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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Marshmallows! Need I say more?

Marshmallows are those lovely, soft, pillowy delights that everyone remembers roasting over a campfire, devouring stale at Easter, and watching melt away in your hot coco. Although they're ridiculously messy, they're quite easy to make, as long as you prepare yourself.

Because it's the holidays, I amped these up a tad by dipping them
in chocolate, sprinkling with candy cane, and making
them into adorable little lollipops.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wakey, wakey... Eggs cupcake-y!

Well, not really cupcakes, but frittatas...made in cupcake pans! These are the perfect crowd pleasers. They also make an awesome grab-n-go breakfast.
These cute little bites are easy and super customizable. Everyone can have exactly what they eat, and no extra dishes. I hate dishes...

Anyways. Cut up whatever fillings you want. Cheese? Broccoli? Bacon? This is the time to let you inner creativity shine.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Next, lightly oil your muffin tins. Whisk up 6 eggs, a splash of milk (about an ounce), and some salt and pepper. Seriously whisk these. I'm talking super fluffy.
Sprinkle your toppings of choice in each muffin tin, then fill about 3/4 of the way up with eggs. Pop these cuties in the oven for 12-15 min. When they are slightly golden and have no shiny wet eggs left, take them out and let them cool in the tins for a few minutes.

These ones I whipped really really really well,
then added some potatoes and onion...mmm...
Need some filling inspiration?
... Tell be about your creation!

• feta, spinach, tomato
• ham and swiss
• sweet potato, cheddar, broccoli

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black bean soup

This is one of those great dishes you prep then forget. I like to soak overnight, then let it simmer away, perfuming my house with deliciousness, all day long.

Yield: 6-8 big bowls
Time: about 3 hours (not including bean soaking time... The longer it bubbles away, the more deliciously tender the beans become)
• 1 med yellow onion, diced
• 1 carrot, diced
• 1 bag dried black breans, soaked overnight and rinsed/water changed several times
• 2 bay leaves
• 3 Tbs cumin, divided
• 1 Tbs paprika
• 2 tsp pepper flakes (I have really yummy jalapeño fakes!)
• 1 tsp (heaping) pepper flakes {I have smoked ones that are great in bean dishes}
• 1 tsp thyme
• 1 1/2 qts chicken stock
• a few Tbs oil

Sweat carrots and onion until just tender. Sprinkle paprika, pepper flakes, and about 1/2 of the cumin. Add (drained and rinsed) beans, stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a slow simmer and cover loosely wit a lid. Stir every now and then.
3(ish) hours later...
Taste test time! Adjust salt and pepper, along with other spices. Always salt at the end; salt tends to intensify during the cooking process.
Once you have it just how you like it, soup's on! Add a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cilantro... ta-da!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Udon at home... Quick and easy

I have a slight obsession with all things noodles. When I was a kid my dad dubbed me a "pasta-tarian" due to my abnormal love.
When it comes to Japanese cuisine, udon is where it's at. Those giant pillow noodles designed specifically for slurping are absolutely perfect. If I'm checking out a new Japanese place, this is the dish I base my entire opinion of the establishment on. I looooove udon noodles.
Every time I went to an Asian market, I'd fill my basked with shrink wrapped joy. And imagine my absolute glee when I discovered my regular supermarket had begun carrying my favorite brand! Needless to say, they have officially found a permanent home in my pantry.

Yield: 4 ginormous bowls
Time: about 20 min

For the udon:
• 5-6 C water
• 2 pkgs udon noodles (throw away the flavoring packs... It's so easy to make your own broth)
• 2 pkgs instant miso soup (my favorite is Trader Jose's)
• 4 C shredded kale or other green... Savoy cabbage is great 
• 1 carrot, thinly cut on a bias
• 1/2 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
• 1 soft boiled egg per person (about 3-4 total)
• vegetable oil for sautéing

For the scallops:
• 10 large scallops (approx. 1#)
• 2 Tbs soy sauce
• 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
• 1 Tbs vegetable oil

Remove scallops from the fridge and put them in a mixing bowl. Combine soy, vinegar, and oil over the scallops and gently stir to coat. Set aside. (Leave them out to allow them to come to room temperature so they won't over cook... Kinda like a steak.)
Heat large pot over med-high. Add oil and onions. Sweat the onions for about 3 min. Add greens and carrots. Cover and wilt for about 7-10 min. You want the carrot to still have some crunch. Mush is no fun. Once the greens have wilted, add the water and miso powder. Bring to a boil.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet. When the oil begins to ripple, place the scallops in the pan. Do not over crowd them, as you want them to sear, not steam. Once placed, do not move them for at least 2 min.
Add udon noodles to boiling soup base. Stir, and cover.
Flip scallops over mad sear on other side until just cooked through. About 2-3 min. Remove from heat. The cooking time of the scallops really depends on how large they are. Most only take a few minutes per side. Also remember that they will be taking a hot bath in soup, and that will continue to cook them a bit.
To assemble the soup, place one soft boiled egg your bowl. Ladle soup over the egg to reheat it. Place 2-3 scallops on top.
Traditionally, poached eggs are served in udon, but i find it much easier to used soft boiled. You don't have to worry about timing or breaking the egg, etc.
Serve with Japanese pepper flakes... If you like it spicy.
I love breaking the egg so that the yolk can thicken the broth a little. This is definitely a dish where you can play with your food. Time to slurp and enjoy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas cookie cocktail

I wanted to try a new drink last night and came up with this while fiddling around the bar. It tastes like exactly what, well, the holidays! Mmmmmm...

• 1 1/2 part Irish cream liqueur
• 1/4 part peppermint schnapps
• 1/2 part golden or dark rum
• 1 part heavy cream
• 2 parts cooled coffee
• crushed gingersnaps (to garnish)
• mini candy cane (to garnish)

Prepare your glass with the crushed cookies ( I swirled some melted chocolate in the bottom of the glass too) and put it in the freezer to get nice and frosty.
Combine liquids in a mixer and shake vigorously with ice. The mixture will become slightly frothy, and extra icy... Mmmmm.
Strain into your favorite martini glass, ignore the calories until New Year's day (uh-huh, sure... like I'll actually end up at the gym) and enjoy!

Mistletoe Martini

I generally tend to think of melon during the summer, but this particular drink is yummy all year round... that and it's ridiculously festive looking.
  • 1 part melon liqueur
  • 2 part gin or vodka
  • Splash dry vermouth (optional)
This one is as basic as it gets. Shake, then strain. The fun parts are the garnishes. Lemon twists taste great, but during the holiday season, I like a pretty sugar rim. Try using colored sugars, maraschino cherries, cranberries, pomegranate seeds... anything to add a little pizazz.
Time to sit back, and sip. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Window Cookies

This recipe is really fun, and it happens to be a 2-in-1. They're part cookie, part candy. They definitely require a little patience, as there are several steps, but if you want to look like the next Martha Stewart at your holiday cookie swap, this is a pretty sure bet.

Yield: approx. 3 dozen

For the cookie: (this is a basic sugar cookie recipe, but can be swapped out with any dough well suited for cut out cookies...or if you were invited to a party, let's say tomorrow, just use refrigerated sugar cookie dough.)

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • Lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 1 C butter (preferably unsalted, but it won't ruin your cookies either way)
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 Tbs milk
  • powdered sugar (... so much yummier than flour for rolling out the dough)

For the window:
  • 1 large bag of hard candy, like J.R. or L.S.

Sift together the first 5 ingredients. Set those aside, and grab a second bowl. Cream together the butter and sugar until they become a nice pale yellow. Add the egg and milk. Once combined, lower your mixer speed and gradually add the dry ingredients in stages. Only beat until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Divide the dough in two, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

While the dough is resting, separate the colors/flavors of your hard candies. Unwrap them and put each color into a plastic bag. Now, use a rolling pin to smash the daylights out of your candy. Wasn't that just a little too fun?

Anywho, preheat your oven to 350. Remove one portion of dough. Roll out on well dusted surface to about 1/4" thick.  Using about a 2" cookie cutter, cut out shapes. Take a 1" cutter and cut a "window" in each of your cookies. Transfer onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in fridge for about 10 min. (This helps the cookies keep their shape when baking.)

Right before putting your cookies in the oven, sprinkle a little mound of the crushed candies in the "window". Bake for 8-10 min until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and let cool for about 2 min. Slide cookies, parchment and all onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.

Now, devour... or, if you have WAY more restraint than me, these make a really pretty (and edible) ornament. Just use a toothpick to poke a hole in the dough before baking, then use a pretty ribbon to create a loop.

Rainbow sprinkles... diy

Basically, the holidays mean sugar, and lots of it... So, why not make it extra special. All if those fancy holiday cookies are perfectly dusted with the most beautiful colors, and festive drinks have festive rims.
This is one of those crazy simple how-tos that will get your creative juices flowing and save you some serious cash. 
I should to give it to the store bought options for convenience, but this will take you even less time than it would to drag on your winter gear, scrape the ice off the car and jaunty on over the the store. So, in short. This way rocks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brownie Cookies

I love cookies. I love brownies. I thought, why not double the fun and combine them? So... that's exactly what I did.

Monday, December 5, 2011


One of my favorite drinks is limoncello over ice. It's an amazing lemony liqueur that will always remind me of the summer after high school when I went to Italy.
Loving to experiment, I decided to expand the citrus fruits used in the drink to all of my favorites. What I've created may well be my favorite drink ever. I've had it alone (and it really doesn't need anything but ice), as a mixer, and drizzled over cakes to keep them extra moist. I think I'm in love.


•1 lemon
•2 mandarin oranges (or clementines... The mandarins don't have pips)
•1 pink grapefruit
•750ml vodka
•1 C water
•1 C sugar

Ok, so, this is pretty simple, you just need time. This recipe takes about 3 days and a dew supplies. I like to keep old wine bottles for this project. (you'll need about two) They're pretty and you can just use a cork to seal them.

First, zest all of your fruit and place in a really big jar. You can use a big pitcher too. Pour all of your vodka over the zest. Stir and cover. You can leave this on the counter, just avoid direct light.
Next, take your citrus and juice them. Set the juice in the fridge until day 3.
3 days later... Ok, now it's time to make a simple syrup. As the name implies, it's seriously simple. Take equal parts (1 cup each) sugar and water and put in a small pot over med heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool completely.
Once the syrup has cooled, it's time to combine everything. Strain out the zest from the vodka. Stir in the juice and syrup.
Bottle you're delish beverage in your clean, empty wine bottles. It's best enjoyed cold, so keep her in the fridge and enjoy!

The Aaglaia

Drink time! I like my cocktails. I specifically love gin based drinks and citrus. I made this twist on a classic gin drink after making some awesome homemade "citrus"-cello. It's super easy and super delish.
I named it "Agalia" after the Greek goddess of splendor, adornment and magnificence. Who can't use a little of that during the holidays.
 Let me know what you think.

• 1 part gin
• 1/2 part limoncello
• 2-3 parts tonic water

Stir the gin and cello together. Pour over ice into a rocks/Collins style glass. (mine were all dirty so I used a white wine glass) Top with tonic. The total amount of tonic is up to you and really depends on how much you love gin.
Garnish with pretty ice cubes or a lemon twist.
Sip & enjoy.
Cranberries and rosemary add a festive touch to the ice cubes.