Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Funny how I come on here to post that I am officially switching to wordpress, and suddenly blogspot is cooperating?

Anyway, sorry for the long absence. I have been trying to figure out the best option for me, as far as where I want to take the blog, and even if I want to continue on with it. That being said, I still think I'll be making the switch.

This is where I'll be:

Look for an update soon!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Phenomenal Salad Dressing

What this post lacks in effort, it definitely makes up for in content. This is the latest thing I cannot live without.

I found this recipe for a shockingly easy salad dressing on Emily's blog here:

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so I printed it out to try at home. Words cannot explain how glad I am that I did.

I don't use any additional salt, since the liquid aminos pack all the salty punch I need. With 5 ingredients (one of which is water), and literally two steps I won't bore you to tears with pictures of me making it. But make it you should, immediately. It is so good I had to go to the store the next day and stock up on lettuce. Well, my honey must have been halfway reading my mind. While I was tossing head afer head of lettuce in my cart, he was at Costco buying this:
Yes, I see a lot of salads in my future...

This dressing is also fabulous as a marinade for fish. I used it on some salmon and it would have knocked my socks right off had I been wearing any.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thin Mint mini cheesecakes

Have you heard of pinterest? This amazing and addicting time suck of an online pinboard? No? Well you might want to head on over there so I don't feel so incredibly alone in this world. Okay, there is my emo for the day. But really, check it out:

Pinterest is where I found this beautiful food blog with professional grade photos. A site that makes my amateur attempts all the more obvious, but if you must, go ahead and check it out. I won't hold it against you:

That there is the recipe that led us to where we are right now. The reason I found myself the other night whipping together this luciousness:
Preparing it to go on top of these:

Why yes, those are in fact Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. Yes, I do happen to be addicted. So what, who cares?

I used the recipe in the link above, with a few changes.

Mini Thin Mint Cheesecakes

Roughly 2 boxes of Thin Mints, 10 coarsely chopped

(32 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 teaspoon peppermint flavoring

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup sour cream

pinch of salt

1) Preheat oven to 275°. 2) Line standard muffin pans with liners. 3) Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner.4) Beat cream cheese at medium speed using an electric mixer. 5) Gradually add the sugar, beating until combined. 6) Beat in vanilla and peppermint flavoring. 7) Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time. 8) Beat in sour cream and salt. 9) Stir in chopped cookies by hand. 10) Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. 11) Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 30 minutes. 12) Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 13) Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). 14) Remove from tins just before serving.

This batter was phenomenal. Cheesecake has always been intimidating to me and this was a piece of cake. Or, I guess, a mini piece of cupcake.

It was almost a shame to add the Thin Mints...


I baked a test one before baking a whole pan's worth. There goes that incredibly well loved cupcake tin. Don't tell me I am the only one with kitchen equipment that looks like this!

After baking. Plump, moist, cheesecake perfection. The origial recipe calls for 22 minutes of baking time. I don't know if i is the high altitude or what, but it took mine more like 30-35.


Of course I had to sample to ensure quality and all.

They most definitely passed muster. Most definitely.

Go forth! Make these! Do great things! Change the world! But first, MAKE THESE.

Testimonials for the above recipe:

"These......these should not be allowed, sweet Jesus they're delicious!!" - Marissa, my favorite IT person

"Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!?" - crazed woman at work

A software engineer who I have never seen smile was heard saying "Those are to die for".

So there you have it ladies and gents.

One more thing before you make these, please reassure me. Tell me you have a well loved and beat up piece of kitchen equipment you can't part with!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Coconut Granola

What you will not find here:

A fancy shmancy complicated recipe
A million step by step pictures
A recipe that tastes as simple as it is

Peanut Butter and Coconut Granola

1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c coconut
1/4 c wheat germ
1/2 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 c peanut butter (I used crunchy but creamy works fine too)
1/4 c puffed rice
3 T honey
2 T coconut oil
1/2 t salt

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2. Stir all ingredients together (heat your cocout oil to dissolve if it is solid)
3. Toss the ingredients into a 9x13 glass baking dish
4. Stir every 10 minutes until granola is nicely browned, roughly 20-25 minutes total
5. Let it cool, and enjoy!
I like mine over yogurt, sometimes I add a drizzle of maple syrup if I am feeling frisky.

No matter how you eat this, what you put it on, what time of day you partake in it, the hardest thing about this recipe is not immediately shoveling it into your mouth by the handful before it cools.You're Welcome :)

Happy Saturday! I hope each one of you is having a fabulous day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Girl Scout Cookie Cupcakes

Oh yes I did. I did go there. I put a Girl Scout Cookie on top of a cupcake.

It seems I haven't been creative lately, I've just been making recipes that I find through other sources. Which is all fine and dandy of course, but I was getting frustrated with my own lack of creativity when it happened. I looked up from my desk and saw a woman smiling, laughing, and skipping in SLOW MOTION while cradling several boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. Where had they come from?! After 5 minutes of detective work I tracked down the source and ordered all the boxes she had left, which only totaled 3 unfortunately. It was then that the vision of Caramel DeLite cupcakes first danced through my head. Thus, these beautiful beasts were born.

It started with a recipe for a vanilla coconut cupcake from the lovely The Baker Chick. That recipe can be found here:

Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes (courtesy of The Baker Chick)

2 13- to 14-ounce cans un-sweetened coconut milk (preferably organic), which you will reduce
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut
1. Make the coconut milk reduction. This also will need to chill before using it. You can speed this up in the freezer (mine needed about an hour,) but if you have the time, do it the night before.
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
2. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups.
Makes 18 cupcakes

They are originally Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting. I nixed the frosting part, and added 1 cup of shredded coconut to the batter.

Before I could even gather my ingredients I had to deal with this:

Poor, emo, abused dog doesn't have a dog bed in front of every single sunny window in the house. Woes her.

Few ingredients for a somewhat complicated cupcake and process.

After a crazy cupcake liner spending spree I happened to have some on hand that matched the colors of the cookie box. Fabulous.

This was my first time working with vanilla beans. No sweat right? Just slice down the side and scraped those lovely seeds right on out huh? Yeah, not so much. The first vanilla bean was ruthlessly manhandled and destroyed. Don't worry, it wasn't all a loss. I chucked it into a jar with some sugar so I'll have some nice vanilla sugar available in a few weeks.

So these beautiful little black specks you see below were hard earned. I will forever appreciate seeing them in anything I eat from now on.

Apparently drama dog wasn't getting enough sympathy where she was, so she loudly relocated to a spot directly in my line of sight.

Okay, onto the assembly. After using the recipe above (seriously, check The Baker Chick out, she is amazing) you will have a bowl full of lovely batter to dish out. Into a much loved muffin tin as you see here. Even the cookies are in awe of such lovely batter.

Then the magic happens, plop one of those beautiful cookies right on top:

I mean really? If I had a sweet tooth I might have to eat this before it is even baked. But I don't, so I didn't, but I was tempted.

I then put this test cupcake in the oven for 20-22 minutes, until it looked like this:

After I assembled the rest and popped them in the oven, I started on some chocolate ganache. You didn't think I was going to leave the cupcakes practically naked did you?

I filled a dish with hot water, and put a smaller bowl inside. In the small bowl I put 1/2 a cup of cream.

To that I added 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 a cup at a time.

Stir stir stir and the chocolate will start to break up. The cupcake in the back can't wait to get his chocolate ganache jacket on.

It wasn't meant to be though, because at that time I realized I neglected to taste the project.

Mmm yes, yes I like it very much thank you.

After some gentle stirring and melting, your ganache will look like this. Lovely.

Now there are 16 cookies in a box. So that would mean I had 16 cupcakes to decorate right? Wrong. Apparently no one in the house can resist the lure of Caramel DeLites because when I opened the box, that I asked no one eat, there were only 6 cookies left. Yeah so.....

I really should have listened and practiced the "drizzle" technique before going crazy with two precious cupcakes out of 6, but I did not. So the first two ended up looking like this. Eek.

After some practice I got one that looked halfway decent.

And here it is.

In all of it's yummy cupcake glory.

Word on the street is that the lovely Girl Scout Cookie fairy will be getting more cookies this weekend. And I have five boxes with my name on them. These will be made again. I may even dream up some Mint Thin concoction while I am dreaming tonight...

The other cupcakes got a regular ganache topping, a few got a sprinkle of coconut. Six of them got packaged up to bring to some unsuspecting friends who live down the road.

Along with some haystacks I made by stirring leftover coconut into the leftover ganache. Oh the things my poor neighbor friends have to endure. The house across the street is for rent? Who's interested?

A little bit complicated? Absolutely. Absolutely delicious? You bet your you know what.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coincidence that lentil starts with L-E-N-T?

So while I am not an overly religious person in the sense of belonging to any specific church, I can definitely get behind the idea of lent. So for this go round I decided I wanted to give up not one, but TWO things.

See, I don't eat a ton of meat in the first place so for me to just give that up would be cheating. I decided to make a drastic choice. Working out every single day wouldn't work with my school schedule. To give up cussing completely is just insanity and would never work (though I don't find myself dropping the F bomb nearly as much as I used to). That left me with just one option, and it is a truly terrifying one. Booze. Yes booze. Including wine, an extra little yum yum in my coffee in the form of Bailey's, martinis, all booze. What's that? No, I don't know what I was thinking either. I may as well make the best of it though! So there's my plan. Maybe posting it here will keep me accountable.

The good thing for you lovely readers is that this means I will be posting some veg friendly recipes. Well vegeterian friendly anyway, I will be slaughtering a LOT of veggies so I cannot promise to be friendly to them.

Please help me out here, what are some of your favorite vegeterian or vegan recipes?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Portuguese Fish Stew by Tyler Florence

I am an Aquarius. My due date to be born was December 24th, but I held in there until January 26th. I tell my mom I was just making sure I could be born an Aquarius. She is not amused. Can't blame her really, I wouldn't be amused to be pregnant a MONTH longer than necessary just to then give birth to a 10 pound baby who grew to be an incredibly sarcastic and strong willed child. But I digress.

The reason my astrological sign is mentioned is because it was my birthday recently. For a gift a few of my friends got me what they knew I would love the most, an amazon gift card. With that gift card I purchased the beautiful masterpiece you see here:
No, amazon did not sell me a pot of soup, but I did get the fabulous pot it was made in. That is pure Lodge Logic enameled dutch oven greatness. In green, which happens to be my favorite color.

I could not wait to get cooking with it. Funny how I have made about a million recipes that call for a dutch oven, at which point I would bust out our hilariously huge 12 quart camp one, and curse that I did not have a smaller one. So of course when I finally get a smaller one I cannot find a single recipe to break it in with. So I searched The Food Network website and found one.

My only regret about the recipe I chose is that I did not take step by step pictures as I usually do. Once it was ready to serve I saw the error of my ways and managed to at least snap a few before eating it.

So here it is:

Portuguese Fish Stew courtesy of Tyler Florence (who I happen to kind of be infatuated with)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound linguica or chorizo sausage, sliced in chunks
5 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs
1 handful fresh oregano, hand torn
2 bay leaves
2 pounds potatoes, sliced
3 quarts chicken broth
1 pound kale, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/2 pound perch, cod, or bass fillets, skin and pin bones removed (I used cod)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Recipe Rustic Crusty bread, for serving, recipe follows

Heat the oil in a heavy 4 to 6-quart pot over medium flame. Add the onions, garlic, and sausage; cook, stirring with wooden spoon, until the sausage renders out some of its fat and the onions are soft. Toss in the herbs and then the potatoes, stir that around for a minute to coat in the oil. Pour in the chicken broth and bring up to a simmer. Add the kale, season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are nearly tender.
Uncover the pot and add the clams; simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the clams open. Add the fish and continue to cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until the fish is cooked. Serve with crusty bread.

There you have it, a soup pot to heaven.
Pardon the shadow, I was jittery with the excitement of sitting down to this fabulous feast. I sprinkled some parmesan cheese on it because... well why the hell not?

Now for a random picture. This was the scene out of our master bedroom window a few weeks ago. Unusually dry winter + high winds + a brush fire = this madness. We were incredibly fortunate that it didn't reach us. Anyhow. Make this stew and love it as I did. You certainly won't regret it. It is even better a few days later. YUM.

Now fellow foodies, please tell me, what is your favorite piece of kitchen equipment?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crockpot french dips

3-4 lbs chuck roast, remove as much fat as possible
1/2 c soy sauce
1 beef boullion cube
2 bay leaves
4 whole peppercorns
1 t thyme
1 t garlic powder (I used fresh minced)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1. Slap it all into a corckpot, set on low.
2. Add and stir in water to barely cover the meat.
3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
4. Shred meat, serve on rolls with broth from pot to dip.

Ahh yes, here we are at the long ago promised crockpot french dip post. Sorry for the delay. Every time a new semester starts at school it takes me a while to get back into the regular flow of things, and here I am!

Contrary to the simple directions above, I did some additional prep work the night prior to add another laywer of flavor. My foodie friend Jessica gave me this recipe, and also gave me this extra tip. Take a beautiful hunk of meat like this:
And combine them with this:

And what you end up with is pure flavor insanity.

First I mixed some wine (probably about a cup), a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.

Then I got to trimming off as much fat as I could. If you leave any fat on there it will dissolve into the dipping juice and basically eventually give you a heart attack. Nice visual. On we go...

After the fat has been trimmed, put the meat in a large ziploc bag.

Add the wine and olive oil mixture. Let this mellow, and get the other additions ready for the morning.

Mix the soy sauce,

the boullion ( I used Better Than Boullion paste),

add the peppercorns,

the thyme,

Mix that and toss in the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs.

I set this and the bag of meat in the fridge overnight so it is all ready to put together in the morning. I am so devoted to food blogging I managed to snap a few morning pictures of the assembly, even though I get up at the atrocious hour of 5am. Yikes.

I get up so early that my brain isn't ready to work until I am long gone from the house, as evidenced by the mistake I made in the recipe at this point. I forgot to add the water! Which is why I came home and the crockpot looked like this:
It still smelled and tasted amazing, just salty. So I took the meat out and added some liquids to the pot. I put about a half cup of wine, and 1-1 1/2 c of water. I put the crockpot on high and let the liquid bubble while I prepared the topping.

I started by getting my cast iron skillet nice and hot. While also being mortified and the hot mess that is the griddle in the background. I didn't have the time to clean it off because at this point I was almost drowning in my own drool the house smelled THAT GOOD. I added some olive oil to the pan.

Then went to chop up some beautiful peppers. I don't like to waste anything so I use all but the stem.

My super secret ingredient to any sauteed peppers is always anchovies. Toos a few fillets into the hot oil and stir them around. They will melt into the oil leaving a salty and nutty flavor behind. It does not taste like fish at all, but it does provide an incredible extra layer of flavor.

I add the peppers.
Yum, aren't they gorgeous? Peppers like this are one of my favorite things.

For the bread I knew I wanted something crusty, but not too big so it would be easy enough to handle and dip into the sauce. These are technically hotdog buns from Whole Foods, but they work really well for sandwiches.

And there was no possible way these sandwiches could be eaten without some creamy hot beaver! We are huge fans of horseradish in this house.

I toasted the buns, smeared generously with horseradish, piled on the meat and pepper, and set it on a plate next to a bowl of the drippings.

Completely fabulous and out of this world delicious.

Next time I will make sure to remember the water. I mean really? I blame the 5am wake up alarm. I scarfed this sandwich down in about two bites, with my eyes closed, maybe swaying from side to side in a trance.

In fact, I texted the fiance "What time are you off? 8? I want to know when you will be home to experience this culinary masterpiece".

Make this. Remember the water. Be amazed. That is all.