Gingerbread Waffles


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This was one of those recipes that I've had in my "to make" file for a few years now, and am just now getting around to making.  I'd guess that based off the paper I printed it on and the show it came from, I've had it for something like 7-8 years now.  Better late than never?

Anyway, this is a perfect recipe for a fall or holiday season breakfast.  I fiddled around with it a little to make it lower in fat, and it turned out a bit dry, so I don't recommend cutting back on the fat like I did.  Go all out and use the amount of butter you're supposed to use.  I would, however, make this again.

The recipe comes together like most non-yeasted waffles, and so it's fairly straightforward and easy.  Rachael made a mulled syrup to accompany the waffles on the original show.  I didn't make that but would like to one day.  Here's the recipe if you want to go all out.

I'll post the recipe as Rachael Ray made it and let you know my changes in the notes.  I'd recommend trying the original recipe and not my variation.  My version's flavor was good, but it was a little dry.  Nothing a little more syrup won't fix.

Gingerbread Waffles
from Rachael Ray and 30 Minute Meals

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, plus some to butter the iron

Syrup, whipped cream or fresh fruits for topping, to pass at table

Preheat waffle iron.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and brown sugar until fluffy, then beat in pumpkin, milk, molasses and melted butter. Stir the wet into dry until just moist. Do not overstir the waffle batter. Brush the iron with a little melted butter and cook 4 waffles, 4 sections each. Serve with toppings of choice.

Thanksgiving Recipe Prep: ATK's Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie


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Here's another one for your upcoming holiday meal planning:  pumpkin pie!  It's an institution, right?  If you're Southern and also accustomed to sweet potato pie, this recipe combines the best of both worlds, which I believe is where lies one of the secrets to the pie's success- it contains both pumpkin and candied yams.

This is a variation on America's Test Kitchen's Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie, by way of Smitten Kitchen, and while it's simple, it does involve a few steps, so be warned that you will put in a little effort for this, but it's well worth it.  It always gets rave reviews!

The recipe title is also a link to the Smitten Kitchen page with this recipe and Deb's (is it OK to call her Deb even though I've never met her but have read her blog for something like 5-6 years?) beautiful photography.

Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie
adapted from a recipe by America's Test Kitchen
makes 1-2 pies (see notes)

Pie dough to make one 9 inch pie
2 cups half and half
3 lg. eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup of candied yams (from a 15 oz can), drained from syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1- 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. table salt

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare crust: roll out dough onto a floured surface to make a circle of dough approx. 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.  Place into pie plate/dish- the easiest way is to roll it loosely around the rolling pin and unroll it into the dish, leaving about an inch overhang all around.  Gently ease the pie crust into the dish until it is fitted to the dish.  Trim the crust until there's about a half inch overhang on all sides.  Flute or press the crust edge to your liking.  Refrigerate crust until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove crust from the fridge, line with aluminum foil, and place pie weights into dish.  Plac pie plate/dish onto a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and weights, rotate the pie crust, and continue baking another 5-10 minutes, until crust is golden brown and crisp.  Remove from oven.

While the crust is baking, begin to prepare the filling.  First, combine half and half, eggs and yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl (my quart sized measuring cup is perfect for this).  In a large saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, candied yams, sugar, maple syrup, and spices/seasonings.  Bring to a sputtering mixture over medium heat, approx 5-7 minutes.  Continue to simmer, while stirring constantly and smashing yams up against the side of the pot, until the mixture is thick and shiny, about 10-15 minutes.  

Remove the pan from the heat.  Mix in the dairy/egg mixture slowly, until fully incorporated.  Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, using a spoon to press the solids through the strainer.  Re-whisk the mixture and pour into baked pie crust.  Return the pie plate, still on the baking pan lined with foil, to the oven.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 300.  Continue baking pie until the edges are set (a thermometer would read 175), another 20-35 minutes.  Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool at room temperature for 2-3 hours.  

  • It could be me, but I often have enough filling left over that I could make 2 pies.  If you're using a deep dish pie crust/plate, then you'd most likely just get one.  Here would be a good time to make mini pies with a muffin tin, or just have a little less filling in a second, full-sized pie.
  • I have made this pie 3-4 times, and each time I have used a refrigerated pie crust.  Very un-food-bloggery of me I know, but when you're making several recipes at once, it's nice to just pull that out.  To use, though, I treat it like a homemade crust- I unroll it, roll it out a bit to get it evened up and get the factory look off it, and then place it in the pie dish.  
  • I use a glass pie dish for this pie.  Often my crust needs a longer baking time as a result.
  • Instead of pie weights, you can use lentils and even coins.  Make sure you line it pretty well, though, so that the sides of the crust don't bubble out.  
  • This recipe has been so forgiving!  The first time I ever made it, I accidentally bought pumpkin pie filling.  I compensated by not putting in the spices.
  • I also didn't have a strainer with me the first time, so I blended it in a blender.  Still worked really well!

Thanksgiving Recipe Prep: Apple and Onion Stuffin' Muffins


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Thanksgiving for us Americans is such a time honored tradition, and I'd bet that most of you already know what will be on your table, and who will make what dish.

For my side of the family, there's always my grandmother's dressing (that's stuffing for those of you in other parts), there was until last year my great grandmother's green beans, a turkey prepared by my parents, sweet potato and broccoli casseroles by my aunt, and pies by Sarah Lee, with the occasional wild card dessert or bread thrown in by me.  It's a true feast and honestly a day of unabashed gluttony.

What food traditions do you hold and look forward to each year?

I'd like to submit a new classic:  Rachael Ray's Apple and Onion Stuffin' Muffins.  I first made this recipe 8 years ago, for a staff Thanksgiving lunch at my first "professional" job.  It was a total experiement and they were the guinea pigs.  Thankfully it turned out great, and is pretty foolproof, which is good for a then novice like me.  This is a good recipe for any skill level.  I have since made these little guys 1-2 other times, and the latest was for my office building's Thanksgiving lunch today.

This recipe is easy, relatively quick, and can be made ahead of time.  The ingredient list is not ridiculous and the flavors are close enough to standard to not rock the boat while being innovative enough to reinvigorate your dressing/stuffing routine.

The recipe title is also a link to the original recipe.  I am posting as I made it.  If you're more a visual learner, there's a video link near the top of the page that will allow you to see Rachael Ray making the stuffin' muffins (which is a concept that Sunny Anderson has adopted with vigor).

Apple and Onion Stuffin' Muffins
makes 12-24 muffins, depending on your scoop size and tin

2 Tb Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 stick butter, divided in half
1 bay leaf (original calls for fresh; I used dried)
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 med-lg onion, chopped
3 apples, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 tsp each dried marjoram, dried parsley, and dehydrated onion (or 2 Tb poultry seasoning)
8 cups stuffing mix (such as Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing)
2-3 cups chicken stock

Preheat an oven to 375 and butter the cups of 1-2 muffin pans.  In a wide pot with sides (dutch oven, saute pot), heat oil and butter over medium to med-high heat.  Add in bay leaf, celery, onion, and apple and season with salt, pepper, and other herbs/spices.  Allow to cook and soften, approx 5-6 mins.

Add stuffing mix into the pan and stir.  Moisten the entire pan with chicken broth, so that the bread and other ingredients are softened and moistened but not wet (not soupy).

Use an ice cream scoop or cup measure to scoop out stuffing and mound into the muffin tins.  Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until browned on top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  These can be made ahead and reheated.


  • Original recipe called for McIntosh apples, which I can rarely find around here.  Use your favorite "cooking/baking" apple.  I used gala, and they worked well.
  • Original recipe also called for poultry seasoning, which I didn't have and didn't want to buy.  I looked up a couple DIY recipes online and improvised using what I had on hand.  Still good!
  • I used approx 2 cups chicken broth.  

Chicken and Rice with Swiss Chard



Do you have those dishes that you remember (and loved) as a kid, but as an adult you don't make it for whatever reason?

Chicken and rice was one of those for me.  My parents made it pretty regularly in our house, and it was a 1 dish meal that consisted of nestling chicken breasts in a rice mixture, and was all baked together in this creamy sauce.  Our whole family loved it, even those of us who don't usually care for rice.  Now that I am all adult and such, I remember fondly the chicken and rice of my childhood, but know that it's not the healthiest of meals.  It's got ingredients that are more processed than I want to use.  I didn't really think much about it, until the fall of 2011.  Inside the September issue of Everyday Food, I saw a dish that reached off the page and grabbed me.  One-pot Chicken and Rice With Swiss Chard.  It was everything I loved about the old dish- chicken, simplicity, straightforwardness, without the not-so-good-for-you stuff.  It also used swiss chard, which I love.

After two years of having this recipe bookmarked, I have finally gotten around to making it, and as with so many of the Everyday Food recipes that I've tried, it's a winner (winner, chicken dinner).  The chicken and rice actually taste better the next day- bonus!

The one thing I'll warn you about is that the prepping of the vegetables took a long time for me- I'm a slow chopper.  I also had the unfortunate setback that my chicken wasn't fully thawed, so dinner prep took about 2 hours, and we didn't eat until almost 8 pm.  If you're more streamlined, and if your chicken is not frozen, you can count on less than that, but this may be more of a weekend meal for us, or in the future I'll make sure that everything's prepped ahead of time.  I'll post as I made it, but click on the recipe title for the original.

One Pot Chicken and Rice With Swiss Chard
from Everyday Food, Sept 2011 issue

2 pounds chicken thighs (bone in, skin on), patted dry
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 bunch (10 oz) Swiss chard, stems cut into 1/2 inch pieces and leaves torn into 2 inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, diced small
2 medium carrots, diced medium
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus wedges for serving
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 Tb fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried thyme

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a tight fitting lid over medium-high.  Add chicken, skin side down, and cook until browned on both sides, approx. 12 minutes, turning once.  Transfer chicken to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add garlic, chard stems, onion, and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until chard stems and onion are translucent, 4 minutes.  Add chard leaves, lemon zest, thyme, and rice.  Cook 1 minute.  Add broth and bring to a rapid simmer.  Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange chicken, skin side up, on top of rice mixture and cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 25-40 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit about 5 minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges.


  • The cooking time varies so greatly because the original recipe called for 25 minutes, but after 25 minutes, my rice was still crunchy and the liquid was absorbed.  I had to add some liquid (making total 3 cups) and let it cook a little longer, maybe 10-15 minutes.  It could just be my stove though.  
  • Even the recipe notes in the magazine suggest that you can use any long grain rice as a sub for the basmati.  Cooking times should be about the same.  

Chicken Paillards with Arugula Salad



Being raised in the rural South, the first time I learned what a chicken paillard was was this year.  I saw Rachael Ray make the recipe I'm posting about on her talk show, and it looked simple, pretty, and good.  A sort of taste and presentation bang for your buck.  I Googled "chicken paillard" and saw that it's a French term, apparently in reference to a chicken breast that has been either butterflied or pounded flat, grilled, and is topped with vegetables or salad.  In this case, a flattened chicken breast was not only topped with salad, it was over a puddle of a sauce.  It was good, and it's a technique or concept I'm glad I know.

So, try out this recipe, or some related one, and get ready to look like Julia Child was your mentor.  This makes me a big nerd, but it's dishes like this that make me feel like I have some kitchen cred, which is like street cred, but in the kitchen.  You probably got that.

Is it just me or does this particular chicken breast look like the state of SC?

Bonuses- they're quick cooking, and the whole dish can come together in 30 minutes or less.  The prettiness of the dish makes it a good candidate for having some friends over.  The taste will back up its good looks.  The one thing I'll likely change is that I'll probably not make the sauce again.  I don't know if it was the tarragon or something else, but it didn't really do anything for Drew and me.  The actual chicken breast and the salad, though- yes.  Loved it- fresh, light, but satisfying.

Not complete without the parmesan shavings!

Chicken Paillards with Arugula Salad
from the Rachael Ray Show

6 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 4 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar or white vinegar
  • 6 cups of arugula
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a large, shallow dish, combine 4 tablespoons EVOO, half of the lemon juice, the lemon zest, garlic and thyme. Preheat a grill pan or griddle over medium-high heat.

Cut into the chicken breasts horizontally to butterfly, opening them up like a book. Firmly but gently pound
them into very thin cutlets; season with salt and pepper. Add them to the lemon-garlic marinade and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook until thickened; whisk in the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the mustard, then stir in the tarragon. Keep the sauce warm over low heat.

On the grill pan or griddle, working in batches if necessary, grill the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, 4-6 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining lemon juice, the vinegar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO; season with salt and pepper. Add the arugula, peas, radishes and shallot, and toss gently with your hands to lightly coat. Top with cheese.

To serve, ladle some of the sauce onto plates. Top with the chicken. Pile the salad over the chicken.


  • The original recipe calls for thinly sliced radish to be added to the salad, but I'm not crazy about radishes, so add if you really wanna.
  • My chicken breasts were small, so I did not butterfly them/cut them.  I just pounded flat.  The way I do it is to put the chicken breast in a gallon sized plastic bag (or between two layers of plastic wrap) and use a small but hefty skillet to do the work.