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!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Pandemonium

Well, it's finally here, friends...that time of the year when a torrent of pumpkin finds its way into our hearts and stomachs. That lil' orange squash is like a really hot guy on a motorcycle who blows through town for a spell, absorbing your every thought and desire, until one day, without word, he bolts. And although you're sad to see him go, you know it's for the best, because if you're really honest with yourself, he's kind of beginning to annoy you.

But for now, that sexy little pumpkin is here and we want to take advantage. With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, it's time for the all-American classic...the pumpkin pie. But we Tarts find ourselves asking, 'what is the ultimate PP? Crisco or butter crust? And the it time-honored Libby's or contemporary Paula Deen's? What about a pie for the gluten-free and sugarless?' Well, because we're bananas, we decided to spin out four versions. That's right...1 pie, 4 different ways, brought to YOU on 4 separate days! And on Day 5, we have a special blind Tart Tasting with our Rustic Tart, Rusty Schwimmer.

*Before we begin, let's go over our Tart Tips for pie-making essentials. (We learned the hard way.)

Sili Mat - or any quality pastry mat. Really helps with rolling out the dough, right Erin?

"Yes, Danielle, it really does help."

Pie weights - or coins, pesos, whatever you got, cuz you're a Tart and don't read recipes thoroughly and must improvise. (Whose earring is that?)

Cute Crust Cutters from Williams-Sonoma (Thanks mother-in-law!)

Now for Pie Number One!

Filling: Smitten Kitchen's version which uses candied yams cooked with pumpkin for ultimate flavor!

Crust: Best Ever Pie Crust from Danielle's Grandma Elsie. Although the thought of Crisco makes us want to yak, it sure makes a good crust.

Best Ever Pie Crust

*Makes 2 to 3 crusts

3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening, plus 1 Tbsp.
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/3 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour with a pastry cutter or the old school way...criss-crossing with two knives...

Combine egg, vinegar and water, then blend with flour mixture. You can do it by hand or in a commercial mixer, but make sure not to handle too much either way.

Roll out, then place crust in pie pan and flute the edges.

If you like your crust less tender, place pie weights on top of crust and bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees, otherwise, add filling and bake according to recipe. Yum!

Results on Friday. We'll be back tomorrow with Pie Number 2!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is it love when...

...some nice lady leaves this triple layer lemon cake at your door? Or a conspiracy to land you in a sugar coma? Or a plot to destroy your waistline?

I'm sure she meant well, but if my gluten-free, sugar-free Hotcake gets a hold of this, we will both rue the day. So "Operation Get-Rid-Of-Ridiculously-Large-Cake" is in effect. I'm going to leave it on the doorstep of my favorite Tart and ding-dong-ditch!

SFX: Ding dong!

"You are so gonna pay for this, Erin."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Knocked Out By Gnocchi

We did it. We really did it! We made gnocchi all by our little Tarty selves! Isn't that amazing? Anyone?

Rude. Anyway, with fall flavors dancing in our heads, we chose to kick off this momentous undertaking with this Sweet Potato Gnocchi recipe from, which, as always, we couldn't retain. You'd think we'd remember, I mean look at the concentration...

Whoa, wait a sec. We're both wearing California. Huh. Anyway, we blended the ingredients and got ready to roll...

...and slice...

...and plunge!

Now here's where we stray from the recipe...instead of brown butter and sage, we drew inspiration from Seven Spoons and threw in brussel sprouts browned in butter...

...walnuts and parmesan cheese. And whallah! We did it!

Oh no, not again. (Sotto) Erin, what is up with the scarves?

Now, we know you may think that the sprout/walnut pairing make it gross, like our pal Dave, but the Tarts are going to this party again and we suggest you come too. It's crazy good! In fact, it was so amazing that one of us ate it for breakfast AND lunch the next day. Ugh, and yes, I was wearing a scarf.

(Note to Tarts: Lose the Scarves!)