Thursday, November 15, 2018

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
It takes all kinds to make the world go around.  You aren’t the loudest or the have-to-be-in-front or the look-at-me kind of guy.  You don’t settle with what you have or what you have accomplished – you still want to be better, to work harder, and to learn more about leadership, failure, and grit.  You have found your voice – you have developed your groove – but I’m pretty confident that that’s not enough and the best is yet to come.  

Happy birthday (yesterday) David!!

To celebrate this special day, the kids and I had fun finding an excuse to buy a cast iron skillet, trick you by cooking a frittata in the skillet the night before, and then this giant cookie (a slight variation on Ree Drummond’s versionand ingredients pretty close to the original Toll House cookie recipe on the bag – it’s the 2 sticks of butter which puts it over the edge for me).

Ingredients
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • Ice cream, such as Blue Bell vanilla, for serving
  • Hot fudge, for serving
  • Canned whipped cream, for serving
  • Maraschino cherries, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and eggs, mixing well. Combine the flour, instant coffee, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing after each one. Stir in the milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture into a 10-inch skillet and bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, top the cookie with your favorite ice cream, drizzle on some hot fudge and top with whipped cream and a cherry.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mini Potato Skins

Mini Potato Skins
You do you.”  In the context that it was spoken, it was a different iteration of “leave me alone, Mom” by Travis.  

I’ve heard the phrase a lot recently and have thought more about it.  “You do you” means that I have to know “who I am.”  And it feels like maybe “who I am” is changing.  Those of you that know me know that I am very comfortable and open to change (no, really).  Naïve me didn’t realize that my role and purpose might or would transform over time. We are in a different place – the kids are in a different phase of life – what is needed of me as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, aunt… is changing too and therefore I should evolve along with it.  Maybe I’ll become a blonde while I’m redefining myself.

These mini potato skins are so cute and easy to pop in your mouth.  It does take some time and effort to cook the potatoes, cool the potatoes, slice, hollow, bake, flip, bake, fill, bake and eat – but don’t let that stop you if you have some time and patience and want to add some fun food to your table.  (And keep your hand on top of the knife as you chop the bacon.)

Happy belated birthday Mimi - may the celebration continue!!

Ingredients
  • 1-1 ½ lbs Baby Dutch yellow potatoes (about 20 2-inch potatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 oz (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 bacon slides, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped, optional

Preheat oven to 425.

Scrub potatoes.  Place in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften. Drain and pat dry.  Place potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat.  Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tender 17-20 minutes. Cool potatoes completely on baking sheet, about 30 minutes.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato flesh leaving a 1/8 inch thick shell. Use the potato insides for something else like mashed potatoes.

Increase oven temperature to 450.  Place the potato skins hollow side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes; flip potatoes over and bake for 8-10 more minutes until crispy.

Fill potato skins with cheese and bacon crumbles.  Bake at 450 until cheese melts, about 1-2 minutes.  Top each potato skin with sour cream and chives, if you choose.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Avocado Toast - Two Ways

Avocado Toast Caprese Style
Last night I had the strangest dream.  I was riding in a car with Elizabeth’s old soccer coach and we were driving in New York City.  We were driving west and he crossed 3 lanes of southbound traffic without yielding.  A car swerved to miss hitting us and crashed into another car.  He kept driving.  Either 1) I need to stop eating ice cream before bed or 2) Travis’ driving is impacting me more than I think.  

Almost as random, I am being followed by toast.  Avocado toast featured on Fixer Upper/Magnolia Table, eaten at Flower Child, on the menu at Snooze; a recipe for chicken toast in email; cauliflower toast from Barefoot Contessa.  Gimme some French Toastand I’m all good.

You might think that avocado toast is guacamole on toast (and you are pretty close to being right). There are a lot of variations with additional toppings and types of breads.  The most common is egg (hard boiled or soft poached).  We also liked it fresh mozzarella and tomatoes.  Other toppings include different cheeses or smoked salmon or some type of greens.

Ingredients 
Avocado Toast with Eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

Caprese version
  • Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Mozzarella balls, sliced
  • Sourdough bread, sliced and toasted
  • Balsamic glaze

Egg version
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
  • Rustic white bread, sliced and toasted 

Mash the avocado in a bowl. Mix in the lemon juice.  Season to taste with the salt and pepper.  Toast the bread (or broil in the oven after brushing with a little olive oil).  

Caprese: spread the avocado mixture on the toast.  Top with mozzarella slices and sliced tomatoes.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Egg: to the avocado mixture, add and mix in the Dijon mustard.  Spread the avocado mixture on the toast.  Top with chopped egg.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Cinnamon Roll Crepes

Cinnamon Roll Crepes
There is a Nun Study by Dr. David A. Snowdon.  It assessed cognitive aging and concluded that a positive emotional outlook early in life can help people live longer.  “The study showed that nuns who expressed more positive emotions in their autobiographies lived significantly longer -- in some cases 10 years longer -- than those expressing fewer positive emotions.” (New York Times, 5/7/2001).  The premise is similar to Shawn Achorand his study of happiness and the benefits of positive psychology.  Shawn encourages us to take a gratitude challenge: for 21 days, write down 3 things that you are grateful for (and you can’t repeat anything) so that means 63 things that you are grateful for.  For me, the first five would be pretty easy: family, health, friends, food, and shelter.  I have made it (sort of) through day 2, but the next 58 would require more creative stretching and a heightened awareness of just how many positive things there are to be grateful for.  

I got it!  #6 – pre-made crepes.  I am grateful that someone else makes these dainty, fragile little rounds of yumminess.  On to day 3….

Wandering through the newly opened Central Market by our house, I spotted some pre-made Belgian crepes in the freezer section.  Délicieuse! (I had to look that up – it is supposed to mean delicious in French.)  Whether you prefer (or your grocery has pre-made) French or Belgian crepes, this Bobby Flay recipe is a winner.  Even David would add cinnamon roll crepes to his gratitude list.

#7 - I am grateful to you for going on this culinary exploration with me.

Happy birthday (yesterday) Aunt Chris (#8)!!

Ingredients:
Cinnamon (Rum) Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crepe Filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy cream 
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Note: half this amount filled 7 crepes

For the cinnamon (rum) sauce: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, rum (optional) and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts. Stir in 2 tablespoons water and cook a few more minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

For the filling: Combine the cream cheese, cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and orange zest in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk until light and fluffy.

To assemble: Place a crepe on a flat surface with the browner side down. Smear 3 to 4 tablespoons filling across the crepe slightly off center and a few inches from the bottom (facing you), fold the bottom up over the filling and then roll the crepe tightly. Place seam-side down on a plate or platter and repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. Spoon the sauce over the crepes and dust with confectioners'. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Asparagus with Pecorino and Pine Nuts

Asparagus with Pecorino and Pine Nuts
“To think the same way, to share the same opinions – this is not peace.  Unity is not uniformity.  True peace comes through the expression of differences; many perspectives, each offering a partial view of the truth…  Only when we open ourselves to understand all sides of an issue will we attain peace...” I read this passage the other day and it is the way more eloquent version of what I wanted to say last week.  I did some research and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope Francis have been quoted similarly about “unity and uniformity.”  It’s a thing.  Pass it on.  

Our dinner table did not fully agree on this dish, but I applaud all diners for tasting a new vegetable.  If I understand the perspective of the younger members at the table, the pecorino-romano is a strong, nutty, rich cheese flavor.  The lemon juice tempered it and gave the sauce a brightness and you can’t go wrong with toasted pine nuts.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch green pencil asparagus
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano, plus extra for garnish 
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

The asparagus can be grilled or oven roasted.  Either way, toss the asparagus with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Grill on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or oven roast at 400 for 10-15 minutes.

Add the Pecorino-Romano, lemon zest and juice and some salt and pepper to a bowl and mix to combine. Slowly whisk in the remaining <1/4 cup olive oil to form an emulsion.

Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter. Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with the pine nuts (and more Pecorino).

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Kale, White Bean and Farro Salad

Kale, White Bean and Farro Salad
“Ban shredded cheese. Make America grate again.”  Saw this posted to Facebook.  I’m not making a political statement – it just made me laugh. I hate that there is so much hate. What happened to respect?  What happened to tolerance?  What happened to acknowledging that we don’t all have to think or believe the same way and yet we can still have a conversation and come out better afterwards because we heard a different point of view? For example, my friend, Susan, likes this salad with a tahini dressing.  That dressing doesn’t suit my taste buds, but I’m still going to hang out with Susan.  

What is farro? (said “fahr-oh” – not “pharaoh” – which would make more sense because it’s an ancient grain.)  It is a whole grain that is not gluten free but heart healthy, vegan, and a great source of iron.  For all of those reasons, I shouldn’t like it but this salad has a great combination of flavors and is hearty.  Find your favorite dressing (tahini, lemon or cider vinaigrette) and then let’s have a respectful discussion while we eat salad and grate cheese.

For the salad:
  1. 1 bunch kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
  2. 1 1/2 cups cooked and cooled farro
  3. 1 (15 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
  4. 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  5. 1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes chopped
  6. 4 ounces feta, crumbled
  7. 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

For a cider vinaigrette dressing:
  1. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  2. 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  3. 1/2 teaspoon honey 
  4. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  5. Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Place salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss together until the salad is well dressed/coated. Adjust seasonings and serve.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

White Bean Dip with Pita Toasts

White Bean Dip with Pita Toasts
The yin to my yang.  David is the morning person; I am better at night. It has worked out well so far.  He drives the kids to school most mornings; I pick them up from parties and late sporting events.  The kids groan when David has an early morning meeting or is out of town. As if they have ever been late to school; they are just not as early as when David drives.  If I had a custom license plate, it would read: 4EVR L8.  It is probably why friends don’t assign me “appetizer” when there is a get together.  Dessert is a better choice for me - - - until I started making Giada’s white bean dip.  Now my friends will ask me to make this appetizer (and that I drop it off earlier in the day so others can enjoy it even when I arrive late.)

PS - I have already been told that I am not letting go adequately.  Darn!  Reset.   

Ingredients
  1. 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 2 cloves garlic
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
  5. 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  6. Salt
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1 package of pita bread (you can also serve with bagged pita chips or veggies)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the pita with olive oil.  Cut each pita into wedges or strips. Arrange the pita pieces on a large baking sheet. Spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.

Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.  (Double this recipe if taking to a get together.)

Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.