Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thai Chicken Pizza

Thai Chicken Pizza

I have been in a food coma for 7 days.

It started when my family arrived in town last Friday for Christmas Part One. I ate ribs, brisket, and macaroni and cheese like I had never seen food before in my life. My food coma worsened when when I traveled up to New Jersey for Christmas Part Two, where I proceeded to make beef tenderloin and creamed spinach my bitch.

Yesterday, I made the bright decision to eat a burrito for lunch and General Tso's chicken for dinner. I can only get my favorite burritos when I'm in New Jersey - food coma or not, it had to happen. I cannot justify the General Tso's.

Right now, food seems as appealing as walking down 14th Street butt-ass naked at rush hour, but I'm going to attempt to talk to you about this pizza that I made a couple weeks ago anyway. 

Thai Chicken Pizza

A friend of mine started a book club last month, and served a super tasty Thai chicken pizza at our inaugural meeting. I craved peanut sauce on a daily basis for about 3 weeks after, and finally gave in to my craving and made this for dinner. You can definitely use a ball of pre-made pizza dough if you're in a time crunch, however, I think that making the homemade kind is fun (and bonus, incredibly cheap!) I used to be afraid of cooking with yeast because it seems so temperamental. This is a good recipe to start with if you are yeast-phobic. It's basically impossible to mess up if you follow the directions and don't make your water too hot!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pear Cranberry Walnut Bread

Pear Cranberry Walnut Bread

I just wrote and deleted a whole post because it was super boring. Instead, I've decided to take the easy way out and share some of my favorite Christmas things on the interwebs. This is the last recipe I'll be posting until after Christmas. For those of you that celebrate, have a safe and Merry Christmas! For those of you that don't, enjoy the day off work!

Five Awesome Christmas Things:

1. These Christmas puppies:

2. The 12 Days of Grumpy Cat Christmas:

3. One of my favorite ladies of YouTube makes up a Christmas drinking game:

4. This video of Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, and Mariah singing All I Want For Christmas Is You (using classroom instruments!):

5. This bread. Yes, I included something I made on my list of awesome Christmas things. Oh my gosh. I don't know if my gushing will do it justice. It's totally Christmasey and delicious. Pears, cranberries, walnuts, and spices are brought together here for a super moist, super flavorful quick bread that needs to be on your breakfast table Christmas morning. I have tons of bread recipes on here because they're one of my favorite things to make, and I think this is my new favorite.

Pear Cranberry Walnut Bread

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Cookies

When I was a kid, Annie and I started getting revved up for Christmas in September. We went through a 5-Step Christmas spirit program, unintentionally designed to test the patience of our parents.

Step 1:
Blast Christmas cassette tapes on repeat. The ones full of really annoying Christmas songs such as the Twelve Days of Christmas (no good music involves counting, see also, 99 Bottles of Beer), The Little Drummer Boy (lovely message, but if I wanted to hear someone make instrument noises with their mouth I'd listen to a cappella), and The Chipmunk Song (if you need an explanation as to why this one sucks, I cannot help you) work best.

Christmas 1989 in Long Branch

Step 2:
Re-decorate the basement with paper snowflakes and red and green construction paper chains. Who cares that your parents spent thousands of dollars waterproofing and finishing the basement? It looks great when decorated with garbage.

Christmas 1989 in Long Branch

Step 3:
Time for Christmas movies! Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, and A Christmas Story are best when watched thrice weekly beginning Labor Day weekend. Don't forget to watch videos of your Santa visits of years past.

Maggie the Elf, Christmas 1989

Step 4:
Make your parents rue the day they signed you up for piano lessons. Subject everyone to Christmas music performances, complete with vocal accompaniment from Annie.

Annie Christmas Tree 1989

Step 5:
Rummage around in the mailbox on a daily basis until you've assembled the ultimate Christmas catalog trifecta: the JCPenney Christmas Big Book, the FAO Schwarz Catalog, and the American Girl Catalog. Since Santa buys the gifts, think nothing of greedily dog-earring half the pages in each catalog. Silently ponder what the 6-foot tall stack of boxes hidden under a sheet in the utility room contained, but continue to believe in Santa until you're 11 anyway. (Don't be a hater; I was a trusting child. And maaaaybe a little behind in the deductive reasoning department.)

Christmas 1991, Ocean
(Apologies to my other sister who is 8.5 years my junior for excluding you the time you had the dexterity to make paper snowflakes, I was a surly teenager who wanted to sleep in Christmas morning.)

I get into the Christmas spirit much later in the year in my old age, but with arguably equal intensity. My "psych myself up for Christmas" methodology has significantly changed and matured over the years. For example...

I've replaced The Chipmunk Song with Michael Bublé's Christmas album and old classics from Bing, Frank, and Dean. Instead of Frosty the Snowman, I'm now more of a Love, Actually kind of girl. A Christmas Story isn't going anywhere. Some things never change.

Old traditions like paper-chain making with Annie have been replaced by new ones such as our annual Christmas Eve-Eve ritual of wrapping presents while drinking rum from teacups. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. 

While my parents are still very generous to me and my sisters at Christmas, I now love buying them gifts just as much as I once loved circling clothes in the American Girl catalog that would best suit Felicity Merriman's gingery-complexion. 

However, no amount of Christmas shopping or rum-drinking gets me in the holiday spirit more than putting on Christmas music, and making a batch of cookies. Do you put together a cookie tray at Christmas? These would be perfect a perfect addition. They're a simple chocolate cookie rolled in pecans, filled with caramel, and drizzled with more chocolate. After eating a few of these I found that a sprinkling of fleur de sel makes these even better, so feel free to add that before the caramel sets! Speaking of the caramel, it doesn't harden completely. The best way I can describe its final consistency is to compare it to peanut butter. Soft, but not pourable. In other words, perfect.

If you're looking for other Christmas baking ideas, look no further, as I have pulled some recipes from my archives:

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars
Soft Gingersnaps with White Chocolate
Monster Cookies
Bourbon Truffles
White Chocolate Cranberry Blondies
Cranberry Orange Walnut Tea Bread with Sweet Orange Glaze
Christmas M&M Cookies
Peppermint Chocolate Cookies
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hello Dolly Bars
Pear Spice Cake with Walnut Praline Topping
Green Velvet and Red Velvet Cupcakes

Chocolate Pecan Turtle Cookies

Friday, December 14, 2012

No-Bake Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifles

No-Bake Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifles with Graham Cracker Streusel

So, remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I was going to Mixed Conference courtesy of the nice people at Lucky Leaf? Due to a last minute work obligation, I sadly couldn't make it to the conference, however, I still wanted to share what I created with one of Lucky Leaf's tasty products.

Blueberry and lemon is probably my favorite flavor combination next to peanut butter and chocolate. I know blueberries are a bit out of season right now, but I couldn't resist using them in conjunction with some of Lucky Leaf's lemon pie filling. I came up with this insanely easy trifle recipe, and you don't even need to turn on your oven to make it.  What you're looking at here is a layer of crunchy, cinnamon and almond graham cracker streusel, fresh blueberries, a super-lemony no-bake cheesecake filling, and cubes of moist pound cake. All of these flavors and textures work together so deliciously that I inhaled my jar of trifle in about 90 seconds flat.

No-Bake Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Trifles with Graham Cracker Streusel

I have a minor obsession with consuming food and drinks from mason jars. Beer, iced tea, and all kinds of desserts simply taste better when consumed from one. It's science. Depending on the size of your mason jars, this makes about 8 servings. You can also make it a full-sized dessert in a regular trifle dish if desired, but it will be less delicious.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Penne Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Penne Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

I'm alive!!

It's been a busy couple weeks in Maggie-land, but I am back with a stupidly easy pasta recipe for you today. I'm the absolute worst at cooking dinner for myself when things get busy, but this takes 15 minutes of your life, and makes two perfect and super-cheesy portions.

Speaking of cheese, I got in a fight involving a plate of cheese fries this weekend. I'm not usually a fighter. When people are jerks to me, I typically don't know how I want to react to the situation until 3 hours later, at which point it's way too late to give the person a piece of my mind. This weekend, that all changed.

On Saturday, my group of friends and I did a Christmas-themed bar crawl through Arlington, VA. We go every December, and it's possibly one of the most fun events we do all year. People get super into it with ugly sweaters and Christmas costumes (including Ralphie in the pink bunny suit from A Christmas Story and Cousin Eddie, bathrobe and all.)

Annie comes down from New Jersey every year for this event, and at some point on Saturday we randomly decided that we wanted cheese fries. We were at the last bar on the crawl, and finally order a plate of the delicious snack we've been jonesing for all day. There was no server for the bar tables we were standing at with Ralphie and Cousin Eddie, so I went up to the bar myself to retrieve the fries and deposit them at our table, and then ran back to the bar to grab plates and napkins. When I return, two dudes who I have never met before in my life are standing there chowing down on our fries. I will call them Lutz, because cheese-fry thief #1 looked like Lutz from 30 Rock, and Jacques, because cheese-fry thief #2 happened to be French.

Now, I didn't jump right into yelling at Lutz and Jacques without first making it explicitly clear that a) I did not know them, b) have no interest in sharing my food with grubby-fingered strangers, and c) wanted them to stop eating immediately. Well, Jacques made the grave error of informing me that they would order a second round. I informed them that the fries weren't the point. The point was, I thought it was weird and rude that they would come up to a stranger's table and start eating their food. Meanwhile, Lutz continued to hoover my fries like a crazed wildebeest. In the interest of brevity, here's a video loosely depicting what occurred next:

As it turns out, yelling finally clarified my stance on strangers eating my bar snack, and Lutz and Jacques skulked off to another table. 

I was still perturbed about the interaction, but ready to move on, when one of my friends stops by the table to inquire what happened. She says, "umm, Lutz says to tell you you're a bitch."

No me gusta.

I marched over to their table and proceeded to yell at them for a good 3 minutes while they cowered in terror. I was so furious that I don't remember specific details of what I yelled, but Annie informed me after the fact that she could tell by my articulate yelling that I was an English major. 

Lessons to take from this story:

a. Don't eat a stranger's cheese fries. 
b. Don't argue with an English major; she will destroy you using only her words. 
c. Don't call a girl a bitch unless you want to experience the true definition of the word.
d. Standing up for yourself and not letting jerks walk all over you feels awesome.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chipotle Marinated Chicken

Chipotle Marinated Chicken via

I never really need an excuse to eat spicy food, but if I did, the horrible cold I've had for a few days that has reduced me to a mouth-breathing crybaby is a really good one. I rarely get sick, so when I do, I'm completely miserable. When cold medicine fails to relieve my congestion, I turn to my favorite sinus clearing ingredients like sriracha, jalapenos, and canned chipotles in adobo.

Fortunately, my cold coincided with my discovery of Chrissy Teigen's hilarious blog So Delushious. Am I living under a rock? Have you guys been reading her blog all this time? For those of you who are equally clueless, she's the gorgeous Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, who also happens to be engaged to John Legend. Oh yeah, and she's in culinary school. I basically read her blog from start to finish in a day, and noticed that she mentioned this chipotle marinade half a dozen times.  Needless to say, I dragged my sneezing, congested self to the grocery store and immediately bought all the ingredients for this delicious meal.

Chipotle Marinated Chicken via

I'd consider this marinade on the milder side of spicy, so if you're not a spice fiend, don't be afraid! Also, I beg you to make this with the chicken thighs as specified, and not boneless skinless chicken breasts. I know that's the go-to piece of chicken for most people, but thighs are infinitely more flavorful and juicy and soak up this marinade like it's their job. By the way, since this marinade contains vodka, you can easily freeze it without it turning into a block of ice! I'm really wishing I'd doubled the recipe below and stored half in the freezer myself!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Homemade Latkes with Applesauce and Chive-Lox Sauce

Homemade Latkes with Applesauce and Chive-Lox Sauce

You know the scene in The Boondock Saints where David Della Rocco launches into an impressive stream of profanity, after the brothers kill a bunch of people? (Here's a clip. Probably NSFW unless you work with people who curse a LOT.)

Well, imagine me in that scene instead of Rocco, and instead of me being surrounded by dead bodies, imagine wet slippery potatoes and hot oil. Allow me to explain...this recipe was a colossal pain in the butt to make. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm 100% Shiksa and trying to make Hanukkah food, and the majority of my knowledge about the holiday came from watching Rugrats. I made the biggest mess I have ever made while cooking. Potato skins and shreds were everywhere. I somehow went through an entire roll of paper towels. My bad, Earth. At one point I caught air when I skidded on an oil slick. To be fair, these aren't hard to make, they're just super messy. I literally dropped no less than 47 f-bombs during the time it took me to make these. Much like Rocco, I effectively illustrated the diversity of the word, and probably terrified and offended my neighbors in the process.

However, much like a mother forgets the pain of childbirth (or so I'm told) and is willing to do it again because babies are awesome, I've already forgotten the spectacular mess of making these, and would do it again in a heartbeat. I love these latkes, like they are my greasy, carb-filled spawn. Those of you who have actually given birth may hate me now for comparing the pain of latke making to baby birthing.

Like many things I cook, the desire to make these at home first came about a year ago, when I had some truly terrible latkes at a diner. I don't think the cook had ever eaten a latke in his life, because there were literally shreds of potato mixed into a traditional pancake batter. What the heck is that? Not edible, I can tell you that much. These latkes, however, are more than just edible. They are phenomenal. They're perfectly crisp, and with barely any filler to hold together the potatoes, they are not remotely in danger of tasting like the monstrosity I had at the aforementioned diner.

I know everyone is probably still stuffed from Thanksgiving festivities yesterday, but I highly recommend that you make a little more room in your stomach for a batch of these. 

Here's what you'll need: 

For the lox sauce:

1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
3 ounces lox, diced
1 tablespoon fresh chives, minced

For the applesauce:

1 cup chunky applesauce
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the latkes:

4 Russet Potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1 yellow onion, minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and pepper
Oil for frying (I used half canola and half olive)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet, and set aside.

Mix together the sauce ingredients in separate bowls. Place in the refrigerator while you prepare the latkes.

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Using the large holes on a grater, shred the peeled potatoes into the water. Using a fine mesh sieve, drain the potatoes in batches, and rinse under cold running water. Drain again thoroughly, pressing against the sieve to remove as much water from the potatoes as possible. In batches, transfer the potatoes to a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze to remove even more water, and then place the potato shreds in a large bowl.

Place the minced onion into a double layer of paper towels, and gently squeeze to remove the moisture. Add the onions to the bowl. Add the eggs, flour, chives, and garlic. Salt and pepper the mixture, and stir to mix well. I didn't precisely measure how much salt and pepper I used, and the original recipe did not specify an amount. It's really hard to over-salt potatoes in my opinion. Taste one of the latkes after you fry up the first round, and if it needs more salt add it in - that's what I did.

In a large frying pan, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium heat. Depending on your stove, it will take about 5 minutes to get hot enough for frying. To test it, drop a tiny bit of latke mixture in, and if it immediately starts sizzling, you're good to go. Using your hands, scoop up some potato mixture and form into into a golf ball size ball. Squeeze it over the sink to remove excess moisture. Gently flatten the ball into a pancake as thin as possible. Place into the hot oil, and repeat for 2-3 more latkes. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer the cooked latkes to the wire rack, and place in the preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture until all latkes are cooked. Serve immediately with the sauces. I think I got 17 latkes out of this that were about 2.5-3 inches in diameter each.

Source: Adapted from This is a Cookbook: Recipes For Real Lifeby Max & Eli Sussman. (Great cookbook in case you were wondering - a lot of simple recipes, written by two very funny, adorable guys who I now have a creepy cookbook crush on.)

This post contains affiliate link(s).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars

Is Thanksgiving seriously in 3 days?

I feel like Labor Day was last week. How on earth did this holiday sneak up so quickly? I haven't even completed my traditional pre-Thanksgiving ritual of watching all 10 Thanksgiving episodes of Friends back to back. Have I mentioned my obsession with Friends on here before? You know how there's comfort food? Friends is the TV version of comfort food to me. I own every season, I know every line, and something about the familiarity and predictability of it is very relaxing to me. The Thanksgiving episodes are the absolute best, and the phrase "squtternut bosh" will never not be hilarious. 

One of my favorite episodes titled "The One With All the Thanksgivings" occurred in season five of the series. This episode revolves around the group's flashbacks to their worst Thanksgivings ever. One of the flashbacks reveals that during college, Ross brought his Thanksgiving-hating roommate, Chandler, home to Long Island for Thanksgiving. Chandler's refusal to eat any Thanksgiving foods prompts Ross' younger sister Monica to make him a batch of macaroni and cheese. At one point during the episode, (see 3:08 in this video), she asks Chandler if he liked the macaroni and cheese, to which he nonchalantly replied, "oh yeah, it was great, you should be a chef." Monica exclaims, "okay!", and as any avid Friends fan knows, she did just that.

Ever since I started cooking, I've always loved that moment because I totally get Monica's enthusiastic response. One of the reasons I love to bake is because it makes people happy, and makes them feel loved and appreciated when you put the time into making something homemade just for them. The approval that Monica got from Chandler in that moment is something I get a little bit of every time I make something delicious that people enjoy, albeit in a less sarcastic tone.

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars
I guarantee you that if you make these salted maple pecan pie bars this Thanksgiving, you'll have a Monica and Chandler moment with one of your dinner guests. I think I like these even better than traditional pecan pie. I know most people are all about the crust when it comes to pie, but I'm more of a pie filling kind of girl myself. The crust is good, but it's not what I'm there for. Here, instead of a traditional pie crust, you have a brown sugar shortbread type situation that is absolutely delicious. It's topped with a traditional pecan pie filling, and sprinkled with fleur de sel to balance out the intense sweetness. If you're having a lot of people over for Thanksgiving this year, this would be an excellent dessert to make since it serves way more people than a traditional pie.

Any other Friends fanatics out there? I'm assuming if you're still reading, you are. If you are, just know that we'd be friends in real life. I got to know one of my great friends (hi Molly!) when we shared an office at my last job, and I'm pretty sure that 50% of the reason we became friends is because both of us understood that a "moo point" is a cow's opinion.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers, and for everyone else, have a happy fourth Thursday in November!

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour (plus a bit more if necessary)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecan halves
Fleur de Sel for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 glass baking dish with heavy duty aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all four sides.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup brown sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in flour until coarse crumbs form. If your dough is still a bit sticky, add in more flour by the tablespoon. I used an additional 3 tablespoons. The dough should be crumbly, but able to stick together when pressed.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, and press evenly into the pan, packing down well. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until it has slightly puffed and appears dry on top.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, 3/4 cup brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the pecan halves.

After removing the crust from the oven, pour the filling over the top, and spread evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. (Note: a reader told me that hers needed an additional 5 minutes on top of this to fully cook. Use your best judgment, because you don't want to under-cook these! They should not be excessively sticky on top when you remove them.) Remove from the oven when the filling appears mostly set (mine took the full 20 minutes), and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Cool for 2 hours at room temperature, and refrigerate overnight before cutting. I refrigerated mine for about 18 hours before slicing these - definitely don't rush it! Remove the bars from the pan using the foil handles (you may need to loosen the edges with a sharp knife, because the sugary syrup gets below the foil a bit), and cut into 24 bars with a sharp knife. Serve cold.

Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Friday, November 16, 2012

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

One-Bowl Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting. This small batch makes 3 perfect cupcakes!

Happy blog birthday to me!!!

Tomorrow, my blog baby turns 3, and according to WebMD that means that it should be able to bend over without falling, use age-appropriate scissors, and clearly state its name and age. Oh...never mind, that's only for real live toddlers and not my silly little website. If we were talking about a toddler and not my blog, you'd all think I was a pretty terrible mother. I definitely forgot about this milestone until 6 p.m. last night when I was in the grocery store and saw these glittery number candles. I sincerely hope that when I have children someday, I remember their birthdays without glittery things reminding me.

I can't believe I've been sharing recipes and saying weird things here for 3 years. I'm one of those people who has an unfortunate tendency to abandon projects and hobbies, so I'm truly astonished that I've made it this long. For example, there was the time in the spring of 2008 when I decided I wanted to go to law school. Well, I'm $1,500 poorer after an LSAT prep course, have a stack of LSAT practice books, and no law degree to show for that undertaking. There was also the time I bought a $400 bicycle with the noble intent of riding it on the Mt. Vernon Trail every weekend. Well guess what? Beer doesn't drink itself, so that bike spends its weekends indoors and lonely.

I'm so glad I had the idea to stop spending large sums of money on things like knowledge and exercise, and start taking photos of my food. In all seriousness though, it means so much to me that people come here and make my recipes and read the goofy things I write. If I could give each one of you a hug and a cupcake as a thank you I totally would!

Let's talk about these cupcakes. What we have here is a moist, fluffy peanut butter cupcake, slathered with chocolate frosting that tastes exactly like brownie batter. Best of all? This recipe makes just three cupcakes! It's perfect for when you want something sweet, but don't necessarily need two dozen cupcakes tempting you.

And in case you're wondering...yes, I did blow out the candle.

One-Bowl Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting. This small batch makes 3 perfect cupcakes!

Here's what you'll need:

For the cupcakes:

1 egg white
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (I don't recommend using the natural kind here)
1/4 teaspoon, heaping, baking powder
1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tablespoons milk

For the frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder (I used 1 teaspoon Hershey's Special Dark, and 1 teaspoon KAF Black Cocoa)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a cupcake tin with 3 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg white and sugar until thoroughly combined.

Whisk in melted butter, vanilla, yogurt, and peanut butter.

Whisk in baking powder. Gently whisk in flour until just combined. Stir in milk.

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 prepared liners - they should each be about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until the cupcake springs back when lightly pressed in the center.

Cool in the pan for 2 minutes, and the turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes are cool, make the frosting.

Beat together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, and melted chocolate until thoroughly combined. Add in the remaining powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until the frosting has reached the desired consistency.

You may also like these other tiny batch recipes: Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting for Two, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream for Two, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Lava Cake for One

Source: Cupcake portion inspired by How Sweet's Vanilla Cupcakes for Two, and the frosting is an A Bitchin' Kitchen original

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spiced Black Bean, Avocado, and Queso Fresco Tacos

Spiced Black Bean, Avocado, and Queso Fresco Tacos by A Bitchin' Kitchen

Umm...please excuse the giant bruised piece of avocado front and center in this photo. Somehow, I didn't notice it while photographing these, and by the time I uploaded the pics, the tacos were long gone and I couldn't re-photograph. Oh well. A bruised avocado is still a tasty avocado! Maybe if I got my act together and learned how to use Photoshop I could have figured out a way to turn that brown spot green, but my photo editing skills are basically limited to iPhoto. Between bruised avocados and the end of daylight saving time leaving me no light for dinnertime pics, my already limited food photography skills have taken quite a hit this past week.

After posting a cake and cookie recipe back to back, I had a feeling that some of you would perhaps be interested in some lighter fare. These tacos come together in about 15 minutes, and make a perfect quick, flavorful, and healthy weeknight dinner!

I actually hesitated to post these, because Mexican food always just screams summertime to me, and here we are just a week and a half from Thanksgiving. Then I realized that the impending food fest is even more of a reason to share a nice, light recipe before we're all stuffing our faces with mashed potatoes and pie!

Here's what you'll need:

1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup black beans, with liquid
1/2 avocado
Extra-virgin olive oil
Juice and zest from 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled
3-4 small flour or corn tortillas, warmed (My tortillas were the Mission brand small fajita sized tortillas, which are slightly larger than a typical corn tortilla. I made 3 pretty stuffed tacos, but with a corn tortilla you'd have plenty of filling for 4 tacos.)

In a medium frying pan over medium heat, combine the coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, and black beans.  Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquids have cooked out - about 5 minutes. Transfer the beans to a small bowl.

Brush avocado half with olive oil, and place flesh side down in the same pan. Let cook until slightly charred, and remove from heat. Slice and peel avocado.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, zest, and honey.

Divide black bean mixture and avocado slices evenly between your tortillas. Top with queso fresco, and drizzle lightly with honey-lime sauce. Serve immediately.

You may also like: Tacos de Barbacoa, Crispy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos, Black Bean + Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Crema, and White Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce

Source: Adapted from Naturally Ella

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Pecan Coconut Cake

Sweet Potato Pecan Coconut Cake

This cake is killing me right now.

It's sitting 6 feet away from me on the kitchen counter, whispering in its stupid little cake voice "Maggie...have another slice! Your thighs can totally handle it."

No, creepy talking cake, they can't.

It's probably unnecessary for me to tell you that this cake is really, really good. I think sweet potato has officially usurped pumpkin in the list of my favorite orange vegetables to bake with. This is an extremely moist cake thanks to the large amount of sweet potatoes and oil it contains. It's packed with pecans and coconut, and topped with a bourbon-laced glaze, and an additional sprinkling of pecans and coconut. I'm thinking that this would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving Day dessert lineup in addition to the traditional pies!

Sweet Potato Pecan Coconut Cake

Speaking of pie, I'll be attending Mixed Conference in a few weeks courtesy of the awesome folks at Lucky Leaf! They make super delicious pie fillings, and I'm so grateful to have the chance to develop a recipe for them (coming next month!) and represent them at the conference. Is anyone else attending? This is my first blog conference, and I'm totally nervous/excited! I need buddies to hang out with there!

Here's what you'll need:

For the cake: 

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sweet potato puree (I steamed 2 small sweet potatoes in the microwave 'til fork tender, cut them open, and mashed them up)
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the glaze:

2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-5 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with non-stick spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, canola oil, and sweet potato puree until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until fully incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture, alternating with the buttermilk in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the coconut and pecans.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes. The cake is done when it springs back when lightly pressed in the center, and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is cool, make the glaze. Whisk together the first 4 ingredients, plus 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Add the rest of the cream in small increments until the glaze is pourable, but not runny. Pour over the cooled cake, and allow some of the glaze to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut and pecans while the glaze is still wet. Let the glaze sit for at least an hour before cutting into it.

Makes a single-layer, 8" cake. Serves 6-8.

Source: Adapted from Evil Shenanigans

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brown Butter + Sea Salt + Rolo + Toffee Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter + Sea Salt + Rolo + Toffee Chunk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hellooooo, longest recipe name ever.

I made these cookies for three reasons:

1) I was bored and couldn't find anymore cat videos to watch on the YouTubes.*

2) I had leftover candy and mini-chips left from making these that I wanted to use up in an actual recipe, rather than just eating them by the handful.

3) I decided that I wasn't that hungry for dinner and would rather just let a massive 437 calorie cookie take its place. Balanced, right?

I knew I wanted to stuff the leftover candy into a chocolate chip cookie, and decided to try out a new base recipe. I turned to Monique's Brown Butter & Sea Salt cookies. Pardon my French, but holy crap. I think I yelled worse expletives (out of delight, not anger!) than that when I first bit into one of these. These are truly the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Alton Brown's "The Chewy" has been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe for years, but the next time I make traditional chocolate chip cookies I'll be using this recipe at my base. If you like your chocolate chip cookies with chewy edges and soft middles, you'll love these.

While I made these cookies in an effort to use up random ingredients, don't let that deter you from actually purchasing these ingredients specifically for this recipe. I've stuffed candy into chocolate chip cookies more times than I can count, but this has probably been my favorite combo yet. You get the delicious sweet and salty flavor from the Heath chunks and the sea salt sprinkle, and chewy chocolatey-caramel chunks in each cookie.


Here's what you'll need for 13 large cookies:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (I used 2% because I had it on hand, but any fat level should work)
15 Rolos, frozen for at least 1 hour and chopped into quarters
1/2 cup chocolate covered Heath bar chunks (these are sold in a bag in the baking aisle, but if you can't find them, feel free just to chop up a few candy bars)
1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

Next, brown your butter. If you've never browned butter before, allow me to direct you to this post, since Jessica took photos of the process and explains it more eloquently than I probably would.

Set your browned butter aside to cool for 5-10 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat together the browned butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and Greek yogurt. Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined. Fold in the Rolos, toffee chunks, and chocolate chips.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 2 hours.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a large cookie scoop (mine held about 1/4 cup,) drop balls of dough on the cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between each. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until the edges are golden and the tops are still moist. They will continue to bake on the baking sheet, so don't be afraid to take them out when they look under-baked. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Granola

I wake up ravenous every single morning. My growling stomach at 6 am is way more reliable than any alarm clock my money can buy. The second I'm out of the shower in the morning, I'm in the kitchen scavenging for food. I'm definitely a creature of habit when it comes to my weekday breakfasts. 90% of the time I eat oatmeal, an egg and cheese sandwich, or Greek yogurt with granola. This is usually my granola of choice, but as you may have gathered given that I write a blog about cooking, I prefer to make things homemade whenever possible.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

When I came across this pumpkin granola on Kristin's gorgeous blog earlier this fall, I immediately knew it would make it onto my fall cooking list. It was so simple to make that I think it's going to replace my normal store-bought brand of granola, unless a bout of extreme laziness hits. This makes an enormous batch - a little over 6 cups. I tend to use granola as more of a garnish - a small scoop on top of yogurt for some crunch, rather than eating it mixed with milk like cereal, so this should last me quite awhile!

Pumpkin Spice Granola

This granola is totally customizable. Prefer walnuts to pecans? Throw 'em in. Dried apricots instead of raisins? Chop some up and toss them in too. This granola has a light pumpkin flavor, and a lot of fall spice. Make sure to let it cool completely before storing it, so that it doesn't get soggy! Added bonus? Your house will smell like you have about 50 pumpkin candles burning at once since this is so deliciously fragrant!

Here's what you'll need:

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Stir in brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

Add the oats, cranberries, raisins, pecans, coconut, and pumpkin seeds to the bowl. Stir to evenly coat with the pumpkin mixture.

Spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring well at the 20 minute mark. It will not be crisp when you remove it from the oven, but it will crisp up as it cools. Allow granola to cool for several hours before storing.

Source: Adapted from Pastry Affair

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Soup isn't usually one of those foods where I lack self control. That unfortunate characteristic is usually reserved for foods like brownies, risotto, and macaroni and cheese. Ya know, health food. With soup I can usually have a small bowlful for dinner with a salad or some crusty bread, feel satisfied, and call it a night. However, with this soup I really just want to sit on the floor with the pot in my lap, and eat it straight from the ladle like a weirdo. It is SO good. With ingredients like bacon, garlic, pasta shells, and Parmesan cheese would you expect any less?

Little by little it's getting cooler here in Virginia, and this was a perfectly delicious, perfectly cozy fall dinner for the past couple nights. This was my first time making this soup, and I can already tell that it is going to become a fall and winter staple for me!

The original recipe called for either bacon or pancetta. I really wanted to use pancetta but my grocery store was regrettably out. Thanks a lot Whole Foods. I recommend using the pancetta over the bacon if you can find it, because it is extremely difficult to mince bacon. I never noticed how slippery it was until I attempted to cut it into tiny little pieces. There was a lot of cursing, and I almost threw a handful of bacon at the wall in a fit of rage, which really would have only been hurting myself.

This soup is very thick when it's leftover - it becomes more stew like. Feel free to add up to 2 cups more broth if you want it soupier.

Here's what you'll need: 

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices of bacon, minced
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/4 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
Parmesan cheese and finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon and onions, and saute for 8 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, and pour in the tomatoes (with their juices), sage, and spices. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the broth and beans, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pasta to the soup, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente. Garnish with cheese and parsley, and serve immediately.

Makes about 10 cups of soup.

Source: Adapted from Shutterbean, originally from the Williams Sonoma Beans & Rice Cookbook

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

For those of you who are regular readers, you may remember that I made these delicious Pecan Turtle Black Cocoa Brownies to bring to my mom and sister up in NJ last month when I visited. Well, my mom informed me on that trip that she now prefers lemon desserts to chocolate ones. Since I'm such an awesome daughter, I made her these lemon ricotta cookies when I went up to visit this weekend. I don't bake with lemon very often during the fall or winter, but these actually really hit the spot among all of the heavy fall and pumpkin related baking I've been doing.

While the main reason for my visit to NJ was my sister Annie's 25th birthday, the weekend happened to coincide with a really fun event in my sister's town called Boozin' for Boobs. As the name suggests, it's a bar crawl that raises money for breast cancer charities. I'm not sure how healthy daytime drinking of hot pink-dyed Bud Light is for my own personal cancer risk, but it was a ton of fun, and raised money for an excellent cause. 

Annie and me at the bar crawl. Happy birthday darling seester! 

Boozin' For Boobs

Before making these, I'd never made cookies that contained ricotta cheese, so I wasn't sure what to expect. These don't taste like ricotta, so I think it's probably there for the moisture and richness. The cookie portion of this recipe reminds me of one of those big black and white cookies you can get at an Italian deli or bakery. They are moist and soft, and almost like miniature cakes. The glaze has the perfect amount of lemon flavor and tartness, and turns these cookies from something ordinary into something delicious. 

As you can see, I couldn't wait until my cookie photo shoot was over to sample the goods. 

Here's what you'll need for about 4 dozen cookies:

For the cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons

For the glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (Do not use organic or natural powdered sugar as it will turn the glaze gray)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in ricotta, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and beat until combined.

Stir in dry ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop cookies onto the baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each. Store the leftover dough in the refrigerator between batches.

Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes, until no longer wet on top and not yet golden around the edges. Mine took exactly 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

To make the glaze, stir together all ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour a scant teaspoon of glaze on top of each cookie, and let the glaze harden for at least 2 hours before storing. Cake-like cookies like these have a tendency to get soggy if stored in an airtight container. I kept mine in a tupperware container with layers of waxed paper between each stack of cookies. I just rested the lid on top, and didn't press it shut it completely, which worked great. I recommend enjoying these within a day or two of baking them. 

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tacos de Barbacoa

Tacos de Barbacoa

I'm am a HUGE fan of Chipotle's Barbacoa. In fact, I just spent 20 minutes of my life making a crude homage to the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" ad to illustrate just how much I love Chipotle's Barbacoa:

Dos Equis
 Stay hungry, my friends.

I've wanted to make my own barbacoa at home for a long time, because as delicious as Chipotle is, it's not somewhere that I should be frequenting. I once made the mistake of calculating the calories for one of my beloved burrito bowls. Ouch. Fortunately, the results of my at home barbacoa were delicious, and I've had enough tacos to keep me happy for the rest of 2012, and then some. Actually, scratch that. Who am I kidding? I love tacos, and will probably make yet another version in a matter of weeks. 

Depending on how stuffed you like your tacos, and how big your tortillas are, you can probably get about 5 tacos per pound of meat. If you're not responsible for feeding children, spouses, or roommates, I highly recommend that you invite people over to eat, so you don't end up eating tacos for 8 meals straight. 

Don't let the long cooking time for this scare you away. The prep work for this recipe only took about 20 minutes. This needs to cook low and slow for about 5 hours in the oven, but most of that time is hands off.

What you'll need:

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
4 canned chipotle chiles
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano (use Mexican oregano if you can find it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3 teaspoons kosher salt (if using table salt, reduce to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 pounds boneless chuck roast, excess fat removed
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
3 bay leaves
Small tortillas, warmed (I used flour, but I think corn is probably more traditional)
Toppings (Cilantro, onions, lime wedges, tomatillo salsa, chopped tomato, and sour cream are all delicious!)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Combine the vinegar, lime juice, chipotle chiles, garlic, and spices in the bowl of a food processor. Process the mixture for about 1 minute, until completely smooth. Set aside.

Rinse and completely dry the chuck roast, and cut into one pound pieces. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven until it is shimmering. Sear the pieces of meat on all sides until very browned, about 10 minutes total. You may need to work in batches for this if your pot is on the smaller side. (Note: If you're not using an enameled cast iron dutch oven like a Le Creuset, you will probably want to sear the meat on high, not medium.)

Turn the heat down to low, and add the chipotle puree to the pot. Stir to coat the meat thoroughly. Pour in enough chicken broth to come one-third of the way up the sides of the meat. I have a very large dutch oven, and needed a little less than a quart of broth. Add in the bay leaves.

Turn the heat back up to medium, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot with tin foil, and then add the lid to create a tight seal. Place in the preheated oven, and braise for 5-6 hours, checking halfway through the cooking time to baste the meat with the cooking liquid, and ensure that there is enough liquid remaining in the pot. During the last hour of cooking, remove the foil and the lid to allow the liquid to slightly reduce.

When the meat is done, allow it to cool for a few minutes, and spoon off any easily removable fat from the cooking liquid. Shred the meat with two forks, and serve on warmed tortillas with desired toppings.

Source: Adapted from Food People Want

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

A Bitchin' Kitchen: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Is anyone else bored of logging on to Facebook and being bombarded by a million people spewing their political opinions? Ever since the debates last night, I've been avoiding Facebook like the plague. As some of you know, I live in Northern Virginia, right outside of Washington, DC. I don't know if people argue about politics this much in other areas of the country, but here it's constant personal attacks, "fact" regurgitating, and mudslinging.

Obviously, I have opinions. I'm not going to talk about them here because a) no one cares, and b) I don't want the 50% of you who disagree with me to hate me, or think that voting the way I do is equivalent to some kind of character flaw. I sometimes wonder if the people who post inflammatory statuses honestly think that they will change the mind of the opposing side. Facebook has been around for 8 of my 10 legal voting years, and so far I haven't been swayed to change my political affiliation by what some wannabe pundit posts as their status. I respect people's right to share whatever they want on Facebook, but that doesn't mean I won't be annoyed by it. I think certain topics are just best kept private.

I go on Facebook for the following reasons:

1) Cat videos
2) Pictures of babies
3) Stories about drunken shenanigans
4) To find out where happy hour is taking place
5) To stalk people from high school and judge their choices in life

I do not go on Facebook:

1) To be told that I'm immoral or stupid for supporting a particular candidate.

I'm probably just as bad as the people I'm complaining about for even posting this rant. Can we talk about pancakes now? That's something we can all agree on, right? I hope so, because these are freakin' delicious. When I took my first bite of these, it was like biting into the warmest, moistest, slice of pumpkin bread ever. With most pumpkin-flavored foods, you tend to taste the fall spices more than the actual pumpkin. With these, you have a bold pumpkin flavor, plus an additional kick of flavor from the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. I served these with just maple syrup, but I think they'd also be delicious with a cinnamon spiked whipped cream!

What you'll need:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
Additional butter or canola oil for greasing the skillet

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and place a foil-lined pie plate inside. As you cook the pancakes, place them in the pie plate to keep warm.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a large liquid measuring cup, stir together the milk, pumpkin, egg, and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and whisk together until just combined. Some lumps should remain - don't over-mix or your pancakes will be tough!

In a large greased skillet over medium heat, drop batter in 1/3 cup portions. Cook the first side, and when bubbles start to form on the top surface, flip them over and cook for about a minute more. Transfer to the oven and repeat with remaining batter.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cheddar, Chive, & Jalapeno Biscuits {AND Blast from the Past Black Bean Soup!}

Cheddar, Chive, & Jalapeno Biscuits

Want to know how to make a delicious and cozy fall meal? Of course you do.

First, make a pot of my incredibly easy black bean soup, and while it's simmering away on the stove, whip up a batch of from-scratch biscuits. These biscuits are beyond delicious. The dough is full of good stuff - chives, spicy jalapenos, and sharp cheddar. I'm thinking these would also be a great base for a breakfast sandwich - just add a fried egg and some sausage or bacon.

This black bean soup is a recipe I posted way back in the early days of my blog (excuse the horrendous accompanying photo...clearly my photography skills are a work in progress.) I've probably made this soup more times than any other recipe on A Bitchin' Kitchen. It's easy, flavorful, healthy, cheap, and filling. It's one of the first things I make each fall when the weather starts to cool down. The linked recipe is great as is, but feel free to make it your own by sauteing some jalapenos or bell peppers and throwing them in, adding corn, or throwing on fun garnishes like cheese, chopped avocado, or sour cream.

As you probably know, soup only gets better when it's leftover, but these biscuits actually reheat surprisingly well too. As much as I wanted to, I did not eat all 9 biscuits when I made these, but was pleased to discover that if you wrap one in foil and heat in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes they're almost as good as a fresh biscuit. When you cut these biscuits, make sure not to twist the cutter when cutting the dough. This "seals" the sides of the biscuit, and it won't achieve its maximum height. It helps to have a nice sharp biscuit cutter - this is the set I use, and I love them. 

One more thing: this is completely unrelated to anything I've said in the preceding paragraphs, but I found this video a few days ago and can't stop watching it. Dear fellow Insta-grammers, please enjoy:

Here's what you'll need:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for topping
1 egg
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
1 jalapeno, diced (I left the seeds in; remove the seeds if you're not a fan of spicy food)
3 tablespoons minced chives
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
Coarse sea salt, for topping

Arrange oven racks to the middle position and upper third position. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg.

Stir together the cheddar cubes, diced jalapenos, and chives. Set aside.

Add the cold butter to the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, cut the mixture together until it resembles coarse meal and the butter is well incorporated.

Add the cheese mixture to the flour mixture, and thoroughly toss. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Use a fork to combine, until a shaggy dough forms.

On a lightly floured service, knead the dough for 6-10 minutes. Form a 1 1/2 inch thick disc, and cut biscuits using a 2 1/2 inch circle cutter. Re-form the dough scraps and cut additional biscuits until all the dough has been used. I got 9 biscuits.

Place the biscuits on prepared baking sheets. Brush tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 13-17 minutes, until light golden on top and cooked through.

Source: Biscuits adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes by Joy the Baker

This post contains affiliate link(s). 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chicken Tender Melt

Other than babysitting, my first job ever was working at Perkins as a hostess when I was 15. In case you live in an area of the country or world that does not have Perkins, they're most known for their pancakes, the sassy old ladies working as waitresses, and in the case of the location that I worked at, their mouse infestation behind the hostess stand.

Mice issues notwithstanding, my 15-year old metabolism and I really enjoyed the free food I got during my shift. My lunch of choice was usually a menu item known as the "chicken tender melt," which I probably ate roughly three times a week for an entire summer. I randomly remembered this sandwich recently, and decided to recreate it at home. Needless to say, it was even more delicious than the restaurant version (probably because I fried it in butter.) It's been many years since my Perkins days, but I seem to remember the restaurant serving this sandwich with honey mustard dressing. I served it with ranch instead, but either one would be scrumptious.

This is a somewhat time consuming sandwich to make, since I strongly recommend that you make your own homemade chicken tenders for it. I promise when you take a bite you'll agree it was worth it!

Here's what you'll need:

Salted butter
2 slices sourdough bread
3 slices Pepper-jack cheese
3 slices bacon
3 slices tomato
2 homemade chicken tenders
Ranch dressing or Honey Mustard, for dipping

Butter 1 side of each bread slice. Assemble your sandwich by layering 1 1/2 slice of cheese, tomatoes, bacon, chicken tenders, and the remaining 1 1/2 slice of cheese on the non-buttered side. In a small frying man over medium heat, cook the sandwich on both sides until the bread is brown, and the cheese is melted.

Source: Inspired by the Perkins menu 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Peanut Butter Chicken

peanut butter chicken

Sometimes my brain feels blocked. I have been sitting at my laptop, staring at a blank screen for longer than I care to admit, wracking racking my brain trying to think of an interesting anecdote, or words of wisdom to share. I've got nothing. I did read up on the difference between wracking and racking. So there's that.

I was up in New Jersey all weekend visiting my sister and mom, and had a relaxing few days filled with lots of wine, pumpkin ice cream, good bagels, and great burritos. I intentionally confused a young man at the wine store when I asked him what wine he recommended to accompany hot dogs. I should cut the sarcasm and be nicer to easily flustered wine store clerks. I also bought a deep dish pie plate, and am extremely psyched to make a pie and share it here. Such an exciting life I lead, right?

Let's just move on and talk about this chicken before I bore you to tears. I'm a big fan of peanut butter in savory dishes. I know the ingredients below might seem a little odd (I totally get that combining peanut butter and salsa sounds slightly cray-cray) but they totally work. Best of all, I bet you have at least half of the ingredients on hand already. I am the worst at maintaining a pantry full of staples, and even I only needed to pick up chicken, peanuts, and orange juice to make this amazing dinner happen.

P.S. If this recipe strikes your fancy, you might also like these Thai Peanut Butter Noodles

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup medium salsa
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
2 large chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 4 or 5 strips each
2 tablespoons olive oil
Peanuts and green onions, for garnish
Cooked rice, for serving

In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, salsa, soy sauce, honey, orange juice, ginger, and curry powder. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the chicken to the oil, and brown on both sides, but don't cook through. Turn the heat to low, and pour in the sauce. Cover the pan, and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and reduced, and the chicken is cooked through. 

Serve over rice, sprinkled with peanuts and green onions.

Source: Adapted from Kristina Kuzmic

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pecan Turtle Black Cocoa Brownies

Pecan Turtle Black Cocoa Brownies

Random thoughts as I attempt to cobble together a blog post at 12:39 AM:

1. I considered titling this recipe Special Brownies, but realized that would have a different implication than what I intended. These are special brownies because they contain awesome and pricey ingredients (not ganja), and should be served only to special people that you really, really like. Pecans, vanilla beans, and black cocoa all make an appearance in these brownies. They are spendy but worthwhile splurges!

2. I actually Googled "slang for marijuana" to make my previous point. I've never smoked the giggly weed/wacky tobaccy/chronic in my life, and clearly do not have the vernacular down. Do people actually call it any of those things? Wait, don't answer that and incriminate yourselves. Drugs are scary guys. Let's stick to wine.

3. I'm headed up to New Jersey tonight to visit with my Mom and seester, and fully intend to force-feed them the whole pan of these. Although, they're super-duper good, so I'm hoping that force won't be necessary. Perhaps I can convince them that these are healthy, since they contain lots of nuts and dark chocolate. Antioxidants!

4. Friends is on Nick & Nite in the background, which makes me feel exceedingly old. When I was a kid, Nick & Nite was all about I Love Lucy and Bewitched. Having 90s shows on there just seems wrong. Also, it's "The One With the Morning After," and I'm still mad at Ross. "We were on a break!" is not a valid excuse dude.

5. I usually hate dressing up for Halloween, but recently decided that I want to go as Honey Boo Boo Child. One problem - I simply don't have the legs to pull off a short pink pageant dress. Someone out there, please take this idea, and report back on November 1st, so that I can live vicariously through you. You'll need a short pink dress, a pig named Glitzy, and a bottle of Go-Go Juice. In the words of Mama, you'll look beautimous. Please don't judge me for watching this amazingly hilarious train wreck of a reality show. For those of you who somehow don't know who Honey Boo Boo is, I feel like this best sums her up:


This recipe makes 15 super dark, super rich brownies. If you're unfamiliar with black cocoa, it's Dutch-processed cocoa that has been super alkalized. You know how Oreo cookies are almost black? That's how this cocoa powder looks. It actually kind of smells like crushed up Oreos. Since black cocoa has less fat than traditional cocoa powder, it's typically paired with natural or Dutched cocoa to ensure that baked goods don't dry out. A little goes a long way with this stuff! I know it seems like there is an insane amount of sugar in the recipe below, but do not reduce the sugar unless you want a dried out brownie. The dark chocolate balances out the large quantity of sugar well, and while these are rich, they are not tooth-achingly sweet.

Here's what you'll need:

For the brownies:

1 cup salted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup black cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

For the pecan topping:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, contents scraped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 9x13 metal baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla extract with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powders, and salt. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, until just combined.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Let the brownies cool, then make the caramel.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine heavy cream, vanilla bean scrapings, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, water, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to boil, swirling the pan occasionally but NOT stirring, until the mixture turns a deep amber color - anywhere from 7-15 minutes. Caramel goes from perfect to burnt in a split second, so don't walk away!

When the caramel has reached the correct color, remove it from the heat, and immediately pour in the heavy cream and vanilla mixture. Be careful, as it will bubble up quite a bit. Stir until thoroughly combined, and add in the pecans. Immediately pour over the brownies, and spread evenly to cover. Let cool completely before cutting.

Brownies adapted from these, and caramel topping adapted from Chow
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