Monthly Archives

November 2011


Shun Knife Giveaway! (closed)

November 28, 2011
If you’ve been an Espresso and Cream reader for a while, then you may have noticed that giveaways have been a little sparse around here lately. I think the last giveaway I did was back during the beginning of October. I’ve been a little bit busy, sure, but the real reason I’ve been holding back on the giveaways is because I wanted to make December’s giveaway something really special.
When I turned 18 my mom gave me the best gift a food-loving high school senior could get, my first real knives. Although I’m sure there were a few people who thought it was a strange gift, I was overjoyed. I still remember going to Williams-Sonoma with my mom to pick out the perfect knives to start my collection. Of trying to be terribly ‘grown up’ and pretending I actually knew what in the world I was talking about. I’m still not entirely sure I know what I’m talking about sometimes, but I do know how much I love my Shun knives, even to this day.
So today, as we kick off the Christmas season of gift-giving, I wanted to give one of you a gift as a token of appreciation for being awesome, for reading Espresso and Cream, and for making being a part of this food community such a wonderful experience.
In order to do it up big, I’m giving away a Shun Classic 7 1/2″ Double Hollow-Ground Sumo Santoku knife (pictured above). To enter, leave a comment below between now and November 30th at 9 p.m. letting me know what you are thankful for this holiday season.


Toasted Pecan Shortbread

November 28, 2011

Nothing like getting a jump on December cooking making, right? I was sitting on the couch with some of my cookbooks last week when I stumbled upon a shortbread recipe in Gourmet Today. There wasn’t anything different about the recipe. In fact, it was pretty simple. Straightforward and to the point is how I like my recipes.

What really got me hooked on the idea of making this shortbread was the idea that it could be a blank canvas for almost any holiday flavor my heart desired. So instead of leaving it plain, as the recipe suggested, I tossed some chopped pecans with ground cinnamon and salt for a little play on the sweet and salty.

When this cookie first came out of the oven, before I cut it into wedges, Joey was quite skeptical. However, after serving one up with a glass of milk, he was a believer. Upon first bite, he demanded they make an appearance on the blog as well as at family Christmas.

Toasted Pecan Shortbread
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Today

*1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 stick unsalted butter, softened
*1/3 cup sugar
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 cup all-purpose flour

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line one baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
*In a small bowl combine the pecans, cinnamon and salt. Toss together to coat. Spread nuts on an ungreased baking pan and toast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until pecans are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from oven to cool.
*Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add in the flour and worth together with your hands until evenly incorporated. Mixture will be slightly crumbly. Transfer dough onto prepared baking sheet and press mixture into a disc about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Spread the toasted nut mixture atop the dough and press lightly with your hands to get the nuts to adhere to the dough.
*Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and the dough is puffed up. Cool on wire rack. Cut cooled cookie into wedges to serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Happy Baking!


A Happy Thanksgiving, Indeed!

November 26, 2011
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of delicious food and plenty of dessert. And if you are a little bit crazy (like my family is), then I hope you got some amazing Black Friday deals, too! 
We arrived back home to Orange City on Wednesday night and got to prepping for the Thanksgiving meal right away. My mom had already set the tables and had the turkey soaking in a brine, but there was plenty to do. Since we hosted the meal for my extended family this year, we were also in charge of the menu. My mom had pulled out all the stops, making her own turkey stock and drying her own sage. Unfortunately, on Thursday morning my mom woke me up at 6 a.m., sick with the flu and unable to continue on with turkey day prep. 
Although we hadn’t planned on being Thanksgiving hosts or solo cooks without my mom’s help, Joey and I jumped in and carried on my mom’s elaborate plans for an amazing meal. Since she is incredibly organized and did much of the work ahead of time, I only freaked out a little bit. I’m happy to report that a great meal was had by all and my mom has recovered from her 24-hour bug. 
Here are a few pics of what we made and ate!
 Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Video Tutorial: How to Make an Infinity Scarf

November 23, 2011

As promised, I filmed a video tutorial this week on how to make the infinity scarf I posted a couple weeks back after getting a number of people asking me for the pattern I used. The thing is, I didn’t use a pattern, I just sort of flew by the seat of my pants and made it up as I go.

Before you watch the video, know that:
a. I know very little about crocheting, so my verbage and explanations are very elementary
b. I have no intentions of becoming a craft blogger.
c. The only time I find for crafting is when I’m in my sweatpants, sans makeup, late at night.

Please have mercy on me. And if you find time this weekend for a little craft project, give this scarf a go!



Happy Thanksgiving!


Baked Oatmeal

November 21, 2011

Since I’m guessing by now most of you have your Thanksgiving meal planned and your recipes selected, I thought it might be helpful to shift gears a bit. Chances are that during the next month you will probably have guests staying at your house overnight, or perhaps you are planning on hosting a brunch in the days leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas.

For me, this type of situation has always proved to be a little tricky. The most common large-group breakfast and brunch dishes seem to be sugar-laden pastries, coffee cakes and greasy egg bakes. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just prefer to start off the morning with something a little healthier.

I have no idea why it took me so long to get on the baked oatmeal bandwagon, but I’m so glad finally took the plunge. When Heidi’s recipe for baked oatmeal started making its way around the internet, I was intrigued. But it wasn’t until last night that I gathered up my ingredients and fired up the oven.

Although the original recipe calls for fresh berries, I used thawed, frozen berries since I wasn’t about to pay an arm and a leg for fresh this time of year. I also baked the oatmeal in a 9×13-inch pan instead of an 8×8 and upped the number of bananas used, since the baked bananas are the best part of this recipe. Heidi’s original recipe also calls for three tablespoons of butter, an ingredient I left out without any issue.

This dish left our house with the most heavenly aroma while it was baking and had us drooling when we pulled it out of the oven. I couldn’t help but sneak a small bowl for dessert last night, and helped myself to more for breakfast this morning. While it still tasted good the next day, I would highly recommend baking it the morning you plan to serve it, since that’s when the flavor and texture is pure perfection.

Baked Oatmeal
Recipe slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks 

*2 cups rolled oats
*1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted and chopped
*1/3 cup natural cane sugar
*1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
*2 cups milk (I used 2%)
*1 large egg
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*3 ripe bananas cut into 1/2-inch pieces
*1 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries), thawed

*Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the oats, 1/2 of the pecans, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
*In a second bowl, combine the milk, egg and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Set aside.
*Line the bottom of the prepared baking pan with the bananas in a single layer covering the entire bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the thawed berries. Sprinkle the oats mixture evenly over the bananas and berries in the pan. Evenly pour the milk and egg mixture atop the oat layer. Give the baking pan a couple shakes to evenly distribute the milk mixture through the oats. Top with the remaining berries and pecans. Sprinkle with a little additional cane sugar, if desired.
*Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the edges are slightly bubbly and oatmeal looks set. The mixture will still be slightly moist but should feel ‘set up’ when you touch with your finger. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before serving. Makes 6 servings or 12 servings as part of a larger brunch spread.

Approximate calories for 6 servings: 332 calories, 11 g fat (2 g sat. fat) , 314 mg sodium, 50 g carbohydrates, 9.6 g protein.  

Happy Baking!