The 12 Cocktails of Christmas

I have been waiting to post about this for weeks. But, since it relates to Christmas (and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet), I forced myself to wait until November to share this with all of you. That way, if you want to participate, you have a month to come up with some drinks.

I came up with the idea of doing a 12 cocktails of Christmas, where each day, Dec 1-12, I’d feature a new holiday cocktail. I’ve been brainstorming different flavor combonations and drinks, along with the help of my sister-in-law (an NYC bartender). So many people do 12 treats or desserts of Christmas that I thought it would be fun and different to feature cocktails instead.

I’m extending an open invitation to any blogger who wants to join in. You drinks can be virgin, spiked, old posts, new posts; there really are no rules except it has to be a beverage. You can join me in posting every day or once, twice, as many times as you want, I’m pretty easy going.

If you’re interested, leave a comment or email me (surlykitchen@gmail_dot_com). That way I can remind you as the time comes closer to December 1st. I’m setting up a code for the picture above, which will serve as a button in your blog’s side bar, if you want to add it.

I’m actually really excited about this because it involves no cooking! I’m still adjusting to my new doses of medications, and have no energy and no desire to cook. But I promise as soon as I feel better I will post all kinds of deliciousness.

Fall Harvest Soup

Poor Mr.Surly, I haven’t made a full dinner in months. I’m not sure how much longer he can get by on my spartan dinners. I’ve been busy with hospital tests and doctor appointments and when I get home the last thing on my mind is food. All I want to do is to crawl onto the couch with my beloved heating pad and relax. Finally, all my medical appointments are winding down; my last 2 appointments are next week. By Wednesday I should know whether it’s a bad kidney or a bad pancreas that is causing my abdominal pain. Not sure at this point which option would be better. At least by knowing I can stop worrying about it and the doctors can start treating it properly. Then I can get back into cooking and baking. Sorry, about my medical rant; I’m just frustrated about it.

On a happier, seasonal note, I love the flavors of fall: pumpkin, apples, and especially acorn squash; warm, spiced comfort food. Lacking inspiration and feeling lazy, I decided to take some of my favorite fall foods and add them all together in a soup. It turned out creamy, dreamy, and delicious. Most importantly, for me, this was easy to make, yummy to eat, and caused minimal abdominal pain and bloating. Yay.

The soup is sweet from the apples and apple juice and gets a nice kick from the cayenne pepper. It is creamy enough that you don’t need to add the cream. I only added it because I need the extra fat and calories, since I’m still trying to gain weight.

Fall Harvest Soup
Printer-friendly recipe

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 sugar pumpkin, halved and seeded (or 1 can pumpkin puree)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large, or 2 small, apple(s), cored, peeled and diced (I used Gala)
2 Tbl butter
brown sugar, to taste
cinnamon, to taste
pumkin pie spice, to taste
cardamom, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
thyme, to taste
~2 c water
apple juice (I used a kid’s juice box that was 6.75 fl oz)
½ c cream (opt)

Preheat oven to 400 F

First, roast the veggies:
Place squash inside side up on a baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle some kosher salt on the halves and drizzle with olive oil.

Place the pumpkin halves, inside side down, on a foil lined baking sheet.

Place sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and lightly salt (I also drizzled some agave over them).

Roast the veggies until tender, either separately or all together, in oven. The squash and pumpkin took about 30-45 minutes; they are done when the shell is easily pierced with a knife. The sweet potato cubes took about 20-30 minutes; they are done when tender.

Allow squash and pumpkin to cool, then scrap out the insides into a bowl with a spoon or melon baller. Add the sweet potatoes.

Make the soup:
In a dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter. Add apples and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and cardamom. Sauté apples to caramelize, about five minutes. Add the apple juice and veggies along with 1 cup of water. Add a ½ to 1 tsp thyme and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and a pinch of sea salt. Simmer about 10 minutes or so to allow flavors to meld together.

Using an immersion blender puree the soup; at this point I needed to add another cup of water. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a blender. Taste to adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Stir in cream, if using, and remove from heat. Serve and enjoy.

Spicy Hot Bloody Mary

While on vacation in August, for some reason, someone in Mr.Surly’s family got a craving for a Bloody Mary. No one really knew how to make a bloody mary, so Mr.Surly’s sister, an aspiring NYC bartender, took charge of the task. The result was delicious; so good, in fact, that once home Mr.Surly requested a bloody mary one Saturday afternoon. I had to text Surly-SIL (sister-in-law) for the recipe. She gave me the ingredient list but I had to play around with the ratio’s to get it to Mr.Surly’s liking (it took a couple of attempts).

Warning about these; they are hot and spicy. If that isn’t your thing, just use regular V8 and maybe omit the creole seasonings.

Spicy Hot Bloody Mary
Printer-friendly recipe
Serving: 1 glass

ice cubes
1 shot (2 oz) vodka
1 tsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
1 tsp Claussen pickle juice (from kosher dills)
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
Spicy Hot V8 juice (I used the Spicy Hot low sodium V8)
celery, for garnish

spices, to taste:
Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere’s)
sea salt
black pepper
tabasco sauce
garlic powder

Fill your glass half full of ice cubes. Then add the vodka, lemon juice, pickle juice, and worchestershire sauce. Pour in V8 juice until glass is 3/4 full.

Sprinkle with seasonings, adjusting any (or all) ingredients to taste. Then kick back, relax, and enjoy.

White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti

I’m finally getting around to posting some recipes. I have just been so exhausted and lethargic the past week or two, all I felt like doing was sleep. But this week I’m trying to get caught up in posting. I wish I had an assistant to help me take and edit the photos, as well as type out the recipes and posts.
I love to have some kind of treat with my morning cappuccino. Biscotti is a favorite, so are cookies, date bars, etc. I had some macadamias, and decided to make a biscotti version of the best cookie ever. It took me a few attempts to get the right ratio of dry to wet ingredients, but all the disasters were still delicious, even if they were too crumbly.

These went fast, I had them with my morning coffee and again in the afternoon with some chai tea. Next time I’m going to make two loaves, as even Mr.Surly was a fan.

White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti
Printer-friendly recipe
makes 1 small loaf, serves about 4

½ c sugar
4 Tbl butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ¼ c flour
2/3 c quick oats
1 Tbl ground flaxseed meal (0pt)
½ tsp baking powder
generous pinch salt
¼ c white chocolate chips
1.5 oz (generous ¼ c) chopped macadamia nuts

In a bowl, stir together flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, along with the chips and nuts, and stir with a rubber spatula (or wooden spoon) until just combined. Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum.

When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge and preheat oven to 350F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. With wet hands, take the dough and form it into a rectangular loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut loaf into desired portion size. Bake the pieces for about 6 minutes on each side, until golden and toasted.

If desired, drizzle melted chocolate over pieces. Allow to cool completely, before storing in an airtight container.

Totally Touchable Tresses

I love beauty products (of all kinds), always have ever since I was a little girl. Back then, I used to sit at my grandma’s vanity and play with her makeup. I loved it and could not wait for the day when I’d be old enough to have a makeup of my own.

Same thing applies to hair products. I have very baby fine, thin hair. It’s hard for me to find hair products to use that don’t weigh my hair down and make it look greasy. I’m constantly trying new things. Since I color my hair and take a lot of medications, my hair is dry at the ends and prone to breakage. I was searching for a hair product to restore my hair back to its original silky, shiny, smoothness.

I bought this hair treatment from Kerastase:

It’s a hair masque for fine hair. But the smell of it is too perfumey and strong for me. It works great, but I don’t like the way my hair smells afterward. I use it once every few months. I’m happy with it, but then I found this damage remedy product from Aveda (pictured at top of post)

I’ve tried products from Aveda before. I’ve used their pure abundance shampoo/conditioner for fine hair. It has clay in it that is supposed to help your scalp from looking greasy. My hair is so thin and fine I have to wash it every day, otherwise, it’s greasy. With them, I was able to wash my hair every other day. I liked them, but I not blown away so I only buy them occasionally, not regularly.

Recently, I saw this dry remedy leave in conditioner/detangler. Intrigued, I purchased it, and I’m so glad I did. I noticed a difference after one application. My hair was noticeably softer. And now, with regular use, the shine is finally back in my hair and my flyaways have been tamed. The best part is that it doesn’t weigh my hair down (I apply it to the ends, not the roots of my hair).

I love this stuff so much I just couldn’t keep it to myself, I had to share it with others.

Note: not a paid advertisement; just my opinion and experience with the above products

Black Bean Lasagna

This lasagna is something I just threw together the other day when I didn’t feel like making much for dinner. I’ve seen lasagna rolls on various blogs and, one day, wanted to take a stab at making my own. I don’t like ground beef and I knew if there was no protein in this dish there was a chance Mr. Surly would find this dinner neither filling nor satiating. In order to curb and avoid possible post-dinner kitchen foraging, I added black beans for protein.

Now, black beans are on my “avoid” list for the low oxalate diet, but I haven’t been following the diet too strictly recently. My GI doctor ordered more tests, and wants me to eat as I normally would to get accurate results. I have been eating all the chocolately treats I can in the meantime. This accounts for my recent scrumptious Chocolate Stout Cupcakes post.

This meal was easy to prepare, while my noodles boiled I mixed up the filling, and seasoned the tomato sauce. The rolls aren’t too hard to assemble. If you roll too tightly the filling pops out but that’s not a big deal; you just pinch it back in.

Both Mr.Surly and I enjoyed this, though he did comment it could use more spices. I thought it tasted great, but with my GI issues I have acquired a very bland palate, much safer for my GI tract that way.

thanks for the new dish MIL 🙂
Black Bean Lasagna Rolls
Printer-friendly recipe
makes 12 mini rolls
serves 2

1 (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
2-3 cloves garlic
~2 Tbl olive oil
1 (16 oz) container ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)

spices to taste:
*Italian seasoning

a few Tbl chopped fresh basil (opt)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
6 lasagna noodles, boiled, cooled and cut in half
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce (or jar of marinara sauce)
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

make the filling for the rolls:
In a small nonstick pan over medium heat, sauté garlic in a Tbl for about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, black beans, and ~1-2 tsp of each the dried spices. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and put into small heat-safe bowl. Add the ricotta cheese and fresh basil (jf using), stir to combine. Add a small handful ~¼ to 1/3 shredding mozzarella and ~ ¼ c grated parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Pour tomato sauce into a small bowl and season with more (1-2 tsp) dried spices, salt, and pepper. Add a splash of olive oil and the red pepper flakes; stir. Put a few spoonfuls into the bottom of a small baking dish. Using a spoon, scoop out some of the filling, and add it to a lasagna noodle, rolling the noodle around the filling. If filling comes out, place your index finger and thumb over the open ends and pinch the filling back into the roll. Place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat til all the noodles are used. Pour remaining sauce over rolls. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and cover with foil.

At this point you can either keep it in the fridge until you’re ready for dinner, or bake immediately (or you could stash it in the freezer for another day).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and bake, covered in foil, 45 min to an hour, til heated through and sauce is bubbling a bit. Remove foil, and bake an additional 5-10 min until cheese is browned. Allow to cool about 10-15 min before serving, then enjoy.

Coffee Cake Muffins with Crunchy Almond Topping

A couple weekends ago Mr. Surly made a comment on how coffee cake sounded good. On weekends he likes sweets that compliment his coffee. I haven’t had coffee cake in years, so I set out to make some. I knew I wanted them in cupcake form for perfect individual portions. I went onto Tasty Kitchen to view some recipes. I finally settled on this recipe as a base; of course I had to make my own tweaks.

I wanted to make a crunchy nut topping. I figured a few oxalates from the almonds wouldn’t hurt me. I would rather have used walnuts instead of almonds, but I didn’t have any. Without the nut topping these would have been a good low oxalate treat.

I messed up the recipe a bit, you were supposed to reserve some of the filling and use it as the topping. But my medicated brain missed that step–ooops. It didn’t matter though, I made my own topping and got a few extra cupcakes from the batter.

These were delightful. A perfect accompaniment to Mr.Surly’s coffee and my cappuccino. These did not last long. I think they only lasted 2 days. Which is good, since I have a list of other sweets I want to make.

Coffee Cake Muffins with Crunchy Almond Topping
Printer-friendly recipe
makes about 9 muffins

for the cupcakes:
1 ¼ c flour
¼ c + 2 Tbl sugar
½ c brown sugar
~½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ c + 2 Tbl applesauce (or oil)
½ c buttermilk
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp apple cider vinegar (or white)
½ tsp vanilla

for the crunchy nut topping:
1.5 oz whole almonds (~ 1/3 c)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbl flaxseed oil (or melted butter)
2 Tbl brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F

make the muffins:
Sift together flour, both sugars, spices and salt in mixing bowl. Add applesauce, buttermilk and baking soda. Whisk or mix well. Add baking powder, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.

make the topping
Finely chop or pulse in food processor a few times. Add other ingredients and stir.

Fill greased or papered muffing wells almost to the top. Sprinkle topping over muffin batter. Let it sit on top, not sink in.

Bake 20 minutes or until inserted pick comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack.

Source: halved and adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

This week has gone by so fast for me! I’m finally getting around to editing photos and getting some posts up. I feel like I’m so far behind! I have missed reading my favorite blogs, and I plan to catch up on that this weekend.

I’ve been going through a lot of my recipes to see if I can deem them low oxalate. I have made this chicken many times; we really like it. I’m not sure if this is an ideal dish for a low oxalate diet. The soy sauce is on my list of foods to avoid, but I figured using just low sodium would be fine.Besides, I dilute it with pineapple juice, which is on my “good” list. 😉

I’ve made this with fresh pineapple and canned. Canned is obviously less work and tastes just as good. I really love sweet and spicy combinations. Don’t substitute cooking sherry for the dry sherry, they are different and cooking sherry is loaded with sodium (which is bad for a low oxalate diet). I have grilled it, cooked it in a skillet, and one time I even just tossed everything in an 8×8″ glass dish and baked it at 375F. Just depends on my mood, and how tired/lazy I’m feeling.

You can serve this with rice, couscous, millet, almost any grain. I chose orzo since it’s a pasta, which is on my “good” oxalate list.

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken
Printer-friendly recipe
serves 2

1/3 c dry sherry (NOT cooking sherry. I bought a cheap bottle of dry sherry at Trader Joe’s)
¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
~1 Tbl Hoisin sauce
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, reserve juice from the can
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter

Whisk sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar hoisin sauce, red pepper flakes and 1/3 cup pineapple juice in shallow dish or Ziploc quart sized bag. Add pineapple chicken and gently stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. I mix this up in the morning, put it in a Ziploc bag and let it marinate until dinner, flipping occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat grill or skillet to medium-high.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry; reserve the marinade. Oil the skillet or grill rack. Cook the chicken cooked through, ~8 minutes per side.

Pour the reserved pineapple chunks marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes or so (this will kill the bacteria from the raw chicken). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Sometimes I like to add more pineapple juice. Add 1 tsp cold water to the cornstarch and stir, to make a slurry. Pour into marinade, stir, bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Stir in butter (this is optional. I need the fat so I add it).

Serve the chicken drizzled with pineapple sauce.

Lemon Glazed Brown Sugar Shortbread

I have to admit, this low oxalate diet is one of the hardest elimination diets I have ever done. Mostly because all my favorite foods are on the “foods to avoid” list. But, this forces me to become more creative in planning out my meals. I’m thinking of ingredient combinations I never would have considered otherwise. I wanted to tap into my creative side via this blog, and now I’m really being forced into it.

One thing I’m really struggling with is dessert. Ever since losing too much weight, my doctor keeps encouraging me to eat sugary, fatty desserts. And now I’ve developed a sweet tooth. I can’t help it; you try eating cakes and browines, cookies and ice cream everyday for a year, then all of a sudden being cut off. My biggest challenge right now is finding low oxalate desserts. Is there anything that tastes like chocolate, but isn’t chocolate nor cocoa, and would be low oxalate? If someone knows of something please let me know. It’s only been about a week and I’m craving and missing my good friend chocolate terribly.

Since I haven’t been feeling well lately, I wanted to make an easy dessert. I decided to make a simple shortbread and add a lemon glaze to sweeten it. I made a small batch because this was an experiment, and now I wish I had made more. I’ve already eaten almost half the batch I made. Luckily, these are so easy to make I can make a bigger batch tomorrow. The lemon glaze adds that perfect extra ‘something’.

I’d like to experiment more with this by adding different spices and glazes. I’d like to try some kind of orange blossom water glaze. This is a great basic, recipe to play around with.

Lemon Glazed Brown Sugar Shortbread
Printer-friendly version
makes about 12-14 bite sized cookies

for the shortbread:
4 Tbl butter, softened
2 Tbl brown sugar
½ c flour

for the lemon glaze:
2 Tbl powdered sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla

Make the shortbread:
Preheat oven to 300F

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Gradually add the flour, mixing well. On a lightly floured surface, knead and squeeze together the dough. Pat it into a rectangle, I think mine was about ½“ thick. Using a pizza cutter, or knife, cut into desired size pieces.

Place pieces on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and prick with a fork. Bake about 15 minutes, or til bottom and edges are browned. Place baking sheet on wire rack.

Make the glaze:
In small bowl (I used a ramekin) add glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush glaze on still warm shortbread (or you could drizzle the glaze over the shortbread).

Allow shortbread to cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Chai Biscotti

Well, my low oxalate diet has begun. It’s going to take some time to fully adjust to it, and I have to reference my “good”, “bad”, and “limit” lists. Black tea is on my “foods to avoid” list, so my daily cup of chai tea (made from black tea) is out. So I had to find a new way to get my chai fix. I’ve been thinking a lot about biscotti recently, I’m not sure why, so I decided to try to come up with some kind of chai flavor biscotti. I wanted to make them vegan, and that took some adjusting to make sure the texture came out right.

It took a few attempts to get the right flavor ratio and dry to liquid ratio. The almonds are on my list of “bad” foods, but I figured ¼ c of thin slices spread throughout the whole loaf wouldn’t be too harmful for my diet. And flax is on my “limit” list, and I figure 2 Tbl is limiting.

I made a small batch, because I wasn’t sure if Mr. Surly would be into eating them. It’s a nice treat, and for me, it was the right amount. But feel free to double the recipe if you’re really into biscotti.

Chai Biscotti
Printer-friendly recipe
makes ~8 pieces

2 Tbl ground flaxseed meal
6Tbl water
2 Tbl flaxseed oil (or canola oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c flour
¼ c sugar
½ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly (or ground) nutmeg
pinch white pepper (opt)
¼ c sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 F

Add ground flaxseed and water to a mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Add oil and extract. Sift in the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices). Add almonds and stir to just combine.

Line a baking sheet with silicone liner or parchment paper. Shape the dough into a loose rectangular shape. Bake 25 min, flipping sheet halfway through baking time, until the loaf is firm and golden brown.

Remove loaf to cutting board. Reduce oven to 300 F.

Using a serrated slice loaf into biscotti sticks.

Place sticks, cut side up, on baking sheet and return to the oven for 15 minutes more.

Place on wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

*Note: you can replace the ground flaxseed and water with 2 eggs