Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dark Chocolate and Walnut Pumpkin Cookies

I want to talk about cookies. I think now is as good a time as ever to have such a talk.

Cookies are so necessary. Always. That’s really all I have to say on the matter.

Ok, well really, there is more. I’m completely guilty of loving Oreos way more than a person should, particularly the double-stuffed peanut butter variety. I’m also guilty of feeling immense joy during Girl Scout cookie season. 18 boxes of thin mints, 20 boxes of samoas, and a tag along or 12 while you’re at it. I love a good store bought cookie. Who doesn’t?!

I also have a fear of baking. See my post on pink lemonade cupcakes for more on why…

I love, however, an easy recipe that takes some of that immense stress off of the baker (namely, me) and still yields a delicious sweet treat.

Enter boxed cake mixes (have all the real bakers of the world given up hope on me?!). These things are a good place to start for the not-so-advanced, burn savvy baker (again…me). Doctor them up a bit and, as long as you make your sweet treat with love, I don’t think anyone will object.

Fall flavors are in full swing – I can tell, because a LOT more people are walking around with Starbucks cups. I KNOW you have a pumpkin spice latte in there. I know this because I do, too. No reason to be ashamed. Pumpkin is delicious. So I wanted to make something with pumpkin.

The secret is definitely out on how to make an easy yet delicious pumpkin cookie.

I’m going to add dark chocolate chunks and walnuts to mine. That brings the total number of ingredients to 5.

Fearful bakers of the world: let’s do this thing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Things just got a little out of hand in my kitchen. I'm not upset about it. I don't think you will be either.

I took Philly Cheesesteak. And I stuffed a pepper with it. Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers.

Oh my god.

OK, so here's the back story.

A couple of weekends ago, I went out to Philadelphia to visit my friend Lauren. We went to college together and continue to keep in touch despite the fact that our work took us to two different cities 6 hours away.

After much discussion about a Philadelphia trip, we finally manned up and made it happen. It's SO easy to procrastinate planning and use the excuse of "I'm too dang busy." Well, my challenge for you is to stop SAYING you're going to go on this vacation, go visit this old friend, or travel to some cool landmark and JUST DO IT. You'll be so much happier after you do.

Now, despite the fact that it was 1 million degrees and rising this weekend, we had an awesome weekend. I requested that we do some super touristy things because I had never been to Philly. We went to the Rocky steps at the art museum, visited the Liberty Bell, took way too many pictures outside old City Hall, and we even went to a Phillies game!

But there was one request I DEMANDED be met.

I had to have one authentic, delicious, gut-busting Philly Cheesesteak.

Lauren oblidged handsomely to this request. I have come to consider her the "Tour Guide of the Year."

We went to her personal favorite cheese steak location, and I can totally see why it tops the list. The name of the spot is Dalessandro's. It was a cute little hole in the wall that held the secret to all my Philly Cheesesteak needs.They have a bunch of different hoagies, but I knew I had to go with a traditional Cheesesteak. Shaved steak, American cheese (this apparently is not necessarily the norm for every cheesesteak...provolone is more common), grilled peppers, grilled onions, and mushrooms on a hoagie roll. It's perfection in a sandwich.

The Sandwich that changed my life...

So the trip to Philly was awesome, and I came home wishing I had regular access to a Dalessandro Cheesesteak. A week ago, it hit me as I was enjoying a stuffed pepper that this was it. This would be the vessel that would satisfy this cheesey, gooey, warm, delicious craving.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Morning Oatmeal

In my hometown, there are 4 or 5 different diners all within a 10 minute drive. I cannot say why there are so many diners. Perhaps Long Islanders just really LOVE their breakfasts? I'd buy that.

We went to this one diner for a big breakfast on Mother's Day a few years back. I remember having this outrageously amazing waffle...it was a whole wheat waffle (and therefore, of course, completely healthy and guilt free...). The waffle was topped with strawberries, bananas, walnuts, and maple syrup. Amazing,

I was thinking about this waffle recently. I do not know why this waffle randomly popped up in my brain. I think about food a lot...it's a whole thing.

I don't have a waffle maker, but I knew I wanted something filling and delicious this morning for breakfast.

I left out the waffle part of this strawberry-banana-walnut waffle...and then I made oatmeal.

It's genius, really. Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast blank canvas. It's a bit more nutritious than a waffle. But with the right toppings, it was just as delicious.

I'm calling this "Sunday Morning Oatmeal." First, because I made it on Sunday morning. And second, because it was the perfect compliment to a cup of coffee and good book on the porch--something that I try to enjoy every Sunday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicken and Spinach Taquitos

Remember my post about pulled pork tacos? I came clean about my undying love for all things taco. What a great meal. Beef/chicken/fish/pork plus cheese-y goodness plus crisp veggies all bundled together in a soft tortilla or crunchy shell.

I was ready for a change from the typical taco dinner when, not so surprisingly, I was watching Giada DeLaurentiis on the Food Network. This woman—she totally gets me.

Taquitos. She made turkey taquitos.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Why would you take a sinful meal like tacos and then DEEP FRY them? I mean, yes, that does sound wildly delicious. But now I’m just rambling.

Well, my dear naysayers, let’s call this dish Baked Taquitos. And let’s just say….they are delicious.

I did ground chicken with spinach and crème fraiche. This crème fraiche may seem random, but remember how I wanted you to splurge on it for the Potage Parmentier? Well, here’s an easy way to use the rest of a carton!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

Let’s talk. Let’s talk about when we were kids. Life was SO EASY then.

Being a kid is easy because you can eat Poptarts for breakfast and nobody judges you. Yes, the kid version of me would love to have a sugar filled pastry iced with sugar and it will be delicious.

It’s easy because everybody just wants to be friends. There’s none of this he said-she said-we said-they said. No drama. Just friendships. And coloring books.

Being a kid is amazing because your mom lets you have Spaghettios and Elios Pizza and Kraft Mac and Cheese for lunch. And those things are awesome, every time.


I guess I should be honest. I think I am having denial about being back to the 9 to 5 grind after a 10 day vacation. And so this denial is making me wish I could sit at home, watch silly cartoons, play with play-dough and eat Spongebob Mac and Cheese. Last night, I needed some real good comfort food that would help me chill out and de-stress after a hard day at work.

So, last night, I made homemade tomato soup…and I dunked grilled cheese in it. And that, in fact, was delicious.

 I love cooking soups because you can really fly by the seat of your pants and come up with something dynamite. Following recipes is a good place to start, but I really let my imagination run wild when I have a simmering pot of goodness on the stove. Basic principles of tomato soup: lots of veggies, roasted tomatoes, a touch of cream, basil for good measure, and a quick blend to make it rich and smooth. My recipe below is roughly adapted from this Michael Chiarello recipe.