Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

Still with the old, yucky pictures, but my next cooking endeavor I promise I'll document with the nice camera :)

This was one of those things that happened because I became addicted to a food, then convinced myself I could make it better myself. I was buying $3 bags of Royal Gold left and right and thought it might be cheaper to make my own.

Verdict: Ehhh I wouldn't say cheaper, per se, since each individual item is nearly as expensive as the $3 bag, but these come out with a thicker chocolate coating and more pronounced candy cane flavor, so I prefer them to the manufactured ones either way. They also lasted longer because they were bigger and therefore I didn't down them quite as quickly.

These are a lovely addition to a cookie swap or Christmas tin you pass out to neighbors... I need to refill my supply and you can bet I'll be doing this soon :)

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

  • 1 Bag pretzels of your choice (I chose Royal Gold traditional pretzels)
  • 1 large bag white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 box candycanes

-Pulverize candycanes into fine powder with some larger chunks still visible. This can be done in a food processor, or with a ziplock bag and a hammer.

-Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in 3/4 of the candy cane pieces.

-Using two forks, dip pretzels into chocolate and place on wax paper. Immediately sprinkle with some of the remaining candy cane, then put in fridge until firm.

Looks like on my list is also Photo Editing Software, oy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chocolate Oreo Truffles

Guys. Make these.

You won't be sorry.

Simple, inexpensive, delicious--my favorite combination.

Great for throwing in a holiday bag and giving to neighbors, or bringing in a festive tin to a holiday potluck.

Here is the recipe. Use it wisely--and often!

Oreo Truffles
(Makes about 25 truffles, more or less depending on size)
-1 full size package regular Oreos
-2 packages of cream cheese
-1 bag milk chocolate chips

-Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl and let soften. Scrape the frosting from the insides of the Oreos and mix into the cream cheese.

-Pulverize the chocolate cookies in whatever way you'd like (food processor works best, but a rolling pin and ziplock bag work just as well) until they are ground into fine crumbs. Mix into the cream cheese, reserving about a quarter cup of the crumbs.

-Form the cream cheese into bowls and place on a cookie sheet with wax paper. Let chill in freezer until firm, about one hour.

-Once cream cheese balls are firm, melt chocolate over a double boiler. One by one, using forks, dip the cream cheese balls into the chocolate and cover completely. Return to cookie sheet and sprinkle with a bit of the remaining crumbs.

-Chill in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened. Try to sample one NOW, because they'll be gone quickly!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Merry Cyber Monday to All!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family and friends and delicious food. We usually have a small, immediate-family-only dinner but a huge bird, so I'm sure I'll be dining on turkey leftovers for days to come. I'm loving Pioneer Woman's leftover turkey panini and re-created it the other night with some substitutions, perhaps I'll share it with you all. It truly was divine and if you have the extra additions she suggests laying around I insist you try it!

Somewhat big, silly news: I finally took the plunge and ordered my first digital DSLR camera. It was a Cyber Monday deal, I just got my check for the article that's getting published, and I've been wanting this dang thing for a long time now.

Merry Christmas to me :)*

Finally having good quality photos will definitely be a factor in giving this blog a comeback! I can't wait!!

In other news: which recipe would you like first? Oreo cheesecake truffles or Peppermint Bark pretzels?

*Now that I've successfully used Black Friday and Cyber Monday to shop entirely for myself (work clothes and now a camera--some birthday gifts for my mom too though), I think I should donate any extra cash I have at the end of the season to my favorite charity: Autism Speaks. Those who know me know how important this cause is to me--my first tattoo being a symbol of that dedication as well--and if you'd like to donate as well please use this link to go to my donations page!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Friendsgiving and Potato Gatto

Friends from my alma mater
On Saturday I made the trek back to my beautiful city of Boston to meet up with some friends from college and have a feast. It was a wonderful excuse to see some old friends, and to force myself back into the kitchen!

Preview of recipes to come
I made a few things (all of which I hope to blog about soon): Peppermint bark pretzels, Oreo truffles, and Potato Gatto.

This is Mark. He made an excellent chocolate eclaire
pie. Win.

One of the main events of the night was deep frying the turkey. My friend Shawna's boyfriend bought a kit and my friend Kate's boyfriend brought the turkey. It was definitely an interesting thing to watch.

There are many steps to deep frying a turkey. I don't know them, but I took many picture. See:

First, you must assemble a turkey retrieval device. This is if you forget to buy one in your turkey-frying preparation shopping. Shawna's boyfriend (whose name is Shawn, awesome) made one out of wire. This is so that you don't have to finagle the turkey out of a boiling pot of oil.

Then you submerge the turkey in the oil that has been heating on a little propane stove. Let it cook for a really long time (I think I remember 45 minutes per... something? Inch? Pound? Google it.) and check the internal temperature occasionally.


Enjoy: Crispy, delicious, perfect turkey. I've never had deep fried turkey before and it was really fantastic. So much flavor and the crispy skin was just the best. Well done to our excellent hosts for making such a gorgeous bird!

Here is a terrible picture of the rest of the AMAZING food. Seriously everyone really out-did themselves. I plan on making Kate's cranberry relish for my own Thanksgiving dinner (which I may also blog about?), Shawna's first attempt at green bean casserole was a win, and her roommate's stuffing had this savory/sweet thing going on with added cranberries that was just excellent. I was PAINFULLY full after all this. But also JOYFULLY full as well!

Just another preview of the oreo truffles... Will blog about these bad boys soon, they are so so good.

Today I will give you the recipe for Potato Gatto. I stumbled upon this recipe during my time at FamilyFun and have had it in my recipe book to try ever since. It's a great dish to bring to a potluck-type occasion--such as a Friendsgiving!--but also could be a filling meal. Also the fact you can make 90% of it ahead of time is great. I made mine the night before and baked it at the party.

Kick up your mashed potatoes. Try this out.

Potato Gatto
(Adapted from FamilyFun)
  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 ounces sliced Genoa or other Italian-style salami and/or prosciutto, chopped
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped

-Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with cold water covering them completely. Cover the pan and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain them and let them cool slightly.

-While potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a skillet until desired done-ness. When bacon is almost cooked to your liking, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until bacon is crispy and onion is translucent.

-Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the dish with the bread crumbs, turning it to spread the crumbs evenly.

-When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins. Place the potatoes in a bowl and mash them until smooth. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the butter, the milk, 1 cup of the grated cheese, the egg, the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Fold in the mozzarella, salami, and bacon/onion mixture.

-Heat the oven to 400º. Spread the mixture evenly in the dish, dot with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. (This dish can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 24 hours)

-Bake the dish until the top is browned and the center is hot, 40 to 45 minutes (50 minutes if it was refrigerated). Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10.

 Crispy, golden goodness.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Something, at least? -- Chili Party Dip

There really isn't much of an excuse as to why I haven't been blogging. Or, at least, not a very GOOD excuse. Mostly, my free time was taken away thanks to a play I was in (that has now been postponed), I haven't had an extra ton of cash for crazy ingredients, and the power outage. Also just life in general. And new friends :)
Guys, I was fighting BATMAN, gimme a break.
And nothing seems to be letting up anytime soon, but I have every intention of trying my damndest to make a comeback. In the meantime, bop over to my personal blog if you need any random life updates. I'll try to get back to being a good commenter too!

Again, holiday season is upon us, so hopefully that means more kitchen time for me. Hang in there please!

I didn't take pictures other than this one that looks pretty terrible, but trust me: this is one of the cheapest, easiest, tastiest party dips you can make. I imagine it'd be perfect for a football party or some other watching sport. I made it for a Halloween party, and it didn't take long for it to be devoured (note someone had already started before I took a picture).

This is just the base, I'm sure you could sneak a veggie or two or some jalapenos in if you wish. Go nuts, it's delicious as is!

Chili Dip
-1 can chili of your choice (I chose one with meat and beans)
-1 8oz package cream cheese
-So much shredded cheese

-Heat the chili. This can be done ANY WAY YOU'D LIKE! I've done it by baking, microwaving, and by stovetop. All ways are effective, but I found you get the best blend by stovetop.*

-Mix in the cream cheese and half of shredded cheese. Stir until well blended and heated through.

-Top with cheese. Put in oven until cheese is melted, or let the heat of the chili do it for you. Serve with tortilla chips.

*If baking: 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and stir together until cream cheese is well blended, then top with cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scary Snow Storm

Just an update that I survived the crazy Halloweekend snow storm that we got out here. In case you weren't aware, the Northeast was hit hard by a Nor'easter, dropping 12 inches of heavy, wet snow onto the trees. Since the trees hadn't lost all their leaves yet, the snow stuck to them and weighed them down--snapping most like twigs. In the pitch black we listened while we heard cracking limbs falling and hoped they wouldn't fall through our roof... definitely scary.

My house is still without power (since Saturday), but we're making do with our fireplace and camp stove. It's definitely uncomfortable, but live-able and I'm glad we didn't get too too much damage. Hopefully the power will be back on shortly, but with millions of homes in the Northeast without power it's not hugely likely that we'll get ours back before the suggested Friday deadline. My work is located in one of the places that re-gained power quickly, so I have a place to keep me warm for most of the day at least!

I have some crazy pictures of the damage. Trees were fallen over or broken apart everywhere, and so many power lines down. It was definitely a scary night and I'm glad that my friends and family are all okay! I'll be posting soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Walking Dead

I was a zombie this weekend.

No, really.

Zombie Pub Crawl is my favorite holiday

Again, the lack of recipes is due to not a lot of free time for bopping around the kitchen. My play opens soon, so most nights I'll be home too late to make anything lest I wake up the household.

The holiday season is soon upon us, and you best bet I'll be cooking up some good stuff.

I feel like I make these posts a lot... I really really need my own kitchen. I'd be up til midnight doing recipes if I could. But living with the 'rents, you gotta go by the house rules. Oh well! I just like to inform my little gaggle of followers that I'm still alive, and in a week or two I'll be back :)

See you all as soon as I have some free time!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Things I've Been Eating -- Portland, ME

The weekend following my trip to NYC was equally special--I met up with two of my other college roommates (from the dorms, whereas the NYC former roommates were from my Brookline apartment) for a fun-filled weekend in Maine, where Jill is currently living. She had been raving about the food to me for months so I was excited to try some!

We had a midafternoon snack at Gorgeous Gelato while we roamed the quaint streets and popped in and out of the many adorable souvenir shops. And, holy cow. This stuff is AMAZING. I've only had gelato a few times, less than five definitely, with two of those times being in Italy, and I have never had anything so amazingly decadent. This gelato was to DIE for. I scarfed down my little cup in a matter of minutes.

The decor is beautiful too. I chose the pineapple with a scoop of caramel... something. I can't remember what the actual flavor was. The creamy caramel with the tart pineapple was just the perfect flavor combo--like a classy orange creamsicle except with pineapple. I wanted to stay and just try every flavor, but we had

That is probably the most desk-top-ish picture I've ever taken.

We didn't really have the time (or, truthfully, the money) to sit down for dinner more than once, but I'm glad we got to share some amazing appetizers at Nosh. Next time I'm in town I'd like to eat a full meal here, the offerings look absolutely amazing. I'm a huge fan of the whole concept of "gourmet pub food" and Nosh has got it down to a t.

Not as "loaded" as other nachos out there, but the flavor is spectacular. Just enough toppings to taste delicious but not soggy and weighed-down.

The northern US and into Canada love a silly-sounding little snack called cheese curds. I've sampled fresh, non-breaded ones before and I describe the taste as "high quality string cheese"--they're good. Deep fried and tossed with hot peppers with a chipotle mayo dip? Fantastic.

The salt and cracked pepper fries were our final pick. Somehow these just tasted like the best fries ever. More chipotle mayo for dipping, but there is a LIST of options and I cannot wait to return and try some more. I really wanted to steal that little bucket...

We continued our college tradition of "pre-gaming" before a night out at the bars by making mulled apple cider. We're very classy ladies. We found "real" recipes online but since we were just boozing this thing up we made do with what we had: apple cider, spiced rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice. It worked beautifully and we all had a nice, warm buzz before hitting the bars.

Finally, at 2 am (bars close around 1 in Portland) we found ourselves at Five Guys--the "In-n-Out of the East" as I've heard it called. In truth, I was a little too tipsy to really give a good review of this burger. I also forgot to ask for ketchup and mustard and instead just ordered it with mayo and pickles. Everyone at the table thoroughly enjoyed their burgers, despite the long wait. I've heard there's a Five Guys near here though, so I'll be sure to give a more accurate reading next time.

I missed my old buddies dearly. I'm happy we got to meet up again, and took less than a year to do it this time! Hopefully we'll be up to Portland again soon. It really is a beautiful place.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Things I've Been Eating -- NYC

So last weekend, I gave myself a birthday present: 

From left to right: My two former roommates, my friend from
my study abroad program, and me!

I met some lovely friends from college in NYC.

It was a great time. Though I did not succeed in seeing a broadway musical like I wanted to, I had a ton of fun--the weather was GORGEOUS and in the 80s!--and it made me remember how much I love that city. Some day, I need to live there. Preferably before I'm 30.

Obviously, I took pictures of everything I ate and drank. It was all magnificent. Here are some highlights.

I met my old roommate at Port Authority and we went to her apartment in Queens. Since it was pretty late, we decided to go to a bar called Dutch Kills nearby. My friend described it as "kind of a speakeasy"--and it definitely had a 20s vibe to it! From the decor to the piano in the back to the way the cocktail servers were dressed. First I got a house drink (The Ultimate I think it was called?) and for my second drink, I told the bartender I was in the mood for something "fruity and girly." He didn't suggest things like I thought he would, but rather wasted no time whipping me up a Strawberry Cucumber Rickey--EXACTLY the kind of drink I was craving! It was sweet without being too sweet, definitely did not have a strong alcoholic taste, and was pretty strong. The drinks are pricey (though I'm not sure what the NYC standard is), but worth it. And the atmosphere alone is worth it. If you find yourself in Queens, I highly recommend Dutch Kills!

The next day I met my other former roommate for lunch. We were aiming for a true NYC brunch, but we both slept in for a bit too long and ended up having lunch instead. After wandering around what was either the Upper East or Upper West (I totally forget), we stumbled upon The Columbus Tavern. My friend and I ended up getting the Avocado BLT with fries and a few glasses of white wine. The sandwich was a great way to start the day and fuel up for all the walking we did! Since it was my birthday weekend I didn't mind being a little tipsy with the sun still out, but I think I'll stick to wine as an evening beverage from now on.

Avocado BLT at Columbus Tavern

After lunch we went shopping and met up with the friend I was staying with and my friend from the study abroad program I did in college. In lieu of a show, we went to the movies. We got our tickets for 50/50 and since there was a bit of time left before the movie started we decided to get some dinner nearby. I can't find a website for it, but near the theater was this Italian restaurant called Luca (in Yorkville). Originally I had wanted to just get something light and cheap, but once I realized the menu was pretty expensive for just about anything I decided to just go for it and get something fancy. Seriously glad I did. I got the Papardelle with Duck Ragu. It was fantastic. I've decided that duck definitely makes my list of Favorite Foods. If you can find Luca, I highly suggest it. The dipping oil for the table bread has roasted red peppers in it too, so fancy!

Delicious gourmet meal at Luca!

Finally, on my final full day in the city, I got to experience a New York Brunch! I got up before noon and met a friend who happened to also be visiting the city, and we got brunch at Agozar Cuban Restaurant in Greenwich Village. Their brunch special is fantastic: you get unlimited Sangria and a brunch entree for about $20 (can't remember exact price, between 20 and 25) from 12 to 4. I opted not to do this special (realizing from the day before that me and day-drinking aren't the best match) and just got the Huevos Rancheros, which came with one complimentary sangria. It was seriously one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. So flavorful, and just the right amount of spicy. If you're in NYC, go here. Be sure to make reservations if you're going later in the day--it was empty when I got there but packed when I left.

Blurry, yet awesome Huevos Rancheros at Agozar.

All in all, a successful and delicious weekend. I spent far too much money--seriously only I would spend time shopping at the same stores I can find at home, oy--but it was my little birthday present to myself and I had an excellent time. Someday I WILL live in NYC, but for now I'll be content with visiting my amazing friends. And I won't wait another whole year to do it, that's for sure!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Meeee...

Hey guys! New post forthcoming--or two, really. One about all the yummy things I encountered in my recent trip to NYC, and another with a recipe.

However, since it IS my birthday, why don't you celebrate and make some cupcakes in my honor? I think it's a splendid way to celebrate--since everybody wins!

Here are the ones I've posted so far:

Flourless Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Chocolate Coconut Rum Cupcakes
The BEST Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Graham Cupcakes with Lime Frosting

Today I turn 24... wow! I've begun to wonder... what shall I re-name this blog once I'm out of "quarter-life"? Looks like I have another year or two to figure it out, so I better start pondering! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oh, Hello!

Aw, what sweet comments on my last post. Thanks! I didn't mean for it to come off as me tooting the wah-wah-wambulance horn but I appreciate the support.

Just wanted to pop in and remind you all that although I've been following the one-post-a-week model here due to my lack of kitchen and budget for ingredients (and that camera situation, oof!), I am posting fairly regularly over on my Facebook Page for Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine!

So if you haven't already, go check it out! And if you already have... well, thanks! :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Feel (Kinda?) Pretty -- Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

(Another post where I talk about personal stuff for a bit
then end with a recipe--yay!)
I have a serious love-hate relationship with my body. I feel like this has been amplified since becoming single, since I feel like I need to constantly look my best so that if 1. I run into my ex I can look so intensely attractive they will regret ever wronging me, or 2. Happen upon my next potential soul mate I can look presentable enough for them to fall immediately in love with me at first sight. Or, y'know, they'll ask me to get coffee or something.

This makes me highly self conscious, and I'm generally a self conscious person and for some reason that critical little voice in my head has been chattering louder than usual lately. It's also made me very very aware of what I'm eating--or rather, what I've eaten, after I eat it. I start calculating calories and mentally hitting myself. Now, I'm lucky enough to have a fast metabolism, but in recent years the scale numbers have inched ever so slowly up and it's starting to freak me out. Then there's the constant battle with my hair--hopelessly frizzy, crazy thick, curl-wave-monstrosity--that even when I flat iron it for hours still won't do what I want it to. Then I start to freak about my freckles...

One of my "ARG! Look How Tiny (and blonde?) I Used to Be!"
God I feel like the next line should be "Ugh, my nail beds SUCK." (ten points if you get the reference) It's so bizarre though, I feel like exactly 50% of the time I look at myself in the mirror and think "oh my GOD I must have gained 20 lbs! EXCLUSIVELY IN MY THIGHS AND BUTT. When did I become Medusa? And what is WRONG with my skin today??" and 50% of the time I think "Oh, hey, I guess I'm still kinda skinny. And I got an okay face." It's like my mind is playing some insane game with me, and my butt is in cahoots. 

Older and more brunette. I can see the difference.
Anyway. Noted: heartbreak makes you a crazy person. Acceptable, yes?

This is the point where I have to slow down and have a little chat with myself. I'm still thin, I probably won't ever be obese, but the scale IS a little wake-up call that I'm getting older and probably should start exercising regularly. Drastically changing my diet is probably not something I can do--I am loving food way too much these days--but portion size and not over-doing it every day is perfectly reasonable. That and the gym, and I'll probably have nothing to worry about.

Oh hey freckle-face, what's up.
We all have insecurities, and I shouldn't let fluctuating weight bother me unless it becomes an actual health problem. I can use crazy makeup and hair tricks to make the other stuff feel better, but it shouldn't be in order to snag a new male--it should be for me. If spending an hour on my hair makes me feel confident and pretty, then so be it. I will spend an hour on my hair. I will glop on makeup and blend in those sun spots.

And maybe someday I'll be confident and comfortable enough to be my frizzy-haired, freckle-faced self. But I'll get there on my own time.

And I accept that my body type will never be right for a romper. But in my defense, I don't think anyone over the age of 5 should wear a romper anyway.

Someone help me with my food styling.
This has absolutely nothing to do with these amazing pumpkin muffins--it's just something that's been on my mind lately.  These pumpkin muffins are worth the indulgence. In fact, they're probably more cupcake than muffin, but because they're called a muffin they are clearly an acceptable breakfast, right? My old roommate, Lizz, would often surprise us with these little treats, and they rarely lasted more than a day (couldn't find her recipe, so I used this one I found instead). They're so deliciously fall. Enjoy them warm, with a little bit of butter or cream cheese, or however you'd like, really. They're hard to beat.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.

-In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat together pumpkin, eggs and water. Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture; beat until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips.

-Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

 *I happened to have a lot of leftover batter, and not enough muffin cups left, but a tiny bread pan. It came out just fine, but add at least ten minutes to the bake time (or more!) if you go the way of the loaf.