Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Brownie Bars

Lets talk about the birds and the bees. Sometimes, when a guy and a gal fall in love, they make a baby. And when the gal in that scenario is Evan's sister (and the guy is her guy, obviously), they make our first nephew, an adorable baby boy. Sometimes the guy and gal live right, smack-dab in the middle of Manhattan (or, well, somewhere in Manhattan), giving us the perfect excuse to go to the Big Apple THIS WEEKEND (for the first time ever)! 

Similarly, sometimes when a fudgey chocolate brownie and a peanut butter blondie fall in love, they make peanut butter brownie bars. 

You can make peanut butter brownie bars too, without all the birds and bees business. But be warned…there's a lot of gooey, peanut buttery, chocolatey awesomeness going on here…who knows what that could lead to. 

Step 1: Preheat ove to 350, grease a 9x13 baking pan
Step 2: Whip up a bowl of the Brown Eyed Baker's peanut butter blondie batter (swap the peanut butter chips for chocolate chips, leave out the peanuts). Spread evenly in baking dish.
Step 3: Whip up a bowl of basic brownie mix, like this one. Add some chocolate chips to this too, for good measure. Spread evenly over peanut butter mixture.
Step 4: Bake for 35-45 minutes*, cool before cutting.
Step 5: Bite, swoon, love, repeat. 

*I didn't extensively test this, just pretty much made one peanut butter blondie recipe and topped it with one brownie recipe, and waited 9 months. I mean…40-ish minutes. 35 minutes wasn't solid enough, and 50 minutes was a little too dry. When you test them, they'll be gooey, and that's ok, as long as they seem set all the way through. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Food Revolution!

I seriously couldn't be more grateful for how amazing my friends are. Yesterday was Loves Food, Loves to Eat's 3rd birthday (three years!!), and I celebrated in a big way—by hosting a Food Revolution dinner party! With the help of friends and family, I raised $146 (in only 3 days) to help educate kids and families across America about cooking and eating and real food. 

I came up with the idea, invited guests, planned, and pulled off a 20 person dinner party in three and a half days. I love Jamie Oliver, and am a big fan of his cause, but I didn't know about Food Revolution Day until Wednesday. And, when I realized it was the same day as my blogiversary, I knew I had to get involved.

On Wednesday I created the donation page for my event, and invited guests. The response was more than I ever expected: 19 people (20 counting me) rsvp'd and bought tickets, only 3 days before the event. Not only that, several people made extra donations (including Mel—thanks mom!!). On Thursday, I started looking for a location that would fit 20 people. Amanda found a park we could use, with first-come picnic tables to seat 18. With her patio set, we had enough room for 20…a brilliant idea, and a bit of a risk. Luckily, we grabbed all the tables right before a group of picnickers showed up. 

On Friday, I planned the menu, and went shopping after work. At 8:00PM the night before the event, I discovered that beef tenderloin (the main ingredient for my main dish) doesn't exist…at least not at any of the 3 stores I went to. So, after a brief panic, (read: calling my mom, sister, and Evan about 10 times, running back and forth around the store, trying not to cry) I went with flank steak. Crisis averted. Friday night I prepped and cooked until 1AM. On Saturday, I made 12 mini-strawberry almond cakes, which ended up not coming out of the pans…two hours before the event. New plan: trifle! Crisis #2 averted. I finished cooking, assembling, and prepping, just in time to head to the park and get set up. 

Everything went off without a hitch. I had an amazing time planning and pulling off this dinner party, everyone raved about the food, and it was a super fun evening! An absolutely perfect way to celebrate 3 years of blogging! 

So, with 3 days to plan, 6 lbs of flank steak, 4 baguettes, 20 steak sandwiches, 2 gallons of gazpacho, 40 grilled shrimp, 20 berry trifles, 8 bags of homemade pita chips, 2 cups of grated parmesan cheese, 20 jars for drinking, 19 awesome friends (plus 2 adorable babies), and $146.61 donated to Food Revolution…I'd call that one successful dinner party! 

Thanks so much to Amanda and Evan for all the help prepping and planning, to LZ and Dave for convincing me that people would, in fact, buy tickets to my dinner party, to Treasa and Kyle for the generous donation, to Mel for donating even though she didn't get to attend, to Carleigh, Jeff, and Preston for your enthusiastic eating, to Brit and Cindy for bringing the two cutest dinner party guests ever, to Connie and Rachel for showing up without knowing what they were getting themselves into, to Mark and Anthony for always supporting my blog and eating everything I make, to Becky and Deric for sharing my blog with everyone they know, and to Amanda and Colin for biking all the way across the city to be there. You're all amazing. 

And, thank you so much to all of you, who continue to read my blog and support me after 3 years!! 


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Earl Grey Biscuits for Mom's Day

Most people don't believe that Amanda and I are sisters right away, because at first glance, we're 100% his and hers. It's obvious from the get-go that I'm my father's child. We both have the same dark skin tone and hair (well, his is a little more silver these days), the same same brown eyes, and the same weird, goofy personality. Amanda looks exactly like my mom. I mean, sometimes I do a double take. They're both fair skinned with blonde hair, and are both insanely competitive. His and hers. If you dig a little deeper though, you can start to see my dad shine through in Amanda, and my mom in me. 

My love of reading comes straight from Mel. John and Amanda never did understand how my mom and I could spend hours and hours doing nothing but reading. I mean, canceling plans on a Friday night to stay in with a good book. I got that from my mom. And Dirty Dancing. No other mother-daughter pair in the history of mother-daughter pairs has watched Dirty Dancing as many times as we have. We know it word for word, people. We're hopeless romantics, through and through. My mom also shared with me her love and compassion for animals, and her tendency to get emotional and sentimental. And, most importantly for all of you, she shared her creativity in the kitchen and passion for feeding people. No one has ever left my mom's kitchen hungry, that's a fact. 

While Mel would prefer a leftover enchilada over a scone or a biscuit for breakfast, hands down, I figured everyone might need a post Cinco de Mayo break. So, for Mother's Day, make your mom a fancy little brunch with Earl Grey cream biscuits and lemon curd. Pick her some flowers. Make her a mimosa. Don't wipe off her kisses. It's her day, let her get in that one big wet smooch, just this once. 

Happy Mother's day to the gal who brought me into this world (and as she likes to remind me, can take me out of it). I love you Mom! 

Earl Grey Biscuits

These may look like scones, but are more like a biscuit. Serve with tangy Meyer lemon curd!

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
6 Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey - ground with a mortar and pestle 
1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melted butter

Heat the oven to 425. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and tea. Combine the vanilla and cream, and slowly add to the flour mixture, stirring until the ingredients are combined and the dough holds together. Add more cream as needed. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 1 minute. Pat it into 1/2-inch thick round and cut into 8 triangles.

Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and brush the tops with melted butter. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve warm with meyer lemon curd.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chicken Tacos {Asian Style}

My office is in an awesome location, food wise. I’m 2 blocks from the ID (International District/China Town), which is full of amazing little lunch spots—all the pho, dumplings, sushi, and satay you could ask for. I’m also a stone’s throw from a number of great sandwich places and even better gyro joints, and I'm directly above the always fabulous Salumi.

But, regardless of all those awesome eateries, the one I get most excited about is only around on Fridays. I'm talkin’ tacos, people. Korean-Hawaiian fusion tacos, from the Marination Mobile food truck.

What is Korean-Hawaiian fusion, you ask? Only the most delicious flavor explosion to hit my mouth, that's all. Bulgogi beef or miso ginger chicken tacos, kalua pork sliders, and the most delicious item of all—don't judge—spam sliders. Seriously, you haven't lived until you've eaten a spam slider from Marination. They perform miracles inside that little restaurant on wheels.

Don't worry, I didn’t write a recipe for spam sliders. I'll leave that one to the experts. I did, however, perform a little fusion magic of my own, just in time for the biggest taco-eating day of the year. Sweet and spicy soy-soaked grilled chicken, meet the tortilla. You two will become great friends.  

Grilled Chicken Tacos, Asian Style
Set aside some time for the chicken to marinate, and for the cucumbers to soak up some goodness. At least two hours.

For Chicken
1 cup soy sauce
Splash olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Squirt of Sriracha
Spoonful of hoison sauce
Pinch freshly grated ginger
Brown sugar
Black pepper
2 chicken breasts

Whisk together soy sauce through black pepper, taste and adjust as needed. You should have a pretty equal balance of spicy, salty, and sweet. Butterfly chicken so that you have 4 thin chicken breast pieces, and marinate in soy mixture for at least 2 hours—the longer the better.

Grill chicken on a medium-hot grill for a couple of minutes on both sides, until cooked all the way through (it should be thin enough that it cooks pretty quickly, but use your best judgment or meat thermometer… I like to cook a little longer until it’s a bit charred around the edges). Thinly slice.

For Sesame Sour Cream
½ cup sour cream
Sesame seed oil
Rice vinegar
Soy sauce

Start out with just a splash of sesame oil, vinegar, honey, sriracha, and soy, and whisk together with sour cream. Taste and add more of any item as needed.

For Tacos
Grilled chicken
Sesame sour cream
Small corn tortillas, warmed
Fresh greens (micro greens or pea shoots work great, but just lettuce works too)
Sesame seeds
Lime wedges

Assemble!  Start with your tortilla, slather on sesame sour cream, pile on the chicken, add a few cucumbers, toss on an assortment of greenery, a squirt of sriracha, and a shower of sesame seeds, and top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Fold, eat, repeat.
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