Balsamic Roasted Turnips

Posted February 15, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Book of the Month Recipes / 0 Comments

 

 

The lowly, modest turnip. I’ll admit I rarely (if ever) give it a second glance in the produce section. I’m guilty of passing it up hundreds of times in favor of more attractive veggies like a bunch of fresh carrots or a head of bright green broccoli.

Yet when I saw that turnips are one of the few prominent side dishes in Wuthering Heights, I knew I needed to find a way to make them enjoyable. For me, this means ROASTING. I am a firm believer that if you’re having trouble getting yourself to eat your vegetables, a little olive oil and salt with some time in the oven goes a long way.

This recipe I found from Kalyn’s Kitchen takes it a step further and adds some balsamic vinegar for extra oomph. She suggests tossing the roasted turnips in a light coating of balsamic at the very end as well, and I highly recommend it. Turnips are mild little guys, so I think they benefit from just a bit of zing from the extra balsamic.

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A Wuthering Heights Reading Kit

Posted February 13, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Reading Kits / 0 Comments

 

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For the past week we’ve been trapped inside due to family-wide illness and a foot of snow, so putting together this Wuthering Heights reading kit was a nice break from all the tedium. I had a blast reading through Kate Beaton’s six part Wuthering Heights comic series to find just the right print to include in my kit. I also wanted to include at least one of the many wonderful quotes in Bronte’s book, so I made sure a quote is featured in one of the items below. I tried to avoid candles, scarves, and t-shirts this time since I tend to use those a lot in my kits (gotta widen those horizons!). In the end, I like to think I curated a thoughtful list of fun, unique items perfect for keeping close at hand while you read Emily Bronte’s famous novel. Let’s take a look! 🙂

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Wuthering Heights Roast Goose with Potatoes

Posted February 8, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Book of the Month Recipes / 1 Comment

 

Goose: it’s a dish I’ve put off cooking for years because of the horror stories I’ve heard about how hard it is to make. It’s thrilling to finally step up and tackle something you’ve always found intimidating, and even more so when your first attempt goes really well.

When I decided to make roast goose as my Wuthering Heights entree, I began the hunt for a recipe that was both manageable and reliably successful. This was surprisingly difficult. I saw recipes that insisted you must sear and flip the goose in a roasting pan to get a brown color without overcooking, others that called for multiple extra recipes like glaze and stuffing, and still more that claimed it was impossible to evenly cook a whole goose (and that the only solution was to carve it before cooking). I felt discouraged and more than a little fearful. Goose can cost upwards of $60, and I did NOT want to screw this up.

Then I found this wonderful recipe from The Woks of Life. It had more steps than some of the recipes I’d seen, but it was easier to follow and didn’t require anything weird like searing the bird in a separate pan. It was an orange five-spice goose recipe, which sounded delicious. The seasoning also caused it to roast darker than the average goose, helping to avoid the issue of a finished birth that’s too light on top. The only downside was that the flavor profile was a little inaccurate for Victorian England, but given the circumstances, I think we can overlook it. 😉

The bird turned out beautiful on my very first try. It was seasoned perfectly, and the meat was tender and rich. I felt so proud when I pulled it out of the oven, and although it’s a little pricey for a regular weeknight meal, I would have no problems making this if my family ever wants to give Christmas goose a try!

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Midnight on the Moor: A Wuthering Heights Tea

Posted February 6, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Teas / 1 Comment

 

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It’s tea time again here at Wonderland Recipes, and our latest blend is inspired by our current book of the month, Wuthering Heights. Naturally, for this tea I wanted something that would capture the dark, dramatic mood so iconic to this famous novel. Adagio Tea’s Earl Grey Moonlight blend was the perfect place to start. From there, I wanted to add a hint of Victorian flair, so I paired it with some classic Summer Rose tea. Throw in some cornflowers and extra rose petals for color, and you’ve got yourself the perfect drink to complement your midnight reading of Emily Bronte’s classic tale of thwarted romance and restless ghosts, staged in the cold, imposing halls of Wuthering Heights.

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Orange Poppy Seed Cake

Posted February 1, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

 

Last May, I got an email from a reader requesting a Wuthering Heights menu, and I was thrilled. It was the first time anyone had ever contacted me with a menu request, though I’ll admit I was also a little nervous since I’d never read Wuthering Heights before. I was afraid I might not like it, and I have a personal rule of not making menus for books I don’t like. Still, I promised to read it with hopes that all would go well.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it! Gothic romance holds a special place in my heart, and I loved Emily Bronte’s descriptions of the bleak moor and Cathy’s desolate ghost. I finished it quickly and immediately started planning a menu. February seemed like the perfect time to premiere it, what with all the stark, gray weather outside. So here it finally is!

I love the food’s Victorian flair throughout the book: goose, porridge, oatcakes, etc. There are also several references to tea and cake, so I decided to take that as the inspiration for my appetizer. One common form of tea cake is seed cake, a quick bread with caraway or poppy seed mixed through the batter. Although caraway is more traditional, I’m not a big fan of the flavor, so I decided to go with poppy seed. I also wanted to incorporate the oranges that are mentioned in the book, so orange poppy seed cake it is! The recipe I use here is mostly based on this blood orange poppy seed cake from The Whole Bite.

I was definitely eager to get to work on this! One downside of planning my menus so far ahead is that I don’t always get to make what I’m in the mood to cook, but I was SO in the mood for this. The weather lately has been gray and depressing, and a citrusy, not-too-sweet quick bread was just what I wanted. And this bread didn’t disappoint! It was tender without being too delicate, dense without being heavy, and absolutely beautiful. The glossy effect from the glaze is fantastic. And the flavor was perfect—just enough orange and just enough sweetness. Everyone in the house (including the baby) loved it. It was gone is just a few days!

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No Food Waste: My Lenten Challenge

Posted January 30, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Holidays / 1 Comment

 

 

Ash Wednesday is just a couple of weeks away, which means I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d like to give up for Lent this year. As someone who cooks for a living, I always seem to have a surplus of ingredients left over from recipes (a cup of sour cream, half an onion, a partial carton of beef stock, etc.). I know I can and should re-purpose this stuff so it doesn’t go to waste, but I never know off the top of my head what to do with it. Every time I open the fridge, I see them sitting innocuously on the shelf, and I remind myself that I should hunt down a recipe that uses them. Then I shut the door and immediately forget about it, my good intentions resulting in nothing but shriveled onions and waaaaay expired sour cream.

This year for Lent, I’ve decided to tackle my chronic food waste problem. My goal will be to all-but-eliminate food waste from our household in three big ways:

a

Start saving vegetable scraps to use for stock

  • Sure, plants are biodegradable, but it just seems like such a shame to throw a way a technically edible part of the plant (like potato peelings or broccoli stalks) when I could save it instead. I have a great vegetable stock recipe that uses veggie scraps, but it takes me a long time to accumulate enough material to make it. I probably should have started a cache of frozen veggie scraps ages ago, but that’s kinda the point of all this: to get me to do what I should already be doing. Hopefully I’ll have enough scraps stored up to publish a post about the stock recipe soon! Added bonus: like many families, we abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, and homemade vegetable stock is a great start to a meat-free meal.
    • Subgoal: Learn about (and implement?) urban composting. We rent our house instead of own, so a compost pile for our vegetable scraps isn’t really an option. However, during Lent I’ll be looking into urban composting to see if it’s a good fit for us.

 

Organize my fridge so leftover ingredients don’t get pushed to the back and forgotten

  • This is the main culprit of my waste: I forget I have things. Then I clean out my fridge a month later and find containers of food I could have easily used. Right now my organizational method stinks (probably since it consists of NO method), so I need a way to make sure the random odds and ends are always visible.
    • Subgoal: ALWAYS find a use for these items. It wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice to pat myself on the back for serving leftover sour cream with tacos once during Lent. Instead, I want to challenge myself to ALWAYS find a use for extra ingredients. If I make a Lenten commitment, I know I’ll be more motivated to find recipes that use them. I’m also planning to make a Pinterest page of any recipes I permanently add to my weeknight cooking repertoire as a result of this challenge (and hopefully right posts for some of them!).

 

Eat all the leftovers
  • Since Lent is just as much about sacrifice as it is about making a positive change in your life, I can’t turn a blind eye to my difficulty with leftovers. I easily get bored when my meals are too repetitive, so if it takes more than a few days to finish a dish I made, I start ignoring it in favor of other food (even if I know it will go bad soon). The final part of my Lenten challenge will be to always finish leftovers and prioritize the items that will go bad sooner.
    • Subgoal: Give more food away. When I cook for other people, I’m really good about keeping things professional and tidy. I pull my hair back, wash my hands, and NEVER lick my fingers. What I’m NOT good at is maintaining that same standard when I do my blog cooking. You can usually find me at 11 am on a Monday morning, still in my pajamas, with a beautifully finished dish in front of me while I stand there with uncombed hair, licking my fingers after I adjust the garnish for the millionth time. This makes me reluctant to give blog food away. It just feels gross to give away a batch of doughnuts when I know I licked glaze off my fingers as I plated them (or fear a stray hair may have fallen into the batter). This means we sometimes wind up with more food than we can eat, and some of it gets wasted. So from now on whenever I cook for the blog, the hair goes up and the fingers stay clean. No more sad food that I’m too ashamed to send to the office with the Mister!

 

So that’s my challenge! Starting on February 14th, I’ll be sharing an intermittent blog series chronicling my journey to less food waste. I can’t promise that I’ll post on an exact schedule (since I’m not exactly sure what I’ll consider worth sharing), but they’ll most likely appear 4-5 times throughout Lent, most likely on Tuesdays.

Normally I don’t post about stuff like Lent because it’s not relevant to what I blog about, but this year is a little different. I know there are other people out there who want to cut down on food waste too and might want to see what I learn during this process. I also want to hear from people who are succeeding where I’m failing.

 

So here are my big questions for you guys as I set out to eliminate food waste from my life:

Do you use urban composting? If so, got any tips for a newbie?

Have a fridge organization method you love? Share it!

Clue me in on any recipes you turn to when you need to use up extra ingredients! 🙂

 a

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Hansel and Gretel’s Gingerbread Cottage

Posted January 25, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Book of the Month Recipes / 1 Comment

 


Here it is: the pièce de résistance of our Grimm’s Fairy Tales menu! When you all voted in December on which fairy tales you wanted to see in our Grimm menu, Hansel and Gretel easily snagged the most votes. Since I knew this particular recipe would be highly anticipated, I wanted to make sure it was something special. Luckily, gingerbread cottages are about as special as they come. 😉

This was actually my first time making a gingerbread house as an adult, and my very first time ever making one from scratch. Since I’m planning a gingerbread house for another menu coming up as well, I decided to use this gingerbread cottage as a chance to test out cookie and icing recipes, along with tips and tricks from the pros. I wound up using Sprinkle Bake’s gingerbread recipe, which I loved. It was flavorful with a pleasant texture, while still sturdy enough to make a structurally stable house. I used Make It and Love It’s icing recipe, which came together in a snap. I also relied heavily on the gingerbread expertise of Katharina from Pretty Cake Machine, who shares a lot of her gingerbread tips and tricks here.

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TTT: Top 10 Lent-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gifts for Book Lovers

Posted January 23, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Link Up / 0 Comments

 

If you haven’t already heard, we’re all in for something crazy this February: Valentine’s Day this year falls on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. In Christian tradition, Lent is a time marked by prayer, penance, and reflection geared towards spiritual growth. Lots of people give up something as a Lenten sacrifice (like chocolate or social media), and Ash Wednesday in particular is a day of fasting and prayer.

This will obviously make Valentine’s Day 2018 a bit tricky for those of us observing Lent. I’m pretty sure my brain short-circuited when I realized I couldn’t give my husband ANYTHING involving food (unless I wanted to make him wait a whole day to enjoy it), and I’m pretty sure he was worried about what to get me too. Luckily, I’m a reader, which makes me super easy to buy for even in the midst of a 40-day penance. This inspired me to make a list for other gift givers who might be looking to wow the reader in their life while still honoring the spirit of the Lenten season. Here are my 10 Lent-friendly Valentine’s Day gifts for book lovers—sure to blow their minds!

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Little Red Riding Hood’s Bread Rolls: 1 Dough, 3 Ways

Posted January 18, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Book of the Month Recipes / 0 Comments

 


Time for our Little Red Riding Hood recipe! Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, which required me to get a little creative with finding a recipe, I knew from the beginning what I wanted to make for Red’s recipe: the bread she brings her grandmother! Of course, plain old white sandwich bread wouldn’t do. I wanted something different, something special. I decided to make 3 kinds of bread rolls—all of them German, since that’s the kind of bread the Brothers Grimm version of Red would be carrying. I gathered a list of traditional German breads and chose the three that I felt were the prettiest, most distinctive, and most iconic of the culture. Pretzels, cinnamon raisin braids, and kaiser rolls made the final cut! Kaiser rolls are technically Austrian, but since they’re served in Germany too, I decided to give them a pass. 😉 And since I was totally new to making pretzels, I used the baking instructions from Sally’s Baking Addiction as a guide.

When the idea occurred to me to make 3 kinds of bread, I was a little intimidated at first. That’s a lot to get done in one week. Still, I loooved the idea and didn’t want to abandon it. I decided the best way was to use frozen dough as a base for all 3 bread rolls and prepare the dough differently for each one. This would allow me to cut down on prep time and dishes, and as an added bonus, it would be a great way to showcase the versatility of a basic white dough.

I had a blast making these bread rolls, and they were a hit at our house (especially the pretzels!). The Little Mister loves bread in any form, and when he realized you could put raisins in it (one of his favorite snacks), the kid just about lost his mind. Maybe we’ll throw some in a basket and take them to grandma’s house this weekend!

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TTT: 10 Fictional Places I’d like to Curl Up with a Good Book

Posted January 16, 2018 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Link Up / 3 Comments

Are we already halfway through January? Things have been so crazy around here, I feel like the new year blew right by. The holidays always go fast, but this year it was wrapped in with cookbook writing for added excitement. I just submitted the last round of edits to my cookbook editor, so I should have an progress update for you all soon. In the mean time, I’m taking a little extra time to relax and think about my goals for the upcoming year.

Read More Books is ALWAYS on my to-do list, but I decided not to create a specific reading goal this year. My busy baby (almost toddler! he’s pulled himself to standing a few times!) doesn’t leave much room for reading goals. Example: I’ve been trying to read a friend’s manuscript for several months, but as great as it is, it’s hard to make headway when the Little Mister shreds the dust jackets of my books and tries to eat a screw he pulled up from the transition strip in the kitchen doorway (both true stories).

So instead of goals, I found myself fantasizing about how lovely it would be to find a quiet corner to read in fictional places like Hobbiton, Redwall Abbey, or Mr. Tumnus’s cozy cave. Before long, I had a list of 10 fictional places I’d like to curl up with a good book! They’re all quiet, soothing places because that’s what I need in my life right now, but whose to say the list won’t change some day to include the deck of a pirate ship or a haunted manor at midnight? 😉

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