I promise you won’t be disappointed with what I have on deck. We’re talking all manner of warm (and cold) and cozy here. Cranberries are in season now, so they’ll be making some appearances. I still have more to tell you about all the wonderful things you can do with apples and pumpkin. Plus, to balance things out, I’ll make sure to throw in a few dinners and some sinful desserts. Do we have a deal?

Now about those cranberries I just mentioned. Last fall was the first time I’d ever cooked with fresh cranberries. I put them in bread, baked them with apples and pears under a buttery crisp topping, and got them drunk on brandy. Last fall was also the first (and last) time I tried a raw cranberry. Please learn from my mistake and never try them raw. If you don’t believe me, give one a try. I dare you. But I digress. Cranberry season is fleeting, so now is the perfect time to try out some new recipes.

Today’s recipe for cranberry applesauce is simple to make and is simply fantastic in taste – that alone makes it a winner in my book. All you do is take chunks of peeled apples (any kind you like), and throw them in a pot with fresh cranberries, some white and brown sugar, and a little cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice. Cook it all down until it is nice and mash-able, and then go to town with your potato masher. Easy enough, right? As for the taste, it’s a little sweet and a little tart. It can be as chunky or smooth as you like, and the pink color will do wonders to brighten up the dreariest fall day. This applesauce would also be lovely on any Thanksgiving table. Cook some up sometime soon, and I promise you’ll fall in love with fresh cranberries… just as long as you don’t try them raw.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nutty Pumpkin Granola

Granola is one of those things we pretty much always have in our kitchen. We love it over our morning yogurt. Stan stirs it into cottage cheese. More than once we’ve been known to eat it by the handful. I’m kind of embarassed to say that until now, pretty much all of our granola has been store-bought. I’ve made other granola-related snacks, but for just plain old granola, I’ve always defaulted to the kind that comes in a box. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but now that I know how easy it is to make homemade granola, I don’t see myself going back to store-bought anytime soon.

Today’s recipe helped me see the error of my ways. It combines oats with two kinds of nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), dried cranberries, and every spice that makes you think of fall. Pumpkin purée and maple syrup coat the granola and make everything stick together in delectable clumps. The end result is crunchy, a little (but not too) sweet, and a whole lot delicious. It’s also much healthier than pretty much any granola you can buy at the store because there are no added fats (besides those naturally occurring in the nuts), no artificial sweeteners, and no preservatives. With a few changes for seasonal variety, I think this just might be our new go-to granola.

** Also, on an administrative note, I wanted to let you know that I will be adding a new feature to my posts. At the end of each “story”, right above the new recipe, I will list the recipe(s) (and their corresponding links) that I posted approximately one year earlier. I think it’ll be a great way to remember some old favorites and introduce you to some recipes you might have missed. Just please do me a favor and try not to judge me on the less than lovely photographs from the early days! (I have gone back and added these links to my last three posts as well. Check them out to see what was cooking this time last year!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spiced Applesauce Cake

Sometimes I make desserts because I’m in the mood for something sweet. Other times, I bake because we have company coming over. Sometimes I pull out the sweet stuff because I want to try a new technique. And sometimes, sometimes, I make dessert for love.

Not to get all mushy on you, but today’s recipe was a love cake. Stan started back in school this week (he’s getting his MBA at night), and I wanted him to have some fresh baked, sugary goodness when he got home from class. Hence this cake. It’s simple. It’s pretty. It’s moist and lightly spiced. And it’s topped with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. This cake is pretty much perfect for impromptu weeknight baking. It also is a lovely and delicious way to show someone you love him or her.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chicken and Dumplings

So I have to tell you, I have not been inspired in the kitchen this week. Not at all. Nothing sounded great, nothing tasted exceptional, and there were no fall-inspired baked goods to be seen. What could cause such a case of the culinary blahs? I’ll give you one guess… and it has something to do with expanding waistlines. (More mine than Stan’s.)

If you guessed I’m on a diet, you’d be mostly right. I like to call it an exercise in portion control – it’s less depressing. But don’t worry, I have plenty of delicious recipes coming your way, healthy and sinfully not. Some of them are recipes I’ve been itching to tell you about for a while now. Others are ones I’ve been lining up for test runs in the kitchen. Either way, you don’t need to worry. My waistline issues need not have any effect on your culinary adventures. And let’s be honest, I don’t see this being a long-term self-improvement project. There’s a whole lot of holiday baking on the horizon, after all. (Please do not make judgments about my willpower. Or lack thereof. Thank you.)

Personal sharing aside, I do, in fact, have a new recipe to share with you today. And it is wond-der-ful. When I took my first bite, I’m pretty sure I said something like, “holy crap, this is good”. (Embarrassing, but true.) Let me tell you friends, you must try this version of chicken and dumplings. Imagine a rich chicken broth, full of poached chicken and veggies, and topped with light, biscuit-like dumplings. It is warm, hearty, and pretty much perfect for chilly fall evenings. I am certain you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday!

I can hardly believe today is the one-year anniversary/first birthday of The Well-Fed Newlyweds. Thank you to all of you who have been with me since the beginning, joined us along the way, and told your friends to check us out, too. It’s been a great ride so far, and I can’t wait to see what we cook up in the coming year.

(Clearly this is an out-of-season, not exactly recent picture, but it's all I had!!)

In case you haven’t been with us since the beginning – and let’s be honest, at the beginning most of my readers were related to me – I wanted to share with you some of our favorite recipes from the past year. These are recipes that we’ve loved enough to make more than once (something that doesn’t happen too often), recipes that changed our thinking about certain foods, and recipes that got rave reviews from our family and friends. I hope you enjoy them as much I we have.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Ginger Nut Muffins

If you follow (“Like”) The Well-Fed Newlyweds on Facebook, then you know we’ve ushered in pumpkin season in a major way. I’ve already made a few things, and I’ve got a long list of pumpkin recipes waiting to be tried, running the gamut from sweet to savory, soups to snacks. When it comes to pumpkins, I just can’t resist. The little ones are cute. The big ones are just begging to be carved into jack-o-lanterns (like my accidentally one-fanged bat). And the stuff in the can? It’s too convenient, and too seasonal, to resist.

It’s the canned stuff (or homemade purée) that you’re going to need to make these pumpkin ginger nut muffins. If you don’t already have some hanging out in your pantry, head to the store asap, because these muffins are the perfect fall treat. Pumpkin flavored with just the right amount of spice, these muffins are great for breakfast, make excellent, portable snacks, and are perfect for dessert with a cup of tea. We found these little babies to be pretty irresistible, and I had to keep reminding Stan not to eat them all before I had a chance to take some pictures. I’m pretty certain we’ll be eating these muffins until the end of pumpkin season... and if we freeze them, maybe longer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three Bean and Beef Chili

The days are still nice and warm here in Nashville. We’re talking 70 to 80 degrees most days. But the nights? Oh, the nights are wonderfully, finally, cool. You know the kind of nights I’m talking about. The kind that make you want to be outside sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows. Or cozy in bed under a pile of blankets with the windows open. Or sitting at the dinner table (or in front of the television) eating a bowl of something warm and hearty. Ah fall… how I’ve missed you.

And folks, let me tell you, I’ve missed this chili too. However, before I tell you about it, let me start off by saying that I know this is not a true, Texas-style, meat-and-nothing-else chili. But I’m okay with that. So chili-purists, please keep your objections to yourself – and forward me your recipes, because I’d love to try them.

Now about this chili... It’s got beans – pinto, black, and kidney. It’s also got lean ground beef and some carrots and red bell pepper to make it a little healthier. To top it off, it’s a little smoky because it gets its heat from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. (Chipotle peppers are actually just smoked jalapenos.) Basically, this chili is ridiculously delicious. It’s also versatile. We eat it as is, tuck it inside tortillas to make chili burritos, serve it over brown rice, and always top it with sour cream and cheese. It’s one of the few recipes I make repeatedly throughout the fall and winter. Give it a try for your next family dinner or football watching party. It might just become your new go-to chili. Beans and all.


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