- Rinse lotus seeds and soak in a bowl of water until softened, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Split each seed in half and remove the small bitter sprout/germ in the center. (Note: Some dried seed packets will have already done this for you - the ones I got had been pretty thorough. There had been only a handful of seeds in which I found the germ still inside. I went through all of the seeds for the sake of thoroughness, but it's not clear to me that the few that still remained would have made that much difference.)
- In a large pot on the stove, cover lotus seeds completely with water and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer until tender, adding water if necessary to keep seeds covered (about 1.5 hours).
- Reserve 1 cup of the lotus-seed cooking water. Drain the seeds and set aside to cool (if you wish to speed up the process, put the pot they're in into an ice bath). Transfer seeds to a food processor or blender. Process to a smooth paste (adding a splash of the reserved lotus-seed cooking water when necessary). Optionally, for a finer texture, press the paste through a fine sieve.
- In a non-stick pan, combine lotus-seed paste and oil and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until oil is incorporated. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir until incorporated. Taste, and add more sugar if you wish, one tablespoon at a time. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
I browsed a good half dozen sites on how to make lotus seed paste and tried to adapt a balance between convenience and tastiness. As much as I would love to have "traditional" or "most flavorful", a complex recipe usually means it never gets made, and I like my lotus seed-flavor way too much to miss out on a chance of having it in homemade mooncakes.
I ran across this while looking up how to make moon cakes - one of my favorite Chinese traditional desserts - from the site China Sichuan Food. I had to read quite a bit between the lines on some instructions, and making it the first time was definitely an experiment, but it was all worth it. Not only do I get to tailor exactly how sweet my red bean fillings should be (the original recipe called for 2 cups - way too much for my taste!) but the leftover red bean "soup" can then be lightly sweetened and drunk as a separate dessert soup. Win-win!
This is the Frankenstein of all frankenstein mash-ups, and was born literally out of the seemingly incompatible states of being both restless and lazy at the same time. This took up the last of the Thanksgiving scraps, and though it initially was supposed to include marinara sauce and some crescent roll sheets on top, when I discovered the marinara sauce had gone bad, it was an abrupt appeal to some garlic herb butter and an egg to make it a sort of reverse shepherd's pie instead of the original pizza pot pie I had imagined. And it turned out AMAZING.
Yes, I did not include a whole lot of concrete portions, but that's the beauty of using leftovers. Everything's already been cooked and don't really need extra fussing with, and you're totally free to put more or less of anything according to taste (or what you want to get rid of).
I first got the serving idea on one of the food sites (I forget which one, maybe Epicurious), but cobbled together the dip recipe from research spread over half a dozen other sites. In fact, I was so casual with throwing in a bit of this, a dash of that, and adjusting things to taste that I honestly don't know if the ingredient amounts below are anywhere close to accurate. But I think that pretty much exemplifies dip recipes - pretty much anything goes, and you can experiment and never make it the same way twice, but it will all be delicious; just in different ways.
My family has traditionally not had much turkey during Thanksgiving, because the one or two times that we attempted to make our own bird had ended in hilariously disastrous results through various shenanigans that had nothing to do with the recipe or the ability to follow it. However, I was throwing a pre-Thanksgiving Friendsgiving potluck for which I vaguely didn't want to make solely dessert dishes for, and in the eleventh hour, this landed in my inbox from MyRecipes.com. So I thought I'd give it a try, because in theory, the slow cooker should trap most of the moisture in with far less danger of over-cooking. And lo and behold, it passed even my father's notoriously high bar for turkey!
My brother adores pecan pie, but they almost unilaterally call for corn syrup in their recipes, which is just ... bleh. This is one of the rare ones that does not ask for corn syrup - and from the way he devoured it on his birthday (in place of a cake), I'd say it did quite well without it.
(Though this is usually done in a pie crust, I have also substituted the pine nut tart crust for the usual pie crust. One note is that you can't just cook the tart crust first as usual; it may burn if you just put it into the oven with the rest of the filling for 30 minutes. I took the halfway road and cooked the crust for 10 minutes at 350 F, poured the filling in, covered the edges with foil, and then popped it back into the oven to finish.)
Part of the reason I started baking was because I like my goodies to be less obviously sweet - I want to taste the flavor, not just the sugar. So most of these recipes will have the sugar dialed down, and I avoid anything that uses corn syrup like the plague.