January 2012

Campfire Margaritas

campfire-margaritas
If you have never made campfire margaritas, do it now. I don’t care if you are reading this at 9AM on a Monday – make these immediately.
John and I made these last Friday for a mini personal happy hour before we headed to dinner. They are so refreshing, tasty, and healthier than your standard margarita made from a mix. Plus it was an excuse to drink out of those glasses with cactus stems.
Here’s what you need:
And if you don’t have an adorable little Italian – looking pitcher that your mom gave you as a wedding shower gift, any pitcher will do.
Recipe
  • 1 can limeade
  • 1 can tequila
  • 1 can diet 7up or Sprite
  • 1 Corona Light
  • Fresh lime (optional)
Pour the limeade into the pitcher, then fill up that can with tequila and then diet 7up, mixing both into the limeade. Pour in the Corona, and squeeze in some fresh lime juice if you have it.
You can serve these on the rocks (that’s what we did), or blend in a bunch of ice and serve them frozen.
These aren’t really a winter recipe I suppose…but there is never a bad time for a margarita. Drink up!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake

double-layer-chocolate-cake
What you see here, is my birthday cake. What you see here, is the best chocolate cake ever to walk this earth. It is so perfectly chocolatey, perfectly moist, and perfectly delicious. The recipe is from the trusted Ina Garten, recipe found here. Don’t ever make any other chocolate cake recipe again, this is the only one you need. The only change I made was I used milk chocolate for the frosting, rather than semisweet.
You’ll notice my slicing technique is sub-par…this cake literally blinds me and robs me of my motor skills.
 That is not my piece. My piece was inappropriate for this website.

Twinkies

twinkies
Don’t worry Hostess, I’ll take it from here.  Next I’ll need the recipe for ho-ho’s and ding-dongs, but I believe I have secured the future of the Twinkie. Even if the company can’t survive, it is crucial that all those delicious products of theirs do.
I had to make these Twinkie’s in the form of cupcakes, because I do not have a Twinkie mold. But really, who has a Twinkie mold? These are delicious.
Recipe
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream Filling
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Beat the eggs, sugar, milk, vegetable oil, and both extracts in a bowl with a standing mixer. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add it to the egg mixture.
Line a muffin pan with muffin tins, and pour the batter in to about 2/3 full. Bake until golden brown…and I can’t remember how long that took. I would check after about 15 minutes, but it probably takes more like 20-30.
Next, prepare the cream. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, then beat with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff.
When the muffins are cooled, inject the cream into the muffins using a cake baster. This can be a little tricky, so you might need to practice on a few.
If you love Twinkies, you will love these!

Meatloaf

Movies truly have a way of inspiring people. They can highlight issues that often aren’t spoken about quite so publicly, and bring a whole new perspective to the mind of the viewer.  I can think of so many movies that have impacted me in some way, whether it be the messaging, the acting, the historical significance, or the simple comic relief. Often, the most significant quotes or lines from a movie are a big part of the lasting influence it has on us. I’d like to talk about one such quote that has left a lasting impression on me. For all the stupid comedies and light-hearted ridiculous quotes Will Ferrell has delivered through the years, once in a while he comes up with something truly genius, truly pivotal, and something applicable to all of our lives.

“MA! THE MEATLOAF!”
Wow. Doesn’t that just hit home? Really, Ma, where was the meatloaf? Why were you not bringing it fast enough? And in a more global and far-reaching sense, why aren’t we (we being society) eating more meatloaf?
Thank you, Will (aka Chaz), for bringing this issue to the forefront. We needed a cold hard dose of reality. Unfortunately, I know exactly why people don’t eat more meatloaf, and in some cases even frown upon it. It’s because ‘loaf’ is in the name. Meatloaf. A loaf of meat. Gross. 
I’m here today to stop the madness and get people on the meatloaf bandwagon; stop being so shallow and get past the name – you won’t regret it.
I got this recipe from my co-worker Trent, and let me tell you it is particularly delicious. The first time we talked about it, he described the meatloaf in such detail that I literally dreamed about it all night long. I think I took the meatloaf shopping with me, and he ended up being a real drag so I ate him. 
Anyway, I made a few modifications to this recipe because we’re not garlic eaters (if you are, you can add up to 3 chopped cloves and a pinch of garlic powder), and we love brown sugar so I added a bit more. Thank you Trent for this recipe – I will be making it again and again and again. 
Recipe

For the meat:

  • 1 1/2 lb ground sirloin (or ground chuck)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1 large onion, chopped and sauteed 
  • 1/2 cup of the liquid mixture below
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce:
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 3 teaspoons worcestershire
  • Splash balsamic vinegar
Optional additions to the baking pan:
  • Sliced carrots, onions, mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 350. Start by sauteeing the onions for about 10 minutes in a little bit of olive oil. In a bowl, mix the meat, parsley, bread crumbs, egg, and onion when it’s ready. Add about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix together all the liquid ingredients. Add about 3/4 cup of the liquid mixture to the meat.
Mix everything together with your squeaky clean hands.
Next, form the meat into a loaf (there’s really no better word here – log, roll, hunk)…in a greased pan large enough to leave some space on the edges.
Pour the rest of the sauce over it…
And now here is a very optional but very delicious step – surround the meatloaf with plenty of sliced onions, carrots, and whatever vegetables you enjoy. We added mushrooms as well, but you don’t want those to go in the oven right away.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables, and sprinkle it all with salt and pepper. Bake for about 1 hour. If you are adding mushrooms, throw those in with about 30 minutes to go.  And finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…
 Soooo good…
 And another shot…
Enjoy everyone. And for crying out loud, eat more meatloaf.

Cheese Puffs

cheese-puffs
I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  Of course in her book, she uses the proper French name for these little puffs of heaven – Gougeres. However, my French 101 is failing me and that word annoys me….mainly because I don’t know how to pronounce it. Also because if I had a dinner party and served these (which is highly likely due to their deliciousness) – I would feel downright silly telling someone that I was serving rib eye, mashed potatoes, and gougeres. So, I’m going with cheese puffs, because that’s what they are. Cheesy, puffy little delicious rolls. So easy and more exciting than a plane jane dinner roll.
Recipe
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated cheese – gruyere or cheddar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Bring the milk water, butter, and salt to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the flour, reduce the heat to medium-low, and whisk aggressively to blend. The dough will start to come together, and a thin crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Continue whisking vigorously for another minute or two to dry out the dough. Transfer the dough ball to the bowl of a standing mixer. Let it sit for a few minutes, then add the eggs one by one, beating each one thoroughly before adding the next. Finally, beat in the cheese. I used cheddar because I love it.
Drop the dough in rounded tablespoons (or a bit larger if you like) onto the lined baking sheets, a couple inches apart.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375 (it is best to bake them all right away, but if your oven can’t fit both sheets, bake in batches). Bake for about 24-27 minutes, or until the cheese puffs are puffed and golden brown.
I served these at dinner a few Sundays ago and they were a hit, but what I did with these little puffs the following Monday was truly cooking innovation at its best. I cut a little slit in the end of a cheese puff, stuffed it with pizza sauce and a little parmesan, and microwaved it for about 30 seconds. It was like a little mini french calzone – and soo soo wonderful. Impressive, I know. It’s shocking I don’t have any cookbook deals lined up.

Mustard Roasted Salmon

mustard-roasted-salmon

Ohhh boy, this was one good dinner last night. My go-to weeknight meals usually include salmon – it’s easy to cook, it’s versatile, and it feels fancier than chicken. This whole meal took me about 30 minutes from start to finish (and included yukon gold mashed potatoes and broccoli), and yet the end result felt a little gourmet. I would even serve this at a dinner party, if I knew everyone liked salmon. But the ugly truth is that not everyone likes salmon. Shame on them.

Recipe:

  • Two 8 oz salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • Lemon
  • Mustard seed
  • Fresh dill (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the salmon (skin-side down if you did not remove it) on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Drizzle the fish with juice from half of the lemon, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix together the sour cream, dijon mustard, and about 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Spoon it over the fish.  Sprinkle about 1-2 tablespoons of mustard seed over the top.
Place the salmon in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler, and broil for an 5 additional minutes. Serve with fresh dill.

 

Yes, that looks like a heck of a lot of fish. Don’t worry though – it suddenly feels quite tiny once you start eating it.
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