Because: Pancakes = Love

Another post blatantly lifted from The Kitchn because last night I ate egg salad with carrots and pea pods for dinner, and who really wants to read about that?

I want these. A lot. Add a little yellow food coloring to the sun, a little blue to the planet, a little green to the moon (maybe some moon somewhere is green, you don’t know)… What a spread!

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Becca Does Tilapia: Part Deux

As I mentioned before, sometimes being a single lady means eating the same meal over and over and over again until all of the ingredients are gone. So if you have a couple leftover tilapia filets in your freezer, as Becca and I did, you make it work. And if it is warm enough to eat outside, you grill.

On the menu:
Grilled tilapia with pico de gallo
Roasted broccoli with lemon
Corn chips! (optional… obviously)
Serves 2

Tilapia
2 tilapia filets*
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Brush filets with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on a gas grill (or a grill pan if weather, sadly, does not permit) over medium heat for 6 minutes on each side. If your filets are thicker than 1/2 an inch, you may need an extra 2 minutes on each side.

*You can substitute any mild white fish for tilapia here

Pico de gallo (this recipe will leave you with extra, perfect for eggs the next morning or as an accompaniment to late night chip-dipping… ain’t no shame)
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (more or less depending on taste)
1-2 jalepenos, chopped (more or less depending on taste)
2 Tbsp lime juice, or the juice from half a lime
salt to taste

Mix together all ingredients. Let sit for at least 2 hours before serving. Plate tilapia filets and spoon pico de gallo over the top.

NOTE: Can we talk about how healthy this meal is for a second? There isn’t a drop of heavy cream OR butter in it, and only 2 tiny little tablespoons of oil. Don’t worry. I ate a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie for dessert to negate all the vitamins and nutrients I obtained during the main course. Nutritional balance is the priority of my life.

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Sweet Sixteen

When I was 16 years old, I was spending most of my time doing homework or rehearsing for the school play or bumming rides to the mall off of the handful of my friends who had cars and licenses. It was not a glamorous existence.

I’d say this kid is doing alright for himself at 16. Wow.

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Look to the Cookie! Or the rice crispy treat. Same diff.

Inspired by Molly at lv, molly I decided to whip up some rice crispy treats. I loved Smitten Kitchen‘s high-brow take on the standard treat but I’m a little more old school myself. A little more old school, and a little more “how many delicious dessert ingredients can I add to this to make it even sweeter than it already is.” And I love anything that combines chocolate and vanilla. This is what I came up with.

On the menu:
Black and white rice crispy treats

1 stick unsalted butter, divided in half
1 10-oz. bag of marshmallows, divided in half
6 cups of rice crispies, divided in half
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate

*You’re making 2 separate types of rice crispy treats here that will be joined in sweet matrimony by a layer of melted chocolate. So you’ll need two separate pots. Dig?

Procedure: In each pot, melt half a stick of butter. In Pot #1, add half bag of marshmallows and stir until melted. Meanwhile, add cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt to Pot #2 until fully incorporated; add marshmallows to Pot #2 and stir until melted. In a double boiler (or the microwave), melt the bittersweet chocolate.

Assembly: Spray an 8-inch cake pan with non-stick spray. Spread contents of Pot #2 into the pan. Press the mixture down with greased up fingers (I sprayed my fingers with the non-stick spray and it worked brilliantly). Spread the melted chocolate over the first layer, covering the entire layer. Next, spread the contents of Pot #1 over the still-warm melted chocolate, starting with a heap in the middle and using greased up fingers to press the mixture outward, careful not to mix the melted chocolate into the white layer of your treats. Let cool. Cut into squares. Ingest. Enjoy.

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And they call it buona notte…

One of the reasons I love to cook is because I love to eat. And so does my family. The main topic of conversation at breakfast is what’s for lunch, and by the time two o’clock in the afternoon rolls around, all we can talk about is where we’ll go for dinner. So when my mother suggested that I cook the family dinner this weekend, I was flattered and nervous all at once. Let’s just say no one holds back their true feelings when it comes to the quality of a meal.

It was in this vein that I chose an Italian classic, crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best.

On the menu:
Chicken cacciatore
Roasted broccoli with lemon
Serves 4

Chicken:
1 whole chicken, cut into roughly 12 pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like your chicken with a kick)
1 cup dried mixed mushrooms (porcini, oyster, shiitake)*
3 cups dry white wine (2 cups to soak mushrooms**, 1 cup for cooking chicken)
1 cup water
3 cups chopped tomatoes with juice

*Your local grocery store should have dried mushrooms in prepackaged pouches
**Half an hour before you start cooking, put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour 2 cups of white wine over them to soak, soften, and marinate the mushrooms. Before you add the mushrooms as directed below, drain them and discard the used wine

Preheat oven to 350. Toss the chicken in a bowl with salt, pepper, garlic, and a little of the olive oil.
Put the rest of the olive oil in a large skillet and heat until very hot (the oil HAS to be hot to crisp the skin of the chicken). Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and garlic to the pan, and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side (if the garlic starts to burn, place it on top of the chicken).
Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and add the rosemary, turning down the heat to medium.
Add the red pepper and the remaining cup of white wine to deglaze the skillet.
Once the wine has reduced by half (around 10 minutes), add the marinated mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside. Taste the mushrooms and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with juice and the 1 cup of water. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
Return chicken to skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.
Put whole skillet in oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked throught. If your chicken pieces are huge, they may need a couple extra minutes in the oven.

Broccoli:
1 large head of broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
salt and pepper

Turn oven to 450. Cut broccoli into individual stalks. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet so there is space between the stalks. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes. Remove broccoli, toss with lemon juice and a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper. Return to baking sheet and bake for another 8 minutes.

Here are pictures of Wednesday’s carrot cake. WOW this came out well. The cake is dense and spicy, with the perfect complement of smooth, cheesy frosting. The decoration was a total flop, so I’m pretending that it never happened and giving you a picture of the inside instead. Way prettier, I promise.

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Azul Skies Smiling at Me

New York has endless restaurants and it’s impossible to keep up with all of them. Restaurants open and close before you even get a chance to peep the menu, so while I try to eat at as many new places as I can, sometimes I cave and end up at old favorites. I’ve been to Azul on the Lower East Side of Manhattan multiple times (five that I can distinctly recall) and their $19.95 recession special can not be beat: small green salad, 8 oz. skirt steak (tender, juicy, and “holy hell” delicious), mashed or fried potatoes, and a glass of wine. Seriously. Are you on your way there now? You should be.

Azul Argentinian Restaurant Located at 152 Stanton Street (corner of Suffolk and Stanton). The bar serves beer and wine, and beware: vegetarians will NOT like this restaurant. The Argentines like their red meat. My kind of people.


On the menu:
Mixed grill for 2, medium rare (short ribs, lamb chops, skirt steak, chorizo, blood sausage, sweetbreads), with mashed potatoes and salad
Quilmes beer
Malbec ’08 Reserva, Finca Flichman
Vanilla bean panna cotta

I don’t really have to do a Verdict here, do I? I love this restaurant. It was warm out, the doors were open onto the street, pre-smelly-summer breeze was blowing, I had a glass of Malbec in my hand… What was I talking about?

Right. The food.

I have to admit I’m not a fan of blood sausage, but everything else was just as it should be. The skirt steak was seared on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. The chorizo was spiced perfectly and the short ribs had the distinct, salty, beautiful flavor I had hoped for. This was my first foray into sweetbreads and I have to tell you: tastes like chicken.

Oh, and the vanilla bean panna cotta with blueberries? Custard is never my first choice for dessert but this was just what I wanted after the heavy mixed grill: smooth, firm consistency with a light vanilla bean flavor that melted in my mouth. Thanks for dinner, Azul! See you in a couple weeks.

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He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother… but he will be soon, because he’s about to eat his birthday cake

This month my brother turned 27 years old. One year closer to 30. Terrifying. Because I’m right behind him. Remember when we were 5 and 7, Christopher?! I do.

Please note the crimped hair and giant glasses – we’ve always been a stylish family

This year my older brother asked if I would bake him a cake for his birthday. Now, I myself belong to the school of “nuts ruin baked goods” but Christopher wanted walnuts in his carrot cake, so I included them. If you try this recipe, feel free to leave them out. Trust me – you don’t need them.

On the menu:
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

*The only change I made to the Epicurious cake that I link to above is I made a double layer cake instead of a triple layer, and I did not use parchment paper in the baking pans. All you have to do is spray non-stick spray and coat the entire pan, bake for around 40 minutes.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a picture of the finished, decorated cake and a slice of the inside!

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