31 January 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Heaven!

I never knew cookies could be so complicated.  

My family loves Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies.  We made them frequently, and they were made even better by the lovely  Mexican vanilla sent up to Georgia from family in Texas. The flavoring mingled perfectly with the Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Cookies were the one thing that I liked to make in the kitchen, though everyone raved over my younger brother's cookies.  Okay, that's not entirely true (my younger brother's cookies are great and still get raves), I also liked to make deviled eggs.  That is, until that time when I was 12, picked up the completed plate of eggs, turned around to move them to the table, and half of the eggs slid off the plate and landed yolk side down on the floor.  It was about then I threw in my kitchen towel until I moved out on my own. 

11 January 2010

Winter Vegetables: Curried Cauliflower Soup

I'm glad 2009 has come to a close.  It was a big year for us, and a trying year at that.  I do not think 2010 will be easy... and I'm not certain it will be easier than last year, but we will be one step closer to settling down.  In 2009 we watched several of our friends buy homes and plant roots in their towns, but we were uprooted and moved to a different continent.  The most direct route to see my parents in Georgia takes 15 hours, to Hubby's parents, an additional 3 (if we are lucky).  In October, Hubby found out about a conference in Canada in June that would be great for him.  The prospect of having a definite timeline to see North America excited me to no end.  Up until a few days before we moved, I seriously thought we'd be back in the States for Christmas, but funds were nonexistent and I came to realize that would not be.  Unfortunately, Hubby will not be able to attend the conference due to grant reviews, which take place at the same time as the conference.  And again I'm floundering around, wondering when I'll get to see the South (and Texas) again (cuz, you know, Texas is not part of the South... neither is Florida).  But the blogosphere seems to keep me grounded and gets my mind off the homesickness.

Starting work has definitely had an effect on my blogging.  Despite my cushy 9-5, I still find myself wanting more time during each day and bedtime comes way too quickly.  However, I have goals, and I want to reach them!

In my last blog, I discussed my goals for 2010.  And I'm happy to say that I am already on my way to meeting some of those goals.  Namely, a vegetable every month and entering Meeta's Monthly Mingle.  I used kohlrabi for the first time this weekend!  Additionally, tonight is the last night to submit a recipe for the monthly mingle, and I'm happy to say I have just enough time to get it done!

When I discovered this month's theme, Winter Vegetables and Fruits, I got excited.  I've been wanting to make a cauliflower soup since we arrived in Germany (don't ask why, I don't know the answer).  However, I was lacking an immersion blender (or blender of any kind for that matter) and Hubby doesn't like cauliflower.  But when I saw the theme, I knew Hubby's preferences would have to take a backseat for a weekend lunch.  Especially since I got my immersion blender for Christmas!  :)

I looked around at many curried cauliflower soup recipes, but didn't follow a particular one.  Here's my version.

Curried Cauliflower Soup

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
1c. chicken or vegetable stock
1T. curry powder
1t. coriander powder
1/2t. ginger powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Quark, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F.  Arrange unpeeled garlic and cauliflower on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast cauliflower until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Five minutes before cauliflower comes out of the oven, warm a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a small pot, and sauté shallot and spices until the shallot becomes translucent.  Peel the garlic, and add cauliflower and garlic to shallots.  Add stock and warm through.  With an immersion blender, CAREFULLY purée the cauliflower soup.  Add a dollop of quark to each bowl, ladle in the soup, and serve hot.

This simple soup will warm you through on a nice cold evening (or lunch!).  The tangy quark is a nice offset to the heat of the curry, without adding all the fat from heavy cream or sour cream.  Feel free to adjust the heat of the dish with chili powder or cayenne.  You can also go vegetarian by switching to vegetable broth, or go an additional step and make it vegan by subbing coconut milk for the quark.  Keep warm!

This month's Monthly Mingle is being held by Sudeshna over at Cook Like a Bong.   Thank you for helping me achieve one of my unnamed goals: use my immersion blender as much as possible! 

03 January 2010

Christmas Kitchen

My kitchen got a rather large boost this Christmas!  Yay for new toys!

I got not one, but TWO sets of measuring spoons and cups!  I asked Helen to bring me some from the States when we met up in Cologne, and my mom also sent me a set for Christmas.  At first I was worried... and then I realized how fantastic it would be!  Less cleaning between baking sessions! :)  Cookies here I come!

Plus a pastry cutter (from Momma)!  I've recently started making pie crust for my chicken pie, so the pastry cutter is perfect.  I have to admit though, my biscuits are actually better when I don't measure... I haven't quite figured out why, but I'll use the pastry cutter but ditch the measuring cups in the future.

Hubby got me a glorious stabmixer... something I've been drooling over for years, but never bought.  When I pulled this out today, I realized what I would be making for Meeta's Monthly Mingle this month.  Check back next weekend for the recipe!

Hubby's parents sent us the beautiful quilted placemats.  They've been a wonderful addition to our little kitchen... adding that touch of personality and home.

Last, but not least, Meghna sent me chocolate chips through Helen!  Woohoo!  Unfortunately I keep forgetting to get brown sugar from the grocery store until the store is already closed, so I'll have to make them next weekend as well.  I'm super excited about chocolate chip cookies!  I think Hubby might be too... but he also doesn't think the chips will make it into the cookies.  He's afraid we'll eat them before they become cookies.  Silly him.  We can get gobs of cheap tasty chocolate at the grocery store, but we can't get chocolate chip!  These babies are gold!
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