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.

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