I think we have officially (at least here in California), made it out of the dullest time of year and have entered back into party season. Party season lasts 3/4 of the year and goes a little something like this. (Hit it!)
Cinco de Mayo
Outdoor birthday parties
Memorial Day Weekend
4th of July
Summer parties, BBQ’s, vacations and more parties
Labor Day parties
Back to school events
Boring months with a bit of chocolate and Irish beer thrown in the mix.
Is that how your calendar works too?
Now that we are rolling into being social again, we are going to need to talk food to share. Hopefully, you are occasionally invited to something. You seem like a nice person, why wouldn’t someone want to invite you over?
And chances are if you give a mouse a cookie, you’ll need to bring something to the potluck.
You get the drift.
If you are like me, you don’t have a “go-to” dish you bring to potlucks. You aren’t known for anything special. Except your exquisite beauty!
Well, search Pinterest no more! Here are your new go-to dishes, friends!
AND, a new favorite around here…Artichoke Bread! But baker be warned, this is not a DAMY friendly, low-calorie dish. This is the appetizer you bring to your skinny friend, that one you are sabotaging into getting chunky. Just teasing, I would never do that to any of my friends. Remember though, most of your friends aren’t on diets and kids are down for melty cheese anyday.
Fourteen homemade Moon Pies took me approximately 37 hours to make. Giver or take 33 hours.
Nothing was going to stop me from making the party favors from scratch. Nothin’.
The first go around was yummy, but a bit of a messy, squish cookie.
Looks more like an ice cream sandwich, right?
My first go-round involved a crummy (and crumby) graham cracker recipe, marshmallow fluff made without a candy thermometer and Costco chocolate chips. Overall decent, but nothing super special.
Second attempt worked out much, much better.
I found a graham cracker recipe that rocked. Grabbed a $6 candy thermometer from Sprouts and learned the power of sugar boiled to 240 degrees. Scored a super salivating caramel recipe and finally, bought the expensive chocolate chips for melting into ganache.
The result? Something truly naughty. One bite is enough, seriously. I’m not saying it the way some people say, “I just have to remind myself to eat!” kind of way. One bite really is enough. You won’t stop there, though. You’ll probably eat half a pie before excusing yourself to lie on the couch. Unless of course you are one of the “I just never remember to eat” kind of people. Then, you may actually stop at one bite. Whatever to you.
Back to making 14 Moon Pies.
I did it.
I had to freeze them overnight, so they wouldn’t melt by party time. My kitchen has felt the pains of war. My glutes are insanely sore from a Yoga Strength Fusion class I took yesterday. One of those things is not like the other.
Here we go. Get your aprons and stretch those Hammies. This ain’t easy, friends.
In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and honey, and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended and the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.
Transfer the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, press into a 7-inch square, and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a ⅛-inch thickness and cut.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes and then rotate the baking sheet. Bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are dark golden brown and just firm to the touch. Let cool for a minute on the baking sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely (they will crisp up as they cool). Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
In a small pan, mix together sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Begin to whip on medium speed using the whisk attachment.
Meanwhile, turn burner on high and put the pan with the sugar mixture on the heat. Allow mixture to come to a boil and heat to 240 degrees, stirring occasionally.
The goal is to get the egg whites whipped to soft peaks and the sugar syrup heated to 240 degrees at close to the same time. Just stop whipping the egg whites when they reach soft peaks.
When the sugar has reached 240 degrees, turn mixer on to low. Add a small amount of the hot sugar mixture and allow to mix. Add another small amount of the sugar mixture. Continue to add mixture slowly so you don’t scramble the eggs.
Once all the sugar has been added to the egg whites, turn up the speed of the mixer and continue to beat mixture for about 7-9 minutes or until the fluff is stiff and glossy. At about the 5 minute mark, add vanilla extract.
Use fluff immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Assembling your moon pies is where the mess comes in. Embrace the sticky mess, you have no choice.
Be sure your cookies are cooled. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper and be sure you have room in your fridge to fit the pans.
Take one cookie at a time and spread the top and bottom of a with plenty of marshmallow fluff, drizzle as much caramel as desired over the top, then sandwich it between two more cookies. Place on lined pan. Repeat until all cookie sandwiches are created. Next, pour cooled ganache over each stack of cookies, ensuring there is enough chocolate to cover the entire cookie and drip over the sides.
Let the cookies set in your fridge overnight, or as long as you can stand it.
Get some Wet Wipes and go to town.
Seriously, walk to town. These have so many calories. Then, walk back. There, you’ve burned off half.
Please excuse my alien looking lemon. Still working to master food photography with an iPhone. If there are any camera companies out there willing to sponsor my food blogging endeavor, email me. I’ll give you my home address and happily take any SLR off your hands. If there are any weird men (or women) out there who plan to pose as a camera company, I’ll still give you my address. Because, I won’t know otherwise.
I will let you know this right now though. I have been doing Jillian Michael’s Fast Fix Kickboxing for about 6 weeks now. So, yeah, you better think twice. I may not be a professional kickboxer yet, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Also, I’ve gone to four heated power yoga classes so far, so I’m totally fearless at this point. AND, I’m not afraid of not smelling good.
So crazy person, think twice.
Phew. Can’t be too careful, right?
I am really hoping that all these meat recipes aren’t driving away my vegetarian friends. I have lots of fun recipes in the works, most of them only deal with animal milk or eggs.
But today, we talk dead chicken.
Grilled chicken breasts are usually the worst. Dry, stringy and coated with barbecue sauce from the jar. Nothing to write home about.
I’m still cooking the hoodie-ha out of Adam Perry Lang’s Serious Barbecue book. This chicken however, came from one of Adam’s visits to Good Morning America. You’ll need to set aside at least an hour to let the chicken brine. If you skip this step, you should just sell your grill and start buying Marie Calendar’s frozen dinners, because your taste buds must not dormant.
Brining is where the magic happens. It’s Disneyland for meat. The husband is tired and our computer is in our bedroom. I’ve gotta let him hit the hay. Which, by the way, is so hard for me to not say like this…”Haaaay!” I’m off to catch up on my Once Upon a Time (Sundays, ABC, friends) and read Mindy Kaling’s tweets. Goodnight!
*First note, now that we are in full grilling mode, I’m going to create a BBQ section of Food It Forward to keep all the recipes together.
**Last note, we used rosemary instead of marjoram in our version.
2 tbsp grated or finely chopped shallots or sweet white onion
Combine all the brine/marinade ingredients in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Mix and crush the ingredients with your hands, directly or through then bag, squeezing them to release the maximum flavor.
Put the chicken in the brine, transfer to the refrigerator, and brine for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the BBQ to medium-high. Drain the chicken and dry with paper towels.
Glisten the breasts with canola oil.
Put a griddle on the grill, add the 1 tbsp butter, and let it melt. Add the chicken to the griddle, smooth side down, and cook, turning once or twice, for about 6 minutes to set the protein.
Meanwhile, combine the baste/glaze ingredients in a foil pan or heatproof pan, set it on the grill, and stir occasionally to melt the butter.
Continue, to cook, moving the chicken back and forth between the grill and the baste/glaze pan, turning to coat it, until the chicken is cooked through. It should register 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer to a platter or cutting board.
Bring the remaining baste/glaze to a boil, and pour over the chicken.
When I titled this post Man Food Done Right, I wasn’t really talking about the sweet potatoes in the photo, those are mine. My husband prefers his potatoes white and completely lacking in nutrients.
Well, guess what? I have another ridiculously complicated BBQ recipe for you. Hurray! Isn’t that just what you wanted? I’ll take the liberty of answering that for you. Yes! It is. Once you’ve gone multi-step grilling, you’ll never go back to slapping Costco frozen patties on a grill. We all know that the number one no-no in grilling is doing that thing, that thing where you press on the burgers to get some of the juices going. If you don’t know that, now you do. If you don’t know that, you also need to start watching Food Network. Unless it’s Rachael Ray. So over her.
So, we didn’t actually complete this entire recipe. By saying “we”, I am being nice. I’m not going to finish this paragraph. It’s Friday and I’m not looking to rain on any wedded bliss just yet. That’s what Mondays are for.
The ribs still turned out amazing at 80% compliance, so I can only imagine what 100% may taste like!
Get the grill going this weekend, friends! Happy Friday!
6 tablespoons mild chile powder, preferably Chimayo, Ancho, or Hatch
3 tablespoons sweet paprika 3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons dry mustard
21⁄4 teaspoons garlic salt
21⁄4 teaspoons kosher salt
21⁄4 teaspoons coarsely ground fresh black pepper
3⁄4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
About 1 cup Apple Juice Spray
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup honey 1⁄4 cup apple juice
1 cup APL BBQ Sauce, or your favorite BBQ sauce
1⁄4 cup water
Preheat an indirect barbecue with a drip pan and fruitwood (preferably apple), a ceramic cooker with deflector plate and fruitwood (preferably apple), or a charcoal or gas grill with a box or packet of fruitwood (preferably apple) to 250°F.
Combine all of the mustard moisturizer ingredients. Combine all of the seasoning blend ingredients. Rub a thin layer of the moisturizer on all sides of the racks and lightly sprinkle with the seasoning blend on all sides. The remaining seasoning blend will be used later in the cooking.
If using a ceramic cooker, place the ribs an inch apart on a rib rack. They might need to be trimmed to fit the cooking surface so that the lid can close. If using a larger indirect or direct barbecue, no additional trimming is necessary. Place the ribs in the cooker, spraying with the apple juice spray every half hour after 2 hours of cooking. Cook for 4 hours.
Meanwhile, combine the wrapping mixture ingredients.
Tear off 8 sheets of heavy- duty aluminum foil. Working with 2 sheets of foil at a time, place a quarter of the wrapping mixture on the foil, top with a rack of ribs, meat side down, and wrap in the foil, crimping to seal. Wrap with the second sheet of foil. Repeat for the remaining 3 racks of ribs. If using a ceramic cooker, stack the packets on top of each other. If using a smoker, place the ribs on sheet pans for easier movement. Place the packets back in the cooker, meat side down, and cook for 11⁄2 hours, flipping halfway through.
Remove the racks from the cooker and let the ribs rest in the foil packets for 20 minutes.
Remove the ribs from the foil and dust lightly on both sides with additional seasoning blend. Place back in the cooker, meat side up, for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the BBQ sauce and water.
Remove the ribs from the cooker and brush with an even, but not too thick, layer of sauce. Place back in the cooker, meat side up, for 25 minutes to tighten up the glaze.
Paint a cutting board with some of the remaining sauce.
Remove the ribs from the cooker and place on the prepared cutting board, adding additional sauce as needed to cover, but not excessively coat. Spray twice with apple juice spray. Cut the ribs from the racks and dredge to coat the exposed sides with the remaining BBQ sauce.
This morning, one of my college roommates posted on Facebook and mentioned Philz Iced Mint Mojito. This was not been the first time she mentioned drinking this style of iced coffee, but it most certainly was the last I could stand reading about it. I wanted one!
Jy is off from work today and offered me time away from the kids, so I could be able to drive and pick up my own coffee at the nearest Philz…28 miles away. If it was a straight shot into Berkeley, I would have gone. Between limited parking, afternoon traffic and a bit of laziness, I opted out.
Doesn’t mean I couldn’t try making my own, right?
I added some sprigs of mint to my spice grinder and loaded my glasses up with mint bits. You can use a pestal, or if you are half Meh-hee-cano like me, a moljacete. However you choose to smash your mint is your own personal beezwax.
For this drink, a press works perfectly. In addition to filling the bottom of the jar with ground beans, I included a hefty spoonful of coconut sugar. White tastes better, but coconut is less processed. Whatchoo gonna do?
This will be an amazing summer drink, friends. It’s over 80 degrees here today and I’m pretending it is June. Summer. Ahh. Swimming, more grilling, flip-flops, late night walks, day trips, beaches, kids home all day with me.
WHOAH. Reel that back in, sista. Let’s enjoy April while we can. Summer camps are pricey and I don’t have a job.
I have wanted to learn to make tortillas for as long as I can remember. My Great-Grandma (Nana) would roll out little Mexican slices of heaven all the time. Store bought tortillas can’t touch homemade with a ten foot rolling pin. They are two totally different beasts.
Here are the ingredients in Mission tortillas, the most popular brand around my neck of the woods.
Here are the ingredients in homemade flour tortillas.
NON-hydrogenated shortening (more on this in a second)
What would you rather eat? Here’s the other fun part, homemade tortillas will cost you around $1.50 per dozen to make. When was the last time you bought a package of tortillas for $1.50?!
This is the shortening I used. There is only one ingredient, 100% palm oil. It’s not something you want to eat with a spoon, but it is light years beyond regular shortening. Honestly, if you want an even healthier tortilla, I would use lard. The real deal. There are plenty of resources out there that detail the benefits of using lard over butter or shortening. Pete Wells wrote a great article for Food & Wine if you are interested.
Here, by the way, is what is in Crisco:
SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).
Anything in your kitchen that is labeled with the words, “Partially Hydrogenated”, you want to toss in the trash. It doesn’t matter how much it cost you. When an oil in your food is partially hydrogenated, it has gone through a process which has changed its molecular structure and won’t be fully recognized by your body. It’s closer to a plastic in structure than oil. Hydrogenating oils helps keep a food product on the shelf longer. You know what else it does? It also scars the internal walls of your arteries.
So, go to a health food store and buy the shortening you see above, or get your self some good, clean animal fat. If you are a total nerd and want to learn more about lard, you might enjoy “Who Killed Lard” on NPR’s website.
Because you have read through all the boring stuff, I would like to reward you with some funnies. If you skipped down to this line, then you can’t see the funnies. Close your eyes and skip to the recipe, cheater.
Combine the flour, baking powder and fat in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork; the dough will be in large clumps. Scoop the dough onto your work surface and knead until smooth. It should be medium-stiff consistency -- definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either.
Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball
Roll and griddle-bake the tortillas. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle: Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.
Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface). After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don't overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp. Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer. Roll and griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other
He called it scrumptious. He asked if he could have it for snack at school the next day. He was not drunk.
I am forever making my own salad dressing. It turns out to be just that, my own. My husband tolerates it and my kids won’t touch it. They all want ranch. They don’t want the greek yogurt ranch I keep trying to pull on them either. They want the bottled stuff, chemicals, gunk and all. It’s too bad they don’t do the shopping though.
—Insert evil laugh here—
This week however, the bottle has met it’s match. I pulled out my trusty Mom 100 Cookbook and found the best ever ranch recipe. No, like…ever. Like Taylor Swift ever…ever…ever. I’ve tried many dressings found via Pinterest and none come close. Ok, one caveat here. I didn’t have any sour cream on hand, so I used a full-fat plain yogurt.
Yes, I keep the whole milk variety of yogurt in my fridge.
There are fewer chemicals and no tang. It’s pure love. Sometimes, I even spend two bucks on a container of Noosa yoghurt.
Yeah, that stuff. It’s probably more like $2.79 and it’s a total special treat. It’s so fancy it needs an h. As in, yoghurt. Yeah, I know where the hurt is Noosa, it’s in my wallet.
I bought three today, thinking my kids would then love me forever. Max devoured most of it, the rest landed on the chair and his shirt. Dallas however (who was the one to ask me for his own in the past) decided he didn’t like the cover. He didn’t want it. Of course I had brought it to him after school and before we were going to spend the entire afternoon running errands. The poor ice pack didn’t stand a chance. Right now there is $2.79 worth of yogHurt in my trunk, dying a slow death.
I swear, my son is so lucky that…I don’t know how to finish that sentence. Let’s just say in my mom’s day, she would have had a slipper thrown at her.
Don’t these snack bars look yummy? Have you noticed the influx of fake homemade style snacks in the granola bar section of stores? I have! These are so simple and quick, you’ll have no reason to buy the prepackaged variety. I found the recipe in my Whole Foods app and was really surprised just how yummy they turned out. I think experimenting with whole wheat and gluten free flours would be pretty fun.