Thursday, February 7, 2013
Valentine’s Day is here. How did this happen? Is it just me or have we just finished Christmas and New Year? I can’t decide if those holidays were yesterday or a really long time ago. But now here we are on the most romantic day of the year and Ben’s and my first Valentine’s Day as married. Awwww, barf. You thought I was all done sentimentalizing my newlywed status didn’t you? Sorry, we’re almost done with the mushy first year married mile-stones. I promise! Just bear with me through a couple more.
Ben and I just started discussing Valentine’s Day plans, but with him in nursing school full time and clinicals on Valentine’s Day proper we’re pushing back the festivities to the weekend, which I suspect most of the population is doing as well. Bravo Valentine’s Day, you are oh so convenient.
The celebration will consist of a dinner out somewhere, presumably somewhere we have a gift card too – since Ben’s parents give us giftcards to restaurants so we can go on date nights and step away from the books and computer long enough to interact (imagine that!) and if I’m really lucky Ben might even (GASP!) buy me carnations. Ever the romantic, Ben hates buying flowers because they’re So expensive and they - die. It’s, in his eyes, paying money to watch something die. See, romantic. Carnations on the other hand, he will get me because no matter what it takes a month to kill them. So he’s getting his monies worth out of them and I get flowers, even filler flowers, and stop nagging him about doing something romantic for me. He says “nagging”, I say “encouraging”. Potato, pototo.
But even if flowers aren’t his way of showing me he loves me, I can live with that – because he builds me stuff. My wedding gift was a 6 shelf gorgeously dark brown stained bookcase he build with his own two man hands. He’s already been commissioned to build me the rest of the furniture for our future house.
Regardless of our differing views of the holiday, romantic or forced-consumer-driven-holiday-contrived-by-card-manufactuers, I am looking forward to another day that I can show my husband that I love him dearly, despite his annoying habit of placing dirty dishes in my just cleaned sink, and be thankful that he puts up with my equally annoying habit of throwing a pile of clothes at the end of the bed that Huck lays on and gets all hairy. Or having five stacks of cook books strategically placed around the house. Or Downton Abbey replaying on an endless loop in the house.
Bless that man and his unending patience. I am beyond thankful for his patience, his drysense of humor that still catches me off guard, getting me hooked on the Office despite my STRONGEST objections to its awkwardness as we were dating, and him having hugs that can make the worst of days suddenly turn around and for putting up with Huck no matter how ridiculous the mutt is. One Valentine’s Day down and 60 more to go. I love you hunny. Really, really.
Now – for the reason you’re all here – mushy crap aside – THE CAKE!! It’s UBER Romantic. It’s got fresh strawberries and champagne in it, which just screams Awwwww!!! The cake is dense but tender, with champagne that cuts the sweet and a swiss meringue frosting that is chock FULL of butter – but is uber light and fluffy, positively MELTS in your mouth. I would love to say the the fresh strawberries make it healthy, but that would be an outlandish lie.
I guess that just means you have to make it for yourself this Valentine’s Day and find out! No, do it now – Because, I’m not kidding – this is Roll Your Eyes into the Back of your SKULL insanely amazeballs.
I would highly suggest you share this with EVERYONE you know, and spread the love and butter (SO MUCH BUTTER) this Valentine’s Day. They will love you right back.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
You’re all going to kill me now, I just know it. That is if you hate butter – but since you’re on this little blog, you might not hate me (your jeans might, I know mine do) cause we talk butter alot. Like, an obscene amount. Totally. Sorry, the Valley Girl in me slipped out.
Well we’re talking butter again and a perfectly great use for butter that will infuse an infinite amount of flavor into your dish in one fell swoop. And, it’s fabulously easy. Compound butter is just a fancy way of saying that butter has a bunch of other
crap in it spices and flavoring in it. Compound butter can range from savory, spicy to sweet – it’s wonderfully versatile. Pop a couple of compound butter coins under the skin of a chicken to moisten the bird as it bakes or slather it on a good piece of bread, my chosen vehicle of maximum butter absorption. Just being honest.
Source yourself about 1 cup of butter that has been softened, or sat at room temperature until soft.
Place it into a bowl and grab a scraper or rubber spatula. Along with a few cloves of roasted garlic. Have you roasted your own garlic yet? Make sure you catch up on your previous How-Tuesdays with the step by step on how to roast garlic.
Get a few of your favorite spices on hand and for the one cup of butter I use a total of 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon of spice. And that’s pretty generous. It is definitely up to your taste. I really love this McCormick Tuscan seasoning blend. It’s chock full of rosemary, thyme, garlic, red pepper, and lots of fabulous things. It’s my go-to seasoning blend for just about anything savory.
Spoon in your desired amount of seasoning and give it a stir until everything is all blended and evenly dispursed.
Next, source some plastic wrap or parchment paper. I didn’t have any parchment on hand, so I went for the plastic – but parchment does a much better job of shaping a roll of butter.
Dollop your newly compounded butter onto the plastic wrap or parchment and fold the wrap around butter shaping it with your hands into a log. If you have a spatula or bench scraper, push the butter into log form by pushing and tucking the folded and wrapped parchment around itself. I went for the “just use your hands technique” so I didn’t tear up the plastic wrap. It doesn’t look as pro or fancy as the parchment-perfect version, but it all tastes the same. And that’s what matters.
Wrap the remaining plastic wrap around the butter, and if using parchment twist the ends to seal it together. Place it back in the fridge to solidify and then you’re off to the races. Compound the hell outta some butter!
Click below for 10 additional compound butters and the how-to recipe to save or print.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
What is your favorite part of Super Bowl? Is it the commercials? The food? Or the, dare I say, GAME?! I’m partial to the food and commercials myself. My team, the Seahawks, yet again didn’t make it to the big game so I’m just gonna sit back, pretend like I care and wear my super stretchy yoga pants and have a beer or
But if you’re scrambling for ideas for the big game is tomorrow and if you haven’t figured out who you’re rooting for or what you’re serving at your game day extravaganza I’ve got a list of 25 Super Bowl recipes for your game day feast that will make those indecisive decisions a little more decisive-able. Sure, it’s not a word but you get the point.
Go get your game-food-face on! And stretchy pants.
Appetizers and Snacks
Adobo Bacon Ranch Dip
Beer Battered Cheese Curds
Roasted Tomato Brie Dip
Honey Mustard Pretzels
Pineapple Black Bean Salsa
Sweet and Spicy Baked Coconut Shrimp
Cantaloupe Bruschetta with Proscuitto and Balsamic Glaze
Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade
Brie and Asparagus Perogies
Burgers and Sliders and Things Between Bread
Buffalo Chicken Sliders on Pretzel Rolls
Copper River Salmon Burger
Steakhouse Marinated Portobello Burger
Friday, February 1, 2013
Is it really Friday? Really? Well in that case – I have cookies for you. We’ve made it through another week which means we’ve earned it. How does a thick, chewy brown butter white chocolate macadamia cookie with roasty toasty coconut sound? It’s practically a vacation wrapped in butter! Brown butter to be specific.
I can’t be the only one who is over the cold and ready for winter to be over. You, too? I knew we could be friends. To help get through the gray of Seattle, I’ve been spending far too much time pursuing Costco Travel searching out vacation deals although I have no intention of going on any of them. Hawai’i has been top of my list, mostly because Ben has never been there before. I’m rather partial to Maui myself… so I’ll dream of visiting the beach, getting a tan, and having a little umbrella drink in my hand 24/7.
But then that also means I would have to cut out the cookies, danishes, all manner of sweets to make sure other beach combers don’t get freaked out over the beached whale on the beach towel next to them and call for a marine rescue crew to throw me back into the sea.
Brown butter is really a great addition to these cookies because of the warm and cozy toffee-esque taste that comes off those toasted milk solids. And it’s really easy to do at home. I keep a stash of brown butter in the fridge for those times when I need it immeidately. Have you ever tried making your own brown butter? Try this quick how-to brown butter tutorial and you’ll be ready to go.
Now whisk yourself away on a vacation via cookie. It sure beats flying! And bikinis.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I blame my mother for these.
She’s a terrible influence. And by terrible influence, I mean the best person in the whole world!
My mom hates texting. Or at least used to hate it. By no means is she a texting savant… for example, she used to have to call me when I was away at college to ask how to turn on her laptop. No joke! But then, something all changed when she got an iPhone and officially became cooler than me – she actually TEXTED me!
And from time to time she will send me random “I love you, hugs mommy” texts, and then somedays she sends me photos of her and my step-dad’s latest cooking creation. This weekend is was step by step photos of how to make these Buffalo Chicken Sliders. I take back what I said about my mom being a terrible person. They both are. Terribly awesome.
Saturday night Beka and I sat at my favorite restaurant here in Seattle with a couple girlfriends, drinking copious amounts of wine, sitting by a fire and enjoying a couple of hours sans husbands, children, dogs, and discussing the virtues of kids earlier versus later in life and how to cope with difficult mothers in law and husbands with hilarious quirks and far flung dreams of leavin’ it allll behind like a bad 70′s disco song to adventure to lands out yonder with no plan other than “let’s get a van and go”. Ohhh, husbands.
Then more wine was consumed.
In between the hilarity of it all – my phone started to light up repeatedly and unlocked it as soon as I saw “Mom” pop up continuously. Nothing like a slew of text messages from your non-tech savvy mother to insight panic in a daughter! It was probably payback for something I’d done long ago…
But it wasn’t anything to worry about – it was sliders. THESE Sliders.
I love my mommy.
Buffalo chicken has an almost Pavlovian response and then all I can envision is stuff slathered in buffalo sauce. It’s insane.
Despite all of Saturday’s wine and good food – I woke up Sunday with an undeniable urge to make these. The urge so intense, I brave Costco on a Sunday to make sure I had the perfect pretzel roll. If that doesn’t explain how primal this urge for buffalo was, I don’t know what does.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Soup season is well under way and it shows no sign of slowing down. There is nothing better than a big Olympic sized swimming pool bowl full of soup. Let’s just dive in an slurp our way back to the top. Deal? Good. Synchronized slurping, it’s gotta be a thing.
Learning how to make chicken stock at home is simple and tastes way better than the stuff you can buy at the store. And it can be done with simple veggies you probably already have in your house. You’re just a few steps away from making your house smells like grandma’s used to when you were a kid.
Step one is to source yourself the remnants of a roasted chicken, a boat load of veggies, and a big stock pot or dutch oven.
In the stock pot heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and place in quarters of one onion over medium heat allowing the onion to start to brown. Slice up three stalks of celery and two large carrots adding them to the onion and browning them as well. Stir when you feel like it and allow them to start to break down slightly. About 10 minutes or so.
Once the veggies have brown, add in the dinner formerly known as roast chicken to the top of it – skins, bones, and what is left of the meat, too. Top with 2 quarts of cold filtered water, salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary to taste and cover.
Go about your day, cuddle with your hunny on the couch and pop in a movie as your stock simmers away for at least two hours.
Once the veggies and chicken have broken down it’s tim to strain. Into a large bowl with a fine mesh stainer pour the stock through to remove the large chunks of vegg and chicken. Next, add a double layer of cheesecloth to the strainer and pour through again to remove the finer particles. After letting the stock sit for a few minutes some fat will rise to the top. Gently scrape from the top of the stock and discard.
In my case, I wanted freeze my stock – pouring four cups into heavy duty freezer bags. Seal the bags and lay them flat on a large cookie sheet and freeze. When they are frozen and flat, the bags can be easily stacked in your freezer.
Next time you have a hankering for grandma’s prized soup, you’re one step closer to the promised land. Or promised soup? Either way – you’re the winner.
Get this prized recipe below and get cooking!
Monday, January 28, 2013
Life is all about balance.
And chocolate. Naturally.
With the new year came resolutions, and hopefully you’re well on your way to keeping them. It sure isn’t easy (Jillian Michaels your DVDs are slaying me!) , and depriving yourself of all the greatness that is chocolate just isn’t acceptable! When I was contacted by Brookside and asked if I wanted to try out their chocolates as part of a balanced life healthy life style, I blinked a couple of times at the words “chocolate” and “healthy, balanced lifestyle” sitting right next to each other – and then shouted a resounding “YES!”, then calming down long enough to politely accept their generous offer.
I was antsy for days waiting for the UPS guy to arrive, and then tore into each bag to test out the three varieties of dark chocolate that Brookside offered. Between the Pomegranate, Acai and Goji berry – it was almost too hard to decide, but I think Goji came out number one in my book.
Brookside combines their quality dark chocolate with exotic fruits that will tantalize your taste buds and quickly become part of your balanced and dark chocolate filled lifestyle.
Initially I wanted to bake something with these fantastic chocolates, but after my first bite that plan went right out the window – along with my self control. And when you try them, you will totally understand.
One lucky winner will also receive a Brookside tasting kit filled to the brim with things to help keep your healthy living right on track, with a few little extras thrown in to make sure you’ve enjoying the new year in style.
Brookside Chocolate Tasting Kit includes:
1 pkg. Brookside® Dark Chocolate Pomegranate
1 pkg. Brookside® Dark Chocolate Açai with Blueberry
1 pkg. Brookside® Dark Chocolate Goji with Raspberry
3 serving bowls with a central loop handle (each bowl is an 8 oz. well)
Stainless Steel Server
Cheese Grip Board
2 Stemless Wine Glasses
Grocery Gift Card ($30)
Gaiam® Exercise Headband
1 year subscription to Fitness Magazine
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. I was given 1 tasting kit myself to try and 1 will be given away on behalf of Brookside Chocolate.*
Friday, January 25, 2013
In high school one of my closet friends always made me a new pair of flannel pajama pants and her homemade biscotti for every occassion – my birthday,Christmas or just because. For graduation she made me a Quillow. No joke, 8 years later I cuddle the hell outta that thing. I had countless pairs of fluffy, cozy pajama pants in the most adorable theme prints and loads of crispy, crunchy, absolutely life changing homemade biscotti. Bethany’s biscotti lives in my memory. And now, I have my own homemade Pomegranate White Chocolate biscotti blend to live and linger on my taste buds and flood me with happy memories of a dear old friend.
Pomegranates are everywhere now – and they are positively fun to break into. I can’t help but stare at the little red jewels. Can you make earrings out of these? Just asking.
If you’ve never cracked into one of these beauties before, learn how-to open a pomegranate with a simple tutorial from Dara of Cookin’ Canuck that will make this process a breeze. You can’t not learn this – because the pom arils are to die for.
The poms in this biscotti go great with crushed cashews, lemon zest and well, naturally white chocolate. Duh. I am all for dipping my biscotti in a little Earl Grey and letting the white chocolate melt and swirl and sweeten the tea just a tad. Can’t you just feel the class in these biscotti?
Pinky fingers up people.
Someone else was quite possibly more excited about these biscotti than I was. And he worked those sad, pathetic seal eyes like none other.
This weekend is his 5th Bark-Day and old bones McHuck is showing his age – gray face and all. As a pre-BarkDay gift, he even got his own biscotti. That’s how much of a sucker I am.
Pomegranate White Chocolate Biscotti
Yield: 10 Biscotti
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 80 Minutes
Total Time: 90 Minutes
2 cups AP Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
3 whole Eggs
¾ cup Pomegranate Seeds
1 tsp Vanilla
½ tsp Lemon Zest
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Baking Powder
⅔ cup Cashews, chopped
1/4 tsp Salt
½ cup White Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds.
In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Create a well in the middle of the flour.
Fold the egg mixture into the flour and add in cashews, mixing until everything is mixed together. The mixture will be very tacky, so use your hands if necessary.
Roll the dough into a ball, coating the outside with flour to reduce the tackiness of the dough.
Place the dough on a heavy duty non stick baking sheet and form into a 6” by 12” log.
Bake for 50 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut the log width-wise into 18 ¾” biscotti wedges.
Place each piece back onto the baking sheet and bake an additional 30 minutes.
When biscotti have cooled, gently melt white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl until they have just begun to melt. Stir white chocolate chips until melted smooth. Dip the bottom of each biscotti into the white chocolate chips. Invert biscotti and allow to cool. Or drizzle white chocolate over the top and allow chocolate to harden.
Remove from oven and cool. Serve with tea or coffee.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
They say that sharing is caring. Sharing colds though? Not so caring. In Ben’s and my case, he got sick right after new years, then oh-so-lovingly passed it on to me. And two weeks later that dang cold is still hanging on for dear life. He’s just now coming around to kissing me again. Two weeks without a kiss from your husband – torturous. (Especially when he’s got a full on mountain man beard going. Beards are hot, period.)
But now, thankfully, I have a cure all for any cold out there in the form of this 40 Clove Garlic Soup. It’s also a one-two punch for repelling sparkly brooding vampires from Forks, too.
Finally this wicked cold is making its final exit and I am slurping up this soup not just for its cold curing compounds but because it is -
Just. So. Dayuuumm. Gooood.
Oh, are you still reeling from my mention of 40 cloves of garlic in this soup? Just sit back and let it sink in.
Yes, I did say FORTY cloves. Remember yesterday when I mentioned that you HAD to come back today to see what I was doing with all that roasted garlic I showed you how to make for How To Tuesday, this was it.
The roasted garlic has a mellow and slightly sweetened flavor that is just buttery and incredible – unlike it’s abrupt and pungent raw counterpart.
And with the healing mystical powers of garlic behind this soup , it is just the ticket to clearing up your cold warming you from the inside out.
Let’s just not even get me started on the slightly spicy parmesan crusted croutons on top of this soup. I’m pretty sure the best part of making soup is having a ginormous slice of ultra crusty bread served right next to it – just so you can swirl it around in the soup and clean the bowl in one fell swoop. It’s the classier alternative to just licking the bowl.
These croutons soak up obscene amounts of soup and just melt like buttah. Toss big ol’ hunks of bread in a little olive oil, a whole lotta spice s and a sprinkling of parmesan and toast them crostini style in a saute pan – your life is now officially made.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Is it just me or is garlic the one herb, spice or seasoning that you can add to any savory dish to make it magically better? I’m pretty sure it is pure magic. Roasted garlic even takes the mystical, magical powers of garlic to a whole new level, evening out the pungent flavor with a glorious warm, hearty flavor that is so mellow it’s practically calming. And roasted garlic doesn’t seem to have nearly the room clearing capabilities as its raw counterpart. WIN!
Making roasted garlic is very easy to do at home, taking only 30 minutes and lending its powers to all the dishes you create from here on out. Like tomorrow’s recipe – you HAVE to come back tomorrow to see what I’m talking about. Trust me – it’s garlicky and sooo goooouuuddddd!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Source yourself a couple of heads of garlic and with a sharp knife, lop off the first ½ inch of the top of the garlic heads.
Place the heads of garlic onto a foil lined baking sheet. Pour a hefty dose of olive oil over the top of the garlic. Don’t be afraid – just go with it.
Now bake for 30 minutes. You house will fill up with the wafting smells of Garlic Angels and you will feel this inextricable urge to slice off a thick piece of bread and slather still warm roasted garlic over the top. Again – just go with it. There are no heroes here.
To remove the garlic from the skins, gently peel the cloves apart and squeeze the cloves out from the skins. The skins may flake apart just make sure you get all the garlic and not the skins mixed in.
And for the love of all that is holy beware of garlic skin paper cuts. I’m pretty sure it is the culinary equivalent of bamboo under your finger nails – oh wait, and that’s exactly where I got cut. AHHHH!!! Just be ginger with it, that’s all I’m sayin’. Looking out for you. Public service.
Add roasted garlic in place of your usual raw garlic and see what a drastic difference it makes. You can thank me now or later. Just kiddin. Or am I?