Turkey Vatapa

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By a show of hands, who ate too much on Thanksgiving?

ALL of you?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

I fixed: Butter-Herb Turkey, Tofurky Roast, Stuffing with Vegetarian Sausage, Smashed Potatoes with Roast-Garlic Gravy, Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash, Tarragon Green Beans, Cheesemonger's Mac & Cheese, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie, and Pecan Cheesecake Pie.

If you're like me, you went crazy with making this delicious food and a) ate too much, b) have continued to eat too much for the past 2 days, and c) have too much leftover turkey, despite loading your guests up with packed ziploc baggies. And if that's the case, you are probably rocking back and forth in your kitchen, holding your gut, and wishing for someone to fix your problems. Well, don't worry--I've got you covered.

Turkey Vatapa is a Brazilian soup that includes spicy jalapenos, coconut milk, peanuts, and, best of all, beer. That's right--beer. In soup. With coconut milk and peanuts! And leftover turkey! What's better? It's from those delightfully clever bastards at Cooking Light! I know, right? Sweet.


Turkey Vatapa
(from Cooking Light)
-1 teaspoon peanut oil
-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
-1 jalapeño pepper, minced
-1 cup water
-1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
-1 (12-ounce) can light beer
-1/4 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
-3 cups chopped skinned cooked turkey
-1/2 cup light coconut milk
-1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
-1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
-1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-Cilantro sprigs (optional)

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add ginger and jalapeño; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in water, tomatoes, and beer; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

2. Place peanuts in a spice or coffee grinder (OR just chop really finely!); process until finely ground. Add ground peanuts, turkey, and coconut milk to pan, stirring to combine. Increase heat to medium. Bring mixture to a simmer; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley, cilantro, juice, salt, and black pepper. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

-Serves 6
-Calories: 195, Fat: 6.4g, Carbs: 11.8g, Protein: 19.9g

Verdict: Totally delightful. This is just the thing I needed after three solid days of heavy, fatty foods. Husband loved it, too!

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

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As we collectively emerge from a post-Halloween candy-coated daze and delve straight into the butter-laden, carb-and-meat fiesta that is Thanksgiving, it's important to remember that we CAN make healthy choices. Remember healthy choices? Yeah, me either.

So as not to shock your system as you wean yourself off of a month-long sugar high, maybe try a reduced-calorie treat like this peanut butter caramel corn from Cooking Light!

I was surprised that it's possible for caramel corn to be "light." And certainly, even if it wouldn't be light in the quantity you'd prefer to eat, it's so sweet and rich that you don't need more than a handful (or two).

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn (from Cooking Light)
-Cooking spray
-2 tablespoons canola oil
-1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
-1/2 cup sliced almonds
-2/3 cup packed brown sugar
-2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
-2 1/2 tablespoons butter
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 250°.

2. Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; coat paper with cooking spray.

3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add popcorn; cover and cook 4 minutes, shaking pan frequently. When popping slows, remove pan from heat. Let stand until popping stops. Uncover; add almonds.

4. Combine sugar, syrup, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla; stir until smooth. Drizzle over popcorn; toss well. Spread mixture out onto prepared pan. Bake at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely.

Serves 20 (serving size 3/4 cup)
Calories: 155
Fat: 7.4g, Protein: 2.6g, Carbs: 21.3g



Mile-High Carrot Cake

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So....yeah. Hi.

I may or may not have been too busy/lazy/tired to update this blog for the past month. To be honest, there has not been much in the way of inventive cooking going on, either. Apparently, my will to cook (or to put in any effort beyond keeping up basic hygiene) has been zapped by the evil overlord known as Library & Information Science Grad School.

When I say I've been lazy, I mean that I've intended to put up this post since the end of September. Which is when Husband's birthday was. And, here it is, the beginning of November. So pathetic, Heather. So pathetic.

In any case, let's start out by announcing the Pasta Alley Giveaway winner (who has already received her prize--I'm not THAT awful): Jen at The 3 Little Piglets! Jen received three bags of Chive & Onion pasta, as well as 1 bag of Rosemary Champagne pasta. While the contest was ongoing, I shot an email to Pasta Alley to let them know how awesome they are. I was very surprised when the owner, Jeremy Maupin, donated all four bags. How generous is that?? I was floored. So, in case you needed another reason to purchase delicious pasta from an organization that employs developmentally disabled individuals, there it is. Please give this wonderful business your hard earned money in exchange for a little dough (see what I did there?).

On to the cake.

Have you ever thought, "Gosh. I would really like to make carrot cake, but you know, it's just not fatty enough for me. I like my cake with a side of guaranteed heart attack, and carrot cake is just not delivering"?

Fear not.

I have the carrot cake for you.

Your husband might make your cake look like Pac Man.

Mile-High Carrot Cake (from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats)
-1 cup macadamia nuts (toasted, then chopped up)
-3 cups all purpose flour
-3 cups sugar
-1 tbsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-1 tbsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
-4 large eggs
-2 tablespoons vanilla
-1-1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
-1-1/2 cups shredded peeled carrots
-1-1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple or drained crush canned pineapple (this is one 20 oz. can)
-1 1/2 cups raisins (optional)
-1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez

Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
-4 (8 oz) packages Neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperate
-2 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons heaving whipping cream
-1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
-1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden and aromatic. Set aside to cool. Chop up when cool.

2. Place one oven rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker's Joy).

3. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and nuts in a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, oil, carrots, pineapple, and cream of coconut. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set 2 layers on one rack and the third on the other. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cakes are done when they are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert them onto the racks and cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes.

To Make the Frosting:
1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 1 minute. Add the whipping cream, cream of coconut, and salt; beat until combined.

2. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer, spread thickly with frosting, and top with the third layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. If you're feeling energetic and there is frosting left over, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to pipe a decoration around the top rim of the cake.

3. The cake can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 4 days. Let it cool in the refrigerator about 1 hour before covering, to ensure the frosting has hardened and will not stick to the plastic wrap.

Yield: 12-14 Hefty Servings

Verdict: I find cake making inexplicably frustrating. They are just so much work. They don't SEEM like they would be, right? But they are. And frosting them? ...infinitely worse. I remembered why I don't make complicated cakes when I made this cake. Despite parchment papering the bottom and hosing the pan and paper down with cooking spray, parts of the cake still stuck to the pan. That meant that I had chunks of cake missing that I had to try to fill in with frosting. The cakes took much longer to bake than indicated, and were very suddenly in danger of burning. This recipe has so much sugar involved that the tops caramelized, which is what made burning quickly a real possibility. Fortunately, none did....however, the caramelized tops made it impossible to level the cake layers. So, it was a vaguely....tower of pisa-ish cake. The tops were also problematic, because despite the fact that there is a metric ton of frosting in general, there was just not enough to mask the hardness that kept poking through.

NOW. All complaining aside: Was it good? YES. Did we eat way too much? YES. Did we have to give away at least 1/4 of this cake so we didn't end up in the hospital? YES. Should you make it. YES.