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Friday, April 22, 2011

Curd and Cookies

Spring is finally here, friends! With rain and flowers come a whole slew of holidays as well. With Passover drawing to an end and Easter about to begin, you might prefer to shut your eyes and kick your feet up rather than slave in the kitchen, whipping up goodies. Well, you're in luck! Mother's Day is right around the corner too, and if you're a mom, kicking your feet up is the name of the game.

However, before we get pampered and spoiled by OUR families, we need to remember our own mothers and make sure the day is just as special for the women who raised us and put up with our childhood shenanigans year after year.

No matter what you have planned for your Mom this year, a little something sweet always makes any day a bit nicer. And what with the flowers blooming and birds singing, that something sweet is all the better when it's bright and bursting with fresh flavor.

Lemon curd! I know the name isn't glamorous, but the flavor definitely is. Thick and creamy, lemon curd is a basic lemon custard that can be used an a million different ways. It can be the bottom of a lemon meringue pie. You can schmear it on toast or muffins (lemon curd on a blueberry muffin? Get out of town, it's to die for!) Or, of course, there's always my favorite way--just eating it with a spoon.

These cookies and curd are perfect for a ladies' tea, brunch, gift baskets, dessert, you name it! And it doesn't take more than the wink of an eye to get everything put together, which leaves more time for you to sit with those feet up!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beefauxroni Bake

Hello, friends! Good to see you.

My kids and I were strolling through the grocery store today, buying some staples and ingredients for this weeks' Food Forum ingredient challenge. My son spotted a can of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni and asked if we could have that for dinner. Now, I'm not gonna go all snobby on you and claim that the Chef and I haven't had an on-again-off-again romance most of my teenage and early adult life. I still find myself craving those raviolis now and again.

However, beefaroni is one thing that should just never, ever be eaten from a can. It's too delicious made from scratch! Or even kind-of from scratch. I'm channeling the Horrific-Hanukkah-Cake queen, Sandra Lee, folks. This recipe mostly comes from various packages, with a handful of fresh ingredients, but it's FAR better, even in its semi-homemade state, than any canned beefaroni you'll find on a shelf. Not to mention, it's entirely vegetarian, low fat, and kosher (dairy). And the kid loves it! Win/win!

Just please--let's keep this between us. The Chef doesn't need to know, m'kay?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brown Sugar Blondies

So I poised over the keyboard for a good 15 minutes, trying to write an interesting opening for these blondies. But really, they speak for themselves and require no introduction.

But they do require some raving.

They absolutely melt in your mouth.
They're studded with melty chocolate chunks and chewy caramel gems.
I brought them to a dear friend's birthday party this past weekend, and one of her guests asked if I'd snuck crack into them. Truly, you cannot have just one.

These are some evil damn blondies.

I made an extra large batch for a party of 20. You can halve this recipe for smaller groups, but really, you shouldn't. They'll disappear quickly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elotes Asados con Chile

Is there anything better than food carts? Walkin' down the sidewalk, and those savory aromas come wafting by, promising something hot and tasty, all wrapped up in foil like a happy little snack cocoon... Mm. In Philly, you can count on a rockin' cheesesteak sandwich. In Chicago? A dog loaded with all the fixin's. In New York, everything from falafel to bagels and lox. Even at Six Flags, you can count on a food cart to serve up lemon ices, cotton candy, and those freakishly enormous turkey legs.

Nothing bad ever came from a mobile food vendor.

A hot elote just further supports my position. In Mexico, elotes are common street fare. Sometimes they're served up on the cob, and sometimes the kernels are shucked off and served in a cup with a fork. Either way you serve it, you're guaranteed to get some oohs and aahs if you add this recipe to your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Elotes and margaritas? Don't mind if I do!

But wait. What is an elote, anyway?

Elote: [el-OH-tay] It's awesome. But besides that, it's grilled corn, brushed in a spicy chili lime sauce and rolled in cotija cheese.

Let that sink in. Fresh, grilled corn. Chili lime sauce. Rolled in cheese. Ohhhh yeah.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Whole Wheat Feta Pizza

Every now and then, even the most devoted of dieters craves something a little crusty and covered in sauce. Something a little cheesy. Something a little...oh, dare I say...naughty?

I'm far from a devoted dieter, but with summer fast approaching, I am definitely watching what I put in my mouth a little more closely. But while I'm doing that, my palate doesn't have to suffer. Healthy food doesn't have to be a parade of boring salads or plain chicken breasts, oh no. In fact, the healthiest foods are usually abundant in color and flavor.

Think of all the dirtiest comfort foods people usually turn to--mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cake, butter, chips, bread, cheese pizza... it's all different shades of brown. That's not pretty. And anything boring to look at probably isn't too healthy, either. Mother Nature is not boring.

The beauty of pizza is that you can put anything on it. There are a million substitutions you could use in place of a processed, starchy crust and gooey mozzarella to make your homemade pizza a little lighter, and a lot more fresh.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Double Sweet Potato Medallions

Alrighty, 'tato lovers, hold onto your seats. This thing is three layers of joy. Sweet potato, layered in sweet potato, seasoned with cayenne and cinnamon, and fried to a golden finish. Holy moly.

I don't know if I should admit to this, but I honestly wasn't expecting them to be this good. I thought, "Eh, let's just experiment a bit and see what happens." Imagine how tickled I was when not only did they turn out beautiful, but also super yummy and very versatile.

You can serve these as I do all my latke dishes--with hummus and green onion-- or with sour cream, greek yogurt, even JAM! Yes, jam. I tried one smeared with a little strawberry jam, and It. Was. Amazing. Cream cheese? Go for it! Honey butter? Get out of town! There are a thousand different variations. You can make them large and serve them under poached eggs for brunch, or you can make them small and plop a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of honey over them for a sweet-but-not-too-sweet dessert. Oh my, I'm making myself hungry all over again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Black & Blue Vegan Tacos

So I suppose I should pause "Tangled" long enough to actually write a blog post tonight, hm? Anyone who secretly has a 6 year old girl living somewhere inside them and hasn't seen this movie, you need to. Really. I've seen it three times today. Hey, at $4.99 On Demand, I'm getting my money's worth. It's adorable!

And just for the record? Wow! I'm completely boggled by what animators can do with graphics these days. All this technology!

...Apparently, I also happen to have a half-blind old lady living inside me who can't program her VCR and thinks "Bluetooth" is a pirate. It gets crowded in here.

Okay, anyway. Dinner.

Any time I think I've come up with a brand spankin' new idea or coined a new term, I go to Google to double check. So far, I only have one recipe that seem to be purely original--gooey butter cakeballs. You haven't seen those yet, but they're coming, I promise. I have successfully created them, and they were fabulous.

Ahem. Tacos. Right.

While this recipe surely isn't anything new, or even all that creative, I didn't see any other taco on Google (in my admittedly lazy and halfhearted search)called a "Black & Blue". So it's mine! I'm claiming it! Make a note.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Red Beans & Rice

Brrr! Yesterday was cold!

I yearned for something hearty that would bring me back to the good ol' days when my mom would make big pots of something hot and tasty for the family and dinner would be served with a giant spoon. I had a pound of smoked turkey sausage hangin' around, and I always keep a stash of dried beans and lentils handy, so I thought I'd go back and visit an old favorite.

Spicy and popping with flavor, this dish hit the spot. And true to tradition, dinner was served last night, piping hot, with a giant spoon. Ahhh, just like momma used to make.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Even though I'm supposed to be taking a brief hiatus from rich desserts, I'm going to make an exception here. I feel like NOT posting these would be robbing you, and I'm pretty sure robbing a friend from sweet, toffee flavored treats is some seriously bad juju. So in the spirit of friendship, I offer you cookies. With melty chocolate. And browned butter.

If you've never tasted browned butter, you should know that it's heartily reminiscent of rich toffee or caramel. It'll lend your cookies a deep decadence without any added ingredients or flavoring. And it's really easy to make, too. Score one for easy, right?

Because the butter in this recipe is melted and browned instead of whipped, the cookies end up thick and chewy. They're the perfect recipe for someone who likes their cookies a bit less fluffy. Oh, and the best part? Your whole house will smell like toffee for days. It really doesn't get much better than this, lovies.

Browned butter:
Also known by the French as "buerre noisette", or literally translated, "hazelnut butter" for its distinct flavor.