Friday, October 30, 2015

Loaded Rice Krispies Treats

Happy Halloween Eve! Now that I'm the one giving out candy, I sometimes wish I could give out homemade treats. Nowadays though, people are v. wary and suspicious of anyone giving out homemade concoctions and rightly so. There are so many weirdos out there.

So, I guess I can't give out Rice Krispies treats - I'll just have to eat them myself; what a tragedy.

I love classic Rice Krispies treats but I love these more and they're especially fitting of Halloween. Loading them up with extra stuff is so yummy, especially since the extra stuff includes salt (love sweet and salty as a combination) and crunch and candy.
Ingredients [yields 9"x9" pan]:
¼ cup butter (half a stick)
4 cups mini marshmallows
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal
3 cups Cocoa Pebbles cereal
½ cup crushed unsalted pretzels
¼ cup toffee bits
¼ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup butterscotch chips
8 to 10 caramels, cut into small pieces
+ vanilla extract (optional)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mini Checkerboard Cake

In theme with this week's pre-Halloween fun, I'm sharing another sweet treat today.

I've recently become pretty obsessed with How to Cake It. Yo is hilarious, charming, and crazy talented. I basically binge-watched her entire novelty cake video repertoire and it made me want to make pretty cakes and it made me want to eat pretty cakes.
I used my white cake recipe (and halved it) and flavored half of the batter with a little cocoa powder and heavy cream and made a checkerboard cake.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Double Potions (Harry Potter-Themed Cocktails)

Though I own all of the hardcover versions of the Harry Potter books, I recently bought the electronic version so that I could carry them around with me on my phone all the time. That's how much I love you, Kreacher. Yes, Kreacher is my favorite character. And guess what? I was sorted into Slytherin House. That's right, and I'm a parselmouth too. I found this out recently; I've been encountering snakes everywhere. One jumped out at me while I was taking my dog on a walk at the park, then a few days later, a second one jumped out at me in the garden and then just a few days ago, I saw a freshly roadkilled one just in front of my house. Obviously I'm a descendent of Salazar Slytherin, right? I know he was a white man but maybe I'm one sixty-fourth white? It's possible.

Anyway, to get in the Halloween spirit - which is coming up this weekend - I wanted to share five Harry Potter-related cocktails. I picked five different potions and tried to come up with appropriate ingredients for each. I didn't want this to be a boring overdone post (as I've seen a few Harry Potter-related cocktail posts out there) so I decided to spice mine up by making individual flavored vodkas for each drink.
These five cocktails take a little bit of prep time since the homemade flavored vodka needs to soak for a few days.

The directions for each flavored vodka are super easy and straightforward. Add the vodka and flavorings to an airtight bottle and leave to steep for at least 3 days in the fridge.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

I'm in a great mood this morning because I'll be picking up H this evening in Newark and then we're going to get dinner and have a good night's sleep and then head out to New Orleans tomorrow morning! I'm also in an extra good mood because I love today's post.

Apparently this amazing sauce has been floating around the internet for over a decade and I didn't know it. It's a devilishly simple sauce (just three ingredients; four if you count the salt) and even though I was tempted to throw in garlic and herbs and crushed pepper flakes, for my first go, I showed restraint. There's something beautiful about really simple, rich recipes that allow single ingredients to shine (in this case, it's the tomato) but I'm not going to lie; I'm probably going to pollute this recipe with a little garlic and a little heat the next time I make it.

I wasn't sure what to expect because in all of the forums I read, no one described the taste in a descriptive enough manner; in general, the comments were all along the line of, "OMG SO DELICIOUS!" But, maybe this is a "people in glass houses" situation because it's possible I won't be able to describe it properly either. My best attempt is to say that the smell reminded me of cream of tomato soup and then when I went in for a taste, again, I thought hm, tomato soup. The butter adds this unctuous mouthfeel that makes the sauce incredibly velvety and "sticky." I say "sticky" because this sauce stuck to the noodles better than any other tomato sauce I have ever made. The onion added a crapload of natural sweetness that complemented the San Marzano tomatoes. In fact, it might have been a little too sweet for my taste and I think that this recipe is a great way to use up regular plum tomatoes; save the San Marzano tomatoes for regular sauces that need a boost.

Overall, this sauce was a smashing success. I slapped it together on a Thursday evening with about 2 minutes of prep work, 1 minute to smash the tomatoes in the pot, and then it sat on the hob, bubbling away and getting really good all on its own. In the meantime, I was able to prepare an appetizer, a vegetable dish, and cook the pasta. This recipe is a good one and I know it's going to get made over and over again this winter.
28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (or regular plum tomatoes)
6 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, peeled and halved
salt to taste (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What I Ate: Spicy Chili Dogs

In our house, we can never make spicy chili without making some spicy chili cheese dogs. So, along with yesterday's chili, we toasted up some bread, grilled a few hot dogs, diced up tomatoes, red onion, pickles, and avocado, grated some cheese, and made a little make-your-own chili dog feast for dinner.
A couple of weeks ago, my sister found a block of habanero cheese in the dairy section at our store and we've fallen in love. It's super spicy and perfect for us. So, honestly, I've been looking for ways to use it (beyond just nachos and tacos) and this was a perfect application.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What I Ate: Spicy Chili

Every Saturday morning, my sister and I get up and go grocery shopping. It's part of our weekly routine. On this particular morning, as we were in the protein section stocking up on chicken and beef, my sister declared that we should make chili (re: I should make chili). So, I grabbed a package of ground beef and a package of ground pork and planned on making chili that would cook long and slow with the intention of eating it the next day.

Fast forward an hour and we were scooping generous bowls for ourselves, smacking our lips obnoxiously. What can I say? We just couldn't wait.

I used my spicy chili recipe but tweaked it ever so slightly by using salt pork (instead of bacon), adding in a poblano pepper, and using half pork and half ground beef. Oh, I also omitted the crushed tomatoes and just used two cans of diced tomatoes instead. And, of course, instead of normal chili powder, I used ancho chili powder; that stuff is so good I'll never go back to regular chili powder. Maybe with all of these substitutions I should have made a whole new recipe page but to be fair, I think that every time I make chili, it's slightly different and I don't think having 309841390 recipe pages for slightly different chili recipes is all that practical.
I'm so happy that I have a serving in my lunchbox right now, otherwise, I'd be so annoyed whilst putting together this post.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Spicy Chicken Sandwich

I have basically one month before I head off to Grand Cayman and I could not be more excited. Not only am I excited about going on holiday but I cannot wait to stop my stupid portion control and exercise routine. My aim has been to get really fit so that when I'm parading around in swimwear, I don't feel like a massive whale and cause shock and horror to the other lovely families vacationing around me. It's been great in terms of health, I suppose. My skin looks brighter, I have more energy, and the boyfriend jeans that used to fit like skinny jeans now fit like actual boyfriend jeans.

But, being on my little "diet" hasn't been completely painful. I'm a staunch believer that denying oneself is a surefire way to cause a massive breakdown once your mind's willpower reserves have run out. So, instead of cutting out "bad" foods, I've just been showing some restraint when it comes to the quantity I consume.

That being said, I am 100% unwilling to eat actual bad-for-you foods like junky microwave meals and fast food. To be frank, I'm not a fan of those sorts of meals in general. However, there is a Wendy's near my house and every time I drive past it, I recall every spicy chicken sandwich I've ever eaten and feel a bit of a hunger pang and craving for it. I made a quick version last year that I shared in a 'What I Ate' style post but my sister complained that the breading wasn't quite up to snuff so I modified the method a bit and this one was a winner and a pretty damn good substitute (except with much less guilt).
4 chicken thighs
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup flour
¼ cup potato starch
oil for frying
+ 4 rolls
+ special sauce
+ sliced tomatoes
+ baby kale
+ habanero cheese

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What I Ate: Chicken Sujebi

Happy Birthday to my baby sister! And what more appropriate dish to post than a soup? Soup season is officially here and M is probably the happiest about it; whenever she was served a bowl of soup when she was younger, she'd just sip out all of the broth and leave all the solid ingredients behind.

I've been absolutely loving my French oven (that I found at Christmas Tree Shops for $30) and it's been put to good use several times already. When the weather starts to go a bit colder, I love making Korean chicken soups. Dahk jook is a favorite but at the end of winter last year, we got really into chicken kalguksu and I think this year, I'm going to be loving sujebi.
Sujebi is great because it's so easy to make the noodles. And, I've made it even easier by rolling out the dough a big beforehand and then tearing it off in big chunks.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Korean Sprouts Side Dish {Soy Sauce} | Kongnamul Moochim (콩나물무침)

Happy Columbus Day! I have off from work today so I get to spend this amazing autumn weather hanging out with my pup at the park.

Our grocery store carries mung bean sprouts without the actual beans, which has been kind of exciting. They don't have it every week, but when they do, we usually snatch up a few bags because they make the easiest banchan.

I decided to share this recipe because it's slightly different from the moochim that I shared previously. This version uses soy sauce instead of salt and has the addition of perilla leaves. We had a surplus of perilla leaves at the end of the season and I wanted excuses to use it before our garden completely died and I loved the way this turned out.
8 oz. mung bean sprouts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 hot pepper, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
15 perilla leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pasta Pangrattato with Crispy Egg

Since getting involved with Food52's contests, I've been more active on the site, especially when it comes to exploring other members' recipes. It's been a great resource for dinner inspiration, especially when I'm in a slump.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on a really amazing recipe. I had planned on making the usual pasta with tomato sauce and grilled sausage for dinner but as the clock crept closer and closer to the end of the workday, that meal sounded less and less appealing. So, I hopped onto Food52 and started browsing through the pasta recipes and I found Rhonda's Spaghetti with Fried Eggs & Pangritata. I was mostly intrigued because in her little introductory blurb, she mentions that she got so obsessed with the dish that her sister might have had to do an intervention. I have a pretty obsessive personality too so I could totally empathize and it made me want to try the recipe, even with the risk of obsession and interventions.

As I am prone to doing, I read through the recipe, shut my computer, and then kind of did my own thing. I like taking a general idea and running with it. It makes it much easier for me because I'm not constantly running back to my computer to see what the next step is. Plus, I tend to customize recipes anyway; in this example, I've added a few extra ingredients, I used oregano instead of rosemary because we still have it growing like crazy in the garden, and I've also upped the spice levels 400%. I also changed the name of the recipe slightly because, thanks to Duolingo (which I was using daily the first quarter of this year, prior to my trip to Italy) I know the word for breadcrumbs is "pangrattato." I know, I'm like an amazing linguist.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon minced oregano
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon salt

1 lb. pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons black pepper

crispy eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 eggs

1 cup cherry tomatoes
shaved parmesan

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What I Ate: Moroccan Eggs

My sister says that she hates when I blog meals because it "takes forever" and she's "bleeping hungry" and she "is dying and needs to eat right now." But then I tell her that without the blog, I'd have much less motivation to venture out of my comfort zone (which is basically cooking burgers and soon tofu jjigae) and she wouldn't get to try so many new (and usually delicious) foods. I guess it's a Catch-22.

Usually at dinner time, it's not as big of a deal because she gets home an hour after I do so by that time, I'm almost done cooking and just snapping photos of the final product. However, on the weekends when I'm whipping up breakfast, she sits on her designated barstool whining until she has food in her mouth.

Such was the case with these Moroccan eggs (a.k.a. shakshuka). I hadn't made this dish in a while and seeing as we conveniently had all of the ingredients on hand, I got to chopping vegetables and got myself ready to hear a barrage of hunger complaints from M.
I followed the gist of my original recipe except I also added in some chopped up kielbasa (because we had it and why not?) and upped the egg count, seeing as my sister is a champion eater and I knew I needed a little more substance. We also had an avocado about to go off so I chopped up half and sprinkled it on top and it was an awesome extra that added a nice creamy textural component. One last deviation from my old post is the use of pita chips. We didn't have any bread on hand but we had a bunch of homemade flatbread pitas in the fridge (from my recent hummus obsession) so I toasted them up into chips with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. And, I actually loved the pita chips more than toasted bread because it just added to that Moroccan vibe.

Monday, October 5, 2015

What I Ate: Chicken Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a staple meal in our house. It used to be somewhat of a production to make, mostly because there are so many various ingredients that can be added in, but I think I've got a system down that is pretty efficient and works really well.

First of all, you've got to get rice going and then you've got to set up your serving dishes. I grab three (for my family) and get them ready, assembly line style. After that, you really only need one pan. That same pan gets used to cook through each element. I heat it up over medium and add in a little oil (about a tablespoon of avocado oil and a few drops of sesame oil) and then I toss in the first vegetable. After that's cooked through, I divide it amongst the serving dishes. Then, I add in a little more oil and cook the second. And that continues until I've gone through all of the (cooked) vegetables.

In between cooking the vegetables, I also work on chopping up raw veggies for the bowls. I like raw carrot, raw cucumber, and usually some sort of lettuce-y element, whether it's spinach, red leaf lettuce, or perilla leaves.

After the vegetables are done, I add a little more oil, some garlic, some ginger, and onion, if I'm feeling cheeky. Then, in goes ground meat (chicken, beef, turkey, pork, whatever your preference; tofu works too). That gets broken up and cooked halfway through. Then, I add in some soy sauce, a little brown sugar, and black pepper. The meat finishes cooking with the seasonings and then it's added to the serving dishes.

I chop up a few raw vegetables, toss in some julienned radish kimchi, and then scoop on some rice. After that, I fry up an egg to top off each bowl, whip up a little spicy sauce, and it's time to serve.

Friday, October 2, 2015

What I Ate: Farfalle Carbonara

So maybe a month or so ago, we finally ripped into our vacuum-sealed parmigiano that we smuggled in from Italy back in April. It's been amazing grating it onto various pastas and salads. It's super nutty and salty and it's got the perfect amount of cheesy pungency. It makes me miss Italy so much.

I wanted to put the cheese to a more aggressive use so I made carbonara using farfalle and it was amazing. It was delicious the first day but it also made crazy delicious leftovers.
I added some peas and scallions for color (and flavor) and I thought it was such a pretty dish.
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