June 1, 2012

Come See Me!

I've started a new blog - The Mommy Games. More of the same great food, but also tidbits from my life and mommydom. Come visit!

January 21, 2010

Signing Out

Hi Everyone! Sorry I've been missing for months and months, but as you probably have guessed by now, I've decided to take a break from food blogging. I'm in my second trimester with our first little baby, and while I was very blessed to not have any of the nasty side effects that generally accompany pregnancy, I'm just doggone tired and have no energy to cook or blog. I'm so sorry that I haven't been by many of your sites in a long time, and hope that everyone of my friends out there in the food blogging world is doing great. Best wishes for a great 2010 - may it be filled with lots of good friends and good food!


July 1, 2009

Off to the Beach!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let ya'll know that the hubs and I are taking a little vacation down to Turks and Caicos and will be out of pocket for the next few weeks. I had meant to get a few things posted before we left, but the weather had miraculously turned sunny, and I just couldn't bring myself to sit inside. Hope everyone is enjoying the summer, and I will see you in a few!

June 25, 2009

Gettin' my Southerness on with Shrimp and Grits

People either love or hate grits, which is primarily based on which side of the Mason-Dixon line they call home. In the south, grits are an absolute staple and present at nearly every breakfast table. In the north, they are thought to be as bland as cardboard and are nearly impossible to find (yes, you will get weird looks from the grocery clerk if you ask for them). Personally, I love 'em. But I do recognize that they are really a vehicle for all kinds of yumminess (cream, cheese, butter, salt), and that the grits alone are a little less than fabulous. And don't even get me started on those instant types. Yuk! The first time I decided to make grits up here in NYC, the only kind I could find was a box of instant that looked like they had been there since the beginning of time; totally covered in dust and totally icky.

Now when grits are treated with respect and gussied up a little, they can be one of the most fantastic things you will ever put in your mouth (don't believe me? Take a little trip down to the Fish House in Pensacola, FL for the grits a ya ya, and then lets talk). For our rehearsal dinner, we decided to do a southern theme, since we were in the middle of GA and more than half the guest were yankees or Canadians (i.e. super yankees), and the shrimp and grits absolutely stole the show. People couldn't believe how good they were!

This recipe is just like that. It's delicious, hearty, and a true tribute to Mr. Florence's southern roots. Serve it up with a big glass of sweet tea and a side of cornbread and you will be totally set. Just don't blame me when you start throwin' around a few ya'lls. 

Adapted from Tyler Florence

For Grits:
3 cups milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal (or grits, just not the instant kind)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
  • Place a large pot over medium-high heat, and add milk and cream.
  • Slowly whisk in cornmeal.
  • When grits start to bubble, turn heat to medium low and let cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and extra cream to thin out a bit.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
For Shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into chunks 
1/4 cup ap flour
2 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
  • Place a deep skillet of medium heat and add olive oil.
  • Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes to soften.
  • Add sausage and cook until browned.
  • Stir in flour.
  • Slowly pour in chicken stock and stir to avoid lumps.
  • Add bay leaves.
  • When stock begins to simmer, add shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes until firm and pink.
  • Add lemon juice, parsley, green onion and season with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, spoon grits onto plate and top with shrimp mixture.

June 22, 2009

Grilled Asparagus and Melon Salad

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Although we've been battling the elements up here in the northeast, we did get in a few outdoor activities. I am lucky enough to volunteer for an amazing organization, Girls on the Run, in which we help young girls train to run a 5k at the end of their school semester. Their big race was this weekend, and I am thanking the heavens that the rain held off just long enough for all of them to finish. It's so inspiring to see 3rd and 4th graders run a whole 3.1 miles. Great job girls! I never would have been able to do that at their age! We also played a little golf, but mainly stayed glued to the tv watching the US Open (Brad is actually there today to see the finals - lucky guy!). 

Now onto the goods. This is a delicious and refreshing salad that would be perfect for a barbecue or any summer time outing. This sucker has everything - savory, salty, crunchy, and sweet. It's colorful and is really beautiful when all put together. It's rather hearty, but the dressing and sweet melon keep it feeling light, making it a great dish to serve when the weather warms up (if that will ever happen!). I never would have thought of combining all of these ingredients together, but they work surprisingly well and really balance each other out. If nothing else, the idea of baking the prosciutto into little crisps is genius!

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis 

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 small melon, cubed
4 ounces mozzarella, cubed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment, and place strips of prosciutto on top. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until crisp.
  • Place prosciutto on paper towel, then roughly crumble.
  • Toss together asparagus and 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium bowl, and season with S&P.
  • Heat grill pan over medium-high, and cook asparagus for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until tender but still crisp.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil. 
  • Season to taste with S&P, add melon and cheese and toss until combined.
  • Arrange asparagus on platter, then, using a slotted spoon, top with melon and cheese.
  • Drizzle remaining vinaigrette over top, and sprinkle with prosciutto and pine nuts.

June 17, 2009

Mint Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies

Does the name alone have you swooning? Oh yes, they are just as good as they sound. Maybe even better. Grace, of A Southern Grace, made these a while back, and let me just send a big ole "Thank-You" her way, cause these babies rock! Cream cheese brownies were already one of my favorite desserts, but the mint in these took them to a whole nother level. 

Considering that the mint oreo balls I made over St. Pattie's day were one of my most well received goodies ever, I should have known that there was something to this whole chocolate and mint thing. It's not just for girl scouts anymore! Keep the leftovers (if there are any) in the fridge, as they are totally awesome cold. 

Mint Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies
Courtesy of A Southern Grace, who adapted the recipe from Here

6 tablespoons butter
4-ounces mint chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

8-ounces cream cheese, at room temp
1 egg yolk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine chopped mint chocolate and butter and melt in microwave on low. Start with 2 minutes, then stir, and continue cooking at 30 second intervals until completely melted.
  • Beat in sugar and eggs.
  • Add in flour, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla, and mix until combined.
  • Pour into pan in a thin even layer.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar and mint extract until smooth.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. 
  • Place dollops of cream cheese mixture sporadically over the initial brownie layer, and using a dull knife, swirl together.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until that batter in the middle is just set.
  • Let cool and cut to serve. I also preferred these chilled, so I kept them in the fridge. 

June 15, 2009

Dumplings and Pineapple Fried Rice

I decided to try and participate in the Daring Cooks challenge this month, which was to make homemade dumplings. The challenge was put together by Jen of Use Real Butter. She has an awesome site and I've been a loyal follower for quite some time now. I was pretty excited that she picked dumplings, but was curious as to how difficult the process was going to be. I'll let you know right from the get-go I wasn't too thrilled that this would involve dough. The whole reason I never even contemplated doing Daring Bakers is because I'm a bit of a doughphobic. It's just sticky, finicky and destroys a clean kitchen. But this recipe only involved flour and water - how hard could that be? Ha.

Although time consuming, the pork filling was simple to make and smelled delicious. The dough also came together very easily and was pretty manageable to shape into little circles. Making those gash darn pleats were near impossible though. After throwing away like a whole dozen, I decided to scratch the original plan, and to fold them all like mini calzones. Way easier, and they worked fine in the cooking process.

I decided to try all three methods of cooking: steaming, boiling and frying. Steam and boiling were super easy, and yielded tender little pork filled pockets. Frying though, destroyed my kitchen. I've been cooking long enough to know that dumping water into hot oil is going to cause a serious (not to mention dangerous) mess. Not my brightest moment. Did you ever see that episode of The Newlyweds where Jessica Simpson was yelping as the oil burned her? Yeah, that was so me. Frying paid off though, as these were the tastiest of the three methods. No surprise, frying is always the tastiest. 

If you would like to a give these a shot for yourself, please visit Jen here for a step-by-step guide. Thanks Jen for a great challenge! 

I served these along side a fantastic pineapple fried rice, courtesy of Susan from Food Blogga. You can find that recipe here, and should definitely give it a try. It was the perfect mix of sweet and salty, and was devoured in no time!

June 11, 2009

No Grill? No Problem!

Every where I look these days, someone seems to be talking about grilling out. It's all over the blogs, magazines, even the tv. This would be fine and dandy, given it is summer and all, except for the fact that grilling is not so possible when you live in a high rise apartment complex. Not that this is reason enough to move out to the burbs or anything, but we all want what we don't have, and I would love nothing more than to throw some burgers on the grill on a hot Friday night. 

So what is a city dweller such as myself supposed to do (short of renting a house in the Hamptons with a huge yard and state of the art grilling station, that is)? Make this ridiculously good steak sandwich, of course! Yes, cooking a steak on the stove will probably fill your apartment with enough smoke to warrant a few red trucks, but it's totally worth it. The cooking method for the steak gives it that perfect crusty outside and medium-rare inside. And the onions and sauce and bread - oh, it's just so yummy! We paired it with a big bowl of berries and our all time favorite summer drink.

I want to send big hugs to Jamie at Life's A Feast, for honoring me with this award. She is as sweet as pie, and I'm so lucky to count her as one of my fabulous foodie friends. Thank-you so very much Jamie!

Also a big Happy Birthday to my baby brother (he might be 6'4, but he'll always be little to me), Cameron!! 

I also wanted to let ya'll know that I finally caved and joined Twitter, so please come play with me

Steak Sandwich
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 12-ounce 1-inch thick NY strip boneless beef top loin steak
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 large red onion
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 mini focaccia or ciabatta rolls
1/2 cup baby arugula
mustard mayo (recipe below)
  • Season steak liberally with S&P on both sides.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a medium saute pan over high heat, just until smoking.
  • Sear steak on both sides for 1 minute each.
  • Reduce heat to low and continue cooking 7-10 minutes, flipping only once halfway.
  • Set steak on a side plate and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes, then thinly slice.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in same pan over medium heat.
  • Add onions and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until onions are caramelized.
  • For sandwich assembly: spread mustard mayo on bottom half of each bun, top with a layer of steak strips, sprinkling of S&P, onions, and arugula. Press down on top bun and serve.
Mustard Mayo:
3/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

June 8, 2009

Manic Mondays

Does my title have you singing yet? I'll go ahead and apologize if the Bangles are stuck in your head all day. 

I don't know very many people that get excited for a Monday. Even though I'm not really working at the minute, Sunday nights are still filled with a little bit of dread over the coming day. It's just something about the world waking up from its mini vacation and heading back into the trenches that makes everyone a little uneasy.

I generally don't pick up a newspaper, turn on the computer, or even phone friends on the weekends. By Monday, I feel completely out of touch (which is precisely the feeling I'm looking for). It's amazing how much catching up there is to be done when you take 2 whole days away from the world at large. So today I'm filing mail, paying bills, calling (or should I say staying on hold with) the incompetent tv repair shop that I've been dealing with for the past 2 months, and getting in the 11-miler that is on my running calendar. Ugh.

So if you're like me, and know that at 6 pm you will be in no mood to spend and hour in the kitchen, take a look at this quick and delish dinner option. It's like you spent all day roasting a chicken...only  you didn't. :) The skin gets crisp and flavorful, which is really the best part. And you can spend the 20 odd minutes that's it's baking away in the oven to prep rice and a veggie. Easy peasy and perfect if you have a manic Monday as well.

Lemon-Oregano Chicken
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Serves 4

2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
8 chicken thighs with skin (about 1 3/4 lb.) - I bought 4 larger thighs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dried oregano
  • Preheat oven to 450℉, with rack in center.
  • Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt, using the back of a knife.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Pat chicken dry with a paper towel, then pour lemon mixture over top, being sure to get some under the skin.
  • In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and remaining oil until foam subsides. 
  • Brown chicken, skin side down for 5-6 minutes (it will not be fully cooked).
  • Transfer to a 4-sided sheet pan, skin side up.
  • Using tongs and a paper towel, remove any excess oil or burnt pieces from the pan. 
  • Add broth and remaining lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes, or until reduced by half.
  • Whisk in remaining butter and oregano, then pour over chicken on sheet pan.
  • Roast chicken in oven for 20 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

June 4, 2009

Strawberry Gelato

This post is going to be short and sweet today. Mainly because I have forfeited my life over to a series of books that have captured the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. Yes, I am slightly embarrassed to say that I have jumped on the Twilight bandwagon. I know I'm a little late to the party, but I'm sure making up for lost time. I simply cannot put these books down! They have me completely mesmerized and life as I know it is paused until I've read every last word. 

I did, however, manage to pull myself away long enough to use up some of the seasons beautiful strawberries in this delicious gelato. It's pretty and pink and tastes just like fresh berries. And I can vouch that it makes for a fabulous breakfast (what, there's milk and fruit in it!). If you aren't the proud owner of an ice cream maker, I would highly recommend that you get yourself one asap. Not only is it fun and easy, but there is just no beating freshly made ice cream.

I also want to thank everyone so much for the wonderful well wishes for my 1 year. I've had such a great time writing this blog, and am so blessed to have made so many wonderful friends through it. Thank-you so much for always being so supportive and motivating! 

I also want to mention that one of my family's dear friends has a wonderful art blog (she is a fantastic artist) and is having a giveaway for one of her very special pieces. Please do go give Kendall a visit at Kendall Boggs Fine Art.

Strawberry Gelato
Adapted from Bon Appetit via La Divina Gelateria in New Orleans

3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/4 cups sliced hulled strawberries
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
  • Whisk in milk and cream and continue whisking while cooking over medium heat until it begins to thicken and bubble (about 5 minutes).
  • Pour liquid into bowl that is placed over ice and let chill slightly, stirring occasionally.
  • Puree strawberries in blender, then strain into the slightly cooled base liquid.
  • Stir in pomegranate juice.
  • Chill for 3 hours.
  • Process in ice cream maker per maker's instructions (mine took about 25 minutes).
  • Freeze at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

May 31, 2009

To All You New Cooks Out There....

Today is my little blog's birthday (hence the cupcake)! I can't believe it's already been a year. Well, I can believe it when I think of how far I've come in my cooking skills - from the days where making scrambled eggs seemed challenging, to now making dishes I once thought of as strictly restaurant food. I have a long way to go, but find that each time I step into the kitchen I feel a little bit more confident and comfortable. 

I started this blog as a sort of experiment. I mean, most people I know who actually enjoy and know how to cook learned so from their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, etc. Well, what if you were like me, and spent your childhood doing everything but watching your mom prep dinner. I wanted nothing to do with cooking back then. And to be honest, cooking wasn't really a huge deal in my family either. My mom cooked so that there was food on the table, not because she particularly enjoyed doing so (although she is a fantastic baker - it's amazing I'm not the size of a house!). Her creative outlets were simply outside the kitchen. Heck, everyone has to eat, but not everyone has to actually enjoy the act of preparing a meal. 

So I didn't exactly have the traditional resources and experience most cooks have. A year ago, I thought that throwing a Stouffer's lasagna into the oven qualified as cooking. Ha! What I did have though, was a phenomenal kitchen (a gift of the previous owner's renovation) that was just begging to be used. So after staring at our beautiful Viking stove for over a year, I finally threw up my hands and decided using it as extra storage was no longer an option. I quickly came to realize that you didn't need the Sicilian grandmother who slaved over a stove all day to learn how to cook. All you needed was a little passion, patience, and know-how. 

Below is a list of the top 10 lessons that I think every new cook should know. So, after a year of cooking, baking, and blogging I give you:

Top 10 Lessons for the Culinary Wannabe 
(aka, you think deglazing a pan involves licking the batter bowl)

1) Read the ENTIRE recipe, at least twice before you begin cooking. Even 3, 4, or 5 times. You should know the progression of the dish and should only have to look back to the recipe to reference exact measurements. Trust me, many recipes throw in a "meanwhile" step that could totally throw you off if you are just reading as you go.

2) Never test a new recipe on company. Do not try out a new, complicated recipe on unassuming company. If you want to do so, make sure the guests know that they will be used as guinea pigs, and be sure to have delivery menus close by. There is nothing worst than having people over for a lovely dinner, and having put something inedible on their plate.

3) Taste and season as you go. When I first started cooking, I would add exactly the amount of salt that the recipe called for, no more, no less. And I also wouldn't bother tasting the food until it had been plated and I had a napkin on my lap. This is a big no no. How can you possibly know how something tastes without trying it? Not to mention the fact that many recipes just say "add salt and pepper to taste." Taste your food, pay attention, and try to determine what your "taste" actually is. As you become more experienced, you will be able to determine what a dish needs. This also entails paying attention to the ingredients you are using. Smell and taste the basil, and try to remember those sensations. Many people aspire to create their own recipes, and knowing ingredients is one of the key components to doing so successfully. 

4) Watch cooking shows. I know a lot of foodies don't really love the quality of cooking shows out there, but the truth is, that when you are just starting out you need to see someone cooking. There is a world of difference between reading something and actually seeing it done. Cooking shows were an enormous help to me at the beginning. Seeing Giada chop an onion, seeing Ina beating egg whites - these are all important steps, and if you didn't grow up watching someone in the kitchen, cooking show are the next best thing. In addition, try and immerse yourself in the culinary culture. There are a bazillion food blogs, magazines, books, etc, to help you. Use them. It's just like learning a language. You will never become fully fluent until you are really surrounded by it.

5) Develop a kitchen arsenal. Having the right tools is pretty darn essential, but you won't be able to determine which items you will really find useful and which you could totally do without, until you have actually clocked some hours in the kitchen. If you have an unlimited budget and ample storage space, by all means go on a Williams-Sonoma shopping spree and get the top of the line for everything. But since that probably isn't realistic, my suggestion would be to start with just the basics and grow or upgrade as you develop your own cooking style. For instance, say you just graduated college and literally don't have a pot to your name. I think a good course of action would be to go down to Kmart, buy a not so expensive starter set of pots and pans, and see which ones you use the most. If you find that you've used the big soup pot the most, then feel free to buy yourself a nice Le Creuset pot. 

6) Be your own quality control, but also believe the responses people give you. By this I mean, don't start with the "Oh, you didn't like it then" routine if your husband doesn't go back for thirds. If he told you he liked it, be probably did just that. Especially if you start cooking a lot. He could stomach a less than stellar meal every once in a while, but certainly not every night. But you should also learn to decide for yourself if something came out well. Make notes to yourself (on the actual recipe so that you way you will have them for next time) about changes your would make, or even how you felt the recipe turned out. We are our own toughest critiques.

7) Get organized. Planning and preparing meals will be so much easier if you have everything neatly squared away. This means the pantry, fridge, and freezer, as well as recipes. Personally, I like to do pretty much all of my organizing electronically. I have a Word document with a list of staple items (or items I frequently buy at the store), all categorized by department. When I'm going to the store, I will print off this list, go through it while standing in front of the fridge and pantry and mark off any items we are out of or low on. I can't tell you how many times this has saved me from realizing 3 days later that the sugar jar is nearly empty, right when I'm about to make a batch of cookies. It also helps to have everything nicely organized in corresponding categories once you get it home (baking, oils, snacks, vegetables, etc). Another trick is to lay out the ingredients you will need before you begin cooking. Even pre-measure them like your own little cooking show if you like. This saves you from having to scramble around the kitchen looking for chicken stock while your garlic is burning.

When it comes to actual recipe organization, I'm a big fan of binders and tabs. I have one binder for recipes I've made before and would make again, and one binder for recipes I want to try. They both have identical categories (meat, seafood, appetizers, etc.) making it easy to skim through. I also keep a side folder with recipes that I would like to make in the very near future. That way, when I'm planning our meals for the week, I can just look through that folder instead of the huge binders. I update this folder once a month or whenever it's running low. Google docs is another great way to store recipes you find online. Develop all your own systems though, and use what works for you. 

8) Know that you don't have to be Julia Child, but you also don't have to be Sandra Lee. Everyone has their own cooking style, and yours needs to adapt with what you are given. Cooking shouldn't be an all or nothing kinda gig. So you only have 20 minutes to throw together dinner - use a Rachel Ray recipe and get on with your life. There are no prerequisite as to how long a meal has to take to prepare, or how fancy the ingredients have to be for it to be special. That being said, spending an afternoon preparing a feast for an anniversary or birthday can not only be enjoyable, but also leave you with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Give yourself room to find what works for you, and abide by only the standards you set for yourself. Can you imagine where people like Sandra Lee would be if they told her that using canned biscuits was too taboo? 

9) Share the goods. This is an easy one if you have a bunch of family members in your house, or hungry neighbors who will eat just about anything. But even if you don't have readily accessible taste testers, its definitely worth it to find people to share in the fruits of your culinary efforts. By giving people food, you are not only giving them something that is (hopefully) delicious, but you are also giving them the gift of your time and thoughtfulness. It really touches a nerve with people when you give them something homemade. My mom sends crazy care packages to all her children (including ones to my husbands office - she is the hero of their trading floor and received a standing ovation at our wedding!) every chance she gets.  In these, we are constantly reminded of how much she loves and cares about us. Give cookies to the neighborhood kids, bake lasagna for your friend who just had a baby, or cook a stunning 3-course dinner for you husband on your anniversary. By doing these things you show people you care about them in a way store bought gifts never will. Plus, that warm & fuzzy feeling you'll get inside from doing something nice for others will only help to further your passions in the kitchen.

10) Have fun! Play music, wear a cute apron, get your friends involved - make the kitchen a fun and relaxing place. Stop stressing about whether or not it's going to turn out perfectly. If you actually enjoy cooking and don't take yourself too seriously, there is a good chance that you will be happily doing it for many years to come. Because we do have to eat, you don't want it to turn into a chore or a requirement. So keep things interesting. Try new recipes and experiment with ones of your own. Someone had to figure out that chocolate and peanut butter were a match made in heaven. Maybe you will come up with the next unbelievable combo. Worst case scenario, keep a frozen pizza on hand as backup.  If you enjoy what you are doing, it will show in your food. 

So there they are, the top 10 lessons I've learned in the past year. I would love to hear what you guys think and what lessons you would add! Cheers!

May 27, 2009

Cheesy Rosemary Drop Biscuits

Don't you just love culinary karma. You know, when you stumble upon a delicious recipe and just so happen to have practically everything in your kitchen already. You might even be struck with a great idea on how to jazz up said recipe. This is culinary karma. For the record I also believe in shopping karma - where you put the beautiful, but pricey dress back on the rack and return a week later to see if they still have your size. If so, well, that little number was just meant to be yours. 

Back to the point though, I had a bout of culinary karma the other day when I came across some yummy little biscuits on Everybody Like Sandwiches. I was debating what to have for dinner and had a hankering for some eggs. Since we were also leaving for Toronto for a week (which is where we still are), we had barely anything left in the fridge. When I saw these it was like all the moving pieces came together. Poached eggs over cheesy biscuits - perfect easy dinner. I changed the recipe up a bit to fit what I had on hand, and loved the end result. I think you could really play around with these to find the flavor combination that works for you. 

I will for sure be making these again. They have that perfect squishy, biscuity (I can make up words when it's my blog, right?) texture, and are loaded with flavor. Plus they are as easy to make as cookies. Just mix and scoop. And be sure to grab the parchment paper instead of wax paper though...oops! ;)

Cheesy Rosemary Drop Biscuits
Adapted from Everybody Like Sandwiches, which she got from Bread & Honey
Makes appx. 9

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated jack cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
  • Preheat oven to 450℉.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, rosemary, pepper, and cheeses in a large bowl.
  • Stir in milk and oil and stir just until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to make equal sized dollops onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly golden.

May 21, 2009

Because Cupcakes Are So Last Year

For years, every birthday in our house has included the infamous Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. People line up around the block waiting to get into the itty bitty store in the west village to buy of box of these treasured cupcakes. Truth be told, I'm not the biggest fan of the traditional vanilla or chocolate. They are a little grainy and dry and the frosting makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. Some of the other flavors like spice or red velvet are okay, but they aren't the real star of the show. The real star is the banana pudding. It is absolutely ta-die-for, and has long been dubbed by Brad and I as the best dessert in nyc. 

For his birthday this year I decided to make the pudding myself instead of going out and buying a tub. I was completely shocked how easy it is to make. I was even more shocked that it tastes identical, if not better, than the one from the bakery. Score!! Seriously, if you are a banana pudding fan this absolutely must go on your "to make now" list. And if you are in ny you can also swing by and grab you some of the goodness (Buttercup carries all the same items as well, but wasn't mentioned on Sex and the City, so it's usually way less crowded).

Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding
Recipe Courtesy of More from Magnolia

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix (Jell-O brand recommended)
3 cups heavy cream
1 12-ounce box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (substituting not recommended)
4 cups sliced ripe bananas
  • Beat water and condensed milk together with an electric mixer until well combined (about 1 minute, and be careful, this one can fly every where!)
  • Beat in pudding mix for 2 more minutes.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Whip the cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  • Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding.
  • To assemble, do alternating layers of wafers, banana, and pudding. Make as many layers as you like and divey up the ingredients accordingly (you could also make individual portions in stemless wine glasses like I did).

May 19, 2009

Lunch at Momofuku Noodle Bar

This week is Brad's birthday week. I say birthday week because we literally do a week long celebration (sometimes month long, but that gets a little overplayed). We did a number of dinners this weekend with friends and also with Brad's parents, who were making a quick stop in nyc. One of Brad's favorite places to go in the city is Momofuku Noodle Bar, a small hipster hangout in the lower east side that is the brainchild of the much acclaimed David Chang. They are known for serving up huge bowls of kicked-up Ramen, and have been made famous by the likes of a celebrity flocking - most notably Martha Stewart, who is constantly mentioning her visits there on her talk show.

The noodle bar does not take reservations, so if you don't want to be waiting, you usually have to show up early or at some obscure time. We got there right at noon on a Sunday afternoon and had no problem getting a table, although 15 minutes into our meal the entire place was packed. We kicked things off with the pork buns, which were absolutely off the charts. Succulent pork is encased in the most deliciously tender dough pocket. These little darlings are reason enough to pay this place a visit.

For our main course, we all ordered the Momofuku Ramen, which is the traditional noodles in broth, big pieces of pork belly and shoulder, and a poached egg. I liked it just fine, but my husband, who grew up eating this sort of food, was over the stars for it.

We finished the meal with a serving of their ice cream of the day (which is the only dessert on the menu), a twist of rhubarb and shortcake flavors. Delicious flavor and texture, especially thanks to the little cinnamon crunchy bits that decorated the top. Of course, you could always walk the 2 blocks up to the Momofuku Bakery, which serves up some of the most unique cookie, cake, and pie creations you've ever seen.

Overall, the service was friendly, the food was top notch (seasonal and local to boot), and the atmosphere was comfortably energetic. Considering that Brad is already begging to go back, I certainly think Momofuku will make it on our regular restaurant rotation. Now if I could only figure out a way to snag a coveted reservation at Ko...

So as most of you who have been following my blog know, I don't usually do restaurant reviews. I was under the impression that since most people don't live in the nyc area, the information wouldn't necessarily be useful. What do you guys think - would you like to hear about places we find and love, or would you like me to just stick to the usual?

Momfuku Noodle Bar is located on 171 First Avenue, between 10th and 11th.

May 14, 2009

Burrito in Disguise

I do a little happy dance every time I open the mailbox to find the latest issue of Gourmet Magazine. My doormen and neighbors get a kick out of it, but they've become quite accustomed to it ever since I found this and this, and have since had many a wonderful presents waiting for me at home. After my little display, I hop on the elevator, balance the dog on one arm, water bottle and oversized purse on the other, and attempt to flip to the Gourmet Everyday section. 

This is my most favorite part of the whole magazine. It's generally packed with flavorful and unique meals that can be pulled together in a snap. All without getting all Rachel Ray "add a can of cream of Lord-knows-what." Quick, beautiful, and something that doesn't feel utterly flopped together - these are my kind of weeknight recipes. 

They are also my kind of lunches. Ever since I stopped working I've found lunch to be one of the most challenging meals of the day (did ya'll know I don't work? Well, I don't at the moment. I'm essentially the "real" version of a NYC housewife.) I mean, you want something tasty, but I sure as heck don't want to be up to my ears in dishes and then have to do the same thing all over again a few hours later. So I tend to either go out to lunch with the girls or settle at home with a bowl of cereal. One can get expensive (and fattening!) and the other is just downright boring. That's why I love these quick little meals. A nice meal at home, that won't leave me too run down to actually cook dinner.

This meatless black bean burger is essentially a burrito disguised as a hamburger. It has all the flavors of the typical Mexican fare, it's just served on a bun. A nice, albeit healthy (are you seeing the healthy trend as bikini season is upon us?), spin on a classic. This would also be a great option for any vegetarians out there who don't want to be eating a tofu hot dog at the barbecues this summer. 

I also have a few thank-yous to give out:

- Thanks to Foodbuzz for the wonderful event they put on at David Burke Townhouse this past Tuesday. The food and company were both phenomenal. It's so fun and inspiring to meet people who have a passion for food.

- Thanks to Stonyfield Farm's Oikos Greek Yogurt for introducing me to your product. The yogurt was fantastic in my Milo's Tsatsiki!

- And Thanks to Scate for the Premio MEME Blog Award. You are such a sweetheart! 

Burrito Burgers
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Serves 2

1 (14-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
pinch of cayenne (omit if you like)
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
vegetable oil
2 hamburger buns
sour cream, salsa and lettuce (optional toppings)
  • In a food processor, combine half the beans, mayo, bread crumbs, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and salt, and pulse until it forms a puree.
  • Spoon bean mixture into a small bowl and stir in the cilantro and remaining beans.
  • Divide mixture in half and form 2 patties.
  • Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook patties until the edges are crisped, turning once (about 5 minutes total). 
  • Serve on buns with lettuce, sour cream and salsa.