Monday, November 26, 2012
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.
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
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.)
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Monday, November 19, 2012
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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)
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