Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Holla!-day Cookie

The Holiday season comes in many different shapes and sizes. For the Tarts, it generally arrives in a circular shape about the size of our fists and wallops one helluva sugar crash. How this cookie-slamming tradition, ahem...obsession, started...we have no clue. But I, Erin, will never forget fashioning cookies with my mom and grandma, tying them up with a red and green bow and handing them out to the people we loved, "Happy Holidays!"

So...what we bring you today is not your typical Christmas cookie; there's no colored marshmallows, gingerbread or little green edible balls, but there IS a crazy amount of this...

...along with countless other ingredients we probably don't need. But hey, it's the holidays!

Let's cleanse later! So here's the link to the spirit of our season...

They are crazy town! What makes them cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? Well, we're betting it's good quality white chocolate...all one and a half pounds...

Yes. You actually have to use that much. Did we mention these cookies aren't on the cheap side? But they're worth it!

Danielle is convinced that what makes this cookie delectable is the use of Kosher salt...

Tart Tip: Make sure it's Kosher. Don't sub with sea salt or a smaller, refined grain! You'll regret it and your Tart will haunt you, right Danielle?

Now, Ina bakes them on parchment, which we highly recommend as it protects the bottom of the cookies and makes cleanup easy. She also uses an ice cream scoop to give the cookies shape. We had a giant scoop so ours were on the colossal side...

Ahhhh...look how yummy. Hmmm. Too bad we have to give those away. Danielle? Put the cookie down. Danielle??!!!

So there you have it...our White Chocolate "What, what?!" Christmas Cookie. Wrap it up, adorn with a pretty bow and you have the perfect gift for someone you love. Now, it may not be your usual holiday fare, but we're pretty sure this "Holla!"-day cookie will have you rockin' around the Christmas tree...

Happy Holidays from the Tarts!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pizza de Résistance

Pizza...mmmm...the word alone gives us goosebumps, not to mention a deep pang of hunger that can only be satiated with a wedge of crust smothered in tomato sauce and cheese. We could pretty much live on the stuff, but we don't. Why? Because if we did, we'd be gross. And greasy. Greasy and gross.

So when we're feeling the pizza pang and want to avoid the 'grossies,' we often spin out a healthier version...


This time we started with a Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough that uses equal parts whole wheat flour/enriched flour. We didn't have quick-rising yeast so we let it sit for an hour before rolling. There is also a 1/4 tsp. of sugar in this recipe; if sugar is out-like-sauerkraut, replace with a bit of honey or agave nectar.

We then smeared it with tomato sauce and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. For the non-dairy crowd, feel free to sub with vegan cheese.

Now for the part that will make your momma proud! The veggies...

We used diced eggplant sautéed with garlic and olive oil, Russian kale sliced and steamed in water and a wee bit of olive oil, sliced Anaheim chili pepper, fresh basil, sliced green tomatoes and finally we sprinkled this bad boy with dried oregano, a pinch of kosher salt and a little more cheese if you please.

We baked this veggie gem on a pizza stone at 500°F until the bottom was crisp and golden, about 10 to 14 minutes...

...and then served it immediately...

...and burned the holy hell out of our mouths.

Tart Tip: Don't serve immediately.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Faves from Fantastic Friends

This year, on the first Thanksgiving since our wedding, my Hotcake and I decided to stay in for an intimate celebration. Although the food was delicious and the day with my Hub was precious, there's truly nothing like a home cooked meal with my family. The dishes I grew up with have been passed down from generation to generation, and whether made by my mom, aunt or grandma, I can taste love in every bite.

But what's also wonderful about family recipes is they can be shared with friends, who in many ways become part of our family. This Thanksgiving, I was a very lucky Tart as a good friend did just that. Rusty, our resident "Tart-taster," dropped off a little clay pot full of heaven...

"Why wouldn't I?"

...Annie's Challah and Onion Roll Stuffing, passed down from none other than Annie Schwimmer, Rusty's super special mom. Remember when I said our food was delicious? Well, it was thanks to this stuffing. It sure wasn't the turkey or green beans that slowly made their way to the edges of my plate. I ate stuffing. I am still eating stuffing.

And now, we're sharing it with you. Do you know how lucky you are??

Annie's Stuffing (Chicago)

1 bunch of celery, chopped
4 small onions, chopped
3 Tbsp. of Thyme, chopped
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 eggs
1 Challah loaf (w/poppyseeds if available)
10 onion rolls
1/2 quart chicken stock (we used homemade turkey stock)
4 sticks butter (one stick equals 8 Tbsp.)

Let the bread stale for a few days or break apart and crisp in oven.
Preheat oven to 350
Melt butter in large saute pan, add celery and onion and cook until onion is translucent.
Toss torn pieces of bread into a large pot.
Add celery and onion to pot. Add a few pinches of salt, pepper and all of thyme.
Mix well with wooden spoon. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. If cool enough, use your hands.
Slowly add chicken stock. Consistency should become mushy but not watery. Season to taste.
Transfer stuffing to two casserole dishes so that it stays extra moist. Cover with foil, cook for 30 min. Take foil off and cook for another 15-20 min.
Enjoy and remember to try and eat those green beans.

A few other friend favorites we'd like to share with you...

Dave's Cranberry Sauce
(from Epicurious)

Danielle is still eating this cranberry sauce on sandwiches. Let it go, Danielle.

Here's a great alternative to pumpkin pie...

Vivian's Flourless Chocolate Cake
w/raspberry sauce
(from the Gourmet Cookbook)

8 oz. good bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for dusting
10 inch springform pan

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter pan, line bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper, and butter paper.

Melt chocolate with butter in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift cocoa powder over chocolate and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into pan. Bake until top has formed a thin crust and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out with moist crumbs adhering, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove side of pan. Invert cake onto a plate and reinvert onto rack to cool completely.

Dust cake with cocoa powder before serving.

Raspberry Sauce

1 10 oz package of frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed
2 table spoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Combine raspberries, with their syrup, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and puree. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on solids; discard solids.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Hot "What?!" Chocolate

It is always our intention to eat healthy...whole grains, fresh veggies, and naturally sweetened treats. We realize, however, that if you look at our recent posts, it seems like we Tarts fuel ourselves with sugar and butter. We can't help it; it's the season that rears its ugly, yet delicious head, causing our normal low-fat latte to morph, stealth-like, into a peppermint mocha or a gingerbread latte.

"Would you like whipped cream on that?"

(barely a whisper) "Yes, please."

Well, sometimes you just have to throw your hands up and say, "Bring it!" We did just that when we stopped at Williams-Sonoma and picked up their famous Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Well, bring it they do, with artisanal bittersweet chocolate by Guittard, lightly flavored with triple-distilled, natural peppermint oil. Topped with homemade organic whipped cream, it makes a delightful treat for you or someone you love. Paired with peppermint bark and a cute mug, it serves as an excellent holiday gift!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Radishes? Really?

I feel gross. Really, really gross. But did that stop me from devouring more stuffing this morning? Nope. I didn't hesitate for a second; that's how gross I am. But I did run out immediately after breakfast and pick up a box of fresh produce from my local CSA with the hope of cleansing myself of my earlier transgression, not to mention the four-day food fest that began with Thanksgiving. I came home and opened my box. Yea! Lots of fresh leafy greens, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion; all things I love and know how to use. At the bottom of my box, however, was a huge bummer...

...radishes. Ugh. Damn you, you little rascals. How'd you get in there?

So, determined to get rid of them asap, I scoured blogs and sites for a recipe; the spoonful of sugar to help this medicine go down. It was tough, but I did come across one from Epicurious for Sauteed Radishes and Watercress. It does use a bit of butter, but since all I'm eating is greens and radishes, I figure a little butter is okay. I used daikon and china rose radishes and subbed the watercress with radish greens. I also added a bit of crushed red pepper and served it all over brown rice.

When the radishes are cooked, they taste like potatoes and really soak up the the flavor of the other ingredients. It was surprisingly delicious and ultimately healthy. Even my Hotcake scarfed it down.

So, I guess I owe an apology to a certain someone. "I'm sorry Radish. I was wrong. Friends?"

And now, for that cup of peppermint hot chocolate I've been craving. What? I ate my veggies!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Janice's Pumpkin Bread

Okay, we know what you're thinking, "Enough with the pumpkin!" After last week's Pumpkinpalooza, why haven't we moved on? Well, because the leftover pumpkin from that big ass Libby's can is staring us in the face and saying...

"Use me. I dare you."

You talkin' to me? A Tart? You talkin' to me?!

Well, Pumpkin, meet my friend, a recipe. Her name is "Janice's Pumpkin Bread." She's from Oklahoma and she's gonna take you down!!!!

Janice's Pumpkin Bread
(from Janice R. of Ponca City, OK)

3 1/2 c. flour
3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 c. water

Mix with a hand mixer, stand mixer or your superpowers.

Pour into 3 small bread pans or 2 larger ones, a little over half-full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Insert a toothpick; it should come out clean, but if you're feeling Tarty and you like it super moist, remove when bread is slightly underdone...(When a little bit sticks to the toothpick.)

This bread is super delicious and so easy, it should be illegal. Eat it plain, with a dollop of whipped cream or toasted with a bit of butter on top. Or wrap it in a pretty package for a great holiday token or hostess gift.

"Thanks Janice."

"In your face, Pumpkin!"

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Chicken TARTilla Soup

Well, it's officially Thanksgiving week and as we Tarts are busy planning and baking for the big day, it's likely we'll space on a few things...

"Huh. What am I forgetting?"

"OMG. We forgot dinner!"

Not to worry. This Chicken Tortilla Soup passed on from Danielle's mom, Barbara, is not only killer, but also a quick and easy solution for the holiday haze. Even a Tart can't mess it up...well, unless she forgets to make it.

Barb's Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Adapted by the Tarts)

1/4 C. olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 C. chopped onion
1 chopped garlic clove
4 stalks chopped celery
2 chopped carrots
*We lose the celery and add one Anaheim chili pepper and one Jalapeno

1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. shredded, boiled chicken breast (We use 2 medium breasts)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. fresh cilantro
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 small can Rotel (Original)
1 can stewed Italian tomatoes, chopped
4 C. chicken broth (Usually add a bit more)
Tortilla chips
Sour Cream (We use greek yogurt)

In a large saucepan, saute the veggies in butter/oil until onion is soft.

Add flour and stir until smooth.
Then add Rotel and tomatoes, including the liquid.

Then add broth, cumin, cilantro, chili powder, salt and chicken and let simmer at least 15 minutes.

Place slightly crushed tortilla chips in bowl. Add soup and top with the following:
sour cream (or greek yogurt), grated Mexican blend cheese, salsa, avocado and more fresh cilantro.

Mmmmmm...this soup rocks! Should you find yourself with leftover turkey, shred that sucker and substitute for chicken. We even used gluten-free flour so the lil' Hotcake could eat it!

What's that burning smell, Erin? Uh-oh, the pumpkin bread!!! WTF Tarts?!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Pandemonium - Day 5

Day 5 Is Here!

Pumpkinpalooza is almost over. One pie, four ways, brought to you on four separate days.


Now it's time for Rusty to Tart Test and tell us what pie she wants this Thanksgiving. She claims she has a savvy palate and will give us very specific feedback. Uh-oh. We sure we want to do this?

"Be nice Rusty!"

Here's Pie # 1!

"Fab consistency. I get maple syrup. Very pumpkin-y. The crust...mmm, flaky."


"Crust, no. Too dry. This one has more spice than #1. Oh, and stop eating my samples, Erin."


"Crazy good crust. Not enough spice. More like a cheesecake. Btw - this is weird, you guys feeding me."


Her face pretty much sums it up.

So that's it. Four pies. Now time for Rusty's decision...

"The winner is...drum roll please...

Pie #1 brought to us by Smitten Kitchen and Grandma Elsie!!!"

This version truly is a winner. By mashing the filling through a sieve, you create a really silky filling. We all agree if you like a spicier PP, add a little nutmeg or clove. This would also be delicious paired with a butter crust, but Grandma's flaky, easy crust did it justice and pretty much delivered the perfect pumpkin pie.

That's it. The end of Pumpkin Pie Pandemonium. Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy lots of pumpkin pie. We, on the other hand, never want to see it again...

...okay, maybe next year. Or tomorrow. Unless you have some now. We're coming over!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Pandemonium - Day 4

Last and possibly the least...Pie Number 4!

We Tarts are very blessed with super supportive Hotcakes. They take pics, eat our concoctions and listen to us talk and talk...and TALK. So we figure the least we can do is give the gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free hotcake one of his favorites...Pumpkin Pie.

"How hard can it be, Danielle?"

"Very hard, Erin."

But we Tarts are up to a challenge, even when failure seems certain. So here goes...

Filling: Erin's "based on feel" concoction.

1 can pumpkin
3 egg whites
1 cup (or so) rice milk
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup arrowroot

Mix and pour.

Disclaimer: I didn't actually measure the ingredients; not really my style. Danielle's not looking, is she? She hates when I do this. Shhhhhh...

Crust: Spelt Pie Crust from Dadamo

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. cool water
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cup spelt flour

Whisk olive oil, water and sea salt together until well blended. Stir in flour. Mix until moistened. Roll out with rolling pin, fill and bake...for what will seem like hours.

Tart Tip: Not nearly enough dough to make a pretty pie crust. Once again, double it.

Okay, well...(Why are we showing this?) Here it is!!!!

Did we seriously make that? Boo, Tarts. Hiss.

And btw, that pie is "done."

The good news is the Hotcake loved it. His wife, however, did not...

But what does Rusty the Tart Tester think? Tune in tomorrow and get the results. We'll help you choose which pie is right for you! We're willing to bet, this ain't it.

Until we Tart again...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Pandemonium - Day 3

It's time for Pie Number 3!

The Tarts are swapping tradition for decadence with this pumpkin pie from the Queen of Cream, Paula Deen, which calls for not only half and half, but cream cheese as well! Paula! WTF?!!!!

And then we decided to pair it with a...butter crust? Tarts! WTF?!!!!

They should just call it a 'butt' crust. Oh well, it's 'go Deen or go down!'

Crust: 'Straight-to-your-butt' Pie Crust Dough from Bon Appetit via Epicurious

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tbsp. (or more) ice water

Blend flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms.
Add water. Blend just until moist clumps form, adding more water by 1/2 Tbsp. if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hr.

Tart Tip
: We used a Kitchen-Aid mixer instead of a processor, making sure not to over-mix. Also, you may want to double this recipe so there's extra dough for cut-outs and a super cute crust.

"Is our crust going to be super cute, Danielle?"

"Must make pies. Must make pies. "

"Uh-oh. A Tart's in trouble."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Pandemonium - Day 2

That's right! It's time for Pie Number 2!

The Tarts journey into Pumpkin-pie-dom began at an early age with the classic 1950's Libby's recipe printed right on the back of the can. We imagine all of you, at one time or another, have had a can in your cupboard and some of you may adore it so much, you don't care to stray from your beloved. So Libby Loyalists...this pie's for you.

And with what may prove to be a colossal error, we decided to deviate slightly from tradition and pair it with an olive oil crust. Risky? Certainly. Gross? Likely. But, let's give it the old Tart try!

*If you're wondering why we didn't start this post with a picture of the pie, well, think of it as a clue. Kind of like foreshadowing...

Filling: Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie
Look for it on the can!

Crust: Olive Oil Crust from CD Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. water
1 large egg, beaten

In a bowl, combine flour and salt. Add oil and mix with an electric mixer. Add water and egg and mix well. The mixture will be crumbly but moist.

Like this?

Hell, what do we know.

Now form into a ball with your hands; don't knead.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 min.
Roll out dough, pour in filling and bake according to recipe.

Tart Tip: Double this recipe. This was not nearly enough dough to roll a pretty crust. I mean, look at the tragedy below...

Is that a pie crust or a skin graph?

SFX: Ding!

The pie is done. Okay, guess we have to show it to you now...

Booooooo. Not as impressive as the first one. Perhaps it's the TIN FOIL pie pan. WHAT WERE WE THINKING???!!! We even tried to pretty it up by adding leaves. Sad, just sad. For those of you who have commented that you find us Tarts intimidating, we imagine you're breathing a sigh of relief. Yes, we make stuff that sucks. That's what makes us Crispy!

But does the taste suck? Luckily our Tart Test is based purely on taste. And our taster Rusty is getting ready...

...but she has to wait til Friday and so do you!