Monday, December 30, 2013

Turkey Camembert Cranberry Muffins #MuffinMonday

Turkey and cranberry jelly come together with Camembert to create the perfect use of Thanksgiving or Christmas leftovers in a savory muffin.  

Just when I think I’m so smart to come up with a great combination of ingredients that not only uses up leftovers but is a classic favorite mixture, I do a web search and realize that I am not the only bright bulb on the chandelier.   There are a bunch of turkey cranberry muffins out there, as it turns out.  But these are mine.

2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil
2 eggs
1 cup chopped turkey  (Sorry, I don’t have a scale here to weigh it as well.)
1/2 cup or 120ml cranberry jelly or jam
4 oz or 115g chopped Camembert (I leave the rind on but you can cut it off if it offends you.)

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your muffin pan by greasing it or lining it paper muffin cups.  The cheese will stick as it melts out of the muffin tops, so grease the top of the muffin pan as well.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add in your chopped Camembert pieces and divide them with your fingers, coating them with the flour mixture so they don’t stick together again.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, oil and eggs.

Cut the cranberry jelly into cubes.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Add in the turkey and cranberry jelly and fold gently, trying to keep the cranberry jam pieces whole.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to cool completely.


We are staying in a delightful home, filled with eclectic decorations.  I was struggling to find a horizontal space to place the muffins for a photograph.  Here's the whole wonderful shelf.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Five Recipes to Date and a Thank You (2013)

The best part of writing this blog is the connections I make with readers like you.  It is such a joy to read your comments, especially when you tell me your stories in return.  This year has been one of adjusting to and exploring yet another city and making Dubai our home.  It’s been a year of celebration and of loss and it delights me no end to have you along for the journey.  Occasionally I check my blog statistics and it’s always fun to see what you’ve liked the most week by week, month by month and year by year.  About this time last year, I shared the most viewed recipes to date so I thought I’d do the same at the close of this year.

Tasty Turkey Potpie

5. Tasty Turkey Potpie for Denise
This was 2012’s most viewed recipe.  As I wrote in the post last year, it came out of nowhere to take top place, even though it was one of the most recent posts.  This year it’s still in the top five.  It’s something I make every time I have leftover roast turkey or sometimes even chicken.  Yesterday, I picked the Christmas turkey bones clean and will make it again.

Banana Cream Pie

4.  Banana Cream Pie
My husband was delighted to hear that his birthday sweet of choice was still in the top five, albeit sliding down from to number four from second place last year.  With its homemade vanilla custard and flakey shortcrust, it's the perfect pie anytime of the year.

Madam Wong's Pizza Rolls

3.  Madam Wong’s Pizza Rolls
The third most viewed recipe is one of my personal favorites, not just because I love a savory roll but also because it reminds me of good times and wonderful friends from the International School of Kuala Lumpur, the school our daughters attended for the many years we lived in Malaysia.  I posted this recipe as part of #SundaySupper, a group dedicated to encouraging families to gather regularly around the supper table.  My first #SundaySupper post was on January 6th this year, so I am close to a personal anniversary of sorts.  If you are a food blogger interested in joining us, I encourage you to click on the link to learn more.  It's been such fun!

Vegetable Stir-fry

2. Quick Vegetable Stir-fry
This quick stir-fry of vegetables and ramen noodles starting surging up in views about mid-year and steadily climbed to number two.  I have no idea what triggered the jump since it’s one of my oldest posts and the photographs are terrible.  But it truly is delicious and a dish I make quite often, so it’s rather gratifying to know that ingredients and method are often enough.  This makes me feel better when I am agonizing over poor lighting and sorry pictures.

Cheesy Spinach Muffins

1.  Cheesy Spinach Muffins
This recipe is so far ahead in views than its next closest contender that I will be surprised if anything else ever catches up!  I love making muffins, especially savory ones, so I am thrilled to have a muffin from #MuffinMonday in top position.  I'd like to send out a special thank you to Anuradha from Baker Street who got me started down the road of Muffin Monday.  I enjoyed baking with her week after week and it made me sad when life took over and she got too busy to continue.

If you’d like to see 2012's top five list, click here.

Thank you for your comments, for your interaction on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ but, most of all, for being a part of the Food Lust People love community of readers.  I am grateful daily and wish you all a most astoundingly wonderful new year.

Fond regards,


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chewy Pralines

These easy candies make great hostess gifts, wrapped up in a pretty dish with ribbons.  That's if you can get them out of the house before your family eats them all.  But not to worry, this recipe is easily doubled. They'd be perfect on the Mardi Gras party buffet table as well. 

Since we are from south Louisiana, Cajun country, pralines are a favorite in our family. The hard ones, the chewy ones, they are all good! My mom sent me a message recently with this recipe saying, "Can we make these for Christmas?" So we did!

Butter for greasing foil-lined pan

1/2 cup or 115g sugar

1/2 cup or 120ml light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons or 30g butter 

1/2 cup or 120ml whole milk

1 1/2 cups or 180g pecan pieces

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Line a large baking pan with foil and butter it well.  Set aside.

Combine sugar, corn syrup and salt in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil.  

Cook to 245 °F or 118 °C on a candy thermometer.  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, as I don’t in this rented house in Rhode Island for Christmas, this is called the firm ball stage.  Get yourself a glass of cold water and after just a few minutes of boiling, drip a little of the syrup in the glass to test for doneness.  It is ready for the next step when it forms a firm ball that can still be mashed.  Check out this link for a visual.  

Add butter, milk and the pecans and cook to 242°F or 116°C degrees, stirring constantly.

My syrup and sugar mixture hardened up when I added the milk so I just heated it gently till it melted again and stirred constantly until it was completely combined.  Once again, if you don’t have a thermometer, cook the mixture until it’s thick and sticky and looks like it will hold its shape on a spoon. 

Add the vanilla and stir well.

Spoon out onto your greased foil lined pan, working quickly.  Use two spoons, one to scoop and the other to scrape the mixture off onto the foil.  If it hardens up, gently rewarm till it loosens enough to spoon out again. 

I got 18! 

Let cool.  Makes about 15-20 pieces, depending on the size of your spoon.  Or more if you make them bite-sized.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins with Cinnamon Crumble #MuffinMonday

Yogurt adds subtle fruity flavor to this cinnamon muffin and the generous crumble is the perfect topping. 

Happy Little Christmas Eve!  And, no, that is not a holiday I just made up.  Many years ago, we were living in Balikpapan, Indonesia and our neighbor was a lovely Norwegian lady named Turid.  She was a career diplomat and had been working most recently in the embassy in Jakarta so her Indonesian was superb.  It’s not a hard language to master for everyday “market” conversation but at a business and diplomatic level, it gets much more complicated.  She had retired young to raise her daughter and had moved to Balikpapan with her husband who was working there.  Turid kindly offered to give me Indonesian lessons and, under her tutelage, I got pretty good too.  But the best part was that I also made a friend.

On December 23, she invited our family over for Lille Julaften or Little Christmas Eve, a special Norwegian celebration.  I don’t  remember the names of all the traditional cookies and cakes and dishes but everything was homemade and wonderful.  And I do recall that there was a lot of wine and beer involved.  And aquavit.  That stuff is trouble.  My advice for today is just say no to the aquavit but have a very happy Little Christmas Eve!  And perhaps bake some cinnamon yogurt muffins.

For the muffin batter:
2 cups or 250g all purpose flour
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
3/4 cup or 185g fruit yogurt of your choice (I used raspberry.)
1/2 cup or 120ml canola or other light oil
1 large egg

For the crumble:
1/4 cup or 60g butter
1/2 cup or 100g dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup or 30g flour
Pinch salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your muffin pan by greasing it or lining it paper muffin cups.

Start by making your crumble.  Put all of your crumble ingredients into a small bowl and use a pastry blender to cut them into each other until you have a sort of lumpy sandy mixture.  Set aside.

You should still have some small bits of butter visible. 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, the sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, oil and egg.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and top each with a generous helping of the crumble.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to cool completely.

Enjoy!   And since this will likely be my last post before Christmas Day, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Roasted Chestnuts

Roasted chestnuts are easy to make at home, on the barbecue pit or in the oven. Either way, the chestnuts are succulently delicious. Give them a try!

Food Lust People Love: Roasted chestnuts are easy to make at home, on the barbecue pit or in the oven. Either way, the chestnuts are succulently delicious. Give them a try!
Okay, first let me say that this isn’t even a recipe.  Just a method.  And I debated with myself a few hundred times after adding it to the list of Sunday Supper posts because Sunday Supper is all about bringing folks back around the family dinner table with good food and I wasn’t sure this qualified.   Our theme this week, hosted by the lovely Tammi of Momma’s Meals, is food inspired by holiday songs or movies.  Mine is, of course, The Christmas Song.

I roasted the first group of chestnuts over coals at a friend’s house, and they were good but, frankly, we were all full from a good grilled lunch and enthusiasm was low for a snack.  So, on the verge of removing my name from the Sunday Supper list a couple of weeks later, I roasted the second set, albeit in the oven.  I opened the foil packet of the roasted nuts and the steam came up in small swirls from their peeling brown husks.  As I worked the hard shell off, then the softer inner shell, I popped that first sweet piece of chestnut into my mouth and, well, I made up my mind.  A method is enough.  Let me take you back.

It was late fall of 1985 and New York City was already bitterly cold.  There’s a special smell about the city in the winter.  Steamy, almost fetid air gusts from tunnels and drains below the streets, the faint eau-de-mothball drifting off the citizens, the exhaust fumes hanging low, trapped by the heavy cold atmosphere, and the chestnuts roasting over coals in big metal barrels.  

We had arrived on a red-eye from Houston, to visit my father who was living an hour’s train ride north of the city in the bedroom community of Bronxville. The goal:  Ordering my wedding dress. Those of you who have watched Say Yes to the Dress will recognize the name Kleinfeld, the Brooklyn shop where brides have been buying dresses since 1941. Well, that's where I went to get this little number.

You can't even see how huge these sleeves are here!  And the train was six feet long.

The entire weekend was a whirlwind of action and excitement but one of my fondest memories is warming my hands around the warm brown paper bags full of roasted chestnuts, bought off a street corner vendor in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. And if you haven’t tried roasted chestnuts, you just need to. 

There are tons of recipes on the internet using roasted chestnuts, ranging from soup to stuffing to salad, but I’d like to encourage you to peel them and pop them straight into your mouth, and savor the sweet nutmeat of winter with your family.

1 pound or 1/2 kilo of fresh chestnuts

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Or light coals in your barbecue pit.  The fire is ready when the coals are all grey around the outside.)

Cut a crisscross in the rounded side of each chestnut with the tip of a very sharp knife.

Wrap the chestnuts in a double layer of foil, cut side up.

Food Lust People Love: Roasted chestnuts are easy to make at home, on the barbecue pit or in the oven. Either way, the chestnuts are succulently delicious. Give them a try!

Roast for around 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven or in your barbecue pit.  If using the pit, set the foil packet off to one side, not directly over the hot coals and put the lid on enough to keep in the heat without smothering the fire.

Remove from the oven or barbecue pit and carefully open the foil.  Allow the chestnuts to cool enough to handle and then peel and eat!

Food Lust People Love: Roasted chestnuts are easy to make at home, on the barbecue pit or in the oven. Either way, the chestnuts are succulently delicious. Give them a try!

Meanwhile, at our house, we are dancing to Christmas music, decorating a tree and celebrating a 23rd birthday today.  Happy birthday to my precious Victoria!

Woo hoo for almost Christmas birthdays! 

This is such a fun Sunday Supper week!  Check out all the songs and movies that have inspired us to cook and bake all these great dishes!

Party Appetizers & Snacks

Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary & Vanilla inspired by the song “Christmas in the Trenches”Shockingly Delicious
Roasted Chestnuts inspired by the song “The Christmas Song” – Food Lust People Love
A Popcorn Trio
 inspired by the song “Let it Snow” - Hot Momma’s Kitchen Chaos
Chai Tea Abominable Snow Buddies
 inspired by the movie “Rudolph” – Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Raisin Bran Muffins for a Crowd
 inspired by the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” - In The Kitchen With Audrey and Maurene
Icicle Candy and Reindeer Snacks 
inspired by the movie “Snow” – Treats & Trinkets
A Christmas Carol Plum Pudding
 inspired by the movie “A Christmas Carol” – No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Yukon Mashed Potato Cakes
 inspired by the movie “Rudolph” - Cookin’ Mimi
Christmas Pudding
 inspired by the song “Over the River and Through the Woods” - A Kitchen Hoor
Pumpkin Pudding
 inspired by the movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” - Basic N Delicious
Elf-Inspired Christmas “Grams”
 inspired by the movie “Elf” - MarocMama
 inspired by the movie “The Nutcracker” – Happy Baking Days
Chai Spiced Roasted Nuts
 inspired by the song “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” - Take A Bite Out of Boca

Festive Main Dishes

Maple Syrup Spaghetti- inspired by the movie “Elf”- Momma’s Meals
Who Hash inspired by the movie “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” - girlichef
Ginger Orange Glazed Cornish Hens inspired by the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” - Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce inspired by the movie “Die Hard” - Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Classic Caesar Salad inspired by the movie “The Santa Clause” – The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Individual Meatloaves & Horseradish Mashed Potatoes for Mommy’s Little Piggies - inspired by the movie “A Christmas Story” – The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Christmas Waffles inspired by the TV special “A Claymation Christmas Celebration” – Curious Cuisiniere
Filthy Animal Pizza
 inspired by the movie “Home Alone” – Foxes Love Lemons
Chicken Orzo Soup
 inspired by the song “12 Days of Christmas” - Family Foodie
Brandied Candied Sweet Potatoes
 inspired by the song “Christmas Is The Time To Say ‘I Love You’ ” - Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Sweet Holiday Treats

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes inspired by Adam Sandler’s ” The Chanukah Song” - The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars inspired by the movie “Love Actually” – Magnolia Days
Gingerbread Marshmallows inspired by the song “Marshmallow World” – Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies inspired by the movie “The Gremlins” – Killer Bunnies, Inc.
White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge inspired by the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” – Alida’s Kitchen
Snowball Cookies - inspired by the movie “White Christmas” - The Foodie Army Wife
Penuche Fudge
 inspired by the movie “Elf” – Pies and Plots
Hot Chocolate Cookies
 inspired by the movie “Santa Clause” - Mess Makes Food
South Pacific Coconut Tres Leche Cake
 inspired by the movie “South Pacific” - The Ninja Baker
Cookies & Cream Fudge
 inspired by the movie “Elf” – The Messy Baker

Cozy Drinks

Toasted Coconut Hot Cocoa - inspired by the song “Let It Snow”Chocolate Moosey
The Christmas Gram inspired by the movie “Elf” – An Appealing Plan
Eggnog Hot Chocolate inspired by the movie “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” - Peanut Butter and Peppers
Vermont Hot Cocoa
 inspired by the movie “White Christmas” – Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Spiked Hot Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Floats
 inspired by the song “Holly Jolly Christmas “ -NeighborFood

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Peppermint Bark Shortbread

Shortbread is a great cookie anytime of the year but top it with peppermint bark and, suddenly, it is on top of the make-now list for Christmas cookies. Peppermint Bark Shortbread! What could be better?

This theme for this month’s Creative Cookie Exchange is peppermint so I decided to make one of our family’s favorite Christmas candies, peppermint bark, and combine it with another favorite, buttery shortbread cookies.  Surely, this is what the Christmas angels eat. :)

For the shortbread:
2 cups or 255g flour
3/4 cup or 130g cornflour or cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 130g sugar
1 cup or 240g butter

For the peppermint bark:
4.6 oz or 130g peppermint sticks (or about 3/4 cup once shattered)
12 oz or 340g good quality white chocolate
Pinch salt

Preheat your oven to 325°F or 163°C and line your 8x8in or 20x20cm pan with parchment paper.

Melt your butter in a small saucepan and allow to cool.

Combine your flour, cornstarch, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Stir well.

Pour in the melted butter and mix until you have a soft dough.

Press the dough into your prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Put your peppermint sticks in a Ziploc bag and shatter gently with a small hammer.  You don’t want to crush them completely.

Meanwhile, put your white chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and melt in the microwave by zapping 15-20 minutes each time and stirring well in between.  Once the white chocolate has softened mix in the pinch of salt and all but a small handful of the crushed peppermint sticks and stir well.

Spoon the white chocolate/peppermint mixture on top of your almost cooled shortbread, spread it around and smooth it out.

Sprinkle on the reserved small handful of peppermint shards.  Allow to cool completely and almost harden before cutting into squares.


If you love peppermint like we love peppermint, this is going to be your favorite Creative Cookie Exchange month:

To join in the fun, just complete the steps below:

1. Write a blog post with recipe and original photo. The theme this month is peppermint!  We would like the recipe to be one you’re making for the first time, and photos must be original.
2. Post the Cookie Exchange badge somewhere on your blog so others can join in the fun.

Creative Cookie Exchange

3. Make a good faith effort to visit and comment on the other cookies in the Linky party. We all love cookies so that should be easy!
4. LIKE the Creative Cookie Exchange Facebook Page
5. FOLLOW the Creative Cookie Exchange Pinterest Board:
6. LINK your blog post below using the Linky tool

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!