Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strawberry Mille Feuille

As soon as I said I was going sit on my ass all day and do nothing, I got the urge to bake. And, of course, the more I thought about baking, the stronger the urge got, until it could no longer be resisted. Sigh. What can you do, right? Lets just chalk it up to me being totally dedicated to this blog.

So, why mille feuille? Because I saw Anthony Bourdain eating it on "No Reservations" last night, and it looked pretty tasty. Plus, he spent at least 15 minutes waxing eloquent about the virtues of this quintessential French dessert, so I knew it had to be good. Now, I wanted to try it for myself, but I wasn't feeling up to making my own puff pastry. So, I dragged Dan to the store to buy the pre-made stuff. Great decision. Instead of waiting a couple hours for the dessert to come together, we were able to sit down and enjoy this deliciously flaky, light and creamy treat in less than 30 minutes. Take that, Rachel Ray!

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of

Pomegranate-Champagne Rum Punch

"Today I don't feel like doing anything,
I just wanna lay in bed.
Don't feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at the tone,
'Cause today I swear I'm not doing anything."

I'm loving this new Bruno Mars song today! It really captures the way I feel about how my Saturday is going to be. Today, I'm not going to do anything but lay on the couch, relax (maybe nap), and drink a ton of this super delicious, refreshing, and delightfully boozy pomegranate-champagne punch. Happy long weekend, everyone!

Pomegranate-Champagne Rum Punch (Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake's recipe)
** Tastes kind of like sangria, but sweeter. Yum!

- 1-1/2 cups pomegranate juice
- 1 cup lemonade 
- 1/4 cup white rum
- 1 bottle champagne or Prosecco (I couldn't find either at the liquor store, so I used Brut)

(1) In a large pitcher, combine juice, lemonade, and rum.
(2) Slowly add champagne/Prosecco/Brut
(3) Stir, and then serve over crushed ice.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Classic Lemonade

Man, it was hot today! The weatherman predicted thunderstorms all week, but there was nary a raindrop or storm cloud in sight. By the time I got home it was 88 and sunny. And just a little muggy, 'cuz you know, it's summer in Virginia. Basically, it was the perfect day for an icy cold pitcher of fresh, homemade lemonade. 

Times like these, I really wish we had furniture on our balcony. Can you imagine how amazing it would be to recline in a lounge chair on the balcony after work, sipping from a frosty glass of lemonade, enjoying life and basking in the warmth of the fading sun? That's like, poetry, almost.

But, without the aforementioned lounge chair on my balcony, I had to settle for enjoying this tasty lemonade on the couch while watching back to back episodes of Bones on TBS. Not such a terrible way to spend the evening.

Lemonade (From Simply Recipes)

- 1 cup water, plus 3-5 more cups for dilution
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup lemon juice

(1) Make simple syrup by boiling sugar and 1 cup water until sugar is completely dissolved.
(2) Pour syrup and lemon juice into a pitcher, along with 3-5 cups of water, depending on how much you want to dilute the sweetness of the lemonade. (I went with 5 cups, and the lemonade was plenty sweet.)
(3) Refrigerate until you're ready to serve, or load the pitcher up with ice cubes.
(4) Stir and enjoy cold. Preferably on a balcony on a nice warm day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cheddar-Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Dan was jonesing hard for Five Guy's  and Ray's Hell Burger this weekend. Who can blame him? They've got amazing burgers! But, getting to Five Guy's meant spending 30 minutes in intense local traffic, and Ray's Hell Burger is always packed to the gills on weekends, so neither option seemed particularly appealing.  We didn't want to give up burgers altogether though, so we decided to buy ground beef and make/grill our own. What a great idea that was! The smell of grilled burgers is such a nice, summery smell, isn't it? And, the homemade burgers were unbelievably yummy -- juicy and bursting with flavor. So good, in fact, that we ended up making them for dinner two nights in a row.

This picture doesn't do a good job of capturing how massive this burger was, but trust was huge. Dan and I each ate half and felt completely stuffed. And just look at that crispy bacon, thick patty and oozing cheese. So. Good.

Cheddar-Stuffed Jalapeno Burger

Ingredients: (Makes one very large burger)
- 2/3 lb ground beef
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped into little pieces
- 1 handful of grated cheddar
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp salt

(1) In a large bowl, combined ground beef, chopped peppers, salt, and onion powder. Mix well, then divide into 2 portions of equal size.
(2) Take one portion of ground beef and shape it into a large patty, about 1/2 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter.
(3) Spoon grated cheese into the center of the patty, leaving about half an inch to 1 inch around the edges uncovered for sealing.
(4) Shape second patty into roughly the same size and shape as the first. Carefully lay it on top of the first patty, and press down on the edges to seal.
(5) Turn giant patty over and make sure there are no cracks in the meat. Shape to your satisfaction, then slap it on the grill!
(6) Grill on high for about 7 minutes, flipping after a couple minutes on each side.
(7) Serve on a large kaiser roll, with tomatoes, lettuce, and condiments of your choosing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca

Remember when we were younger and watermelons could only be bought in the summer? A cold slice of the juicy red melon was always something to be looked forward to at picnics and bbq's when the weather was nice. And the seeds! Kind of a pain to eat around, but fun to spit at your friends and try to see who could spit them the farthest. Just don't accidentally swallow any of the slimy little buggers though -- a watermelon will grow in your stomach! 

Nowadays you can walk into any grocery store pretty much any time of year and pick up a juicy, sweet melon with no seeds. Isn't that mind-blowing? I can't decide how I feel about it -- on the one hand, it's convenient when I'm craving watermelon in the colder seasons, but on the other hand...watermelon is a summer fruit, damnit!

My dad is a champion watermelon selector. He can always tell just by lightly thumping the side of a melon which one is going to be the reddest and sweetest. I, on the other hand, am not so talented. I make a big show of thumping and listening, but all the melons sound exactly the same to me. So, the watermelons I bring home are usually pretty hit or miss. My most recent purchase was kind of a miss. The flesh was more pink than red, and not very sweet. Still refreshing, but not as delicious to eat. 

So, what to do with not-so-delicious watermelon? Blend that sucker up and turn it into a light and refreshing summer beverage! Like agua frescas, for example, which are fruit drinks made with blended fruit/water infused with various herbs. Generally non-alcoholic, but if you want to add some tequila, I certainly won't judge you... 

Watermelon-Lime Agua Fresca (From The Kitchn)

- 2 lbs seedless watermelon
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp simple syrup (See below for recipe)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

(Simple syrup)
(1) Mix 1/4 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to bowl over medium-low heat and simmer, without stirring, until all sugar is dissolved.
(2) Remove from heat, then add 1 tbsp chopped mint. Let steep for 15 minutes, and set aside.

(Agua fresca)
(1) Blend watermelon, lime juice, water, and simple syrup.
(2) Strain through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
(3) Serve over ice. Garnish with a mint to keep things classy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Scallion Pancakes (Cong You Bing)

Any time Dan and I get Chinese delivery, we make sure to get an order of scallion pancakes and crab rangoons. They are equally delicious, but I always feel kind of bad eating (and loving) crab rangoons. I mean, they're fake Chinese food! As a good Chinese person I feel like I should turn my nose up at it and treat it with the same disdain that I have for orange chicken and General Gao's-anything. But they're just so creamy and fried and delicious, and I can't help myself from going back to them again and again. I'm not a strong person.

(BTW, we painted our walls. You like?)

Scallion pancakes are different, though. My mom used to make me scallion pancakes for lunch when I was a kid. And, they're offered on all the menus at even the most authentic Chinese restaurants. Surely that means they are legit?  And I can love them without shame? Umm, I'm going to go with "yes" and help myself to another pancake.

Scallion Pancakes

- 2 cups flour
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil this time though. Seemed fine.)
- 1 tbsp seasame oil
- 1/2 cup scallions/green onions, chopped
- Salt to taste (I used a heaping spoonful)

(1) In a large bowl, mix dry and wet ingredients + egg until a pancake-like batter has formed.
(2) Add scallions and stir until well-combined. Taste a little bit of the batter to make sure it's salty enough for your tastes. Set aside
(3) Heat a pan on medium/high heat. Spray with a light coat of cooking spray.
(4) When pan is hot, pour about 1/2 cup batter into the center of the pan. Using a spoon or spatula, spread batter out into a circular shape, about 1/4 inch thick.
(5) Cook for about a minute, then flip. Cooked side should be golden brown. Cook other side until the same.
(6) Repeat previous step until all batter is cooked. Slice pancakes into squares or wedges. Serve hot with soy sauce for dipping. (I like to add some crushed pepper, seasame oil, chopped garlic and green onions to the dipping sauce)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

I woke up this morning with a mean craving for steak. I'm probably low on iron or something. Unfortunately for me though, the cafeteria at work doesn't serve juicy ribeyes. Instead, I had to settle for a slightly soggy egg salad sandwich with bland tomatoes. Very sad, I know.

I really wanted steak though. Thought about it all day, in fact. So, I dragged Dan kicking and screaming to the grocery store after work to buy some. I know he hates running errands with me, but he had to pick me up from the metro anyway and since we were already in the car, why not keep on driving to Safeway? Plus, we spent a grand total of 15 minutes in the store and he got a delicious steak dinner out of the bargain, so...tough shit.

When we cook it ourselves, Dan and I rarely eat our steaks with any kind of sauce. We prefer to have it with just a little salt and pepper (OK, a lot of salt for me), and drenched in its own juices. But, Steamy Kitchen had a delicious looking post on steak with chimichurri sauce last week, and I really wanted to try it. I'd seen chimichurri-sauced meat options on menus before, but never got them because I didn't know what chimichurri was. Without an explanation of the ingredients, it sounded vaguely sinister and little too close to "chinchilla" for comfort. No rodent for me, thanks! If only restaurant menus had pictures as pretty as Steamy Kitchen's for every food item. Or, you know, if I spoke Spanish...

The steak, which was a thinner cut than I usually go for, turned out to be tender and juicy, with a pleasing iron-y tang that satisfied my craving in a big way. The chimichurri sauce was OK, but I didn't go wild for it. Maybe because it had red wine vinegar in it, and I don't like sour/tangy sauces. My taste in food runs more towards the sweet and salty. Dan, however, loves spice and tang, and he enjoyed his steak and chimichurri sauce mightily. 

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Steamy Kitchen blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chicken Salad Sandwich

I secretly look forward to the days when we run out of deli turkey. Why? Because it gives me an excuse to make chicken salad. I mean, I could probably just make chicken salad whenever, but turkey goes bad so quickly that I feel like I have to eat it for lunch everyday when it's around so that I don't end up throwing any away.

I read in one of my chick lit books that Southern women judge the measure of a lady by the quality of her chicken salad. That can't be true, but if it were...I'd be a pretty low maintenance lady. I don't use chicken that I've personally roasted, I don't make my own mayonnaise, and I don't throw in any fancy pants ingredients for textural/flavor contrast. I just throw some chopped chicken (usually Perdue grilled chicken strips), diced red onion, Helmann's, and paprika in a bowl and mix it all together. Done in fifteen minutes, but super yummy. Great on top of a spinach salad or sandwiched between toasted wheat bread.

Chicken Salad Sandwich

- 1 packet of Perdue grilled chicken, chopped; or, 1 grilled chicken breast, chopped
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced (I like the spicy crunch of red onion in my chicken salad, so I usually use more)
- 1/4 avocado, sliced thinly
- 3 tomato slices
- 4 large lettuce leaves, or 1 handful baby spinach
- 2 slices wheat bread, toasted

(1) In a medium bowl, mix chicken, mayo, paprika, and red onion until well combined. (If you're feeling fancy, chop up some green onion or apple slices and throw that in too.)
(2) Layer one slice of toast with lettuce and tomatoes.
(3) Scoop two large spoonfuls of chicken salad on top of the lettuce/tomatoes. Spread out in one even layer.
(4) Arrange avocado slices on top of the chicken salad. Cover with second slice of bread.
(5) Cut in half and serve with pickles and chips.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Domain!

Hey guys!

My blog has changed domains, and is now at "" Not sure how that affects anyone subscribing to or following my blog, but I thought I should mention it just in case. In any event, people still going to "" will automatically be redirected to the new site, so it's all good.

<3 <3 <3

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turtle Cheesecake Truffles

I meant to make these for Dan's mom on Mother's Day, since turtle chocolate is one of her favorite candy treats. But, things got busy and I didn't have time to whip up a batch of truffles before our trip to Boston last weekend. I ended up buying her some Godiva chocolates, but I really wish I could have given her some of these turtle truffles. Maybe next year.

Word on the street is that grocery stores actually sell bags of crushed graham crackers. I don't know which stores these are, but I've never seen one that sold graham cracker crumbs. Every time I make cheese cake I have to crush my own frickin' crackers. FYI, crushing crackers with the bottom of a glass is way more effective than using a food processor.

I had two containers of marscapone cheese left over from the last time I made tiramisu, so I decided to use that for my cheesecake base instead of the usual Philadelphia cream cheese. I originally thought that three months in the fridge would have ruined the marscapone, but it was totally fine. That makes me a little worried about the amount of preservatives in the stuff, but...I'm not going to think about that right now.

Remember how much trouble I had coating those chocolate chip cookie dough truffles? No problems this time! Jade over at the Steamy Kitchen blog had the perfect method for dipping truffles: (1) make sure the melted chocolate is nice and liquid-y, (2) drop the cheesecake ball into the mixture and make sure it's well  covered, then (3) lift it out with a fork and let the excess chocolate run out through the tines of the fork. Voila!

Oh man, these truffles are so good. They actually taste like cheesecake! Which is already good in and of itself, but when you cover it in chocolate, drizzle it with caramel, and top it with nuts...amazing!

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Steamy Kitchen Blog.

For other delicious chocolate recipes, click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mango Daiquiris

I think it's pretty obvious by now that I'm a girly drink kind of gal. I mean, I could try to roll with the boys and throw back beers and booze on the rocks, but why suffer? I like sugar. I like fruit. I don't like the taste of alcohol.  It would just be silly to pretend otherwise. Sure, I suppose if I could acquire a taste for beer my bar tabs would be a lot lower, but...not worth it. I need to have fruity, blended drinks in my life, damnit.

Daiquiris are pretty high on my list of favorite blended drinks, not only because they are sweet and fruity and delicious, but also because I associate them with summer, hammocks, sandy beaches, and tropical vacations.  Seriously, there is nothing more relaxing than an icy cold daiquiri, especially after a long and productive day at work. And no fruit is more delicious this time of year than a juicy mango. What happens when you combine the two? Instant happiness, and the perfect cure for the mid-week blues. 

Mango Daiquiris

- 2 fresh mangos, chopped into pieces
- 2 trays' worth of ice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 4 oz rum (I used Parrot Bay Mango Rum for even more mango flavor)
- 1 tbsp sugar

(1) Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth and frosty.
(2) Serve immediately, preferably with a heap of chips and guacamole.

For other great drinks ideas, click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lemon Cakes

I've had a serious crush on Tom Colicchio since the first season of Top Chef. He's bald, but so sexy! I think it's his wry stoicism that really does it for me. Not to mention, he can cook. So, when I found out that he was also responsible for bringing food trucks serving a menu inspired by one of my favorite fantasy books to the streets of NY and LA, my cup of love for him runneth over. 

One of the items on the Game of Thrones-inspired food truck menu is a treat that is much loved by many of the book's characters: lemon cakes. I'd always pictured them to be like mini lemon bars, but Tom's creation is a little more elegant -- miniature cakes baked in ramekins set in a water bath, with the result being that the bottom of the cake is light and spongy, while the top of the cake stays dense and custard-y. I had trouble un-molding my cakes, so my end product was not nearly as pretty as Tom's cakes. But, the intended layers were all there, and each creamy morsel was packed with lemony good flavor. Yum!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Baked Taquitos al Pastor

There is so much al pastor in my fridge right now, I almost don't know what to do with it. Almost. I'm toying with the idea of combining it in some form with kimchi, but I haven't quite decided which direction to go with that yet. For now, I'll have to settle for taquitos. Why baked? Because I just spent the weekend gorging on steak and lobster and brownies, and I'm feeling a little guilty. Nothing about this recipe is healthy, per se, but surely baked is less sinful than deep-fried?

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of the Pink Parsley blog

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tacos al Pastor

Second semester sophomore year, Ana's Taqueria took over the space formerly occupied by a mediocre crepe shop inside the student center, and my life changed. Not in an altogether good way, mind you. On the one hand, I was over the moon because this place had the best Mexican food in Cambridge. On the other hand, I loved the food a little too much too often, and put on ten pounds that semester. Two grande burritos and/or quesidillas per day will do that, I guess. It took me the entire summer to run those pounds off, but looking back, it was totally worth it.

The next year, I toned down my Ana's consumption, but it was Dan's turn, as a newly minted college man, to discover the joys of an Ana's grande burrito with everything in it. I bought him his first burrito at Ana's, but it wasn't long before he was there by himself for lunch and dinner multiple times per week. Of course,  lucky bastard that he is, Dan did not gain a single pound. What a jerk.

You want to know what the best thing on Ana's menu was? The al pastor burrito. And the al pastor quesidilla...and the al pastor tacos. Seriously, the al pastor was amazing. I'd never even heard of "al pastor" before Ana's, but one bite of the fatty, savory-sweet pork and I was totally hooked. And of course, I eventually got Dan hooked. These days we regularly have al pastor cravings that cannot be satisfied, because apparently none of the Mexican places in the area make it, and if they do it doesn't taste right. So sad.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to go wild and make my own al pastor. I marinated a slab of pork shoulder in chili-pineapple sauce over night, covered it with slices of fresh pineapple, and stuck it in the oven for 2 hours. The result was a mound of massively delicious, juicy, fatty pork that had a hint of sweetness and some heat from all the chili peppers I used in the sauce. So good. Not quite the flavor of Ana's, but close enough. 

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of Closet Cooking.
** Note: Two of my favorite blogs, Crumbly Cookie and Confections of a Foodie Bride, said that pineapples contain an enzyme that breaks down meat faster than normal and causes it to become mushy if you marinate the meat too long. I didn't know that at the time, and marinated my pork shoulder in chili-pineapple sauce over night. I don't know if it's because I kept the shoulder intact, while they both cut their meat into slices before marinating, but my pork wasn't mushy at all. Just something to think about...

One year ago: Chocolate Fudge

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Cinco de Mayo isn't until tomorrow, but I've already got Mexican food on my mind. This means, as is usually the case when I have Mexican on the mind, that I'm jones-ing hard for guacamole. Lots and lots of guacamole. Why guacamole? Shall I recite its merits for you? There are too many to list! But for starters, it's easy to make, it's relatively healthy, and it's a satisfying dinner substitute when no one feels like cooking. And, you's super delicious.

Four large HASS avocados, one tomato, and half a red onion produced a dauntingly gigantic bowl of guacamole, but Dan and I inhaled every last bite. I was sad to see the last smear disappear into Dan's mouth, but tomorrow is a new day, and that new day will be filled with more guacamole and al pastor pork. Get excited!


- 4 ripe avocados, mashed.
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced or crushed (Thanks for reminding me, Amber!)
- Salt 
- Lime juice

(1) In a large bowl, mix mashed avocados, tomato, garlic, and chopped onion until well combined.
(2) Add salt and lime juice to taste. Stir to combine.
(3) Enjoy with chips and a margarita or beer.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bananas Foster Trifle

I wanted to make trifles out of my strawberry rum pound cake a couple weeks ago, but my stemless wineglasses proved to be less than satisfactory vessels for putting it all together. Nothing layered properly, and my fingers kept smearing stuff. So, I ordered a set of mini trifle bowls, and they arrived a few days ago.

What is trifle, exactly? It's basically a cake-based parfait, with layers of cake (usually pound or sponge), custard, fruit, gelatin, and whipped cream. Yum, right? I didn't have pound cake or sponge cake lying around, but since there was still some banana bread left over, I decided to make a Bananas Foster trifle.

I originally wanted to make the characteristic Bananas Foster rum sauce for my trifle, but that was a total botch. While it was cooking, I took my eye off the skillet and the sugar burned. The sauce, which had been smelling pretty good up to then, turned black, started smoking, and was basically totally ruined. Ugh. So, I scrapped the sauce and made do with banana bread, cooked bananas, and whipped cream. And you know what? Totally delicious. Banana lovers everywhere would go nuts for this sweet and creamy, intensely banana-y treat. Dan, who had already eaten pizza, chips and salsa, and cheesy bread, and insisted that he was too stuffed to eat more than a few bites of trifle, ate the whole bowl. Mini-bowl, but still.

Bananas Foster Trifle

Ingredients: (Makes 2 mini-trifles)
- 4 pieces banana bread, chopped into squares.
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 dash cinnamon
- 1 dash cloves
- 1 banana, cut in half length-wise
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped and sweetened.

(1) Layer the bottom of each mini-trifle bowl with some of the chopped banana bread, in one even layer. Set aside.
(2) In a skillet, cook butter and brown sugar until simmering. Add spices.
(3) Place both halves of the banana into the skillet and spoon sauce over the top. Cook until a sugary crust forms on the outside of the fruit. Pull out and set aside.
** At this point you can keep cooking the sauce until it is thick and syrupy, then add it as one of your trifle components. Mine burned, so I left it out...
(4) Let bananas cool, then chop them into small pieces.
(5) Layer chopped bananas on top of the banana bread in the trifle bowls.
(6) Layer the remaining banana bread on top of the cooked bananas.
(7) Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

One year ago: Chocolate Fudge