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.