Category Archives: Cooking

Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican meatball soup from LaurenFoodE
Last week I spent a full day on the couch due to a wicked case of the tummy aches. Ironically, the Food Network has never appealed to me more. I watched a full day of cooking shows and was actually quite inspired (Little known fact about me: I’m not a fan of cooking shows… I find them quite boring. Give me Kardashians any day.).

In a particularly lackluster episode of Mexican Made Easy, there was a little shining gem of inspiration: Mexican meatball soup. The perky host is one of those people with no trace of a Mexican accent until they’re pronouncing Mexican words and then they’re fresh off the boat from Tijuana. “We’re going to start this taco dish with a TORRRR-TTTEEEEYAAAA!”

Anyway. This soup looked flavorful, easy, and perfect for dinner on a day like yesterday where it finally felt like winter in New York (oh hello there snot-freezing winds, how I’ve missed you). I grilled up some fresh bread and cheddar for grilled cheese and voila: dinner.

On the menu:
Mexican meatball soup
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from Mexican Made Easy

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
2 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
8 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular oregano if it’s all you have)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Yukon gold potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook onion for around 5 minutes, or just until the onion starts to cook but before it turns translucent. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl, combine (by hand) the onion, ground beef, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, rice*, salt, and cilantro until completely combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, wetting your hands with a little water if the ingredients start to stick to your fingers. The mixture should make around 25 meatballs.

In the same large stockpot you cooked the onions in, add vegetable stock, tomato paste, potato, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the meatballs, zucchini, and parsnip. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for around 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Add salt and pepper as needed.

*Note: I know what you’re thinking, raw rice in the meatballs? But it does cook through completely and it is delicious! Promise.

 

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Double Chocolate Cookies

LaurenFoodE double chocolate cookies
I could’ve died for a cookie last night. The BF and I have gone on a major HBO binge and have been watching entire series worth of HBO shows in one go (I’m talking 5 seasons of The Wire in 2 weeks… it’s a sickness, really). And is any TV-watching binge complete without snacks? Of course not. But did we have any freshly baked cookies in the house? No. No, we did not. So tonight, while we embark on the final episodes of Season 1 of Game of Thrones (it took me awhile to get into, but it is soooo good… and those who are attracted to females will like it because there are topless ladies in every. single. episode. yeesh.), I will be eating my weight in chocolate cookies. You should, too.

On the menu:
Double chocolate cookies
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

1 cup plus 1 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, blend together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla extract.

In a separate smaller bowl, sift (or whisk) together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix by hand to combine. Add chocolate chips and stir together.

Drop by Tbsp sized spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9 – 11 minutes. Cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven, but careful not to overbake or they will dry out. Let cool briefly on the cookie sheet and then finish cooling on a rack.

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Steak Salad with Blue Cheese and Tomatoes

Steak salad by LaurenFoodE
This dinner seems like a no-brainer but I needed to see it on another blog to make me think, “Oh yeah… that’s different!” It is so easy, relatively cheap, and takes all of 15 minutes to prepare. You’re welcome.

On the menu:
Steak salad with blue cheese and tomatoes
Serves 2

1 lb. flank steak
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
6 cups arugula (or however much you want – this is the bed for the salad)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan until the oil shimmers. Cook steak on each side for 4 – 5 minutes. Once cooked, move steak off the heat and cover with a foil tent. Let meat rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice steak with a sharp knife into slices, cutting against the grain of the meat.

Plate the arugula and top with sliced steak, tomatoes, and blue cheese.

Dressing:
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients and pour over salad.

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting by LaurenFoodE
I don’t have to tell you about my problem with late night cakes. There really should be some sort of “Late Night Cakes Anonymous” group or something. In any case, it’s putting a reeeeeal damper on Project Lose That Holiday Weight. I may or may not have gained a small amount of weight due to excessive holiday eating (namely chimichangas and In N Out and Jack In the Box, all of which I blame on The BF and his SoCal roots). And I made one of those stupid New Year’s resolutions that I was going to get healthy in 2013, finally join the gym across the street from me, and stop eating as if I was hosting an un-televised version of Man Vs. Food.

But here’s a short story about me: The BF, being a stand up comic, works weekends and a lot of nights I find myself alone with nothing to keep me warm but a kitchen just begging to be baked in. My pantry had pumpkin, my fridge had cream cheese, and I had a recipe and a dream. You know what that means… pumpkin cake.

On the menu:
Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
Makes one 9 x 13 cake

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until combined. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together all ingredients with an electric mixer until combined. When cake is completely cooled, spread frosting evenly over top. Refrigerate cake until serving.

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Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Red velvet cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes are a mystery to me… there is nothing really special about them aside from their color. They’re basically barely-chocolate flavored cake with cream cheese frosting. But when I was trying to come up with a special little dessert for mine and The BF’s honorary Christmas celebration (traveling on Christmas doesn’t really lend itself to hauling around loads of gifts, ya know?), I couldn’t think of anything more perfect than little red colored cakes. And besides that, The BF loves red velvet. So I took a crack at it, threw caution to the wind and added the ENTIRE little bottle of red food coloring, and kind of loved it. Here’s to red velvet. I saw its face, now I’m a believer.

On the menu:
Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp liquid red food coloring
1/2 tsp white distilled vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder together.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until it’s soft. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Add the egg and beat until combined, and then add the vanilla and cream the mixture together.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk with the red food coloring. Beat together on low speed the flour mixture, the butter mixture, and the red food coloring mixture, alternating the flour and food coloring in three separate pours, ending with the flour (i.e.: Add 1/3 of the flour, half the red, 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 the red, then the rest of the flour).

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and the baking soda. Quickly fold the liquid into your batter and then divide into 12 muffin tin tups until each cup is half full (don’t worry, this batter rises a lot).

Bake for 18 – 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one cake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Blend cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and vanilla until combined. Pipe onto cupcakes (or spread with a knife) and sprinkle with green sugar to finish.

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Caesar Salad with homemade croutons

photo
Sometimes I try to imagine what I will be like as a pregnant lady. I’m YEARS away from finding out (PROMISSSSE) but the images still float through my brain when I think about my eating habits. When I made this dressing… I knew. It became crystal clear. I will not be one of those women who asks her husband to go out at 3am for McDonald’s or who starts to eat oranges with every meal. I will be the woman who can’t shake her need for homemade dressing, and who tiptoes to the kitchen at 1am when she can’t sleep to make a triple batch of caesar dressing and then proceeds to eat it with crackers/a loaf of bread/fingers.

I’m more THAT woman.

Even if you’re not a complete psychopath, you will love. this. dressing. I’m not kidding, The BF said this is the best thing I’ve ever made and that he could drink it with a straw. I’m not ashamed to say we ate 3 bunches of romaine and an entire loaf of white bread worth of croutons because of this dressing… it was straight out of National Geographic.

So… try it. That’s all.

On the menu:
Caesar dressing
Makes 2 cups

2 anchovy filets
2 garlic cloves
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup half and half
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or the juice from half a lemon)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra milk for thinning

In a small food processor, blend together the anchovies and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture is completely blended together. If it’s too thick for your taste, add milk a Tbsp at a time to thin it out. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. For best results, let refrigerate over night.

On the menu:
Garlic croutons
Makes approximately 3 cups

1 small loaf of freshly made bread (day old from a bakery is best)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, halved
2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice bread into one inch cubes (tip: freeze bread first to make it easier to cut and reduce crumbs). Melt butter and garlic cloves together in a small bowl in the microwave. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the garlic butter until the bread is coated.

Spread bread cubes on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cubes with salt. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until croutons are browned on all sides (careful not to burn!)

To make the salad: Grill a plain chicken breast with plenty of salt and pepper, and once cooked slice into thin strips. Wash and chop romaine lettuce into bite-sized pieces, top with chicken, fresh croutons, caesar dressing, and a grate of fresh parmesan cheese.

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Mini Ham and Gruyere Frittatas

Mini frittatasEggs are by far one of the most difficult dishes to make for a brunch. Unless you hire someone to work an omelet station, you’re probably going to resort to a frittata or quiche to serve to a group. But even then, you have to slice and serve it… and I was kind of aiming for little to no work during this brunch, you get me? Enter personal sized frittatas.

These are hilariously easy, and although gruyere is on the pricey side, it has that decadent flavor that makes this dish taste way more high end than it actually is.

On the menu:
Mini ham and gruyere frittatas
Makes 12 frittatas

8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated gruyere
6 oz. smoked ham, diced into small chunks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt until foamy. Fold in the ham and gruyere. Pour into the muffin tins until the cups are almost full.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the eggs are puffed up and slightly browned. Serve hot.

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