Gingerbread Cake Roll

I think my favorite dessert from this Thanksgiving was the Gingerbread Cake Roll with Maple Frosting. I had a few slices left over from the day o’turkey, and they were delicious heated up in the microwave with a drizzle of chocolate syrup over the top.

It was my first attempt at a cake roll, and I was very pleased with how it turned out.  Next dessert goal: Bouche de Noel!

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I’ve always wanted to make one, and now that I’ve tackled the cake roll, I think I’m up for the challenge.

Gingerbread Cake Roll

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  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • confectioner’s sugar

For the filling:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Line a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with waxed paper; grease the paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs for 3 minutes. Gradually add sugars, beating until mixture is thickened. Beat in the water, butter, molasses and vanilla. Combine the flour, pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; fold into egg mixture. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • For filling, in a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and maple syrup. Unroll cake; spread filling over cake to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place seam side down on a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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Adapted from: Taste of Home

Food Bump?

My mom asked the other week if I’ve still been exercising. I have, but lately I haven’t had the energy to post about my workouts (or much of anything else) due to the two jobs and shortened hours of light. Why does the darkness zap me of ambition to wear anything but yoga pants and do anything besides read or watch TV when I’m not at work?

Also, the fact that three people have now asked if I’m pregnant makes posting my workouts and healthy eating tips feel a little worthless. I…I…no comment.

Here’s what I’ve been doing lately (five days a week): Jillian Michael’s Ripped in 30 and No More Trouble Zones, Bob Harper’s 30 minute Cardio Conditioning, Chris Freytag’s 10 Pound Slimdown workouts (via YouTube), and a mixture of my own circuit workouts while watching an episode of Friends. 🙂

Since I haven’t felt like cooking much lately, I’ve been eating lots of egg sandwiches, sauteed veggies in balsamic vinegar, soup, and having quite a few mini European dinner nights (basically a mishmash of fruit, veggies, fish, cheese, and crackers or popcorn).

Yesterday, my entire food intake was 75% vegetables, which was nearly negated by the fact that my dinner was Jalapeno Pretzel Poppers at the movie theater and three dark chocolate Hershey kisses later that night.

My sisters and I went to see Breaking Dawn: Part 2 yesterday evening. I knew there was a twist ending and, frankly, I thought the movie’s ending was much more satisfying than the book’s.

Before you get on your high horse to tell me that Twilight is a load of rubbish, I’m going to play my English degree card. I have studied and enjoyed everything from Anne of Green Gables to A Tale of Two Cities. All together, I have read more books than most of the American population. I’ve thrown books in the dumpster because I couldn’t imagine inflicting them on anyone else in the world. I think the Twilight series is interesting. Deal with it.

Okay, rant over.

I’ve been trying to use up the rest of the produce in our house before it goes bad, so I had an apple for both breakfast and lunch today.

I’ve noticed they start to get mealy a lot quicker when they’re not in the refrigerator. Our lone green pepper was also starting to look a bit sad, so I decided to end its misery by sauteeing it with a half a red onion and some mushrooms to make a pita pizza.

I didn’t want to make a huge batch of pizza sauce for one small pizza, so I used pesto as my base and topped it with mozzarella, the veggies, feta cheese, and some anchovy stuffed olives. Baked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

And now I’m going to go sit on the couch and bask in the beauty of our tree in all its jellyfish glory.

Decorating Frenzy

The last two days started exactly the same: work in the cafe from 9-2pm, come home, and go look for a tree.

Unfortunately, Saturday’s adventures did not end well. Dave and I intended to cut our own tree this year because we like it up the whole month of December, and a freshly cut tree has less of a chance to dry out and become a fire hazard. We Googled our way to a Christmas tree farm online, but the GPS got us lost, and we had to turn back when it got dark.

We came home feeling a bit defeated but excited to put up our garland. Except the garland didn’t light up. None of the three strands. So we made our way to Menard’s to search for three strands and only found one left. Target’s was almost double the price. Luckily, we finally struck gold at Hobby Lobby and came home with four strands. We strung lights around the garland and put up our tiny village to give our apartment a little Christmas.

Since neither of us felt like cooking, and we wanted a break from Thanksgiving leftovers, we ordered pizza from a new (well, new to us) place my Dad told me about: Glass Nickel Pizza Company. I chose the Fetalicious pizza: chunky tomato sauce topped with spinach leaves, red onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, and house blend a feta cheeses.

Dave chose the Chicken Cordon Bleu for a bit of something different: honey mustard sauce and house blend cheese with ham, chicken tenders, and swiss cheese.

We never order pizza for takeout, but this place may be our go-to when we decide to: Glass Nickel Pizza Company is a winner so far. Both pizzas were delicious, and I loved the fact that we could order online using their online coupon codes. Though not as cheap as a chain restaurant like Domino’s, they were cheaper than Topper’s in Green Bay.

I went to bed Saturday night after watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and I came home from work on Sunday to try to hunt down our tree once more. This time, I wrote directions down using the website and Google maps, and we headed out.

After forty minutes, success! Tillman’s Christmas Trees.

The place wasn’t huge, but they had a fine selection of trees and even offered horse-drawn wagon rides for families who wanted the full experience.

I just wanted a picture of the horses. 🙂

Dave and I have different ideas of what the “perfect tree” is, but we came to an agreement pretty quickly after several ‘maybes’ and quite a few ‘nos.’

Tillman’s provided hand saws, and Dave had the tree cut down in no time. Then he picked it up like it was a rag doll and walked it back to the beginning of the lot to be wrapped in twine.

The drive home was wonderful, because the tree filled the car with its wonderful piney aroma. Next to old book scent, I would also like to bottle Christmas tree perfume. Ahhh.

We put Trading Places on while we decorated the tree with lights and ornaments. We bought new LED lights this year to lower our energy bill, and though I’m very pleased with how they look, they don’t photograph quite as nicely.

Dave declared it our “best tree yet!” and I’d have to agree. We weren’t allowed to have real trees at our first two apartments, which resulted in a pretty skimpy fake tree the first two years.

Still, you can cover almost anything in tree lights and it will be pretty.

After we decorated the tree, I reheated pizza up for dinner again. Just as good!

The Blues

I lied this morning. I do have a bit of the post-Thanksgiving blues.

Maybe it’s because I’m home alone. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t really feel like the holiday season yet. Maybe it’s because I forgot my phone at my parent’s yesterday and feel a bit disconnected from the outside world. (I know still have internet. It’s a first world problem) Or perhaps it’s because I made a grave error yesterday: in addition to forgetting my cell phone, I also forgot to bring home some of Dave’s homemade bread in my stash of leftovers.

I know greater travesties have occurred. I’m just sensitive, okay? Instead of thick slices of french bread seasoned with herbs de provence, I had to make do with what I had to create the ultimate leftover turkey sandwich.

I think I did okay.

I started with a pita fold-out and topped it with cranberry chutney and leftover brussels sprouts.

I topped it with Ross’ secret: the moistmaker (aka a piece of bread soaked in gravy).

 

Then finished it off with turkey and, finally, Havarti cheese.

 

I sauteed some broccoli in balsamic vinegar with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper on the side, then finished off my plate with leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes.

 

Good food can’t completely cure the blues. But it certainly does help.

 

 

 

Happiness

Um….where did Thanksgiving go? When I woke up yesterday morning, it was ready to greet me, but now the last glass of punch has been drunk, and I’m sitting home alone with leftovers in my fridge. Talk about cold turkey.

Luckily, one of the things I love about Thanksgiving is that I don’t have to live with the blues: the end of Thanksgiving just means the beginning of the holiday season. Trimming the tree with Dave, eating chocolate mint candy canes, drinking eggnog, watching TV by only tree-light, seeing beloved friends and family even more than usual, and the general lightheartedness that sticks around until early January.

Yesterday was a splendid Thanksgiving. It was unusually mild at nearly 65 degrees (!) and was the first Thanksgiving I can remember wearing a short sleeve shirt. The leftover Halloween pumpkins were literally melting in the field.

My brother was in charge of the turkey yesterday. For the last several years, my parents have ordered an organic, free-range turkey from a local farmer, and this year was no exception. You definitely pay the price for a well-cared for turkey, though: a grocery store turkey usually runs 68 cents a pound near Thanksgiving while an organic turkey is nearer to $4.00 a pound.

Still, after knowing that birds are the most inhumanely treated animals in factory farming, I’m so glad my parents continue this tradition, expensive as it is. As it was, my brother took very great care of the twenty pound bird. He stuffed it with a beautiful combination of fruit, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

 

Then remained outside most of the day to monitor its progress.

 

He put it in a roasting pan covered with foil to prevent blackening and used his handy meat thermometer to take out the turkey when it was perfectly cooked at 165.

 

 

My dad is the grilling turkey master and gave Tyler a few pointers during the day, then handed the chef’s hat to Ty while he took a much-deserved nap.

We had three different kinds of stuffing this year: my Mom’s traditional sausage and onion stuffing and a wild rice, mushroom, and fig stuffing. She always makes the best stuffing as well as the most delicious and flavorful cranberry chutney I have ever eaten. I don’t think I could ever eat jellied cranberry sauce.

 

My sister Moriah also tried her hand at stuffing this year and followed an Aaron Sanchez recipe to make a delicious Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing. The cilantro and cotija cheese were an excellent twist on traditional stuffing.

 

My brussels sprouts were a cinch to make: I made them just thirty minutes before we ate so they would be relatively crispy.

 

I don’t think they were quite as good as the roasted broccoli I made last year but they were still tasty, and the added cilantro complemented Moriah’s stuffing nicely.

My Davy took charge of the breads, naturally.

 

He made two loaves of French Farmhouse bread seasoned with Herbs de Provence.

 

And a batch of crusty Spinach Feta rolls.

He also made an old favorite: Alton’s Company Punch with black tea, substituting whiskey for the Batavia Arrack which we have still yet to locate. Although we had hoped to eat earlier this year at around 4:00pm, we ended up eating at our more normal 6:00pm, which meant I had more than my fair share of delicious punch.

The boys set about cutting up the turkey while we moved the warming foods to fancy dishes.

 

After all, it was Thanksgiving!

 

The table was set simply, but beautifully.

 

And, as usual, we each got our own place setting.

 

Before dinner, I read the poem “Happiness” by Raymond Carver. I had it narrowed down to a poem out of my Dad’s poetry book, but the winner was read off Nicole’s phone.

 

Dim lighting made for blurry food, but I can assure you it was all as tasty as ever.

 

 

Although the food and company was as traditional as ever, it was a special Thanksgiving because it was Aurelia’s first.

I had a little of everything and ate until I was comfortably full but not stuffed. After dinner, we retired to the living room to watch Jim Gaffigan’s Beyond the Pale. Unfortunately, Dave had to leave soon after to get ready for work that night, but I’m glad I got to spend most of the day with him.

 

My parents were lovely hosts as ever, and I hope to one day return the favor in my own home.

 

They definitely deserve a break from hosting their silly children every year.

 

A Thankful Heart

Yesterday was exhausting. I like to take the whole day to bake pies so I don’t have to rush, but a half shift at work and a trip to two jam-packed grocery stores made my starting time less than ideal.

I did dishes about six times, because I had to keep reusing the same bowls every time I started over. When I was finally done at 7:00pm, I drank a bottle of wine while Dave worked on his breads for Thanksgiving: Spinach Feta Rolls and French Farmhouse Bread (seasoned with Herbs de Provence.). I would have paid for the aromas alone.

I woke up early this morning and made myself a pot of Gingerbread coffee and contemplated my day–a day dotted with family and friends that others often dread, but I look forward to immensely. A family that I love to hang out with–that is definitely something to be thankful for.

Cooking all day. Sitting down together for a meal that has taken hours to prepare and is consumed in ten minutes. Somehow, on Thanksgiving, it’s worth it.

 

Other things make it worth it.

1) My purring kitties.

2) Hugs from Dave.

3) Freshly baked bread.

4) Mom’s overwhelming positiveness.

 

5) Dad laughing so hard his face turns red.

 

6) A mug of hot coffee or tea.

7) Siblings that are best friends.

 

8) Good food.

9) A bank account with more than $10.

10) Friends that are family.

11) Aurelia.

12) Heart-wrenching books.

13) Yoga pants.

14) Chances.

Pumpkin Prep

Even though I don’t like pumpkin, I always try to make the pies for my family with a freshly baked and pureed pumpkin as opposed to canned. Much more foodie-friendly. A co-worker and I got to talking pies today (she is making 100 this year!!! Some for family and some for a nursing home), and she asked if I wanted a Cinderella pumpkin to bake this year which was in the back of her car.

Yes, please! I hadn’t bought a pumpkin yet, and, though I usually bake small pie pumpkins, I wasn’t sure what would be left at the grocery store. Also, I’d never baked with a Cinderella, so I wondered what the flavor difference would be. I always thought that smaller pumpkins had better flavor, but she said “Once you use Cinderella, you never go back.” I couldn’t believe how huge it was!

It must have been a foot and half across, although it was much flatter than a pumpkin of equal weight. I did a tiny bit of research on the Cinderella pumpkin when I got home: it was named so because it resembled the pumpkin carriage in the Disney movie Cinderella (naturally) but, more interestingly, it is recorded as being served at the second Thanksgiving dinner ever.

Personally, I think it would be cool to have a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving feast: duck, venison, mussels, spinach, onions, cornmeal seasoned with molasses, and a hollowed out pumpkin baked with milk, honey, and spices. If you want a twist on our traditional Thanksgiving meal now, that’s certainly an interesting way to go.

To cook the Cinderella pumpkin, I cut it up into large chunks using our electric knife and baked it in a roasting pan at 375 for about an hour and fifteen minutes.

I’ll keep it in the fridge overnight, and on Pie Day (tomorrow), I’ll puree it in our food processor.

After the rigamarole of cleaning and prepping the pumpkin, I wasn’t feeling up to a 30 minute dinner, so I made it as quick as I could. I sauteed broccoli in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then seasoned with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper and topped with a bit of shredded smoked goat cheddar cheese. On the side, I had toast topped with sliced avocados, mashed sardines in mustard dill sauce, and red onions.

I’m so looking forward to pie day tomorrow!

Vegging Out

Thanksgiving is traditionally a carb-laden holiday. To those of you on the Atkins diet, I feel your pain. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, dinner rolls, sweet potatoes and pie crust, pie crust, pie crust. If you’re a vegetarian on the Atkins diet? Good luck.

I never used to miss vegetables at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Green Bean Casserole was never a part of our menu, so veggies were never invited to the party. (You could stretch it by saying the potatoes are a vegetable but they are so starchy, they are more like the love child of a loaf of bread and a vegetable. Mmm.) Fruit snuck its way in in the form of Mom’s homemade cranberry chutney, but I think last year was the first time I actually made a veggie dish: The Best Ever Roasted Broccoli.

Now I’m sold on delicious green things at the table, so I’m making brussels sprouts this year. But since I will also be consuming lots of carb-laden food, I’m vegging out this week.

 

Yeah, that’s breakfast. Sauteed brussels sprouts, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. Seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, marjoram, basil, salt, and pepper.

“That looks more like dinner to me.” No, it’s not. I topped it with an egg. A poached egg.

Lofty Goals

I spent the day mulling over my Thanksgiving dessert recipes, wondering if I would be able to accomplish my ambitious plans. I’m a little nervous. A little scared. And very excited. I love trying new recipes. I sulk when they don’t turn out, but I’m happy as a clam when they do.

1. Creamy Caramel Apple Crunch Pie–I’m going to make this following my Grandma’s Creamy Apple Pie recipe, but I’ll substitute caramel Greek yogurt for the sour cream and switch out the top pie crust with an oatmeal walnut topping. I love oatmeal toppings on pies.

2Chocolate Chipotle Sweet Potato Pie–I made up this recipe myself last year (doesn’t happen very often) and I loved it. Maybe more than everyone else, but who cares. It combines chocolate, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, sweet potatoes, and coconut. A weirdly awesome mixture.

3. Pumpkin Cheesecake–I’m not really a fan of pumpkin, but my sister requested it, and I have to admit that it sounds pretty dang good. I was going to make a gingersnap crust, but I have some leftover chai cookies that I think will make a lovely substitute.

4. Gingerbread Cake Roll with Maple Frosting–I’ve never made a cake roll before. I’m scared. Dave and I actually just came up with this idea tonight in lieu of the Pumpkin Cake roll I was initially planning on. If I can manage without any cracks, I’ll be flying high.

All these thoughts about desserts had me craving…veggies.

 

Broccoli and a few brussels sprouts with three diced garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and basil. Roasted at 425 for 25 minutes. I could eat this combo forever. Add fresh basil and freshly shaved Parmesan  and I’m yours.

 

On the side I had a veggie burger with muenster cheese, red onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard on a whole wheat English muffin. I usually buy Gardenburger or Morningstar brand but Boca was on sale at Woodman’s when we were there last. The vegan burgers are oddly…colorless, but tasted okay. Especially with all the toppings. 🙂

 

What a wonderful detox-before-Thanksgiving meal. I’ll be at it all week.