Sunday, January 26, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Sticky Icky Brie Blunts

So, this year, if you are unaware, the two teams who have made it into the Super Bowl happen to come from the two states that legalized marijuana for recreational use. That has inspired a lot of jokes, and I write humor for a living (when I am not cooking), so of course, I needed to make a delicious but funny recipe that referenced marijuana without actually using marijuana (thanks for THAT suggestion, funny friends).

This recipe was seriously a whole lot of work to make a Super Bowl pot joke. Thankfully, it is REALLY delicious too, so they are worth the effort.

These "sticky icky" brie "blunts" have delicate layers of buttery phyllo filled with creamy brie, and a sweet buttery pecan crumble. Even better, after they have baked crispy, they are soaked in a tangerine cinnamon syrup. Seriously, I considered licking the plate when I sampled them... fine, I actually licked the plate.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Seattle Stud Muffins

If teams won the Super Bowl according to how delicious their Stud Muffin was, this would guarantee that the Seahawks would win.

I took influence from Seattle's pacific islander flavors and mixed buttery salmon with cream cheese, salty soy sauce, fresh bright chives, and sweet tangy teriyaki sauce. My house smelled AMAZING while they were in the oven and I about fell over when I popped one in my mouth, so good. Your friends are going to absolutely LOVE these.

This one has a few more ingredients, but each one perfectly harmonizes with the others and they are TOTALLY worth the effort.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Denver Stud Muffins

When you are hosting your own Super Bowl party, having a bunch of bite-sized snacks is a must.
I came up with the idea of Stud Muffins many years ago, little studs of savory dough, and you will be seeing MUCH more of them, but today, in honor of the Denver Broncos, I'm making Denver Stud Muffins. These little two bite wonders take inspiration from Denver's most famous (only famous?) food, the Denver Omelet.

Chock full of eggs, diced ham, green onions, and orange bell peppers (their colors are orange and blue), these little savory muffins are pretty easy and quick, once you've prepped your veggies.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mini Almond Danishes

This recipe could not be any easier. I mean, yes, it could be, if we are going to be literal, but it is seriously easy and really impressive. 

I have long had a love affair with almonds... actually, more almond flavored things. Most people are chocolate people, and I have nothing against chocolate, but if I get to choose between it, and something almond flavored (or caramel, or fruity), I will definitely snub that chocolate.

These quick easy buttery sweet "danishes" are so simple almost anyone could make them.

What you'll need: 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cinnabock Sandwich

My mom has SO many appliances-- a belgian waffle maker, a regular waffle maker, that triangle sandwich maker from the late 80s (all of my breakfasts in 9th grade were triangular), a quesadilla maker (though we never made quesadillas before, and haven't since she got it), a tortilla bowl maker, etc., ad nauseum.
So, once I was forced to make waffles, instead of putting away the belgian waffle maker, I decided to do as many things with it as possible, the greatest of which, is this sandwich.

So chicken and waffles is an awesome thing. But mixing up waffle batter is too much trouble, so I wondered what would happen if I made waffles out of cinnamon buns and turned it into a sandwich with smoky, crispy bacon, crispy, juicy fried chicken, and tangy sharp cheddar cheese. 

What happened was that I invented a new addiction. Seriously, holy moley, this sandwich is delicious. And it's really really easy.

Now, when I made this the very first time, it took FOREVER because I insisted on frying the chicken myself. I have since learned to grab some precooked chicken tenders from my favorite place (Wednesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings is 75¢ chicken tender day, so I usually grab some from there). Frozen chicken tenders work too. 

Let's get to these ingredients, because seriously, you are going to want one of these in your mouth ASAP.

Seriously! Just four ingredients:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dinner at the Improv: Pork Chops, and Kale, and Pasta, Oh My!

I like to improvise sometimes, which means I just throw things into the pan and wing it. Every once in a while, it is horrible, more often though, it turns out pretty darned well. I wanted to share these improvisations to inspire other cooks who feel comfortable cooking by taste.

For episode one of Dinner at the Improv, I've made Honey Parmesan Grilled Porkchops served with Creamed Kale with Bleu Cheese, and Homemade Mac and Cheese.

Last night I was shopping for other ingredients and saw that the meat counter had really nice looking pork chops, so my previous dinner plans flew out the window. I can't resist a nice piece of pork. Then, since I've been on a kale kick lately, I grabbed a bunch. If you haven't tried kale yet because it is the healthy thing you're supposed to eat whether you like it or not, this might be a good introduction for you. The creamy sauce perfectly compliments the slightly bitter spinach/cabbage flavor of the green.

Once I had pork and greens, not yet knowing what I was going to do with them, I set my heart on having homemade mac and cheese as our starch.
I generally cook for three people, so I started by boiling water to cook the macaroni. Once the macaroni was in the salted water, I started my grill pan heating over medium high heat and then I unwrapped the three boneless pork loin chops, rubbed them with about a total of a tablespoon of creamed honey (the spread kind), salt and peppered them, and rolled them in grated Parmesan cheese. Thanks, Pinterest, for the idea.

I cooked the first side of the pork chops until they had really nice grill lines, then flipped them and finished them in the oven at 425 F for about 8 minutes.

While grilling the meat, I melted some butter in a large saute pan, removed the ribs from the kale, roughly chopped it and added it to the pan with a lid. After letting it sweat for a while (about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally), I added heavy cream, some chicken stock, salt, and two Laughing Cow Bleu Cheese triangles, which gave it a nice background flavor of bleu cheese without overpowering the dish.

Mac and cheese, I started with a roux in a small sauce pan (one part butter to one part flour), let it cook till it smelled a little nutty, added a generous splash of heavy cream, whisked, then added about about a cup of chicken stock, some sharp cheddar cheese and a handful of shredded swiss cheese, salt, pepper, and small amount yellow mustard, tasting as I went to get a cheese sauce that pleased my palate.

I must say, I was very pleased with the entire ensemble. The pork was juicy, with a tang from the parm, and a slight sweetness from the honey. The kale, I was contemplating leaving my husband for, and the mac was as creamy as anyone could hope for in their favorite comfort classic. I'm definitely adding the pork chops and kale into my regular rotation. The mac and cheese, it was there all along!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sliders

I must share something about myself, really quickly.  I don't eat yeast, and haven't for coming on 4 years, so when it comes to eating sandwiches, because, I totally want to eat sandwiches, I have to get creative on the "bread" component, and it has lead to some REALLY good recipes.

This idea was born from Oh, Bite It's Cheesy Biscuit Bombs. I realized I didn't just have to eat the biscuits alone, I could cut them open and shove things inside them, so I did!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ginger Lemon Creme Parfaits

Carr's Ginger Lemon Cremes are one of my most favorite cookies EVER, which of course means that my local stores have stopped selling them. Whenever I declare something my favorite, it stops being made or sold.  It is a curse I must live with.

If you haven't had them, I am sorry. They are the perfect crisp gingersnap, sandwiching a tart tangy lemon creme filling. So very tasty.

This parfait borrows those flavors for a fast, easy dessert.

If, by chance, the idea of using canned products makes you gag, you could easily make all of these components yourself for a super gourmet treat, but I only have so much energy, and no shame whatsoever, so I take shortcuts.


One 5.25 oz package of Anna's ginger thin (or gingersnaps of your choice), crushed
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), melted  
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I use extra fine sugar because it dissolves better)
8 oz of whipped topping (like Cool Whip, but you could easily use real whipped cream)
21 oz can of Lemon Creme pie filling (lemon curd would work too) 

You'll also need:
Six 9 oz plastic cups (or another parfait container that lets you see the pretty stripes)
2 quart sized zipper storage bags (or piping bags if you're fancy)
An extra one of those cups to tamp down the crust

This really is as simple as mixing a few things and making pretty layers. And by pretty layers, I mean, as pretty as you can make them without hating life.

Start with the crust. I crushed my gingersnaps to a fine crumb in the food processor, and then drizzled in the melted butter, pulsing to mix it. You could do that, or do it by hand if that strikes your fancy.
Use a spoon to add about 5 scoops of the crust mixture into the parfait cups. You'll want to reserve some of the crust mixture for garnishing the top, so adjust your crust size accordingly.
Use the extra cup to push the crust mixture down and even it off.

With a mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and the sugar until well combined and smooth.
Add in half of the container of whipped topping, and mix to combine.
Put the mixture in a quart sized storage bag. I fold over the top of my bags to create a cuff and put it in a tall cup to make loading the bag easier. Zip the top of the bag, squeezing out extra air, and cut off one corner to make a piping bag. Pipe the cream cheese layer on top of the crust.

If you don't feel like dealing with the piping bag, you COULD just spoon the mixture in, but I found out that it got everywhere and made the layers not so pretty.

Next, open that can of Lemon Creme and cram it in another "piping bag" like you did with the cream cheese mixture. Pipe a good sized layer of it on top of the cream cheese layer in the cup. You may have some extra, so don't panic.

Next, divide the rest of the whipped topping evenly between the 6 cups, and smooth the top with the spoon.

Sprinkle those cups as liberally as you'd like with the remaining crust mixture, and then eat the heck out of these things. Whatever you don't finish should be stored, covered with cling wrap, in the fridge.