Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toss Some Cookies (Into Your Faceholes)

I'm not much of a cookie person throughout the year (I'm more of a crumble/cobbler person), but when Christmas rolls around (with PMS in tow - THANKS, SANTA!), my inner fat girl dons her fuzzy blue suit and googley-eyes and wants to nomnomnom all over everything.

These cookies are everything.


EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!

I've made them 3 times in 5 days. Ridic. And super easy. This recipe makes 12-16 cookies, depending on how you portion them. I like to make smaller batches since our family usually ends up eating them all, no matter how many I make. You could easily double the recipe for a higher yield.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups flour (all purpose, bread, or gluten free)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
+/- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli)
+/- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
(I use +/- because sometimes you feel like a lot of chips, and sometimes you don't)
*optional (but I will think less of you if you skip it) - flaked sea salt for topping

Preheat the oven to 375F. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium to large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until light and creamy (a few minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and mix until completely incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed (or use a wooden spoon) until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips. Form the dough into about 1.5" balls (about 2 level tablespoons worth) and space them evenly onto 2 cookie sheets. Bake for 10-11 minutes, rotating and switching the pans on the oven racks halfway through, until the tops of the cookies are just no longer shiny. Immediately sprinkle the tops with sea salt (if desired… and you should definitely desire this). Let the cookies cool on the pans for 3-5 minutes to let them firm up, then transfer (carefully if you used a lot of chocolate chips!) to a cooling rack.

Try to let them cool for at least a couple of minutes. I can't be held responsible for molten chocolate burning your face off if you don't.

I burned my face off. It was worth it.

If you really wanted to put these mofo's overthetop, and if you have 15-20 extra minutes of prep time, you could make these into Brown Butter Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The recipe is the same, but you brown the butter before mixing.

Add the butter to an oven-proof dish and put it in the oven while the it preheats. Once it melts, keep an eye on it. When the butter begins to bubble and just begins to toast and turn light brown, remove the dish from the oven. Pour the browned butter into the mixing bowl, then put the bowl in the fridge for  about 10 minutes to let the butter cool, then follow the recipe as normal. If the dough seems too sticky to shape, let it sit in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to firm up before shaping and baking.





Monday, December 9, 2013

Feed Your Inner Grinch

Is it really almost Christmas? I hope so… otherwise the lights I put up outside are more White Trash than White Christmas. Speaking of white trash, you should have seen the ridiculous scene that was the hanging of said lights. It looked a lot like me trying not to fall off of standing on a barstool in the bushes, hammering away and yelling at my toddler to stop standing buck-naked at the screen door and put some pants on. 

Classy. 

My girlfriends and I have recently started up a weeklyish excuse to day-drink brunch, and last week my friend Megan made a yummy quiche (and a shit ton of bacon - thanks again for that, Megan!) to go along with our mimosas. Apparently she's put me on a quiche kick, because I was craving it again this weekend. I had some leftover ham and roasted broccoli, so Sunday morning I decided to see what I could come up with. These were born. 


These green eggs and ham will make your Grinch heart grow 3 sizes. Just don't eat too many or your waistline may do the same.

Candied Ham & Broccoli Quiche Muffins w/ Biscuit Crust

Ingredients:

*1/2 cup unbleached flour
*1/2 cup whole wheat flour
*or use 1 cup GF flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp raw sugar or coconut sugar
a few grinds of pepper
1 cup greek yogurt, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
8-10 oz cubed ham (I used uncured Black Forest ham from Whole Foods)
1 tbs maple syrup or honey
1 cup roasted broccoli or asparagus, chopped
1 cup shredded cheese (I used smoked Gouda)
4 eggs

Grease a 6 cup large muffin tin (or 12 cup regular sized one). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and preheat a nonstick skillet to medium high heat. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup yogurt and the cream. Add the yogurt mixture to the processor and pulse just until it forms a dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently press into a rectangular shape. Score the dough in half, then each half into thirds to form 6 equalish portions (or repeat the scoring one more time to make 12 portions). Press each portion into the muffin cups to make the crusts for each quiche. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes.

While the crusts bake, sauté the ham in the hot skillet for a minute, then add the syrup or honey and continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and begins to get sticky, and the ham begins to develop deep caramelization. While it cooks, combine the shredded cheese and chopped broccoli (or asparagus) in a medium bowl. Add the candied ham to the bowl, and mix to combine. Spoon this mixture evenly into the par-baked biscuit crusts. 

Reduce the oven temp to 375 degrees. In the same bowl you mixed the ham, whisk the eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup yogurt, and a pinch of salt. A little at a time, evenly ladle the egg mixture over the filling of each muffin cup. The custard should be just about level with the top of each cup. Gently press the filling down a bit to evenly disperse the custard throughout. Bake the quiches at 375 for about 15 minutes, or until the custard is set. Keep in mind that they will continue to cook a bit once you remove them from the oven, so a few remaining bubbly spots are okay.

Cool in pan 5 minutes. If necessary, use a paring knife to assist in removing the muffins from the pan. 

Serve warm or at room temperature…

Or on a train or in the rain, or with a goat or on a boat.





Sunday, November 3, 2013

Is That a Shit?



Yep. That's a shit. And it was a good 20 minutes before I realized it was there. Must have happened when I was cleaning my toddler's ass after she pooped herself this morning. 

I couldn't get the smell out of my nose and was beginning to think it was just me. Until I happened to look down and realized it WAS just me. Awesome. The joy of motherhood.

Aren't you hungry now? Me, too. 

nawt.

Maybe I've just discovered the next weight loss phenomenon. The ShitHappens Diet.

Shitty titties to all, and to all a good Sunday!



Now stop looking at my boobs. Perv.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween and This Guy-->


This is Jagger. He's our cat. He lives a miserable life.


OBVIOUSLY.

Occasionally, he gets into trouble. Case in point, Halloween, circa 5am. It's pitch black in the house, and I'm snuggled in bed enjoying my last hour of sleep. Suddenly, I'm awakened by the annoying sound of a rattle, soon followed by "Maaaooow... maaaooow."

Rattle, rattle... maaooww.  Rattle, rattle... maaooww.

Maaaaaaaaaaow.  Maaaaaaaaaaooow. Maaaaaooow.

Rattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattlerattle... maaaaaaaooooww.

While he is many things, a big talker Jagger is NOT. I've heard less maaaaoow's from him in 30 days than I did in that span of 30 seconds! His maaow's usually mean, "Someone shut the door to my bathroom and I've gotta pee, so open it quick, or this rug gets it!!" or "Where the hell did everybody go?" That's about it in his maaoowing department. So these constant cries (and the ominous rattling) have my Oh Shit Alarm going off big time. I call him upstairs (by maaowing back at him - DUH) to see what's up. He runs up the stairs, and I can't help but notice that his normal pitter patter is combined with RATTLERATTLERATTLERATTLERATTLERATTLE!

Oh. Gawd.

The only thing I can picture is that squeaky dog scene from the movie Snatch. I'm already fearing he has somehow found and swallowed one of my daughter's Squinkies. Ugh. I rub my eyes and turn on the light as Jagger walks into the room...

What, um, what? He's crying and crying because he wants to play ball?!?! And then I realize what's really going on.

My silly, overeager pussy tried to deep throat his own ball and got his teeth stuck in it. 
(That's what she said.) Genius. 

I remove his gag, give him a good scratch under his chin and tell him what a silly boy he is, and turn off the light to try and get a little more shuteye. Until moments later when I hear...

ping-pa-ping-ping-rattlerattlerattlerattle-ping-pa-ping-ping!

Sigh. I shake my head. He's batting the toy all around the bedroom, down the hall, and back downstairs. Will he never learn???

After all that, my 3 year old wakes up at 5:10. Happy Halloween!!! Gonna be a long day/night.



I ran some errands with my cranky lil' girlfriend. We put on some festive flair.


I call this her JoliEvil look. She wears it on the daily, but she's normally able to cloak the appearance of the horns from everyone but immediate family. Not today! Not. To. Day.

Later on...

We had a costume change. Don't I look younger????





If you said yes, go fuck yourself. That's obviously my son, asshole.

He dressed up as a science nerd (complete with Sheldon laugh), and the girlfriend was Rapunkzel. See what I did there? She wears that damned costume pretty much everyday, so we had to give it some originality. It actually fits her personality perfectly. (Ironically, my son's costume wasn't much of a stretch, either.)

Hubby was stuck at work most of the night, so I put on some comfy clothes and geared up for the long night of walking.


I call my costume Closet Wino Soccer Mom (yes, that's wine in m'sippy cup).

It was a decent evening. Kids got gobs of candy. They had their fill of it when we got home, brushed their teeth, and went to bed. I actually only had about 2 pieces of candy in total. I just wasn't feeling it this year. Some of the classics looked appealing (hello, Reese's Cup Pumkin), but when I bit into them, they were disappointing. I figured, why continue to eat even this "fun size" candy if I'm not really enjoying it? I see it as banking some calories for a real foodgasm some other time. We all crave indulgent food, but when we choose to indulge, it should be something that leaves us SATISFIED! If it's not waving your flag, don't keep eating it "just because." I'm hoping that thinking will help me through the next couple months of serial foodgasming without looking like I'm bulking up for hibernation.

Happy November!







Thursday, October 24, 2013

Get Me Out of My Comfy Pants!

I'm still here, promise. I haven't been in the kitchen as much the last couple of weeks. Sorry to say we've eaten quite a bit of takeout, and I'm even more sorry to say that it's starting to catch up with my waistline. Time to reel things in a bit before I have to put on my real big girl panties, aka Spanx. But that doesn't mean the family will be eating rabbit food until Thanksgiving. I've got a couple of comforting dishes up my sleeve, and they'll help me come back from this food-guilt-trip I've been on. Both are delicious - spicy with a hint of sweet - and they're packed with nutrients. The first is my chicken chili, filled with warm spices and a bit of cocoa to mimic the flavor of Mexican molé sauce. The second is my sausage and white bean soup with an autumn spin. They both get better with age, so feel free to make them ahead.

Holy Molé Chicken Chili

Ingredients 
1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
nonstick cooking spray
salt
olive oil
1 large portobello mushroom cap, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 pasilla pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 bunch collard greens, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 tbs chili powder OR 1 tsp ancho chile powder + 1 1/2 tsp each cumin and coriander
1 tsp dried oregano or epazote
*1/2 tsp cinnamon
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
*1/2 tsp ginger
*1/4 tsp cardamom
*1/4 tsp cloves
(*or substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs tomato paste
12 oz dark beer, such as Guinness
1 large can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock/broth
1 small sweet potato, chopped (skin on or off)
2 cans low sodium beans, your favorite variety, such as kidney and/or black beans (I used one of each)
handful of raisins
handful of tortilla chips
1 lime
1/2 cup shredded cheese, your favorite kind (I used a habanero jack)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
chopped scallion for garnish
chopped avocado for garnish

Preheat a soup pot or large, deep skillet to med-high heat. Spray the chicken thighs with nonstick spray and season liberally with salt. Add to the searingly hot pan and cook until deeply browned on both sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Add 1 tbs olive oil to the pan, then add the mushrooms. Cook until they begin to brown, then add the onion, peppers, and a pinch of salt. Cook until they begin to soften and brown on the edges. (A crust will develop on the bottom of the pan - this is a good thing!) Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, then add the greens. Cook a minute or 2 to wilt them. Add the corn, spices, and cocoa powder. Toast the spices in the pan for about a minute. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate; cook for another minute or so to bring out its flavor. Add the beer. Let it work its magic for a minute, then scrape all the crust off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon (the beer will loosen it). Add the tomatoes and their juice, and break them  up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the stock/broth and the sweet potato. Bring the chili to a boil. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add it to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated with it. Reduce the chili to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.

While the chili simmers, add half the beans (and any of their liquid that falls in) to a blender or food processor (1 whole can or 1/2 a can of each if using 2 different kinds). Add the rest of the beans to the simmering chili. Add a handful of raisins and tortilla chips to the blender, and puree the mixture completely. Add the raisin/bean/chip puree to the chili and stir to incorporate. If the chili is too thick, add a bit of water to your preferred consistency. Taste for salt and season as needed. If the chili is too thin, simmer uncovered until it reduces to your liking (or remove some of the chili and puree it in the blender and add it back to the pot to thicken it).

Squeeze half the lime into the chili, and stir in the cilantro. Use the other half of the lime to dress the avocado. Serve garnished with shredded cheese, cilantro, green onion, and avocado (or any combination of those or any other garnish you enjoy).

Serves 6     Prep Time - 10 minutes     Cook Time -  about 45 minutes





And dennnnnnnnnn...

NO AND DEN!

And dennnnnnnnnn...





Feels Like Fall Sausage & White Bean Soup


This soup has a lovely balance of savory, sweet, and spicy thanks to the chicken-apple sausage, butternut squash, crushed red pepper, nutmeg, and the many layers of appley goodness going on in it.

Ingredients
2 tbs canola oil
1 package uncured chicken-apple sausage, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large apple, chopped
salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 smallish bunch kale (tough stems removed), chopped
1 cup hard apple cider
1 bay leaf
*sage stems (optional)
3 cups butternut squash, cubed (fresh or frozen and thawed)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup apple juice or cider
3 cups chicken stock or 3 cups water + good quality chicken base
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained


Preheat a soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, and when it shimmers add the sausage. Cook until evenly browned. Add the onion, celery, and apples, season with salt and the crushed pepper, and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add the kale and cook a couple of minutes to wilt it. Add the hard cider to the pot and stir it around, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the squash, bay, sage stems, nutmeg, juice, and stock/broth to the pot. bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the beans. Taste the soup for salt and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Slurp.

Serves 6     Prep time - 10 minutes     Cook time - 30 minutes









Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Waffle Witch Plays (w/ her) Chicken


Everyone's heard of chicken and waffles. It's a tried and true, sweet-and-savory combination. There are restaurants named after it... Lay's recently offered it as a limited edition flavor of potato chip... hell, if you Google "chicken and," it's the second suggestion on the list after chicken and dumplings. And for good reason. Can you say, foodgasm? Anyway, due to my recent dabbling in wafflewichcraft, my waffle iron has been getting constant use, and my witchy-wheels got to turning yesterday after I cooked up a batch of Clinton Kelly's insanely delicious (and figure-friendly!) crispy chicken thighs. (Seriously, guys - so freaking good! I cook them at 450 degrees for 45-55 mins until they are borderline chicken-jerky on the outside and moist inside.)




<------ Clinton's Crispy Chicken Thighs















If you can resist the overwhelming urge to immediately snarf the whole sheet, then, first of all, you are superhuman. Second of all, put those bad boys in the refrigerator and eat them the next day as a midday snack or for lunch. They totes taste like cold fried chicken, are full of protein, and are under 150 calories per thigh.

The fam and I are less than superhuman, and we may have eaten a sheet of 8 small thighs among us, shortly after these emerged from the oven. Minus a few pan scrapings/pickings I saved for later...





Crispity, crunchity, chickeny goodness ------>














After eyefucking those crunchy bits for longer than I'd like to admit, my eyes wandered to the shiny waffle iron sitting a few feet away. Hmmm...

Chicken...


Waffles...


Chicken and waffles...


Chicken in waffles?


Chicken. In. Waffles.

YES!!!!!!!!



Chick'n'Waffles



Before you bawk at the idea of these, give them a chance!

Couldn't resist. Sorry.

(So not sorry.)

You could very easily prepare these according to your favorite waffle recipe, with the additions of the spices, syrup, and, of course, the chicken. I wanted to make them a bit healthier, so I made a 
grain-free/gluten-free version.

Ingredients:
2 tbs chia seeds
6 Tbs water
3 Tbs coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond, coconut, or dairy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cornmeal (preferably stone ground)
1/2 cup tapioca starch, arrowroot, or cornstarch
2 tbs coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup crispy chicken pieces, finely chopped

Mix the chia seeds and water in a small mixing bowl and allow to set/gel while you prepare the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the almond flour, cornmeal, starch, coconut flour, baking powder, and spices. Reserve.

To the chia seeds, add the coconut oil, pumpkin, egg, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet. Gently mix until almost combined. Add in the chicken, and gently fold in until completely combined. 
Do not over mix. Allow batter to rest while you preheat a waffle iron.

Pour the batter onto the iron, close the lid, and cook until the iron stops (or mostly stops) steaming, about 3 minutes. Remove and repeat.

These are delicious with a classic maple syrup, but they are over-the-top served with this maple-mustard syrup:

Maple-Mustard Syrup

Ingredients:
1 cup real maple syrup
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 whole cloves

Whisk all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook 15-20 minutes, until syrup has reduced a bit. Remove cloves before serving.

The waffles topped with this syrup are a perfect balance of sweet and savory. One of my new favorite breakfasts. For reals.

And if you really want your family to love your face off...

go OVERTHETOP and serve these waffles with my family's favorite bacon.






































I'm not kidding. After one bite of this badass breakfast, my 10 year old son closed his eyes for a moment (to savor - duh- taught him well), opened them and looked at me and said, "Mom, I'm so glad you're my mom."

If that doesn't melt your heart, this bacon just might.

Black Pepper Brown Sugar Bacon

Ingredients:
8-12 slices good quality (preferable uncured) peppered bacon
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup brown (or coconut/palm) sugar

Line a half sheet pan with a silicone mat or with nonstick foil. Line up the bacon slices on the pan. Slather the bacon in the mustard, flip over, and slather the other side. Sprinkle half the sugar all over the bacon, then flip over again and sprinkle the rest on the other side. Place the pan in the oven, and set the (cold) oven to 350 degrees. Bake until the bacon has rendered its fat, about 20-30 mins, flipping the slices occasionally for even cooking. Cool a few minutes and serve. 

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, bring this bacon into contact with paper towels. 

Unless you want a lot more fiber in your diet.

Once you pull the bacon off the lined pan to serve it, there will be delicious bacon caramel (a.k.a. "bacon crack") semi-stuck to the pan. Please don't waste it. EATIT! Or save it. It freezes beautifully in a freezer bag. Use it like sprinkles on your favorite things... cupcakes, cobblers/crumbles, ice cream, in your oatmeal/grits... IDONTCAREJUSTEATIT!!!



UPDATE!

Who doesn't love a little recognition?! Thank you, EveryDay w/ Rachael Ray magazine for featuring this recipe on your blog! 'Twas very exciting!

You can read the feature on their blog.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Accidental Awesomeness




It looks like a waffle, but it's So. Much. Better. And simpler! What??? Yep. Three ingredients + three minutes = endless possibilities of crunchy, cheesy heaven. This immaculate conception was the fruit of poor planning on my part. I wanted to make dippable, savory pumpkin waffles for a batch of soup, but I was out of one of the key ingredients, pumpkin. I looked in the fridge and pantry, thought outside the box a bit, and whammy! Waffle-toast was born. 


Trinity Waffle-Toast

Ingredients:
sliced bread of your choosing
shredded or sliced cheese of your choosing
spreadable fat of your choosing

Preheat your waffle iron and spray with nonstick spray. Choose your canvas - the bread. Any sliced bread will work, but this is your chance to get fancy if you want. I happened to have a pumpkin streusel bread on hand, so I went with that. (Cinnamon raisin bread would be fab in this!) Spread the fat evenly across one side of your chosen bread - I used coconut oil, but you could use butter, bacon fat, or other spreadable lube. Flip the bread over and top the un-lubed side with the cheese of your liking - I used smoked cheddar. Cut the bread in half or in quarters and place on the hot waffle iron, cheese side up.

Close the iron and smush it shut to press the bread down completely. Cook until your waffle iron tells you it's done (the light on mine clicks off). Open the iron.


Don't. Freak. Out.

(I freaked out a little.)

 Yes, the waffle toast is stuck to the top of the iron. S'okay, dawg. It's not really stuck, it's just kinda stuck. With a fork, gently unstick a corner of each piece, and the piece will begin to easily release. Fork it until gets falls off. Be carefee during the prying process; it's still a hot waffle iron, and steam is an asshole. But the fruits of your minimal labor shall be handsomely and foodgasmically rewarded.


The bottom is toasty and golden, and the entire top is like the crispy-cheese edges of a pizza for which my family battles. It's amazing. I didn't even really want the soup once I tasted it, I just wanted 12 more slices! The nice thing about quartering the slices was that it felt like I got 4 pieces of sinful deliciousness, but it was really just one slice of doctored-up bread.

My wheels got to turning on future uses for this application...


































Homemade turkey-apple sausage patties + trinity waffle-toasts =
Breakfast sammie to-die-for.

This method also has me rethinking panini. Can you say, wafflewich? (It rhymes with YUM.)




I'm off to practice more wafflewich-craft.










Sunday, October 6, 2013

Eat Me Now, Or Eat Me Later... Just Eat Me

It's Sunday, and I slept 'til 9:30 this morning. It was glorious. Apart from a narrowly avoided incident at 6am, anyway. Let's just say my dreaming subconscious tried to lure me into some very real incontinence, and that's a trick for which I will not fall. Again. (The last time it happened, I was six. I promise.) Trick me once, shame on you, brain. Trick me twice, and Jake would be a very unhappy bedmate. I normally have trouble going back to sleep once I'm awake, but I guess the very near miss of shitting myself was traumatic enough to require a few more zzz's. Jake, on the other hand, couldn't get out of bed fast enough. I can't imagine why.
It's a lazy, watching-football-in-our-jammies, shower-optional (and very unlikely) kind of day in our house today, and I'm so happy our dinner was already waiting in the fridge. I made it last week when I had a free hour, so all I had to do today was reheat it and warm up some bread for dipping. And like most soups, this one only got better with age.

Roasted Tomato Soup w/ White Beans, Collards, & Bacon 
Prep time - 15 minutes Cook time - 45 minutes 
Serves 6


Ingredients

6 oz uncured bacon, chopped 
1 onion, chopped 
1 large carrot, chopped 
2 ribs celery, chopped 
1 bay leaf
kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper 
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
*1 small can tomato paste 
2/3 cup red or white wine 
*2 small cans or 1 large can fire roasted tomatoes (such as muir glen) 
1 tbs fresh sage, chopped 
1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped 
1/4 tsp nutmeg 
1 can cannelini or other white beans, rinsed and drained 
1/2 bag frozen broccoli/carrot/cauliflower blend 
1 qt chicken stock 
3 oz grated aged gouda, plus the cheese rind 
1 bunch of collards (or other hearty, dark green), stemmed, chopped, and washed 
2 tbs honey (optional)

*Note - you may substitute 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce (preferably an organic one) for the tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Skip the step about cooking the tomato paste, and be aware that you will probably require less salt and no honey (as many jarred sauces have quite a bit of sodium and sugar).

Add the bacon to a non-preheated soup pot and set the heat to medium. (More fat will render if you start in an unheated pan). When the bacon is crisp, remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings and reserve for another use. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay, a liberal pinch of salt, and the crushed pepper. Cook the veggies until they soften and begin to brown on the edges, 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add the tomato paste and cook a minute more, stirring to incorporate. It will probably look like a big red glob, but just keep moving it around the pan to mix it into the veggies/bacon and toast the tomato paste a bit. Add the wine and scrape up the crusty brown bits on the bottom of the pot (don't be afraid of the crusties - you didn't burn anything; they're going to add lots of flavor).





When the wine has mostly cooked out, add the tomatoes, sage, thyme, and nutmeg and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine 1/2 the beans, the frozen veggies, stock, and the grated cheese (reserve the rind); puree until smooth.



Add this mixture to the soup pot, along with the cheese rind. (The rind will steep in the soup.) Bring the soup to a boil, and add the chopped collards, honey (optional), and the remaining beans.




Reduce heat to simmer, 15-20 minutes. Serve, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate for a future meal. Reheat over low heat when ready to serve. Remove cheese rind and bay leaf before serving. 









I know what you're thinking. The soup looks fine and dandy and pretty damned delicious...


But.


What, Oh WHAT!, is that waffle business?!?! It's a new level of foodgasm, that's what it is. And a spontaneous one, at that. The best one's are, aren't they? Accidental awesomeness, that's what that business is!!!

And I'm going to share it with you. 






Just not today. 
(evil laugh)

Stay tuned!



Saturday, October 5, 2013

Salty, Sweet Satisfaction






Need I say more? Probably not. But since I'd love for you to be able to experience this foodgasm for yourself, I will.

But first.

Next time you're at Starbucks, I highly recommend you try this:

It's their famous fall staple, a Caramel Apple Spice... but with their salt topping. In other words, a salted caramel apple cider. Yep. I did that. And so should you. It's the perfect balance of flavors, and not too sweet. And you'd better get that whipped cream! Ermuhgerd. Perfection. Unless your guts hate dairy, in which case you may want to avoid that part. (But the diarrhea -pffft, pffft- might just be worth it.)

And NOW... the brownies.












But first.






Just kidding.

The idea for these started after I'd recently sampled a local seasonal Kona coffee infused porter beer - its flavor reminded me of chocolate, coffee, and bacon. I knew immediately that it needed to find its way into a dessert. A few days later, I spotted a guava smoked sea salt at Whole Foods. I snatched it up, and today these brownies were born. Although these guys look like a one-way ticket to Obee-City, nutritionally they're really not that bad. For brownies. There's still fat and sugar and lots of flavor, but compared to your typical brownie, you can feel a lot better about eating the whole pan your share of these. (My Inner Fat-Girl whispers, "If you did eat the whole pan, you'd technically be getting nearly 2 full servings of vegetables. That's practically like eating a salad, right?") 

Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies with Smoky Salted Caramel Frosting
prep time: 5 minutes cook time: 20-25 minutes


Ingredientses:
(because I like to talk like a RHONJ when I cook, don't youse?)


Brownies

5 oz dark chocolate chips
3 tbs coconut oil (or unsalted butter or bacon fat)
*1/2 tsp smoked sea salt 
1 to 11/2 tsp instant espresso powder (or 1 Starbucks via pack)
1 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2/3 cup pumpkin purée 
1/3 cup porter or extra stout beer 
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
pinch of cayenne 
pinch inch cloves 
**1/2 cup unbleached flour 
**1/2 c whole wheat flour 
Additional smoked salt for sprinkling


*you may substitute 1/2 tsp sea salt+1/4 tsp liquid smoke)
**or 1 cup gluten free flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan by lining with nonstick foil or by spraying with nonstick spray and lining with parchment paper. To a medium sized microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips, coconut oil, salt, and espresso powder. Microwave for 1 minute at 50% power. Remove and stir. Microwave in 30 second increments at 50% power until chips are melted after stirring, approximately 2 more times. Stir the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture until combined. Reserve.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, beer, vanilla, and spices. Add the pumpkin mixture to the chocolate and stir to combine. A few tablespoons at a time, sprinkle the flours over the batter and fold in gently with a spatula. Do not overwork. The batter is ready when just a few hints of flour are still visible. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted an inch from the edge of the pan comes out cleanly.

Cool ten minutes in pan on a cooling rack, then remove from pan and cool completely on the rack. Cut into squares (cleaning the knife in hot water after each cut will make a neater job of it) and serve sprinkled with smoked salt, or top with smokey caramel frosting and a sprinkle of smoked salt.
Makes 9-12 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

Smokey Salted Caramel Frosting
prep time: 5 minutes
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
*2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp molasses
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 1/2 tbs porter or extra stout beer

*I used 2 cups powdered coconut sugar, which I made by grinding 2 cups coconut sugar + 2 tbs tapioca flour [or arrowroot powder, or cornstarch] in the dry container of my Vitamix.

In a food processor (or using a mixer), blend all ingredients until just combined. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to set, and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Frost cooled brownies and sprinkle with a pinch of smoked salt. Serve.

There are worse ways to eat your vegetables.


I've also included the recipe for a gluten free and grain free (and antioxidant packed) version of the brownies. They are very moist and dense, but with a sort of cakey texture. There may be some ingredients(es) you haven't used before, but they are becoming more and more popular, and thus easier to find.


5 oz dark chocolate chips
3 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 cup almond flour
2 tbs coconut flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp smoked salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of cayenne
1 oz cacao nibs
4 Medjool dates, halved and pits removed
1 egg
2/3 c pumpkin
1/3 c porter or extra stout beer
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 or 9x9 square pan by lining with nonstick foil or by spraying with nonstick spray and lining with parchment paper. To a medium sized microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips, coconut oil, and espresso powder. Microwave for 1 minute at 50% power. Remove and stir. Microwave in 30 second increments at 50% power until chips are melted after stirring, approximately 2 more times. 

In a food processor, pulse the flours, sugar, salt, spices, and cacao nibs until combined. Add the dates and pulse to the texture of coarse sand. Add the egg, pumpkin, beer, and vanilla. Pulse until just combined. Pour in the melted chocolate and pulse again until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted an inch from the edge of the pan comes out cleanly. Cool ten minutes in pan on a cooling rack, then remove from pan and cool completely on the rack. Cut into squares (cleaning the knife in hot water after each cut will make a neater job of it) and serve sprinkled with smoked salt, or top with smokey caramel frosting and a sprinkle of smoked salt.






            



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Don't Judge Me!


My name is Jessica, and I go nuts for doughnuts. It's sad, but true. It was never a problem like this before we moved here - pre-Hawaii I was a big fan, but I usually only indulged in the best, freshest specimens, i.e. Long's Bakery in Indianapolis - holler! - or a fresh-from-the-fryer Krispy Kreme (sorry Dunkin' - not a fan), and those were few and far between. But despite years of nutritious eating, and despite how terrible for you they are, I could motorboat a good doughnut right now. There are just no great doughnuts on Oahu! One place, Agnes Bakery in Kailua, actually puts out a dayum good product with love in every bite, but it's a jaunt to get out there, and in the words of Forrest Gump, "You never know what you're gonna get." Their selection changes daily, so I can never depend on getting what I'm craving, which is always something with lots of filling. Doughnuts are merely tender vessels for frostings and fillings (unless they are fresh from the fryer, that is). That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. So essentially, I've been without a reliable doughnut shop for two years. Until recently, I honestly didn't realize that I missed them so much. Maybe because Oahu is so tropicalislandish and gorgeousy? But this past July, Gilligan left the island and made her way to Washington (state) to visit her sister wife/BBFL (best bitch for life) and rediscovered a lost love.







   Becky and Jess 7/24/13



A love of food is just one of the bazillion things Becky and I have in common, and our conversations frequently and spontaneously drift to foodgasmic topics (usually after working out). Early on in my visit, we began to talk doughnuts, and I went dough-nuts when she told me of all the great places in the area. Let's just say that during our 2 week stay, Jake and I bought 6-7 dozen doughnuts. Yup. The only reason we didn't explode was that we shared said dozens among 9 people, and if you count the fact that Becky and I split every one (or half of one) we tried, it really wasn't that bad. It was vacation, after all! (And you can bet we snuck in some cardio to buy us plenty more foodgasms!) Anyway, our last doughnut stop was Krispy Kreme, one of my faves. I know, I know... commercial and full of cancer and corn syrup and IDON'TCAREILOVEIT! A few green smoothies will balance it out. (This is what I tell myself.) I hadn't had a Krispy Kreme in years, and it was probably for that reason that they tasted so UH-MAZ-ING. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that. I'm all about their kreme filling... I think the main ingredient is Jesus juice (IF you know what I mean). I savored the flavor (totally swallowed) and filed it away in the foodgasm spank-bank. Alas, I feared it would be a year or more before I'd get another fix, for the only Krispy Kreme in Hawaii is on Maui.

Cut to last week.

Jake had a 3 day business trip to Maui. The Krispy-Kreme-Konnection never even occurred to me - I was just happy it was a short trip and that he'd be in the same time zone, instead of 3000 or more miles away - until his first night there when I received a text from him and the following conversation ensued:



 

No. Shame. Okay, not true. Completely ashamed (mostly of the overuse of LOL). But did that stop me from reminding him before he came home?







Nope.



















Best Husband Ever award goes to Jake.

In my defense, 2 dozen went straight to the freezer for safe keeping (until next month's PMS bout). Even I'm not that shameless, although we may have eaten doughnuts for dinner that night.

It was 2 days later when shit got REAL.






Chocolate. Bacon. Kreme. Filled. Doughnut. Sandwich.





















Oh, yes. I did.
Thrice. 

















Pardon me while I do some not-so-spontaneous-but-totally-worth-it cardio.

*Sincere apologies to all my Hawaii friends for my unwillingness to share in the stockpile. I seriously considered not posting this story for fear of the repercussions. Don't hate me because I'm dough-nuts!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Best. Grilled Cheese. Ever.


Panino would be a more accurate description, I suppose, but whatever you call it, this sammie has officially become the family favorite grilled cheese. Serious. Foodgasm.  It was inspired by Daphne Oz's roasted cauliflower grilled cheese with jalapeño aioli from her fabulous cookbook Relish. I've made her exact recipe once before, and it was amaze balls. This time around I was too lazy to open the book decided to wing it with what I could remember from her recipe. I used roasted cauliflower, caramelized onions, smoked swiss cheese, spring mix greens, and a quick sweet and spicy jalapeño dressing. The result was smoky, gooey, crunchy, buttery, slightly sweet, salty, and uh-MAY-zing. The only thing that could have improved on the flavor was bacon - duh - but I was trying to keep the sandwich vegetarian. It was pure decadence with some veggies thrown in to make me feel better about eating it. The cauliflower, onions, and dressing can all be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until you're ready to assemble the sammies.

Ingredients:

For the roasted cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, sliced lengthwise into steaks
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs curry powder
salt and pepper

For the caramelized onions
1 large or 2 small onions, halved and sliced into half moons
1 tbs olive oil
salt
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp rubbed sage or 2 tsp fresh chopped sage
1/2 cup dry white wine

For the dressing
1 small or 1/2 a large jalapeño, finely chopped
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder

For the sandwiches
8 slices hearty sandwich bread (such as Dave's Killer Bread)
4 tsp butter
8 slices smoked swiss cheese (such as Tillamook)
1 cup spring mix salad

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. To make the cauliflower, slice it from the top of the head through the bottom into 1/4" steaks. You will probably only get 3 good "steaks" out of the head, the rest of it will crumble into florets, and that's ok. For easy cleanup, line a sheet pan with nonstick foil. Gently place the sliced cauliflower on the pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Use a pastry brush or your fingers to evenly coat the pieces. Season the top sides with curry powder, pepper, and a liberal amount of salt. Roast for 18 minutes, gently flip them over, then roast an additional 5 mins until caramelized. Reserve. This can be done ahead of time, just be careful how you store them in the refrigerator so as not to break them up too much.

To make the onions, preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat it until it shimmers when you shake the pan. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt. Once they begin to turn translucent, at the water and bay leaf. Simmer, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the sage, and sauté the onions another 10 minutes or so until deep golden brown and caramelized all over, stirring and scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon every 1 or 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the pan more, getting up all the browned bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. Keep onions refrigerated until ready to use.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a lidded jar and give them a good shake. Store in fridge until ready to use.

Preheat a nonstick skillet or griddle to medium low heat. To assemble the sandwiches, lay out 4 slices of bread on a work surface. Butter one side of each slice of bread with 1/2 tsp of butter and flip them all over. Spread each slice with a little dressing. Layer one slice of cheese, a layer of cauliflower, 1/4 of the onions, 1/4 of the lettuces, and another slice of cheese. Repeat for all 4 sandwiches. Butter the other 4 slices of bread, flip over, spread with remaining dressing, and top the assembled sandwiches with their tops, buttered side up. Cook individually in a skillet or together on a griddle. Brown the first side until deep brown and crispy (I like to periodically flatten down the sandwiches with a spatula), 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip and brown the second side, 2-3 minutes.

Cut into triangles and DEVOUR as slowly as you are able. Multiple foodgasms will ensue.

serves 4