Friday, December 31, 2010

Eggnog Pancakes

I have a confession.  I've never had eggnog.  I know, blasphemy!  And honestly, after making these pancakes, I really still haven't.  I mean, the eggnog is in the batter... and these pancakes tasted AMAZING, but I still couldn't get up the courage to have a glass of the stuff.  I know getting the store-bought stuff is way different from making my own, but I think I'll stay timid from this nog for just a tad bit longer.  But I don't think I can stay away from these pancakes.  They were just the perfect way to start a lazy Sunday morning!  And who knows... this could be your hangover cure for the morning!

(Don't forget to vote in the poll... I'm making ice cream and I need some input on what flavor to try out of The Perfect Scoop!)

Adapted from Real Mom Kitchen's Recipe

Cranberry-Orange Syrup:

1 & 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup maple syrup


2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups egg nog
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a small saucepan, combine cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, orange juice, lemon zest, and maple syrup.  Heat under medium and bring a slow boil.  Simmer for about 15 minutes, until most of the cranberries have burst or become soft.

Remove from heat and set aside while you make the pancakes.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate medium bowl, mix egg nog, eggs, and oil.

Add egg mixture to flour bowl.  Mix until combined - the batter will be somewhat lumpy still, but that's okay.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet under medium high heat.  Ladle a decent amount of batter into the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until bubbles form. (I like to make pretty big pancakes, but if you want them smaller, go ahead, just adjust the time by about 30 seconds to a minute less!)

Flip pancake over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

Continue with remaining batter until you run out (I made about 6-7 giant pancakes).

Serve pancakes with butter and cranberry-orange syrup.

These pancakes were off the hook!  Seriously.  Best. Breakfast. Ever.  The eggnog provided a distinct flavor that paired perfectly with the citrus acidity of the cranberries and orange juice in the syrup.  Try these.  Now.  For Breakfast Tomorrow.  On Sunday.  Whenever.  Just try them.  I dare ya!

Well, I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Years Eve!  We're not too sure whether we'll be going out or not (Andy has a little stomach bug that he can't seem to get rid of, so I might be the good little fiance and stay home with my poor little guy).  But either way, we'll be together and that's what matters!

* This post is part of Fuss Free Kitchen's Breakfast Club event hosted by Kirithi.  Join in on the fun too by clicking either of the links above!

Anyway, help me pick out a flavor from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop to make next week:

You didn't think I'd let you off easy with Chocolate or Vanilla did you?  I want something crazy, so crazy options is what you have to choose from!

Enjoy the weekend guys!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Will 2011 Bring?

Well, with New Year's Eve being tomorrow, I thought maybe I'd do my top highlights of 2010 and what I hope to accomplish/work towards in 2011.

What happened in 2010???

#1.  I got engaged! - of course this has to be on the top of the list.  And it's hard to believe that it happened almost a year ago!  While normal people don't stay engaged for a long time, Andy and I don't mind it.  Sure... we want to get married.  But weddings cost money.  And when we're ready, and financially stable... there will be a phenomenal wedding, don't you worry.

Zappa: Help me mommy, there is a crazy man behind me

 Yup... I'm marrying him (and no, I do not mean the dog). =)

#2.  I'm still blogging! - I can't believe it.  Almost a year and a half and I'm still at it!  I couldn't do it without you guys!  So hopefully I continue well into 2011 and beyond.

#3.  I made the decision to go to culinary school.  After I finish my bachelor's in Biology.  I've been in school long enough, and I'm so so close to being finished, that I owe it to myself to not just let it go by the way side.  And science plays a big role in cooking, so it may prove to be beneficial in culinary school!

#4.  I bought a new car!  Yep, a 2009 Ford Focus.  Great gas mileage, practical, and gets me from point A to point B.  All I could ask for in a vehicle.  We'll save the shiny sports cars for a later life.

#5.  We went to Savannah, GA.  Although it was a cheap vacation (my brother lived there, so hello? no hotel fees!, but now he lives near West Palm Beach - so you can probably guess what this summer's vacation will be), it was exciting and an absolute beautiful place!

So what do I want out of 2011?  
And although they're numbered, these aren't in any particular order...

#1.  Do more (or at least 1!) Daring Cook's Challenge.  I joined the site over a year ago, but have actually never participated.  I don't know if it was lack of time, confidence, or what... but I'm telling myself that I'm going to challenge myself and do a challenge or two, or three... you get the point.

#2.  Make a cooking video for the blog.  Yeah, me... on the blog... in a video.  It's gonna happen.  I hope.

#3.  Actually make wedding plans.  I want to at least finalize a venue.  We keep going back and forth (mainly because we keep seeing amazing venues) on where to get married.

#4.  Cover more Louisville Food Events.  Louisville has so many food-related events that I'm surprised I haven't attended more of them.  I'm really hoping my sister can pull through and get me tickets to Desserts First (she's working on an internship with a Louisville social magazine that covers charitable events, and this is the first event she's writing an article on!).

#5.  Plan a group vacation.  My group of friends has already discussed this.  We really want to head out to Vegas.  Whether Vegas or somewhere else, we'll have a ball... and probably end up in some sort of trouble.... but that's half the fun, right?

So yeah, simple, achievable goals... right?  Right.

What about you guys?  What do you love most out of your 2010?  And what are your goals for 2011??

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Patties

Just wish I would have taken a picture of the insides!

Peppermint is one of my favorite flavors during this time of year.  It's no surprise that in the goodie bags I made for people this year, I had 2 peppermint treats!  I mean, seriously... who doesn't like peppermint? 

These peppermint patties were extremely easy, and once I got the hang of dipping them in chocolate, were pretty quick too.

Sorry I've got such a short post today, but this month's bookclub meeting is meeting at my house, and that means I've got tons of cooking to do today!  Details will be posted tomorrow, I'm sure!

Adapted From What Megan's Making's Recipe

A surprise is hidden inside!
 2 & 1/4 cups powdered sugar, plus 1/4 cup for kneading and rolling
1 & 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 & 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon shortening

pinch of salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate morsels

In a medium bowl, beat 2 & 1/4 cups powdered sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until just combined.  Dust a work surface with the remaining powdered sugar and knead "dough" until smooth. 

Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (about 1/4 inch thick).  Place the baking sheet in the freezer and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle top of the round with powdered sugar.  Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with round cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze again until firm, at least 10 minutes.  If you want, you can use scraps to roll out and cut out more circles.

Meanwhile, you can make the chocolate coating.

Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.  Do it in 30 seconds intervals, that way you don't burn the chocolate.  Add remaining chocolate and stir until all melted.  Let cool slightly.

This next part, you want to do sort of fast, because the peppermint dough will get warm, and not let the chocolate set properly. 

Take peppermint rounds out of freezer.
Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet. Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate, if necessary (I didn't have to do this).   Place patties in fridge to speed up setting of chocolate.  Let stand for at least 1 hour before serving!

I'm sure even Santa would have enjoyed these!

Like I said, these were pretty easy, and made great goodie bag gifts!  I know, Christmas has passed, but it still doesn't mean you can't enjoy these little guys all for yourself!  Share if you want to!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Keepin' Tradition Alive

Growing up, my family always had the tradition of opening up one gift on Christmas eve.  It was kind of like a "holding us over" until the next morning kind of thing.  Of course we got to pick which present we opened (my parents never left out any of the "big" presents until the morning, of course).  For some reason, I always ended up opening up a pair of socks or clothes or something.  Luck of the draw, I guess.

So when Andy and I had our first Christmas together, almost 4 years ago, I wanted to keep that tradition alive.  Andy and I have always been excited this time of year.  We love getting things for eachother.  If we could buy the world for eachother, I think we would.  But we have to show some sort of restraint, right?  Well, we were pretty close that year (to buying a million presents for eachother... it was somewhat excessive, probably).  And we were definitely excited to see eachother's faces opening gifts up.  So I asked him on Christmas eve if he'd like to do what my family does, and open up one present.  Of course he agreed, and you could see the joy in his face. 

So we each opened up our one present (I can't remember what it was, but I know it wasn't socks or clothes!), and I remember being like a little kid again!  We both looked at eachother, like hey, we don't really have anything else to do for the rest of the night, so why don't we open up the rest.  You know, that kind of look.  So we ended up starting our own tradition of opening up gifts with eachother on Christmas eve!

I can't believe we've made it through 4 Christmases with eachother!  Ever since December started this year, Andy has been doing a countdown of "how many days until Christmas" every day I woke up.  He's just like a little kid when it comes to this time of the year!  But I get the same way.  I think most of all, we get to show eachother how much we do listen to eachother, and know what we like. 

And this year was no exception.  Andy pulled through with some great stuff! 

Andy and I have this tradition of giving eachother a new pair of shoes every Christmas, too!
 And my family did too!

My dad made these cutting boards!
And Andy's parents too!

Love this serving set!

A kitchen torch... WAY excited!
We are both really lucky.  I know that I'm thankful for even being able to have a Christmas, because I know there are people out there that can't celebrate because of various reasons.  So I think the best gift of all this year was being able to spend Christmas with so many people that I love, and that love me in return!

Monday, December 27, 2010

I-Want-My-Warm-Weather-Back Burgers

Hope everyone that celebrated had a festive and amazing Christmas!  I know I did, and I felt extremely loved and surrounded by great family!

I complain when it's too cold.  I complain when it's too hot.  Am I ever satisfied?

Although we didn't get hit quite as bad as the East Coast, Louisville had it's fair share of snow.  We had a white Christmas, which was quite pretty, but enough already.  The snow is cold.  And my dogs are possessed with the devil when they see it.  All they want to do is run around, tugging fiercely on their leashes, making me look like an idiot ragdoll when taking them for walks.  I'm sure it's quite humorous to an onlooker, but to me... it just makes my arms hurt.  And I might have a case of whiplash.  Who knows.

Anyway, I made these burgers with summer in mind.  Although I didn't brave the cold and grill them on the back deck (I'm sure they would have been even better with that smoky grill taste!), they were quite possibly the juiciest burgers I've had in a while.  Andy definitely liked them, as he proceeded to eat two!

Adapted from The British Larder's Recipe

1/2 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, roasted and mashed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Parsnip Fries:

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into fries
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Toss parsnips in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Arrange in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast in oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until parsnips are crispy and browned.  

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan under medium high heat. Add onion and carrot and saute for until onions are soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat off and cool completely.  Then mix in roasted mashed garlic.

In a large bowl, combine onion mixture with ground beef, horseradish sauce, egg, panko, and worcestershire sauce.  Mix well.

Form mixture into 4 decent sized patties (you can make more of smaller ones, if you'd like).  Season outside of patties with salt and pepper, if desired.

Heat frying pan under medium high heat and add a little bit of olive oil.  Cook the burgers for 5 minutes on each side, or under middle is no longer bright pink.

Right before burger is done, you can add some cheddar cheese to melt on one side if you'd like a cheeseburger!

When parsnips are done, drizzle them with honey and serve with burger!

Like I said, these were damn good and juicy!  It definitely reminded me of grilling out (although these weren't grilled) in the summertime.  I want my summer/spring back.  Soon enough!

Enjoy guys!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hummus Sandwiches

Andy is the best.  I can't say it enough.  I don't know what I would do without him.

We've made it tradition that we open presents with eachother on Christmas eve.  Our first year together, I explained to him my family's tradition of opening up one present on Christmas eve and we agreed to do so.  After we both opened one present, we looked at eachother and both thought the same thing - "you wanna open another?"  And so we ended up opening all of our presents!  So we've just agreed to open up all of our presents to eachother on Christmas eve and save our family stuff for Christmas Day.

So "Andy Claus" was very generous to me this year!  He got me a 35mm lens for my camera, which I've been ogling FOREVER.  I can't wait to take some bad ass pictures with it!  I also got a camera bag to lug my little baby around!  Way awesome.

On top of that, he got me various dishes from Sur La Table, which definitely will be making appearances on the blog soon enough!  He's just the greatest!

And of course "Peggy Claus" did some good work too!  He's practically got a finished gym in the basement - I added some to it by getting him some more free weights, a curl bar, and a dumb bell rack.  And I think I did a real good job on getting him a digital camera (A Nikon Coolpix S8000).  He really wanted a camera that shot HD video and this does, and it does it very well, so I'm glad he's happy with it!

Anyway, I thought I'd give you guys a quick recipe today and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!  It's not a Christmas-related recipe, but it's a quick lunch/dinner fix for the upcoming week!  Enjoy your holiday weekend guys!



15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1/3 cup tahini paste
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
juice from 2 lemons
juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
2 teaspoon salt
1 roasted red pepper from a jar


Cucumber slices
Bean sprouts
Cheddar cheese
Turkey slices (optional)
Wheat bread 
Butter (optional)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients for hummus and mix until smooth.  It should be somewhat thick, but still moist.

To assemble sandwiches, butter one side of each bread slice. 

Heat a nonstick pan under medium heat and add one slice of bread, butter side down.  Top with slice of cheddar cheese and cook until cheese is melted and bottom side of bread is browned.  Remove bread and place on plate.  Add remaining slice of bread, butter side down and cook until it is browned, as well.  You can skip this step if you want to, but I want a nice "grilled cheese" effect on my bread.

Top bread slice that has cheese on it with a good amount of the hummus and top with desired sandwich toppings.  I used bean sprouts and cucumber slices.  I added a few slices of turkey onto Andy's (as he wasn't too thrilled about just eating a hummus sandwich).  Place other bread slice on top, cut sandwich in half, and dig on in!

At first, Andy was a little hesitant, stating that he's never really liked hummus.  But I think this went over well, I mean... he ate the whole thing, so it couldn't have been that bad!  Personally, I loved the sandwich and could probably eat it for lunch several days in a row! 

 Again, guys, I hope you have a great holiday and spend it being with the ones you love!  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Even the Dogs are Festive

I've still got tons of baking/treat making to do over the next few days so I thought I'd leave you guys with some cute pictures of our dogs. 

Even they wanted to be festive for the holidays!

All she wants to do is eat the sticks.

Mr. Jangles

"mom, seriously.  why do i have to wear this sweater?"

sniff sniff sniff

"I'm pretty GQ, mom"

Kinda looks like they're in jail.

Happy Holidays guys!

Do you dress up your dogs?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Curried Chicken w/ Roasted Vegetables

I have clarification from my brother, who posted on my Facebook yesterday, that I did, indeed believe in Santa.  For a short period of time at least.  I'm glad I can count on my family to put me in check in those times of forgetfulness.

And by the way, the picture with the chocolates... nobody seemed to get the right treat (but definitely made me hungry with all of your guesses!)... but they were homemade York Peppermint Patties!  Definitely going in the goodie bags!

So for today's recipe I thought I would do something comforting and oh-so-tasty.  One of my favorite types of food is definitely Indian cuisine.  I'm a big fan of curry.  Pair it with a tasty and quick naan, and I'm all good to go.  So when I saw this recipe in November's Food & Wine magazine, I knew I definitely had to try it!

It definitely reminds me of a delicious tandoori chicken, but with a deeper curry flavor.  Without all the mess of the curry gravy (not that I mind that mess at all!). 

Adapted from Food & Wine's recipe

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
1 lb. brussels sprouts, halved 
2 onions, cut into wedges
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
6-8 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
Garlic naan, for serving

Preheat oven to 450 F.

In a large bowl, mix together butternut squash, brussels sprouts, onion wedges, 1/2 cup of olive oil, salt, and black pepper.  Toss until well combined.  Spread onto large baking sheet in 1 even layer.

In same bowl you used for vegetables, mix together yogurt, ginger, garlic, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken thighs and coat well with mixture. 

Place chicken pieces on top of vegetables and roast in oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is starting to develop a brown crust.

Carefully pour off any accumulated liquid in the baking sheet, then return to oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Arrange chicken and vegetables on a platter and serve with warm garlic naan and extra Greek yogurt.

I can not say how easy and delicious this meal was.  Definitely a perfect fall comfort meal and although it's not "traditional" Indian fare... the flavors are there, and it would be a great beginner dish for someone who is wary about trying new types of food!  Give it a shot because I know you'll love it as much as we did!  Enjoy!

Happy Wednesday guys, and if I don't get a chance to tell you sooner, Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I don't think I've ever believed...

He's just a little too "jolly"
... in Santa.  Weird, huh?

Such a cute tin, if I do say so myself.

I mean, I could be wrong.  But I thought about it today.  Did I ever really get excited about that fat man in red?  I remember leaving cookies and milk out.  I remember that.  But did I ever leave them out for him.  Or did I just know that my dad would eat them anyway?

I thought I'd insert a random 'dog on the back deck depressed because the snow is melting' photo

It's driving me nuts that I can't remember this.  Family?  Fill me in, please.

Some goodies lie amidst that tissue paper!
Maybe I am just a scrooge. 

Can anyone guess what these are?

Let's not think about that.  I don't need ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future showing up at my doorstep.  I've got way to much goodie-making to do.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Happy Monday!  Everyone have a good weekend?  We surely did.  And anybody see that Eagles vs. Giants game yesterday?  Purely awesome!  And that's why Philly is going to the Superbowl!  Well, I hope so anyway.

It's going to be a busy week because I'm making myself make a different baked good/treat every day and then by Friday/Saturday, I'll have a variety of treats to wrap up and gift!  I've got some lucky recipients! 

I should have known this by some of the comments on the Chocolate Chip Cookie post, but a Dessert Bread won the poll by a landslide!  You guys must love your breads! 

Lots of people talk about Monkeybread as a treat they remember from childhood or whatnot, but I don't think  I actually learned about it's existence until a few years ago.  So I figured, why not.  Let's tackle it.  I just had one minor setback.  No bundt pan, and I really didn't feel like going out to buy one.  But I also didn't want to change my dish.  So, my inner Macgyver devised the perfect vessel for my Monkeybread.  Basically, if you don't have a bundt pan, take a deep cake pan, or a spring form pan (this is what I used) and place a small heat proof bowl in the center (in my case, I used a ramekin), and voila!  Instant, ghetto, bundt pan!

Adapted from Itsy Bitsy Foodies' Recipe

Bread Dough:

4 & 1/2 cups flour
4 & 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Monkey Bread:

1 & 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 & 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

This is actually the first recipe I've tried using yeast that didn't require "proofing" it first.  I was skeptical, at first, but everything panned out, so you have my assurance that this should work!

In a large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour and the yeast.  Add the water, vegetable oil, sugar and salt.  With a hand mixer, beat on low for about a minute and then increase the speed and mix for a 2-3 more minutes.  Add in the remaining flour until you achieve a good, sturdy dough.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface, until it is smooth and elastic.  Grease a large, clean bowl and form the dough into a ball.  Place the dough ball into the bowl and cover with a damp cloth.  Let dough rise for 1 & 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.  Punch the dough down and divide it into half, and let rest for and additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the monkey bread "sauce", combine 1 cup sugar, brown sugar, milk, butter and 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring the mixture to a slow boil and cook it for about 1 minute, or until slightly thickened.  Remove from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in a shallow bowl.  Pick small portions of dough and form into small balls, until you've used up all the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a bundt pan (or use my alternate pan that I've described above!).

Roll each portion into the cinnamon sugar mixture and layer the balls of dough in your chosen pan.  Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture over the layers.  Pour the cooled sugar syrup over the dough.  Cover the pan with a damp cloth and let it rise for 35 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake the bread for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Loosen the edges of bread from the pan using a knife.  Place a plate over the top of the pan and carefully invert the bread onto the plate (or you can just release the springform pan).

Serve while it's warm (it's better this way!) and with a scoop of ice cream (it's better this way too!).  I definitely liked this, if I make it again, I might be a little more gluttonous with the syrup and double it so the bread is extra gooey!  But the flavor is definitely there!

Hope you guys liked the bread recipe and hope to get some more treats posted this week (but I've got some good dinners planned too, so savory might win out over the sweet stuff!)  Have a good rest of your Monday!  Enjoy guys!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Happy Friday!  I'm off this weekend so it's definitely a great Friday!  Andy and I are about to head out to dinner and have some drinks with some friends, but I thought I'd cap off the week with the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.

The chocolate chip cookie is one of those cookies that, once you find that perfect recipe, you don't switch it out.  One that you always make when you find yourself with that craving for chocolate chip cookies.  And everybody's perfect chocolate chip cookie is different.  I'm a soft and chewy gal.  Andy, he's pretty much a "I love every chocolate chip cookie known to man" kind of guy.  So, needless to say, this was a winner for both of us.  And for once, I made a cookie and had absolutely no leftovers to bring to work.  And I didn't feel guilty.  Is that bad?  Hehe.

What's your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

And don't forget to read until the end and vote in the poll (after the recipe!) for next week's dessert!  

Adapted from Buns In My Oven's Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 stick of chilled butter (8 tablespoons) cut into small cubes
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 & 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat both sugars and butter cubes until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in egg, vanilla, and baking soda and beat for another minute or two.

Mix in flour and salt.  Beat on a low speed until just incorporated.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter onto parchment paper, making your cookies the desired size.  I did a nice heaping tablespoon full on each of my cookies and had the perfect "two-hand" cookie.  You know, the cookie you want to hold in both hands and just grin from ear to ear after each and every bite.  You know what I mean, right?  Right.

Bake in oven for about 16-18 minutes and then cool cookies on cooling rack.  The cookies will be soft and chewy, and gone in no time flat!  You might want to double the recipe if you're planning on feeding more than 2!  Hehe!

Well, the first poll I did went pretty well, so I've decided to do another one!  I have a couple different options so just pick your favorite and we'll see who wins next week! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's Cold.

Yeah, I think the title of this post says it all. 

It's.  Friggin'.  Cold. 

And icy. 

Andy had to bring me to work today because everything was a sheet of ice and I didn't really feel like having my car "accidentally" slide into another car... because I know that's what would have happened if I drove.  I just know it.  I'm proud to say that I maneuvered across the sidewalk without falling, so that was an accomplishment.

Andy's shop closed up early today too, so we got to spend the afternoon together.  Which pretty much consisted of going to get some lunch and currently I'm baking some peanut butter cookies.  Yup, the house smells AWESOME right now.

So hopefully tomorrow will be a little safer on the roadways.  And I definitely know tomorrow is gonna be good anyway because it's FRIDAY!  And I've got the weekend off, so it's going to be splendid!

Have a great Thursday... well what's left of it anyway.  And stay warm!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pan Seared Trout w/ Black Trumpet Mushrooms & Almond Caper Dressing

Well, the weather is supposed to get crazy overnight.  Everybody is all in a ruckus because it's supposed to be freezing rain and snow and all that jazz.  My meteorologist friend said that it's supposed to be at it's worst between 4 and 10 am.  Guess who has to work at 7 am tomorrow?  This girl.

Mr. Invincible (I call Andy that because he thinks that just because he drives a Jeep, he can run over/through anything) is going to have to take me to work if it gets too bad.  I have bad weather driving anxiety (yes, I made that condition up, but I'm sure some of you can relate!).  So here's hoping that it won't be too bad!  But if it is,  I'm sure I'll complain about it tomorrow!

Anyway, I love fast and easy fish dishes, and this is just that!  And I'm pretty sure it's hella healthy too, so you can't beat that, right? 

Oh, and I'd just like to give a shout out to the blog Elly Says Opa! because I actually won my first blog giveaway!  Out of 274 comments, mine was picked!  And guess what I won!  The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, an ice cream scooper (which I've needed for like... forever!), and a $25 gift card to the Spice House!  Pretty awesome, eh?  So definitely check out Elly Says Opa because there's tons of awesome recipes over there!

So let's get to that trout!

Adapted from a Food & Wine Recipe

1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
1/8 cup capers, drained
6 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
8 oz. package of dried black trumpet mushrooms
6 scallions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
2 8 oz. rainbow trout fillets

Place black trumpet mushrooms in a small bowl and add enough water to cover.  Let sit until rehydrated, about 20-25 minutes.

In another small bowl, mix together the almonds, raisins, capers, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and lemon juice.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil under medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and starting to crisp, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the scallions and cook until browned, about 2-3 more minutes.  Take off heat and set aside.

In another skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil under medium high heat.  Sprinkle trout with salt and pepper on both sides.  Add trout to skillet, skin-side down and cook for about 4-5 minutes.  Gently flip over and cook an additional 1-2 minutes longer. 

Transfer trout to plates and top with almond/caper dressing.  Serve with some black trumpet mushrooms and a side salad and you've got yourself one healthy jam-packed meal!

I absolutely loved this meal.  The original recipe called for flounder, but Whole Foods didn't have any this past weekend, so we opted for the Rainbow Trout... it never disappoints!  This was a light, but oh so filling meal and definitely hit the spot!  And hey, it was done in a matter of minutes (if you don't count the whole rehydrating the mushrooms part, of course!).  Enjoy guys!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tis the Season for Lights!

Andy is funny.  He's normally a laid back, care-free kind of fellow that just goes with the flow.  Almost always.  Except when it comes to the subject of outdoor Christmas lights.  He's downright anal. 

Now, I like looking at Christmas lights.  Spending endless hours driving around town looking for the house that has that Clark Griswald effect.  You know, the houses with electric bills that sum up to a whole year's worth in just a few weeks?  Yeah, those are cool.

This is a little too much for me, but would be perfect for Andy. (Source)

But Andy.  Andy acts like he's a Christmas light critic for the New York Times when we're out on these journeys.  He's downright snobby about it.  He says you can't mix colored lights with white lights.  You can't mix light bulb sizes.  Seriously?  Light bulb sizes?  Come on babe.

Don't dare combine these big babies with little ones or the "light police" will come after you! (Source)

And people with only lights around the doorway?  Or just on a couple of bushes?  That irks him.  Irks him A LOT.  Me... I just like looking at the pretty lights.

Ha... I just saw this and HAD to laugh. (Source)

And as far as our house?  Do we decorate the outside with lights?  No.  And I find that funny, considering I'm living with the "chief" of Christmas light decor, himself.

What about you guys?  Are you particular about your outdoor Christmas lights?  Or are you like me, and just like looking at the pretty colors glowing in the dark nights of winter?

And despite our different opinions of Christmas lighting... I still can't help but love the guy! =)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mushroom & Yellow Squash Enchiladas

Happy Monday!  And if you're in any snow-ridden areas, like we are, hope you're not snowed in (unless you want to be!)!    Thankfully, I'll be at home all day, and all day tomorrow, safe and warm... making duck confit - definitely excited about that.

How was everyone's weekend?  Ours was pretty relaxed, just went out to dinner on Friday (at a local joint, the Bard's Town, which was just so-so - slow service ruined it for me, but Andy didn't seem to be phased by that!).  Saturday we went out for some celebratory drinks with our friend's Ike and Becca (who just got engaged so congrats to them!).  And Sunday was just spent grocery shopping, baking cookies, and watching football (Go Eagles!). 

And last week, I experimented with a few vegetarian dishes for dinner, which mostly went over well with Andy.  (Trust me, he wasn't excited at first, but after putting the plates in front of him, he gladly dug in!).  By far, these enchiladas were the fave, so I thought I'd share them with you all!

Adapted from Closet Cooking's recipe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
8 oz. portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 lb. yellow squash, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 thai chiles, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup salsa verde

5-6 small corn tortillas
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet under medium high heat.

Add the onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes or so.  Then add the mushrooms and cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until they've softened, as well.

Add the yellow squash and cook until just tendder, about 4-5 minutes.  Then stir in the garlic, peppers, cumin, and oregano.  Cook for about a minute.

Remove from heat and mix in 1/2 cup of the salsa verde.

Spread 1/4 cup of the salsa verde over the bottom of a ceramic baking dish.

Carefully fill the corn tortillas with filling (I didn't do a good job of this, my tortillas kept breaking, but the cheese does a good job of covering up those imperfections!), and roll them up and place them in the baking dish with the seam on the bottom.

Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of salsa verde over the tortillas and sprinkle on the cheese.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese and edges of the tortillas have started to brown.

Plate the enchiladas and dig in!

This dish packed some heat and definitely gave me the comfort that a good old meat enchilada would have!  It was like I didn't even miss the meat!  And Andy was fully impressed with the dish too!  My little carnivore ate a vegetarian dish!  Woohoo!  Enjoy guys!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Coconut Almond Ice Cream

Happy Friday guys!  Definitely glad that the weekend is here!  I've got to work tomorrow night, but I have Sunday and Monday off, so it won't be too bad!  And no school work to think about, so hey, I'm in good spirits!

I was privileged enough to be a part of a Thanksgiving blogger compilation over at Guerrilla Gourmet.  They did a "cornucopia project" on how people from all 50 states celebrate Thanksgiving and I was lucky enough to represent Kentucky.  They didn't get posts from all 50 states, but they got 40 of them, so that's not half bad!  So hope you guys check out the post and see how different parts of the country celebrate the common tradition!

And, as promised, here's the almond recipe that tied with last week's poll!


Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe

Ice Cream

2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-3 teaspoons of almond extract (depending on how deep of a flavor you want!)
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon coconut rum

Coconut Tortillas & Fruit Salsa

2 flour tortillas
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 egg white
1 mango, peeled and diced
5 large strawberries, diced

To make the ice cream, combine coconut milk, whole milk, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan under medium heat.  Stir in desired amount of almond extract (a little goes a long way!) and bring to a simmer.  Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and cover saucepan with aluminum foil.  Allow mixture to steep for about 30 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the coconut milk mixture.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and heat under medium heat until it reaches a temperature of about 160 F.  This took about 6-10 minutes for me.  Cool the mixture at room temperature for 1 hour.  It will resemble a custard.  Chill in the fridge for an additional 2 hours.

Slowly stir in coconut rum into custard mixture.  Process the custard in an ice cream machine for about 25-30 minutes.  Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least an hour.

In the meantime, you can start on the coconut chips and fruit salsa.  Preheat your oven to 375 F. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cut each tortilla into 8 wedges.  Assemble onto parchment paper.

In a small food processor, combine coconut flakes and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Pulse for about 30 seconds.

Beat the egg white in a small bowl until it is foamy.  Brush the egg white onto the tortillas and sprinkle with desired amount of coconut/sugar mixture.

Bake in oven until tortillas are crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Let cool until ready for use.

To make fruit salsa, combine mangoes and strawberries in medium bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar.  Mix well.

Scoop ice cream into a bowl or, in my case, a margarita glass, and top with fruit salsa.  Place about 2 or 3 coconut tortilla chips in ice cream as well, and dig on in!

Although I didn't use actual almonds, the almond extract provided such a deep flavor to this ice cream, that it was definitely the star.  There were many textures in this dessert, and you would think one would overpower the other, but the crunch of the tortillas, the creaminess of the ice cream, and the sweet bites of fruit all worked together as one, shining together.  Who says you can't have ice cream in the winter time?  In the words of Andy... "ice cream is any time food.  breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  ice cream is good any time.' 

Hope you guys enjoy your weekend!


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