Monday, December 26, 2011

Toffee Squares... and home for the holidays!

Hi everyone!  It's Tall One here.  Small One and I are both FINALLY home for the holidays!  Small One is actually visiting family in rural West Virginia with shotty internet service and absolutely no cell phone reception, so I'll be taking the reins for a couple of days.  Thanks to crazy scheduling conflicts, I have not been able to make it home since the 4th of July so it has been better than ever to be back in my hometown for Christmas this year.  After a great couple of days celebrating with family, it was time to get down to business in the kitchen.  In honor of being home, I could think of nothing better to whip up than these simple Toffee Squares that I've been eating at Christmastime for years.

-40 saltine crackers
-1 cup (2 sticks) butter
-1 cup brown sugar
-2 cups chocolate chips of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 10x15 inch pan and cover with saltine crackers by laying them side by side over the entire surface.  You may need to overlap a few of the crackers, but that isn't a problem.  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the brown sugar and bring mixture to a boil.  Boil for about five minutes or until a nice think consistency forms.  Pour hot toffee over crackers and spread evenly to cover the entire pan.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Allow toffee to cool for about 15 minutes.  Once again, melt chocolate chips (I usually use milk chocolate, but this time I used semi-sweet... both have great results and I think that dark chocolate would be great as well) over low heat, stirring constantly.  If you are worried about burning the chocolate, use a double boiler.  Once chocolate is melted, pour over toffee and spread evenly over entire surface.  Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.  Once toffee is cooled, it is easy to pop out of the pan, thanks to all that butter!  Squares can be cut using a sharp knife or or pizza cutter, but I prefer to just break them into different size pieces with my hands.

The ingredients my not be the most figure friendly, but it's the holidays so live a little!!

Tall and Small

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peppermint Cookie Sandwiches

Every aspiring baker, chef, blogger, or food gawker knows and loves "Smitten Kitchen."  The Spatularettes are no exception!  We took this classic homemade oreo recipe and HOLIDAY-IFIED it.  We think Buddy the Elf would approve!

For the cookie:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 stick softened, unsalted butter 
1 large egg
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

For the filling:
1/2 stick softened, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2-3 Tbs crushed candy canes
Red food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.  On a low speed, add the very soft butter and mix until your cookie dough becomes one big mass of chocolatey yumminess.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a small spoon or your hands, make small balls and place on cookie sheet, about an inch and half apart.  We like to make smaller cookies because, well... the more the merrier!  Bake for 8 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through.

For the filling, cream together the butter and shortening, slowly adding the sugar and extract.  Crank your mixer up to a higher speed to make your filling light and fluffy!  Add the food coloring a drop at a time until you get your desired color.  Bring the mixer back to a slower speed to fold in the candy cane pieces.

Once your cookies have cooled, make cookie pairs - most of our cookies are not the same size.  (Become a cookie Chris Harrison, if you will...).  Use a spoon or pastry bag to fill your cookies with pepperminty cream filling!

From our kitchen to yours, Happy Holidays!

Tall and Small

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

The season of celebration has been flying by, but with less than a week to go until Christmas, things aren't ready to slow down yet.  Work parties, church parties, friends' parties, family gatherings, Christmas Eve celebrations, and we can't forget about New Years! It seems that as soon as we clean up the kitchen from one holiday mess, its time to prepare a dish for the next event on the calendar.  Quite frankly, we are getting tired and we're sure you are too!  So if you are looking for a holiday munchy for your next get-together and don't have the time, energy, or motivation to lug out your Kitchen Aid mixer or reload your dishwasher again, The Spatularettes have the recipe for you!  These seasoned oyster crackers are simple, delicious, and addictive.  They store well in a sealed container for days, so make them ahead of time, pack them up, and grab them as you run out the door to your next holiday party!

-2 9 oz packages of oyster crackers
-1 cup oil (we used canola)
-1 tsp dill week
-1 tsp garlic salt
-1 tsp black pepper
-1 package of Hidden Valley ranch mix

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Combine all ingredients except for oyster crackers in a large bowl and mix until well combine.  Add oyster crackers and toss gently until coated.  Transfer seasoned crackers into a 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for 1 hour, stirring crackers every 15 minutes.  See what we mean?  Easy and mess free!

Tip from The Spatularettes: After snacking on these, you might want to pop a breath mint before chatting with your favorite Spatular ;)

Tall and Small

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Candy Cane Cookies

Keeping with our theme this month, The Spatulartettes have another family recipe to share.  This one comes from Tall One's grandma, Mimi, and has been served at family Christmases for as long as she can remember.  When Tall One moved away from home, Mimi sent her oldest granddaughter off with a few boxes of her used kitchen accessories, including a large stack of mini muffin tins, a lazy susan, and a fondue pot circa 1975.  More importantly, though she sent hand written recipe cards for some of Tall One's favorite treats.  These Candy Cane Cookies were in the stack of cards.  They are a fun twist (literally and figuratively) on a basic sugar cookie and are perfect for holiday parties.  The twisting technique can be a little bit tricky at first, but is worth it for the adorable result.  So from Mimi's kitchen, to our kitchens, to your kitchen we bring you Christmas cheer and Candy Cane Cookies.

-1/2 c shortening
-1/2 c butter
-1 c confectioner's sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp almond extract**
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 1/2 c flour
-1 tsp salt.
-1/2 tsp red food coloring

**Feel free to play around with the extracts you use.  This is Mimi's recipe, but when we made these this year, we actually used 1/2 tsp of peppermint extract instead of the almond.

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream shortening, butter, and sugar.  When mixture is light and fluffy, add egg and extracts and mix until combined.  Blend in flour and salt until dough forms.

Divide dough in half.  Add 1/2 tsp red food coloring to one half.  Chill dough until very cold.  It is extremely important to chill the dough well or it will be difficult to create the twists.
Once dough is chilled, roll about a 1/4 c of each dough into a long snake.  Twist the red and white dough together and gently roll to form a single snake.  Cut snake into approximately two inch segments and bend each segment into the shape of a candy cane.  Repeat with the remainder of the dough.  We suggest putting the unused dough back into the refrigerator to keep it cold until  you are ready to work with it.
Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until white part just beings to turn golden brown.
Be nice and make your friends cookies!  Or Santa will bring you COAL!

Tall and Small

Friday, December 9, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

As we mentioned before, The Spatularettes won't be able to spend as much time back home as we would like this holiday season.  Therefore we are bringing the the flavors of home to our kitchens here in Philadelphia.  When we think about recipes, few things are as mom-inspired as a bowl of homemade soup.  So in honor of family, food, and keeping things seasonal this month, we want to bring you a recipe for a delicious hearty soup.  The winter winds may be heading our way, but you will have no problem staying warm with this roasted acorn squash soup on the table. 

3 acorn squash, cut in half
1/2 tbs olive oil
2 carrots, cut in 1 in pieces
1 white onion
2 cups frozen corn
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Cut squash in half and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and lay squash, cut side up, on foil.  Roast for 30 minutes or until flesh is fork tender.  Scoop out the meat of the squash with a spoon and set aside.
While squash is roasting, heat olive oil in a medium pot.  Saute carrots, onions, and corn until tender.  Combine squash with other vegetables in pot and add vegetable broth.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Using a blender or food processor, blend contents of pot in batches until smooth.  Return soup to pot and season with cayenne, salt, and garlic powder.  Adjust seasoning to taste depending on how much spice you can handle.
To turn this simple soup into something special we suggest topping with homemade whipped cream.  In a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, beat cream until soft peaks form.  Fold in a pinch of cayenne, sea salt, and garlic powder.  Dollop cream on top of individual soup bowls and allow to melt into soup as you eat.
Warm, savory, and satisfying.  The perfect combination for a winter night.

Tall and Small

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hot Berry Cider

The Spatularettes are firm believers in celebrating one holiday at a time.  We are not fans of walking into the mall and seeing the Christmas decorations intermingled with Halloween.  The most wonderful time of the year and the scariest time of the year DO NOT MIX.  But now that Thanksgiving has passed and December has begun, we couldn't be more ready for the Christmas season!  Because of our busy work and school schedules, The Spatularettes will not be heading "home for the holidays" until Christmas is literally upon us.  Therefore, we are dedicating this month to bringing some of the comforts of our childhood Christmases to our new homes in the city.  We'll share some of our favorite family recipes and traditions as well as some new treats that we'll be serving up at holiday parties this season.  We could think of no better way to kick off a month of celebration than with Tall One's mom's (Tall Mom?) recipe for Hot Berry Cider!  Whip up a batch and let it simmer in the crock pot all day.  Your kitchen will smell like Christmas and ...... 

-1 gallon apple cider
-4 cups of berries (fresh or frozen)
-8 sticks cinnamon
-4 tsp whole cloves

In a large pot on the stove top, mix all ingredients together and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.  Use whatever berries you can find easily and cheaply since December isn't exactly berry season.  Tall One's mom usually uses 4 cups of strawberries that she picked and froze the previous summer.  The Spatularettes used 2 cups of fresh strawberries, 1 cup of fresh raspberries, and 1 cup of fresh blueberries.  It is delicious any way.  Once the berries have started to cook down, run the cider through a sieve in order to strain out the seeds and spices.  Keep warm in crock pot or on the stove top. 

Looking for a little kick?  Add 1 cup apple brandy after straining the cider.

Garnish with a cinnamon stick or apple slice when serving to guests.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and thanks to this recipe it's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas too!

Tall and Small

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Pizza

We all love Thanksgiving.  The turkey, the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce.  And we all love the leftovers... for a day or two.  But by the time Monday rolls around, nobody really wants ANOTHER cold turkey sandwich.  So we've come up with a fun and different way to use up the last bit of your Thanksgiving leftovers: Thanksgiving pizza!  It might seem a little strange at first, but you are going to love it.  This pizza is comfort food at its finest!

-1 refrigerated pizza crust
-1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
-1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
-1/2 cup shredded turkey
-1/2 cup prepared stuffing
-1/2 cup whole sweetened cranberries (from cranberry sauce)
-1 small celery stock, diced
-1/2 small onion, chopped
-2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
-Leaves from 2 strips of marjoram
-10 tarragon leaves, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Begin by rolling a store bought pizza crust out onto a pizza pan or cookie sheet that has been greased or lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.  If you want to make your own crust, be our guest, but you've already cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner so don't feel guilty about going store bought.  Spread a thin layer of mashed potatoes on your crust.  We used about a cup and a half.  Make sure you reheat the potatoes first for easy spreading.  We also suggest using very flavorful mashed potatoes since they will be the base of your pizza.  If you prefer your potatoes plain with Thanksgiving dinner, just add some extra butter, milk and garlic when when you reheat them.  Once you've spread the potatoes, cover with a layer of shredded cheese.  We used a blend to mozzarella and provolone.  Evenly spread shredded turkey, celery, onions, and herbs over the pizza.  If you don't have the herbs listed above, use whatever fresh herbs you have left over from making dinner.  Next, evenly distribute the stuffing in small batches over the surface of the pizza.  Finally, add the cranberries.  We didn't have have any cranberry sauce, so we just cooked down 1/4 cup of fresh cranberries in a 1/2 cup of water with a couple tablespoons of sugar over medium heat until they began to pop.  Turn off the heat and allow cranberries to cool before adding to the pizza.

Bake on the bottom oven rack for 10 to 12 minutes.  We only left it in for 10 minutes and found that the crust wasn't quite as crisp as we would have liked in the middle.  Keep an eye on the pizza, and pull it out when it is done to your liking.

Way cooler than cold turkey sandwiches in your lunchbox don't you think?

Tall and Small

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Burger Sliders

The past year has been a whirlwind for both of The Spatularettes, but in all of the craziness we have found so much to be thankful for!  In honor of the season of giving thanks, we want to share a couple of new recipes with you.  They may be Thanksgiving inspired, but are perfect to make any day of the year!  After all, just like we should give thanks year round, not just on Thanksgiving day, we should also eat delicious food year round!  (maybe just in smaller quantities)

This year Tall One was not able to make the 7 hour trek home to spend Thanksgiving with her family and instead stayed in Philadelphia.  Just because she was spending the holiday alone, doesn't mean she didn't celebrate!  She spent her morning with a Pumpkin Spice Latte downtown watching the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade.  Macy's New York parade may be the most famous in the country, but Philadelphia's parade was the first!  After the parade she spent a few hours serving Thanksgiving dinner at the Sunday Breakfast Association.  This is a seriously cool organization that is doing a lot of good for Philadelphia's homeless community.  If you live in the area, we suggest checking them out as they are looking for volunteers and donations year round, not just at the holidays.

After a busy day, Tall One decided on a relaxing evening at home with a fun twist on Thanksgiving dinner.  Cooking for one is already tricky, but trying to make a holiday dinner for one is nearly impossible!  That's why Tall One dreamed up these Thanksgiving Turkey Burger Sliders with cranberry spread.  These are an awesome and easy alternative to Thanksgiving dinner and can be enjoyed any day that you are looking for a little comfort food or feeling extra thankful and want to celebrate.


-1 lb ground turkey
-1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup frozen whole corn kernels, thawed
-1 1/2 Tbs fresh herbs, chopped
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 tsp garlic powder
-Pre-made stuffing, warmed
-8 dinner rolls

-1 part cranberry sauce
-2 parts mayonnaise or miracle whip
-pinch of salt

For the burgers, start by chopping 1 1/2 Tbs of fresh herbs.  Tall One used tarragon, thyme, and marjoram, but use whatever herbs you typically feature in your Thanksgiving dinner.  In a bowl, use a wooden spoon (or your hands) to combine the first seven burger ingredients.  Form the mixture into 8 small patties and use your thumb to make a small indent in the center of each patty to help them cook more evenly.  Cook the burgers until done in a frying pan or on a grill pan on your stove top.  Feel free to use a grill, but lay the burgers on foil first so the cheese doesn't drip through the grates.  In the frying pan, the burgers took about 5 minutes on each side over medium heat to cook through.

For the cranberry spread, put 1 part whole cranberry sauce and 2 parts mayonnaise or miracle whip in a food processor.  Pulse a few times to break up the cranberries and then allow the processor to run for about 30 seconds.  Tall One used about 1/3 cup of miracle whip and 1/6 cup of cranberry sauce.  Add salt to taste and then whirl one more time to make sure it is well combined.

To assemble the burgers, slice the dinner rolls in half.  Spread each side with some of the cranberry spread.  Top rolls with burgers, and top burgers with a Tbs or so of hot stuffing.

Serve these sliders with a side of sweet potato fries and some gravy for dipping, and you will have one more thing to be thankful for this year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Savory Stuffed Apples

You may have noticed, but since we started posting, we haven't really done much blog maintenance.  Sure, we've posted a few fun recipes, but the rest of the site, well... needs some work.  We are here to tell you though that we have loads of great ideas for the site, and that they will actually be COMING SOON!!  The problem is the last couple of months have been nothing short of overwhelming for The Spatularettes.  So this week we are going to share some new recpies and let you know a little more about what we've been up to lately.  And we will leave you with the promise that things are about to get a whole lot better over here in Spatularette world!

Tall One's free time over the last few months has been filled with one thing: MARATHON TRAINING!  That's right, last weekend Tall One ran the New York City marathon!  The race didn't go quite as well as she would have liked, but she managed to finish and had the opportunity to experience NYC in a very unique way.  With the race behind her, Tall One has been able to enjoy a little extra free time in the evenings this week, and could think of no better way to spend it than in the kitchen.

In honor of Tall One's recent athletic endeavor in The Big Apple, we bring you a recipe for Savory Stuffed Apples.  They do require a bit of prep work, but are still easy enough to pull off as a weeknight side dish.

-3 baking apples (we suggest Empire)
-olive oil
-1/2 small onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
-2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
-1 slice of bread (multi-grain is really good, but any kind will work), torn into small pieces.
-splash of apple cider

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Core three apples from the top, but leave the bottoms intact so you are able to fill them later.  Use a knife to create a wider opening so you are left with a cavity that is large enough to fill.  Discard the cores and stems.  Chop the remaining bits of apple that were removed from the cavity into small pieces.  Set cored apples and chopped apples aside.

In a medium sized pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and allow to soften for a couple of minutes.  Add garlic and sautee for another couple of minutes.  Next add the sage and Italian sausage, and use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small bits as it cooks.  Once the sausage is cooked through, toss in the chopped apple and let soften for a minute before adding the bread pieces and the splash of apple cider.  Stir together until the mixture forms a stuffing consistency.  Slowly add additional cider if needed.  Finally salt and pepper to taste.

Spray a loaf pan (or other baking pan with sides) with cooking spray.  Place hollowed apples in the baking pan and fill with stuffing.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until apples become soft.  Be careful not to bake your apples for too long, or you risk them falling apart when you trasnfer them to a plate.

Want to make this into a complete dinner that will look like you were slaving in the kitchen all day, but in reality only takes a few extra minutes??  Of course you do!

Once you've stuffed the apples, crank the heat back up to medium under the same pan you made the stuffing in (don't eve bother cleaning it).  Salt and pepper 2 boneless pork chops and then toss them in the pan to brown for about 2 minutes on each side.  Transfer the pork chops to a glass baking dish.  Slice up one apple along with the other half of the onion you didn't use in the stuffing.  Toss them into the baking dish with the chops.  Finally pour enough apple cider into the baking dish to evenly coat the bottom, but not submerge the pork.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  (How convinient, that is the exact time and temp that the apples bake at!)

While your dinner is in the oven, whip up a delicious sauce to drizzle over everything.  Over medium heat in the same pan you've been using all night, melt 1 Tbs of butter.  Mix in 1 Tbs of flour and stir together for a minute or two to form a roux.  Pour in about 3/4 cup of apple cider.  Whisk the mixutre over medium heat until it begins to thicken.  Stir in about a 1/4 cup of half and half and simmer over low heat until your meal is finished baking.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Check back this weekend for another new recipe and to see what Small One has been up to!

Tall and Small

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

Looking to impress friends this fall?  How about family?  Or co-workers?  Or a hungry Spatular?  Well, we promise that this recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes will do the trick!  This is the second part of our One Recipe, Two Ways Special, so check out yesterday's recipe for Amish Pumpkin Bread for another alternative. 

So far we've served these to friends, roommates and co-workers, and received nothing but rave reviews and begs for the recipe!  Nobody could believe how easy they were to make and that the frosting is baked right in!  Make these to serve at your next fall bonfire, for an after work (or school) snack, or even for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Oh yeah, you can even pass these babies off as muffins and serve them with coffee before noon!

3 c sugar
1 c vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs, beaten
28 oz can of pumpkin puree (the big one), not the pumpkin pie mix
3 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2/3 c water

2 blocks (8 oz each) of cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 3 dozen paper liners in muffin tins.  If 36 cupcakes is too many, just halve the recipe!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, oil and eggs.  Add the pumpkin and beat just until combined.  In a seperate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  With your mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients.  Once they are incorporated, add the water and continue to mix until batter is smooth.

Divide batter equally between tins.

Back in your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for a couple of minutes until it begins to look fluffy.  Add eggs and sugar and beat until well combined.  Gently plop the cheesecake mixture into each tin of batter.  If you want the cheesecake to be more of a frosting, pop them right into the oven.  If you would like the cheesecake to serve more as a filling, gently pour some additional pumpkin batter over the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle cupcakes with a little bit of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon if you like.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.  Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before removing cupcakes from tins.

Now go out and bring these Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes to the world!  It is the season of giving after all!

Tall and Small

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Amish Pumpkin Bread

The time has been flying and somehow it is already November!  Although we've been deep into pumpkin season for quite some time, there is something about November that begs for even more new pumpkin recipes.  So we've got a special treat for you this week.  One recipe, two ways.  We will start off with the basic today and post a fun twist on this classic recipe tomorrow.

Tall One's mom gave us the recipe for this delicious Amish Pumpkin Bread and we made a slight change to it, purely by accident, but loved the results!  Tall One likes to multi-task.  One example of this multi-tasking is yacking on the phone while grocery shopping.  She had printed out her mom's recipe for pumpkin bread which called for a 1 lb can of pumpkin.  It turns out that talking on the phone while grocery shopping usually ends with a) misreading one's shopping list, or b) misreading a label.  Tall One isn't sure where she went wrong, but she came home with double the pumpkin and tossed the whole thing into her mixing bowl before she realized the mistake.  No harm was done and the bread turned out even better than expected.  This slight adaptation resulted in an incredibly moist and flavorful bread which stayed fresh for a week!

3 c sugar
1 c vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs, beaten
28 oz can of pumpkin puree (the big one), not the pumpkin pie mix
3 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2/3 c water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, oil and eggs.  Add the pumpkin and beat just until combined.  In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  With your mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients.  Once they are incorporated, add the water and continue to mix until batter is smooth.

Divide batter between the 2 loaf pans.  2 loaves, too much?  Just cut the recipe in half and make a single loaf.  Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for a half hour or so, and then run a knife around the outside of the bread for easy removal.

This bread is fabulous by itself, or spread with butter or cream cheese!

Check back tomorrow and we'll show you a great way to turn this same recipe into something totally different, but equally delicious!

Tall and Small

Friday, October 28, 2011

Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival 2011

Last weekend The Spatularettes visited foodie paradise... The Philadelphia Food and Wine Festival.  We didn't really know what to expect since this was the first time attending for both of us, but quite honestly we were blown away!  We met a lot of cool people and sampled some great new products.  Hands down the highlight of the day was getting the opportunity to chat with Iron Chef Jose Garces!

We mistakenly walked into the tail end of his book signing, and although we hadn't purchased cookbooks, we figured it didn't hurt to say hello!  He couldn't have been more friendly or gracious and gave us some great suggestions when we told him about our blog.
-When we asked him where he suggested eating in the city, he jokingly told us any of his restaurant (which in fact, is a good suggestion).
-He also told us the key to good cooking comes down to using really fresh, high quality ingredients.
-And his third idea we LOVED!  He suggested we choose a difficult technique or dish each month and really focus on mastering it.  We do the research, the trial and error, and then we'll blog about it.  Believe us, we've already got some ideas in the works, and we'll try and make all of the mistakes so you don't have to!

Although meeting one of our city's favorite chefs and restaurateurs was the highlight of our day, there sure were a lot of close seconds.  Take a look below and check out some of the cool new (or new to us) products we discovered!

Jin Ja's creator--He's cute, right ladies?

Not your grandma's health drink.

The first new product we are excited about is this innovative drink called Jin Ja!  The main ingredients are ginger (lots of it!), green tea, lemon, and cayenne pepper.  Sounds a little strange, right?  But it's SO good!  We promise!  There are all kinds of health benefits from each of the ingredients and according to the creator, all you need is a 4 oz glass to reap the benefits.  What really sold us though was its claim to cure hangovers! Not that The Spatularettes would know anything about hangovers... but from time to time a girl has one too many glasses of wine ;) We'll test Jin Ja out against some of it's claims and get back to you on what we think.  Head over to their website and check it out for yourself, or better yet, stop by your local Whole Foods to pick up a bottle and let us know what you think!

The artist hand paints these glasses and even does custom orders!
The next thing we are dying to get our hands on are these amazing hand painted glasses from Wine Me?.  The detail is incredible and we think they would be the perfect personalized gift for a friend!  She even paints beer steins as an ode to your favorite sports team, if you are looking for a gift for the man in your life.  Click on over to the official website to check out some more of her work.  And if you are friends with The Spatularettes, here's a hint at what you might be seeing on your next birthday!
These fine people from Robert Mondavi served us
lots of tastes of wine.  Tall One's favorite was the
Reisling and Small One liked the Cab Sauv.
It wouldn't be a food and wine festival without the wine!  Robert Mondavi had a large booth with plenty of wines to sample.  There were also a number of other wineries present as well as vodka tasting.  The Spatularettes kept it classy, but some of the other patrons were, let's just say, getting their money's worth.

And now a few more of our favorite things...
If anyone is looking to give The Spatularettes an expensive gift,
the Vitamix is a great place to start ;)
An energy drink with no caffeine, and real pieces of aloe.
This San Francisco company is now distributing in the Philadelphia area.
Has Tall One ever told you about her weaknesses?
Well Lindt White Chocolate Truffles happen to be one of them.
A few more of these and she's gonna have to loosen that belt!
The Spatularettes are always out there searching for inspiration... whether it be in life, in love, or in the kitchen!  The Philadelphia Food and Wine festival definitely opened some new doors for us and we can't wait to share all of this inspiration with you as we continue on this journey together.

Tall & Small

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mini Apple Pies

Autumn is the perfect time of year for outdoor activities.  The oppressive heat of summer has subsided, but the frigid winds of winter have not yet arrived.  And what better excuse to show off all those cute sweaters and boots that have been hiding in the back of our closets for months!  In the spirit of fall and fun outdoor activities, Small One and her roommates recently took a journey outside the city to pick bushels and bushels of apples!  After a fantastic day in the orchard, she returned home to let the real fun begin... in the kitchen!!  The perfect apple cuisine?  Apple Pie!  The cutest apple cuisine?  Mini apple pies!  Don't be intimidated by homemade crust - this recipe is super simple and we'll even give you a family secret  to help you along ;)

Makes 24 mini pies!

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup water, refrigerated until cold
For the filling:
5 apples (we used different kinds and sizes!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice of half a lemon
For the topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tbs cold butter, cubbed
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer or bowl with hand mixer, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter and mix until the mixture resembles coarse meal (think chicken feed, people - we were down on the farm). Slowly add cold water, mix for about 30 seconds, just until the dough comes together. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Note: if your butter and water aren't cold, your dough won't come together nicely.

Slice apple and cut into small 1/2 inch chunks.  Mix remaining filling ingredients together in a large bowl with the apple pieces.

Mix all topping ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let soften at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Between two sheets of parchment paper or 2 bags from inside cereal boxes (Small One's gramma's little secret to perfect crust!), roll the dough about 1/8 inch thick. 

Butter the cups of a muffin tin.  Using a pint glass, cookie cutter, or a similar sized round object, cut out mini pie crusts.  Gently press the individual crusts into the muffin tins.  You want the edge of your crusts to extend above the top of the tin, for easy removal once baked.  Fill each crust with apple filling.  Notes: our miffin tins were shallow, so the pint glass worked perfectly.  If your muffin tins are deeper, be sure to use a larger crust cutter!

Bake for 30 minutes.  Put about 1 Tbs topping on each pie, and place in the oven for another 15 minutes.  You will know the pies are done when the crust is golden brown and the topping has caramelized.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remove pies from tins with a fork while still very warm! This may seem counterintuitive, but otherwise the crust will stick to the tin and crumble!

Top with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

We're here for the right reasons...

We just want you to know that we don't rush into things and it has been hard for us to share our kitchens in the past.  Please be patient and hopefully we can all work through this together.  We just want you to know that we are here for the right reasons and we hope we can prove that to you.

       ...ok enough of The Bachelorette references, now onto a recipe to tie you over until we start posting more frequently!

It's been perfect fall weather here in Philadelphia lately, and no better time to welcome an old friend to her new home in the City of Brotherly Love.  One of our teammates from our college cross country team recently relocated here from Vermont, so we invited her over to Tall One's apartment for a Spatularette dinner, full of gossip and life updates.  It's always great to catch up with an old friend, and felt strangely similar to the many meals we shared together in our college cafeteria--just with better food!!
It was one of those days when we got a little bit carried away (which happens quite often) and ended up making way more food than we knew what to do with!  We started off the meal with a stuffed mushroom recipe Tall One created for a party she threw last month.  They disappeared quickly at the party and it was no different this time around.

So we present to you, The Spatularettes' first recipe:
Mediterranean Stuffed Mushrooms

6.5 oz jar of artichoke hearts, chopped
1 roasted red pepper, diced
6 oz of cream cheese (we prefer Kraft Philadelphia, obvi!)
6 oz package crumbled feta (about 1 cup)
1 clove of garlic, minced
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 10 oz packages baby portabella mushrooms

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil.  Pull the stems off of the mushrooms, wipe them clean with a damp paper towel and arrange on the cookie sheet.

For the filling, start by rinsing and finely chopping the contents of one jar of artichoke hearts.  Next, dice up a roasted red pepper.  If the peppers in your jar are not whole, just use a few large pieces.  Combine the peppers and artichoke hearts in a medium bowl and add the 6 oz of cream cheese (about ¾ of a block), the 6 oz of crumbled feta, and the minced garlic.  Stir until well combined.  Finally, add the panko bread crumbs ¼ cup at a time.  We used ¾ cup, but if your mixture is watery, you may want to use a little bit more.  The mixture should be soft, but not runny.

To fill the mushrooms, scoop tablespoons of the mixture into the well created by removing the stem.  As long as your filling isn’t runny, it will be easy to fill the mushrooms nice and full.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.  Depending on the size of your mushrooms, you may need to adjust baking times slightly.  The mushroom will be soft and the filling will be hot and golden brown when done.

Hopefully you'll think we deserve a rose for this one! ;-)