Friday, July 29, 2011

Spicy Pasta Salad



Posted by: Maggie

Holy cow. This might be my favorite pasta salad ever. The Pioneer Woman posted it a little over a month ago, and I have been thinking about it with an alarming frequency ever since. You see, I love chipotles in adobo - the starring ingredient in this recipe. I would take a bath in that stuff if it wouldn't burn, and if I wouldn't smell kind of odd. There are soooo many recipes that can be improved by adding their smoky goodness, particularly pasta salad.

I made this a few hours ago, and just had a bowl of it for dinner. I wanted to wait until tomorrow to really let the flavors get to know each other, but my desire for instant gratification kicked in and I could no longer wait. Even after only a few hours in the fridge it is fantastic, and I can't wait to have it for breakfast tomorrow. Yeah, you read that right. Breakfast.

I have a really high tolerance for spice, and added about 5 times the amount of adobo sauce that PW called for, and then minced up one of the peppers too and threw it in there. I think it tastes great, but if you aren't a huge fan of spice work your way up to that amount.

Have a great weekend everyone! I have a friend's baby shower tomorrow afternoon, and Jeff and I are going to see Horrible Bosses tomorrow night. Anyone out there watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Jeff and I are huge fans of that show, and I'm excited to see Charlie Day playing a different role in Horrible Bosses. Although, from the trailer it looks like he might just be playing the same lovable idiot we know from Sunny. It you don't watch this show, and are a fan of dark satire and ridiculous humor, I implore you to check out the clip below, laugh, and Netflix the entire series immediately. The clip below isn't too bad, but if you have kids in the room you might want to shoo them away, lest they learn some salty language and questionable behavior.



And with that, on to the recipe!

12 ounces penne pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup whole milk (I'm sure you could use low-fat or skim here - I just had whole leftover from making ice cream, and since it was what PW called for I went ahead and used it.)
4 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 minced chipotle from a can of chipotles in adobo
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1 container grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
8 ounces smoked gouda cheese, cut into small cubes
24 whole basil leaves, chiffonade

Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse until cool, and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, adobo sauce, salt, and pepper. In a large bowl, stir together the pasta, tomatoes, minced chipotle, and gouda. Toss with the dressing, adjust seasonings as needed, and stir in basil.

Chill before serving if you have enough self control to not dig in right away!

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Source: The Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peach Lattice Pie

Peach Lattice Pie


Posted by: Maggie

The first real pie I ever made was when I was 6.  By real, I mean one with a crust and fruit, not something like this.  I was in Mrs. Barone's 1st grade class at Holy Trinity School in Long Branch, NJ. I'm sure there was an educational reason why Mrs. Barone had 20 six-year olds baking in the rectory on a school day, perhaps as part of a math lesson, or as a reward for good behavior. All I know is that we made apple pie, and it took me 21 years to ever make another pie.

This is me on the first day of first grade. Little did I know at the time, that 21 years later all I'd remember doing in first grade was making pie. Actually, that isn't my only memory. I remember crying when the cafeteria tried to feed me an eggplant parmesan sandwich. Adult Maggie thinks that sounds delicious. So, both of my first grade memories are food related. Shocker.



Until yesterday, I found pie crust kind of intimidating. Now that I've made one, I have no idea why I was so intimidated all this time. While the process was certainly time consuming, it was really simple. Now all I want to do is use my newfound culinary confidence and make an apple pie, a cherry pie, a blueberry pie, a strawberry pie, and umm...what other fruits can I stuff in a pie?

Peach Lattice Pie


Please make this pie while peaches are still deliciously ripe, juicy, and in season. It's so packed full of peaches it's practically a health food. They cancel out the butter and shortening in the crust, promise. Speaking of shortening, I know a lot of people like to avoid it, but I think it's why this crust is so delicious and flaky. Use it. It won't kill you. Actually, it might, but only if you eat it every day by the truckload.

Here's what you'll need:

For the piecrust:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and frozen for 30 minutes
10-12 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

6-7 medium peaches, ripe (about 6 cups total)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
3-4 tablespoons potato starch (I found this in the kosher section at my grocery store, and the original recipe states that you can substitute pulverized Minute tapioca)

In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar, and salt together. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Sprinkle the frozen butter on the flour mixture. Use the pastry cutter to cut the butter in, until there are no pieces larger than a pea remaining, and the mixture is light yellow.

Sprinkle 5 tablespoons of ice water over the flour mixture. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the water. Sprinkle 5 more tablespoons over and repeat. Continue adding water until a small portion of dough holds together when squeezed. You can add up to 2 additional tablespoons of water.

Remove the dough from the bowl, and form into a cohesive ball. Divide the ball into two sections, one slightly larger than the other. Form the large section into a 5-inch rectangle, and the small section into a 4-inch disc. Refrigerate for one hour, or up to two days before rolling.

After dough has chilled (if chilled for longer than an hour let stand at room temperature until malleable) roll the larger piece of dough into an 11x15 inch rectangle. Carefully transfer the rectangle to a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a pizza or pastry wheel, trim edges, and cut out 8 strips of dough, measuring 1 1/4 inches wide by 15 inches long. Freeze strips on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes.

Roll the smaller piece of dough out into a 12-inch circle. Carefully place into the pie pan, and press into corners. Leave the dough that overhangs the lip in place, and place crust in refrigerator.

In a large pot, put 3 quarts of water on to boil. Fill a bowl will cold water, and 3 trays of ice cubes. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry the peaches, and using a paring knife, score an x into the base of each peach. When water is boiling, add the peaches to the water, cover, and blanch for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes (larger peaches will need 2 1/2.) Using a slotted spoon, remove peaches and immediately place in ice bath for 1 minute. Remove from water, and peel. The skins should slip right off if you start from the x you made at the base.

Pit and slice the peaches into 3/8 inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and potato starch. Transfer to the dough lined pie plate.

Remove the dough strips from the freezer. If they're too frozen to be workable wait 5-10 minutes. Weave a lattice top, trim off the excess lattice, fold the rim of the shell up over the ends of the lattice strips and crimp. Lightly brush the lattice top and crust with 1 tablespoon water, and sprinkle with sugar. Place pie on a baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees, rotate pie, and continue baking for 25-30 minutes more. If the crust is getting too dark while baking, cover edges with foil.

Cool cooked pie on a wire rack for 2 hours before serving.

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Source: Cooks Illustrated

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thai Peanut Butter Noodles



Posted by: Maggie


If you need a quick lunch or dinner that is made with stuff you probably already have in your cabinets, this is the recipe for you. Except for the time it took to boil a pot of water, this meal came together in 10 minutes flat - far less than the time it would take to order a similar dish via takeout. It is much healthier too, since I was able to control the amount of oil and salt added. I used Jif peanut butter and regular pasta, but you could up the health factor by using whole wheat pasta and natural peanut butter if you prefer!

Here's what you'll need:

Half a box of thin spaghetti
1/2 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup chicken broth
1-2 tablespoons water (to thin the sauce if necessary)
3 chopped scallions, for garnish
red pepper flakes and salt, to taste

Cook spaghetti as directed on package, and drain. While the pasta is cooking, combine peanut butter, ginger, garlic, oil, honey, and chicken broth over medium heat. Whisk thoroughly to combine ingredients, and stir frequently until heated through. If the sauce is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and/or additional chicken broth to thin it out. Toss sauce with drained pasta, and season to taste with red pepper flakes and salt. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped scallions.

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Adapted from: Ramshackle Glam

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fried Mozzarella Sticks



Posted by: Maggie


I love fried mozzarella. Honestly, is there anything better than hot, crispy, deep-fried cheese dipped in marinara sauce? Annie certainly didn't think so as a child. She wouldn't order anything other than fried mozzarella when our family went out to eat.

A bad mozzarella stick experience prompted me to make these at home. Jeff and I ordered takeout a few weeks ago, and happened to get mozzarella sticks with our pizza. Because...who doesn't need additional ways to stuff their face with hot cheese and sauce..amiright? Anyway, while the pizza was delicious, the mozzarella sticks were lukewarm. Rubbery. Flavorless. The marinara sauce was cold.

I refused to be relegated to a lifetime of mediocre fried cheese. I made these, and my mouth rejoiced. Well, it rejoiced after the burning stopped. Don't eat one of these right out of the hot oil. I'm super smart in case you haven't noticed!

Here's what you'll need:

8 mozzarella cheese sticks, cut in half to make 16 sticks
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup panko bread crumbs, slightly crushed into finer crumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Pinch of garlic powder
Canola Oil for frying
Marinara Sauce for dipping

Beat together eggs and milk in a small bowl and set aside. Mix bread crumbs, parsley, and garlic powder in a small bowl, and set aside as well.

Set up an assembly line with the flour, egg mixture, and panko mixture. First dredge mozzarella sticks in the flour, then dip in the egg, and then roll them in the panko. It won't stick very well...don't fret, we're going to double dip it! Repeat the prior steps, but don't re-dip in the flour.

Place mozzarella stick on a parchment lined baking sheet, and repeat process with additional pieces of cheese. Place tray of breaded sticks in the freezer for 30 minutes.

15 minutes into freezing, heat 1 - 1 1/2 inches of canola oil over medium heat in a large, deep, heavy bottomed skillet. It depends a lot on your stove, and the pan you're using, but my oil took about 15 minutes to get to a temperature appropriate for frying. To tell if it's ready, sacrifice one mozzarella stick to the hot vat of oil, and if it fries up perfectly in about 2 minutes without cheese oozing everywhere, and without tasting like an oil slick you'll know it's good to go.

Fry the remaining mozzarella sticks in 2 batches, for about 2 minutes total, flipping the sticks over halfway through. Drain on a paper towel lined plate, and serve right away with warmed marinara sauce.

Adapted from: Tasty Kitchen

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Roasted Banana Ice Cream



Posted by: Maggie

This is the second recipe I've made from David Lebovitz's "Perfect Scoop" cookbook, and I think it's safe to say that I'm now addicted to making ice cream. I selected this recipe because I had 3 overripe bananas languishing on my counter, and I wanted to use them up on something other than banana bread. Plus, the oh-so-reliable Wikipedia says it's National Ice Cream month, and who am I to let such an occasion go by without celebrating?

For those of you who also like to make homemade ice cream, I wanted to share this company that I recently found. They're called Sweet Bliss, and make plain white pint and quart sized disposable ice cream containers. The first time I made ice cream, I stored it in a regular tupperware, and it turned into a freezer burned rock hard mass. I searched and searched online for a place to purchase a more appropriate storage vessel for my frozen treats.

I wanted disposable containers, but most places make you buy eleventy billion of them at once. Not happening. I live in a 600 square foot studio in a high rise apartment building. Closet space is at a premium, and there is not a shot in hell that I'm storing enough ice cream containers to last the zombie apocalypse, especially when there are shoes and purses to be stored.

Enter, Sweet Bliss. I was able to purchase a reasonably sized 25-pack of pint containers and a 25-pack of quart containers, that will surely last me for many, many years. As an added bonus, they fit neatly on a shelf in my closet. Sweet Bliss has no idea who I am, and are not paying me to advertise their product - I'm just a fan and wanted to share!

Here's what you'll need for the ice cream:

3 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk (do not sub low-fat or skim - the texture of the final product will be off)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut peeled bananas into 1/2 inch chunks. In a 2 quart baking dish, combine bananas, brown sugar, and butter. Gently toss with your hands to thoroughly combine, and bake for 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

When banana mixture is done, add the bananas and the syrup that has formed in the baking dish to a food processor or blender. Add in the milk, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Process or blend for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least 12 hours (I waited for about 20 hours,) and then freeze chilled mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. For those of you who use the popular Cuisinart model (the kind I have,) the ice cream took a little less than the recommended 20 minutes to be done.

Makes 1 pint.

Addendum: I have never posted nutrition information on here before, but I often figure it out for stuff I make and thought it might be useful to others if I shared! I won't be posting it for everything because that will be tremendously annoying to figure out, and frankly, I don't always want to know how much damage I've done. I hope on the occasion that I decide to figure the nutrition stats that you all find it helpful! Also, I usually calculate nutrition stats using a program like fitday.com, or by adding up the data on the products I use, so be advised that there may be a slight margin of error when you make it! 

Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
Nutrition per Serving: 255 calories, 7 grams fat, 49 grams carbs, 4 grams protein

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spinach Dip



Posted by: Maggie

Happy Monday!

Not.

Please pardon my attitude...it is hot as sin here in DC today, which makes me unreasonably grumpy. In honor of this miserable weather, I present to you a recipe that requires no stove, no oven, and no microwave.

Those of you who have been reading A Bitchin' Kitchen for awhile may remember that I shared a recipe for Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip back around Christmas. Hot spinach dip will always be my personal favorite, but this cold version of spinach dip is so simple and delicious that it deserves a place on the blog as well. It uses a packet of salad dressing mix, so any readers who are strictly against packaged stuff like that may want to avert their eyes now, and come back for Wednesday's very homemade recipe! (Hint: It is in celebration of National Ice Cream Month!)

Here's what you'll need for about 2 cups of dip:

2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and thoroughly wrung out (I used my potato ricer to wring out the spinach and it worked like a charm!)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 packet ranch salad dressing mix
Pinch of nutmeg
2 scallions, green parts chopped

In a medium bowl, combine the wrung out spinach and scallions. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together the mayonnaise, salad dressing mix, and nutmeg. Add the dressing mix to the spinach mix, stir together, and chill until you're ready to serve. Tastes best when served with crackers, tortilla chips, or a spoon!

Source: My lovely Mom!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bittersweet Chocolate Cherry Cookies



Posted by: Maggie


Does anyone else wind up with random baking ingredients left over from other recipes in their cabinet? Do they stay there for all eternity, or at least until a desperate chocolate craving hits and you end up eating that last quarter cup of chocolate chips from the bottom of the bag.

Yeah...me too...until these cookies.

This cookie was intended as a way to use up some dried cherries I had floating around from when I made baked brie last month (it's not on the blog, it was too dark to photograph when I made it), and the bittersweet chocolate was left over from when I made frosting for these bad boys.

I probably wouldn't have gravitated towards this recipe unless I was trying to use up ingredients, but I am so. glad. I. did.

The slightly bitter chocolate chips, the tart dried cherries, and the perfectly sweet chocolate cookie dough   complement each other perfectly, and I am super excited for Jeff to come over and taste test them himself.

I slightly adapted this recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica, of How Sweet It Is. Also, check out this post that she did where she rips cookies in half and stacks the halves (did that make sense at all? She explains it better...) Instead of rolling my cookies in a ball like I usually do, I used the rip and stack method, which made the tops nice and jagged, like a bakery cookie.

Here is what you need:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Heaping 1/2 cup dried cherries
Heaping 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat in to the butter mixture on low speed, until just combined.

Fold in cherries and bittersweet chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 10-15 minutes, just so it's easier to work with and doesn't spread as much.

Using the "rip and stack" method, form your cookies and place on baking sheet, spaced about 1.5 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, and cool on cookie sheets for 3-4 minutes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homemade Oreos



Posted by: Annie

Store bought cookies...

No offense to them, but they must don't make it into my grocery cart anymore.  I have nothing against them, except that I have guilt, major guilt.  How can I buy packaged chocolate chip cookies when I know that I can make them myself?  

All guilt aside, sometimes a girl just needs an Oreo, and a double-stuffed one at that.  With this recipe, I can avoid hiding packages of Oreos at the bottom of my cart and make my own at home - and, stuff them with as much frosting as my heart desires! Triple stuffed anyone? 

What you'll need:

For the wafers:

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange oven racks so that there are two in the middle of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Using an electric mixer, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. On low speed, mix in the butter and the egg. Mix until the dough comes together. 

Take rounded tablespoons of dough and scoop onto the lined baking sheets.  Lightly moisten hands and slightly flatten the dough.  Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once while baking.  Set baking sheets on rack to cool. 

Now, for the best part.  To make the Oreo filling, combine butter and shortening and slowly beat in the sugar and vanilla.  Increase the mixer speed to high and beat the mixture for 2-3 minutes, until the filling is light and fluffy. 

To assemble your Oreos, use a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip, and squeeze a teaspoon sized amount of cream onto the center of one of your wafers.  Do your best to find a matching size wafer to place on top, and gently push the cookies together to evenly fill the cookie.  Repeat for the remaining cookies. 


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4th of July Recap & Black Bean Burgers

Posted by: Annie

Somehow my Fourth of July celebrations did not include one cook-out! It did include me eating my first ever Philadelphia Cheesesteak (go Jim's!)...


And culminated with me eating this (shhh...hot dogs were boiled, not grilled!)


And this:


After my weekend, I was craving something healthy and grilled, and Black Bean Burgers (courtesy of Annie's Eats) fit the bill. I ended up using my indoor grill, but it still fulfilled my desire to grill, and still felt summery!


What You Will Need:

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided use
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 red onion, or 1 whole shallot, minced

Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Mix panko with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, and add to the heated skillet to toast. Stir often until the breadcrumbs appear light golden brown in color. Remove from the stove, and let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, add 2 1/2 cups of the black beans, and mash with a fork until relatively smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Whisk together.

Add the egg mixture, toasted panko, remaining beans, bell pepper, cilantro, and onion/shallot to the mashed beans. Stir well until thoroughly combined.

Using heaping 1/2 cup measurements, divide the mixture into six portions. Pack into approximately 1-inch thick patties. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and cook until the patties are golden brown on each side (approximately 5 minutes per side.)

Garnish with your favorite burger toppings! I topped mine with cheddar, avocado, tomato, and a dollop of sour cream!
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