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Sorry for the day late, I am living off hotel free wireless which is not always forgivng and I could not get it to cooperate for me last night.
Saturday my sister, who is also the Maid of Honor, threw me a wedding shower. She did an amazing job and it went off really, really well. Having my wedding in New Orleans means that it is too far for many friends and family to travel, and the shower was a nice way for everyone to come and celebrate.
Every year for our family Christmas dinner I make Chex Mix. I pretty much follow the recipe but do have a few tweaks here and there (as you know I always do haha…I can’t ever leave well enough alone). I made some for the shower. Thirst inducing but delicious.
4.5 cups corn chex cereal
4.5 cups rice chex cereal
1.5 cups bite-sized pretzels
1.5 cups bite-sized sea salt bagel chips (or regular sized broken into pieces)
1 cup butter
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp italian seasoning (I am addicted to Penzey’s Spices Sandwich Sprinkle - it is good on everything!)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Melt the butter. Once it is liquid, add in all the spices and seasoning (from Worcestershire sauce on down). Grease a large roasting pan. You can either mix the cereal, pretzels, and bagel chips in the roasting pan itself, or I find it easier to use a large bowl to mix and then pour the dry ingredients into the roasting pan. Yes, it uses another bowl and I am usually all about lessening the dishes used but I find it really does just make life easier to do it this way. And the large mixing bowl can be easily rinsed out after you dump out the cereal.
Carefully pour the butter/seasoning mixture over the cereal, trying to get a fairly even coat. Then mix the cereal to get a little butter on every piece.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Spread the cereal mix onto paper towels to cool and then store in an air-tight container.
I know this seems like a lot of work for something you can just buy in a bag in the grocery store, but trust me… it is much much better if you make it yourself!
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The bar review is kicking my behind (Hi Mom, I know you are reading this… so behind). It is the last test you will ever have to take, they say.. so let’s give up all semblance of life and happiness and anything else that you enjoy in favor of preparing for it.
Thus I have not had much time for baking at all. Which is very sad. (Though I think I have convinced my mom to make my favorite homemade bread for next week…. mmmmmm)
So what am I making to keep myself together though these long bouts of studying? Tea and toast. Specifically cinnamon raisin toast. With butter. Real butter.
I have a slight tea addiction. And by slight I mean 2 - 4 cups a day kind of problem. When I am cold… drink tea. When I am sad… drink tea. Stressed… tea. Tired.. tea. Full from a good meal… tea. Pretty much anytime can be the right time for some tea.
So I drink lots, and find that few things go as well as with tea as sweet delicious cinnamon toast with real butter melting into it, making it both crunchy and mushy.
No real recipe this time… just this enthusiastic suggestion, go make yourself a nice cup of tea (I prefer mine strong, bitter, and black…but no judgment if you want milk and sugar), make yourself a slice of toast and eat in solidarity with me—and all the other recent law grads going through hell as we prepare for the bar exam this July.
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I blame the experiments into sourdough but I have been really into finding interesting ways to make bread rise and unique textures.
Now I know that this might get me kicked out of the country or at least the cool kids club but I hate beer. I can’t stand the taste of it. Or the smell. Or really… anything about it. So it was a very perplexing moment when I found myself standing in the beer section of the supermarket trying to figure out what I should buy to make these bread recipes… I went for the pretty packaging and the local brewery cause.. yeah support local.
I wanted to try both recipes… I definitely think the no-knead one worked out better for me (don’t tell my fiancé - he loves Alton Brown!) but that is not a reason why you shouldn’t give them both a try.
Cheesy Beer Bread
From Alton Brown
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (I use white whole wheat)
1tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (add 1/2 tsp more if you are using a different/less salty cheese)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 1/2 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
12 ounce cold beer
Preheat over to 375. Spray a 9X5 loaf pan with Pam or other non-stick spray.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl (the beer will foam up so it really needs to be a large mixing bowl). Add in the cheese and stir.
Then pour in the beer and stir just until mixed.
Spread the batter in the loaf pan and bake for 50 - 55 minutes.
Remove and cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool another 10 minutes. This bread is best warm.
It has a really good cheesy flavor but also a little bit more beer flavor than the next one, but takes a lot less time and effort to make.
No-Knead Beer Bread
You will need to start this one the day before you make it.
From Sunday Hotpants
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white wheat flour (though you can opt for 3 cups all-purpose flour if you like - or don’t want to run to the store again and get wheat flour special)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp water at room temperature
1 cup beer at room temperature
1 tbsp wine vinegar (we didn’t have any so I used apple cider vinegar and it came out perfectly tasty)
Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Dig a well and add the water, beer, and vinegar.
Mix together until a shaggy ball forms, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 - 18 hours. I left mine for closer to 18 than 8.
Lay a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil inside a 10-in frying pan and spray with Pam or other non-stick cooking spray. Transfer dough onto a floured surface and give it 10 - 15 turns. (Yes, I know, this is called a no-knead bread and here I am telling you to knead it. I can’t make any explanations or excuses for this. It just is. And I guess No-Knead bread sounds better than Knead 10 - 15 Times and That’s it Beer Bread.)
Place dough, seam-side down, into the frying pan and allow to raise until doubled, about 2 hours.
About 20 minutes before baking, place a 6 to 8 quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, with lid on, in the oven and heat to 500 degrees.
Make a slash across the top of the the loaf and, using the edges of the paper or foil, place the loaf (CAREFULLY!!!!!) into the preheated Dutch Oven and put back in the oven, covered for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 20 minutes until the loaf is a nice brown.
Carefully remove the bread from the pot and allow to cool before devouring.
Some of you may have noticed the absolute lack of recipes containing chocolate in these past few weeks. Well, I gave up chocolate for Lent. And it got harder as the weeks went past. Let me just say it was a very happy Cadbury-filled Easter for me.
This week is less of a recipe than an enthusiastic suggestion. Now I know most people, when contemplating a s’more, don’t think: ‘hmmm this really needs more sugar’. But that is where most people go wrong. For you see, it is perfectly, wonderfully, sugar-coma-inducing-ly acceptable to replace the humble marshmallow with one of the ubiquitous brightly colored Peeps lying around this time of year.
Just do it! Your inner five-year-old will be delighted.
So we haven’t cleaned our grill yet. This is the microwave version; feel free to pop a Peep on a stick and hoist it over a flame if you have that option available to you. If you are like me and sticking with the after-school favorite of microwaving your Peeps just… hmmm… don’t over-microwave. Well, do - - - microwaving Peeps is great fun and everyone should do it once in their lives; just don’t do it when you have the chocolate and graham cracker present. Or it would be a waste of perfectly good chocolate and graham cracker.
Put a graham cracker square on a microwave-safe plate of some kind, top that with chocolate.
We use Hershey’s cause that is how it is done. Place a Peep on top of that and zap it in the microwave until things get melty/gooey respectively.
For me it was about 15 seconds but your time may vary. You want enough time for the peep to expand and get gooey but not so much that it becomes inedible.
Top with another graham cracker square and eat. Then repeat. Until the Peep box is empty and we’re all bouncing off the walls. Yea for sugar!
So who is making ham tomorrow? Ok not me, but just in case you are, I made a small ham on Friday to get this perfect recipe for the leftover ham you may find in your fridge (but really this is good enough that you may want to set some ham aside to ensure the leftovers!).
It really is a flexible recipe. It originally calls for frozen peas. We didn’t have any, but frozen green beans are just as good (better says my pea-hating brother)! You can expand it easily to cover more people; just throw another handful of pasta into the pot, splash in a little more cream, and of course, add more cheese. Really, it’s super easy and surprisingly addictive!
Pasta with Ham and Cream
1 cup frozen green beans (or peas)
1 - 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups diced ham
3 - 6 tbsp grated parmesan (plus more to sprinkle on top)
Cook the pasta to package directions. After about 5 minutes, add the frozen beans or peas.
Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain with the green beans. Put the empty pan back on the stove top and heat the cream, ham and parmesan until it is all warm and just about to bubble. Add the pasta and green beans/peas back into the pan, toss everything together and serve.
The sauce is runny. Next time I make it, I think I might start with a simple roux to thicken it.
Top with more parmesan cheese if you desire.
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Ok, first I don’t have key limes. And second, I made it in muffin tins so really they’re more like tarts. But Non- Key Lime Small Pies just doesn’t really sound right. And there is no reason why you can’t make this recipe with key limes… and put in it a pie tin. It’s versatile like that.
Key Lime Pie says summer to me. It hit 80 degrees, the sky is beautiful and I really want it to be summer. So I made these. And they are delicious. And summery. And really easy!
Key Lime Pie
From The Pioneer Woman (mmmmm)
For the crust:
18 whole graham crackers (or one of the packages in the box… cause each rectangle is two whole graham crackers - who knew… ok most people did but not me)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp salt (optional but I like it.. I am a fan of sweet/salty)
Crush the graham crackers. I am a fan of the ziplock bag/rolling pin method but if you want to use a food processor, that will work too. You just won’t get the stress/aggression out the same way.
Pour them into a bowl and mix with the sugar and salt (caution: mix the dry ingredients before you add the melted butter!). Pour in the butter and mix until crumbly but incorporated.
Divide the pie crust among greased muffin tins or pour it all into a greased pie pan and I have found your hands work best here; press it into the pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or until set. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.
For the filling
1 tbsp lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
Mix the lime juice, egg yolks and lime zest in a bowl.
Add in the condensed milk and beat on high until the mixture is smooth and thick.
Divide the mixture into the muffin tins (though be careful not to get the mixture above your crust line or it will stick and burn, I found) then bake for 15 minutes again at 350 degrees.
Allow to cool and then refrigerate it for a good while.
I found overnight really works best but I couldn’t wait and ate one at the hour mark. Still delicious but the filling was pretty runny.
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Sometimes you just want a simpler dinner. This one is easy. Delicious. Few ingredients. Perfect comfort food.
Not to say it can’t be a special meal easily too. My fiancé and I are in a long distance relationship with me in New Orleans and law school and him up in New York City. Valentine’s Day he wanted to cook the same meal even though we were both in our respective cities. This was the recipe we came up with, easy but still delicious and easy to make into a romantic pasta dinner. And the best thing… no worry about garlic breath on Skype!
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks (I have The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook - it is wonderful! Seriously one of my new go-to cookbooks! Check it out)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 15 - ounce cans of tomato sauce
dash of sugar
1 cup heavy cream
grated parmesan cheese (lots!)
1 pound fettuccine
Heat butter and oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté just till fragrant.
Pour in tomato sauce and add sugar as well as salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat 25 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. (This can be tricky, I have no advice.. I wound up with half the water on the floor… keep a mop handy?)
Remove the tomato sauce from the heat and stir in the cream.
Add the cheese to taste (my taste is a lot of cheese!).
Toss the pasta and, if you find it too thick, add some of the pasta water to thin out.
Add in fresh chopped basil and serve immediately!
In my head this is basic bread. This is the go-to homemade white bread. My mom makes it every month for Communion and regularly just for us to eat. It is an easy and forgiving bread (unlike some other yeast adventures I have shared with you all).
Side note: no, I have no idea why it is called Cuban bread - I assume it is a Cuban recipe…. but honestly I don’t know.
From Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads (via my mother)
5-6 cups flour
2 pkg yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups hot water
Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.
Dig a well in the center and pour in the hot water.
Beat well for about 3 minutes. Work in the rest of the flour. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and springs back when poked. (For a more detailed description of kneading see this post).
Let the dough rise for about 15 minutes, then shape into two round loaves. Slice the top of each loaf with a knife. (I tend to be a little over-creative with my designs, sometimes doing christmas trees or abstract boxes or whatever… some are more successful than others.)
Place a pan of water in a cold oven. Place the bread in the still-cold oven and turn on to 400 degrees. Bake 45 - 50 minutes, until the bread is brown and makes a hollow sound when the bottom is rapped.
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A friend requested a recipe like this ages ago (actually the request was more a suggestion for a Christmas cookie). It is a little late but I do take requests and I thought with the red of the raspberry and a handy-dandy heart-shaped cookie cutter these would make a great Valentines Day entry (and something different from all the chocolate).
Happy Valentines Day everyone!
The recipe comes from my father. I have it handwritten on a piece of notebook paper. It is not my father’s handwriting but he liked these cookies and I often made them for him so, even though I know they come form someone else (there is no name on the paper), I attribute them to my father.
I also don’t know why they are called Slavic Cookies.
1 cup butter (and it really must be real butter here)
2 cups flour
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
a few splashes of milk to make the dough come together
small jar of preserves (I am using raspberry but apricot, strawberry, peach use what you like)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks.
Add the flour and splash of milk to form a soft dough. Really you are making a shortbread cookie here. Divide the dough in half.
Grease an 8x10 pan and pat half the dough mixture into the bottom of the pan. Cover that with the jam and (if you like) chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, whatever you prefer or, as I am doing, none at all).
Then take a deep breath because the next step is a little tricky, especially if you have added the nuts. You need carefully to spread/pat/lay the top half of dough over the jam without smearing or mixing the two together. Go slowly, you can do it!
Bake for 1 hour until bubbling and golden brown and delicious.
You can either cut then into squares or use a cookie cutter and go to town. Plus this way I get to eat the scraps after I make my little hearts! Score!
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Sunday, Feb. 5th, is World Nutella Day. Nutella is finally getting popular and I am so happy about it! If you haven’t tried it you should; it is gooey and chocolatey and tasty on everything from grapes to pretzels to bananas and crepes. (If you like crepes which I don’t… but I wish I did. There is a lot of angst there. Don’t ask.)
Back to Nutella. It is delicious. I first ate it in Italy and was hooked. Then add something as delicious as brownies made with Nutella and make simple, easy 4 (ok, I make it 5) ingredient brownie bites and I am completely gonna try them. And they are delicious!
Nutella Brownie Bites
Adapted from Blissfully Delicious
1/2 cup Nutella
1 large egg
1 tsp cocoa powder
5 tbsp flour
1 handful chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin pan (I haven’t tried just Pam-ing the heck out of the pan but that would probably work too. Just don’t blame me if your muffins stick. I haven’t tried it.)
Whisk the Nutella and egg together until creamy (yes it looks like it is just gonna gloup up in the whisk… but that won’t happen. Just keep whisking!)
Add in the cocoa powder and the flour. Blend well. Then fold in a handful of chocolate chips, just a handful; we want to gild the lily not kill it haha.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, 3/4 of the way full and bake 11 - 12 minutes.
Don’t over-bake. The toothpick will have wet, gooey crumbs and you might hit a chocolate chip so that really doesn’t work so great. Just don’t over-bake. (I did the first time I made them… still tasty but not… not the same.)
Allow to cool a little and then devour!
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