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Two Peas and Their Pod: November 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Few of our Favorite Things

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.
One holiday down, one BIG one to go:)

Today is Black everyone
hitting the sales? Not us. We keep our shopping simple, we do it online or way in advance. I hate fighting the crowds!

We are sharing some of our favorite things in case you still need gift ideas. These are ideal for anyone who likes to cook/bake...or needs the motivation to like it:)

I included the link to on all of the items, but feel free to shop elsewhere! I hope this list is helpful!! Happy Shopping!


I love giving and receiving cookbooks. I think they are the perfect gift. A few of my favorites this year are: Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu, The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri, and Giada's Kitchen by Giada De Laurentiis. And of course my ALL time favorite is Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Everyone must have this book:)


Oh how I love my Silpats! I use them every time I bake cookies...which is a lot!! This baking mat works wonderfully as a baking pan liner or as a working surface because of its silicon and fiberglass non-stick surface which makes it very easy to clean too!!

Lemon Squeezer

This gadget makes juicing lemons and limes SO much easier. You can find them at most kitchen stores, but we buy ours at our local Mexican Market. They are super cheap there. ($5)

Microplane Grater/Zester

This is the perfect gift. We use it for all of our citrus fruits...lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, etc. We also use it for parmesan cheese. You can find these almost anywhere and they are not too expensive. (10-$15)

Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender

We love our magic wand! It blends and chops with the push of a button. We use it all of the time when we are making soups. It is so nice to just stick the blender in the pot to puree!

Villaware Panini Press

We love making panini sandwiches. They are so tasty! This panini press makes the best sandwiches!! The cooking surface heats up quickly and the ribbed grill plate imprints beautiful grill marks onto bread, veggies, and meats! You will love this panini press, we use it all of the time!

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker

We call this the dream machine. We were fortunate enough to receive this as a wedding gift and we love it! You don't have to freeze a container, it makes frozen treats on the spot. You can make homemade ice cream, gelato, sorbet, etc. in no time! This is for someone who has been extra nice this year, it is a little pricey:)


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


Both of our families live far, far, away so we are being adopted by the Robins' family this year. They are always too good to us! We are bringing homemade rolls to dinner..mmmm!! It should be a fabulous day!

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!! We are so grateful for all of you!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Baked Potato and Sweet Potato Chips

I am more of a sweets kind of girl, but sometimes I crave something salty. When that happens I reach for the chips, not any kind of chip though. I am picky:) I love chips and salsa, but I am not a fan of the regular, greasy, store bought chips. I prefer to make my own.

Making your own potato chips is so easy and it doesn't take long...and guess what you DON'T need to fry them! I am serious here. You can bake them in the oven and get the same, crispy results.

All you have to do is slice the potatoes really thin...we use our mandoline, makes this step easy and fun:) We used russet potatoes and sweet potatoes. Next, you season them...we kept it basic-salt and pepper and seasoned salt on half of them. Then you bake them! It is that easy!!

So if you don't mash up all of your potatoes this week. Give these chips a chance. They are the perfect snack for game day. I know there is going to be a lot of football on and everyone needs something to munch on during tense moments:) Plus, after indulging all week you need something a little bit healthy:)

Baked Potato/Sweet Potato Chips

2 medium potatoes (we used russet and sweet potato, leave the skins on)
Cooking Spray-we used a canola spray

salt and pepper to taste or seasoned salt...or use whatever seasonings you like! You can really go wild here!

Directions: Slice potatoes to about 1/8" thickness. We used our mandoline. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Briefly spray the tops of the potatoes with cooking spray too. Sprinkle with seasonings.
Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Start checking the chips at about 15 minutes. Remove chips that are browning...the sweet potatoes got done faster than the russets. Continue to bake, but keep an eye on them. Let them cool and then enjoy!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Recipe for Spinach Cheese Ravioli

The other night we invited our good friend, Ben, over for a ravioli lesson. Ben lived with Josh while we were dating and shares our passion for good food. Ben recently expressed interest in making homemade we set a date for ravioli night. We love an excuse to cook up a storm!

Josh made the dough while I worked on the spinach and cheese filli
ng and the sauce. Ben helped us roll out the dough, cut, and fill the little raviolis. Ben was a natural:) We all had a great time in the kitchen...and of course we enjoyed eating it too! Homemade pasta is the best...especially when you stuff it with a delicious filling!! And just a note, we posted ravioli on our blog before,both recipes are good, but we like this recipe give this one a try if you are going to make it!

Thanks for coming over Ben, we need to cook together more often!! And to all the single ladies out there, Ben is still a bachelor! He is a stud to say the least and trust me, you want a man who can cook...It is SOOO nice and Ben certainly knows his way around the kitchen..ha!! Ok, we had to give him a plug:, he is the best:)

Fresh Egg Pasta

4 large eggs
1 T water
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

1. Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in mixer bowl. (we use our Kitchenaid) Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds.
2. Now use the dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and knead for two minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1-2 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes. Divide the dough into four pieces before processing with the pasta roller.
3. Roll out pasta according to your pasta maker’s instructions. We have the Kitchenaid attachment and it works wonders!!

Spinach and Cheese Ravioli

1 bunch of fresh spinach-wash and remove stems
(about 1 pound) or use frozen chopped spinach (10 oz.)
½ medium onion, minced

1 T olive oil
¾ cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large egg yolk

Salt and pepper

1. Place damp spinach leaves in a large skillet over medium heat. Cover with a lid and let the leaves wilt. Once wilted let cool and then chop.
Heat 1 T of olive oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, until translucent. Stir in the spinach and salt to taste. Cook for about one minute.

2. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella, and the egg yolk. Mix well and set aside. The filling can be refrigerated overnight.
3. Lay out your long sheets of pasta on a lightly floured table. Place small balls of filling, about 1 teaspoon, in a line about one inch from the bottom of the pasta sheet. Leave about 1 1/4 inches between each ball of filling. Fold over the top of the pasta sheet, lining it with the bottom edge. Seal the bottom and 2 open sides with your finger. Use a ravioli cutter to cut out the individual raviolis. Place the ravioli on a large plate.

4. Boil a huge pot of water with salt. Add in the ravioli and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Strain and serve with the sauce of your choice. We used a homemade marinara sauce with lots of garlic. It was quite tasty!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

I can't believe it is Thanksgiving week! Time is truly flying! I hope everyone is ready for the big day!! The countdown is on!!

If you are still looking for the perfect ice cr
eam to go with all of your homemade pies, look no further! This vanilla bean ice cream is divine. The recipe comes from David's book, The Perfect you know it is going to be good. David is the king of ice cream, in my opinion.

Using a real vanilla bean is the key here. You steep the bean/seeds for thirty minutes with the custard, which really brings out a nice vanilla flavor.
You also add in some vanilla extract too! The vanilla flavor is strong, and you know you are eating the good stuff when you can see the black specks in your ice cream.

For fun, we made Dorie's caramel sauce to drizzle on top! Talk about a great dessert! The caramel sauce was easy to make...just keep a close eye on it so you don't burn it:) It will keep in the fridge for awhile use it up on other desserts or drink it if you are really craving sugar:) It is that good!!!

So hurry up and make some ice cream this week...your pies will taste even better:)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
from the Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream, and salt in medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. Cover and remove from the heat. Let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs yolks. Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and stir it constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula until mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour custard through strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture completely in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean (rinse it and reserve it for another use) then freeze the mixture according to the ice cream maker’s instructions.

Dorie’s Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
3 T water
1 T light corn syrup
¾ cup heavy cream
1 T unsalted butter

Put the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Heat over medium heat without stirring, until the caramel turns a deep amber color, 5-10 minutes…it took ours ten! It will turn fast, so keep watching it!

Lower the heat, stand back from the saucepan and add the cream and butter. Stir to smooth and calm down the caramel. Remove the pan from the heat.

Pour the caramel into a heatproof jar and cool until it is slightly warm-for about an hour.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for about a week. Just reheat in the microwave. This is great over ice cream, cakes, tarts, etc!!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Everyone is wondering how we find the time to cook and bake so much. We are not slaves to our kitchen, we just work as a team...four hands are much better than two:) So while I am sifting the dry ingredients, Josh is measuring out the liquids...or while Josh is making the dough, I am working on the sauce, etc. So recipes come together in no time! Josh is my side-kick. We do almost everything together. Being in the kitchen is so fun for us!

So with that said...I had nothing to do with this m
eal:) It was all Josh. I had to work late so he made me dinner all by his lonesome. He tries to cook for me a lot, but I usually won't let him because I enjoy helping. I can't relax if I know he is in the kitchen cooking up a storm. It is not fair to let him have all the fun! But this time I wasn't home so he surprised me with a terrific meal.

We love having breakfast foods for dinner, sometimes it is too hard to cook a big meal in the mornings...except for on weekends. So when I walked in the door to the smell of pancakes cooking on the griddle, I was very excited. I was even more excited when I saw the plump blueberries inside. YUM!!!

Josh made Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes with the works. He knows I don't like eggs that much but I do appreciate scrambled egg whites so he made those and some hashbrowns. He also cooked up some sausage for his plate. I don't eat the stuff.

The meal was very tasty!! I have the greatest husband!!

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup flour (I use half whole wheat)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk, plus 2 Tablespoons
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Optional toppings-syrup, powdered sugar, jam, etc.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Pour into flour mixture and stir lightly until just combined. The batter will be lumpy and that is OK! Grease a non-stick skillet and cook pancakes on medium heat. As soon as you pour the batter on the griddle, drop the blueberries on the pancake. Cook until the edges bubble. Flip and cook other side. Serve with syrup, etc. Really any toppings you want!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chocolate Chip Amish Puff Cookies

Anita Chu’s new book Field Guide to Cookies: How to Identify and Bake Virtually Every Cookie Imagineable is the talk of the town these days. The book is on a "food blog tour" and the reviews are amazing!

I am not surprised because Anita is one of my favorite people. I have been following her blog, Dessert First, for quite some time now. She makes the most elegant, sophisticated, and gorgeous desserts and her photos are breathtaking. She is full of talent, personality, and pure kindness. She has always been so nice and helpful...even before I had a blog.

When I heard she was coming out with a cookie book, I was very excited!! Cookies are my favorite thing to bake. I recently flipped through the book at Barnes and Noble and was super impressed. I love how small it is. You can take this book anywhere! The book is small, but not lacking in recipes. I think Anita included every cookie recipe out there:) I can't wait to try them all. I am ordering my book from
Amazon...along with my Christmas gifts. So hopefully it won't take long to get here! I can't wait to get my own copy!

Food bloggers have been sharing some of the recipes from the book and when I saw the Chocolate Chip Amish Puff Cookies on
Erin Cooks I immediately got out the butter and sugar:)

These cookies are a mix between the classic chocolate chip cookie and snickerdoodles. Two of my all time favs!! I never thought of mixing the two...again, Anita is a genius:) The dough has cream of tartar which is typically found in a snickerdoodle. You also roll the chocolate chip dough in cinnamon and sugar. Not only did it make the cookies pretty, but it added a nice sweetness too.

The cookies were supposed to be "Puffs" but I pushed them down before baking because I wanted them to be flatter, like the traditional snickerdoodle. Two thumbs up for these cookies! They were wonderful! So when you are in the mood for two kinds of cookies, make these! You will be satisfied...and only have to make one batch of dough.

Congratulations Anita on a fabulous book! This is the perfect gift for the holidays, so go out and get it today!!!

Chocolate Chip Amish Puff Cookies
Seen on Erin Cooks and Adapted From: A Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined.

Add the flour mixture, and mix on low speed just until combined.

Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Combine cinnamon and sugar in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line several cookies sheets with parchment paper (I used silpats).

Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in the cinnamon sugar and place on cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown. Cool cookie sheets on wire racks.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Whole Wheat Crepes with Spinach and Mushrooms

There are days when I want a good meal, but FAST and I mean FAST!! I am not a patient person:) Some would opt to go through a drive-thru or eat out, but remember I said good meal:) So what did we do the other night when we were starving and craving good, healthy food? We went to Closet Cooking and found a fabulous recipe to try!!

We stumbled upon Kevin's Spinach and Mushroom Crepes and thought they would be perfect for our hunger pains. We were right!! We made some changes to the recipe...we adapted it to our tastes and really what we had in the fridge. We adde
d in some zucchini, used mozzarella and feta cheese, added fresh basil, etc.

The whole wh
eat crepes were perfect to roll up around our savory filling. I need to make these crepes more often. Maybe I will do a sweet version next time. They really were killer!

I also made a spinach salad with dried cranberries, oranges, an
d a raspberry vinigrette to go with too! We were eating good in the neighborhood...and in minutes! Thanks Kevin for the inspiration!

Spinach and Mushroom Whole Wheat Crepes

Adapted from Closet Cooking

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
8 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

½ cup zucchini(chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 T balsamic vinegar
6 whole wheat crepes
Mozzarella and Feta cheese (use what you like)

Fresh Basil

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until just starting to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.
4. Add the mushrooms and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and saute until they are soft.
5. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts.
6. Add in the balsamic vinegar.
7. Place some of the mushroom and spinach mixture into a crepe followed by some cheese and fresh basil.

Whole Wheat Crepes

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter (melted)

1. Mix everything in a large bowl.
2. Pour 1/4 of the mixture into a lightly buttered pan heated at medium. (Make sure you use a small saute or crepe pan)
3. Tilt the pan and turn so that the mixture evenly coats the entire bottom of the pan.
4. Cook the crepe until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
5. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Homemade Graham Crackers

Josh has been wanting to make homemade graham crackers for quite some time. We finally moved them to the top of the baking list and conquered these tasty little crackers.

I am surprised at how easy they were! We used our trusty old food processor which made the task a breeze. The hardest part was letting the dough chill for an hour. We were anxious to sample them!

Once the dough was chilled, we rolled it out and used cookie cutters to cut the dough. We used a flower and a circle. Of course, you can cut the crackers into the traditional squares, but we are not traditional people:) We sprinkled some with cinnamon and sugar for fun and baked them for about 15 minutes.

They crisped up quite nicely. Once they cooled d
own a bit, I slathered some dark chocolate on a few of them. Why stop there??? So we got out the marshmallow cream and made S'mores. What a fun little treat to make! Next, we will try making homemade marshmallows. I can't even imagine the two teaming up together. I am sure they will be the perfect pair.

Try making homemade graham crackers, they are SO much better than store bought ones!! And do sprinkle some with cinnamon and sugar...we really loved those!

Graham Crackers

½ cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 T honey
1 T molasses
¼ cup water, plus a little more if it is too dry

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Cut in the butter until the texture is dry and crumbly.

In a small bowl, mix the honey, molasses, and water. Mix with the dry ingredients until blended in the food processor. Pulse the dough until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface, we used whole wheat flour for this part. Roll the dough out thin and cut with cookie cutters. Or you can do the traditional graham cracker shape. If you do this cut them into rectangles and poke each cracker with a fork. Place them on an cookie sheet. We used a Silpat.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown and crisp. Store in an air tight container. They will keep for awhile.

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