Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Honduras


Monday, March 12, 2012

Irish Coffee Stout Floats with Whiskey Whip

This is probably the only St. Patrick's post you'll see from me. There are a few reasons for that. The first, and probably biggest reason, is that I won't even be here for the big day. I'll be on vacation, in sunny, warm Central-America. I'll be eating beans, plantains, and tortillas. And drinking something tropical and fruity. I do have a green bikini though, just in case someone wants to get pinch-happy. 

Another reason is that the ol' classic—corned beef, potatoes, and cabbage—doesn't really require a recipe from me. I mean, call your mom people. Or someone's mom. Hell, call my mom. I don't know how moms always know these things, but I swear every single mom knows how to make corned beef and cabbage. Even the least domestic moms I know, can probably tell you how to make it. It's like having a baby sets off some kind of dormant instinct for knowing how to make classic dishes like pot roast, meatloaf, and corned beef…and for being able to count age by months.

Another reason I'm not posting random Guinness-themed meat pies and such is that the very best St. Patrick's day recipe has already been created. You can find it here. You must make it. Or I'll pinch you. Since we won't be here, Amanda and I are going to make it for Easter this year. It's seriously that good. I'm not even trying to reinvent the wheel on this one. 

So anyway, that leads us to stout floats. I know. Everyone makes stout floats, right? But does everyone use coffee ice cream and whiskey maple whip, leading to an awesomely Irish Cream/Irish Coffee flavored float? Probably not. And regardless, stout floats are one of my favorite St. Paddy's desserts. They're super simple, easy to serve to a crowd, and no matter how common they are, a stout float always seems to impress. I also like that the beer really shines through—versus stout cakes and the like, where the beer is in there, but you can't really, actually taste it…or feel it. 

Coffee Stout Floats with Whiskey Maple Whip

1/ 2 pint whipping cream 
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
Splash of vanilla
Stout beer (try something fun like oatmeal or chocolate stout, or go for the standard Guinness)
Coffee ice cream
Cocoa powder or shaved chocolate, for garnish

Whisk together whiskey, sugar, syrup, and vanilla, set aside. Whip the cream until just thickened, and add whiskey mix. Continue whipping until desired thickness. Taste and add more whiskey, etc, as needed. In each glass, add 2-3 scoops coffee ice cream. Fill glass about half way with stout, and top with whip and cocoa or chocolate. Consume, dance a jig, repeat. 


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roasted Chimichurri Cauliflower

Arg! Why is doing taxes so totally horrible? I don't own a house, or have any loans, and I'm not married.  I seriously have the easiest taxes to file, ever. So, I sat down today to do my taxes, thinking it would a breeze. Three hours and 4 meltdowns later (by meltdowns, I mean crying, yelling, stomping—we're pretty much talking full on toddler temper tantrums here), I finally got them filed. After that fiasco, I was exhausted, and insanely grumpy. Incredible-Hulk style grumpy. Biscuit was nervously meowing and pacing in circles around me, and Evan had locked himself in the bedroom to avoid my wrath.  Note to self for next year: remember, doing taxes isn't easy. Plan on that.

But you know what is easy? Roasted chimichurri cauliflower. 

Remember that chimichurri you tossed with leftover chicken for a budget-friendly dinner? Well, now you can use the leftover chimichurri to brighten up roasted cauliflower! Seriously, you WANT to do this. Even after tax-filing-from-hell, you'll have enough energy for this one. And it's just zingy enough, that it might put a little pep back in your post-tax step. After roasting, the lemon and garlic get all tangy, and the red pepper flakes take on some extra heat for a little kick at the end of each bite. And, since you made the sauce* already, this dinner takes about 4 minutes to put together—or as long as it takes you to break down a head of cauliflower. While it's roasting, you can sit back and relax. Have a glass of wine… or an old fashioned. No judgement here. After my day, I'm going real old-fashioned—skipping the extras, and just going straight for the whiskey. Plan on THAT

Roasted Chimichurri Cauliflower

1/2 recipe of chimichurri
1 head cauliflower, rinsed and separated into florets
Grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400. Drain a little bit of the excess liquid off of the chimichurri, and toss the rest of the sauce with cauliflower. Salt and pepper to taste. Arrange on a sheet pan or roasting dish, and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until slightly browned and just getting crispy on the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parm. 

*Every time I write, say, or hear the word sauce, I think/say to myself "that sauce is BOSS." I also have a really strong desire to end every one of my posts with "I HEARD that!" 

Is that weird?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Chimichurri Chicken Salad

The other day on the bus I heard another rider talking about how expensive it is to cook at home. How much more expensive it is than eating out. Maybe that girl eats at way cheaper restaurants than I do, or maybe she just doesn't understand how to make her dollar stretch in the kitchen. I mean, don't get me wrong, home cooking isn't always cheap. Especially if you like to use quality ingredients and lots of produce. It adds up. But, that's why you gotta make it stretch. And, once you get more comfortable in the kitchen, and start building up a pantry, it's even easier to cook homemade meals for less. 

I'm always looking for ways to make my groceries go further, and to waste less. Coming up with interesting leftover-revivals is a good place to start. You can mix this tasty chimichurri with leftover roast chicken and serve a ton of different ways. And, you should end up with leftover chimichurri, which can be used in a million other ways, in a million other recipes. 

Chicken Chimichurri Salad
Chimichurri adapted from Epicurious

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
flakey sea salt
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, cubed

For chimichurri, whisk together olive oil through cilantro, and salt to taste. Let mixture sit for about 20 minutes, for flavors to meld. Combine chicken, cucumbers, and about half of the chimichurri. Add more salt or chimichurri if needed. Serve on crusty grilled french bread, in a wrap, on a pita with hummus and feta, or even in an endive leaf. Or just eat it, because you'll want to. Store remaining chimichurii in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. 


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cat Talk + Pot Pie

I made you chicken pot pie. But before we get into that, let's talk about Biscuit. The cat, not the food. 

It's been a rough couple of weeks for my cat-child. Biscuit had a vet checkup recently, and they said she would need to come back to have teeth extracted. Seems simple, but this is a big deal for a cat. They have to put the cat under  anesthesia, which for such a small little creature, is risky. Then, think about getting your wisdom teeth out. It's like that. When I had my wisdom teeth removed, the meds made me sick, so on top of the insanely painful holes in my mouth, I couldn't keep food down. I'm talking retching that ripped my stitches open. On Christmas morning. That was fun. Like me, Biscuit has a bit of weak stomach. At least I knew what was happening to me. You can't explain to an animal why you did that to them. Why you, as their sole provider, hurt them. 

I know she's a cat. Just a cat. But for you other pet-parents out there, you know what its like. I've had Biscuit for years. She was with me through some tough times, like a shattering breakup. She went with me when I moved out of my roommate apartment to live on my own. She really made that apartment a lot less lonely. And now she's a part of Evan and my little family. So, leading up to her big day, I was a mess.  

Taking her to the vet was almost more traumatizing than the actual appointment. It breaks my heart to shove her into a carrier. While she cries and meows, her eyes huge and terrified. I dropped her off and bolted out of there, afraid I would start bawling if I heard her pitiful little meow one more time. I'm a nutcase. Seriously, I can already tell that I'm going to be one of those lunatic moms that gets hysterical on the first day of kindergarten. I almost had a heart attack when the vet called to tell me how it went. It was good news though. Biscuit didn't need to have extractions after all. They did a thorough cleaning, which took care of the problem. She did get a fancy leg-shave for the anesthetic IV, but other than that, she's back to normal. Which means we can get back to normal. 

And there's nothing more normal than an old school, down-home, home cooked meal. Like chicken pot pie. With cornbread topping.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cheesy Cornbread Topping
Adapted from Oprah

Olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh lemon juice
1.5 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 tablespoon butter
1 cup diced shitake mushrooms
1 medium onion , chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup frozen peas
5 Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
3 chopped carrots
Handful chopped fresh parsley
Salt & pepper
Dash hot sauce

3/4 cup white or yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish. 

Heat chicken stock, keep heated on burner. In a large sauce pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium, and add chicken. Once chicken starts to cook and turn white, add garlic. Cook for another minute or so, and add lemon juice. Cook through, salt and pepper to taste. Remove chicken from pan, and set aside. Heat olive oil and butter together. Add mushrooms and onion and sauté until mushroom liquid evaporates, and onions are tender, about  5 minutes. Add flour and stir until blended. Slowly stir in heated chicken stock, whisking well. Cook until thick and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Stir in carrots, chicken, peas, brussels, parsley, and hot sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour into prepared casserole dish. 

In a bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg and oil. Stir wet mixture into dry, and stir in cheese. Spoon evenly over chicken filling. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

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