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Friday, February 28, 2014

Curry Puffs {Food Blogger Cookbook Swap}

Curry Puffs |
Last year I had so much fun participating in the Food Blogger Prop Swap that when Faith and Alyssa announced that they'd be hosting it again, but with a different twist, I signed up immediately. The twist? Instead of props, this time around we'd be exchanging cookbooks. One of my minor obsessions.

If you know me, you know that I have a riduculous amount of cookbooks. They line the bookscases in many-a-room of my house. They take up real estate via large plastic tubs in my basement. They're stacked on end tables, and maybe even my kitchen table. I read them like novels and can pretty much always find something useful in every one. Some are tattered and loved, others are basically uncracked.

My first step? Trying to pair up one of those books with Haley from Cheap Recipe Blog. I really wanted to send her a book that fit her style, a book that she could get some use from. How did I do? You can find out here!
Thursday, February 27, 2014

Øllebrød (Danish Rye Porridge) or Ale and Bread Soup inspired by Babette's Feast {food 'n flix}

Ale and Bread Soup/Porridge (Øllebrød) inspired by Babette's Feast for food 'n flix |
This month's Food 'n Flix pick was Babette's Feast, a film that centers around two sisters and their "housekeeper" Babette, in 19th Century Denmark. I know sometimes we (as a group) stray away from films that can obviously be classified as "foodie films", but this pick by Camilla has stood firmly on that list since its release.

Martine and Filippa still live in the small village on the west coast of Jutland in which they grew up. Their father was the leader of a devout religious sect, and though they were admired and had suitors as young women, they were never married. They helped their father and his congregation, and when he passed away, they continued his teachings.

Martine and Filippa live modestly in a small home, with no need for a housekeeper. Or so they thought. One evening, a storm blows in Babette, a French refugee. Babette has a letter with her, written by one of young Filippa's suitors, Achille Papin. The letter impresses Babette's dire situation, and touts her credentials as a housekeeper. The sisters, though poor, are kind. They tell Babette that they cannot pay her, but welcome her into their home all the same when she entreats their help.
Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spicy Chili Mac

Spicy Chili Mac |
The Tao of Chili Making
Chili will have a list of ingredients so long that it makes your head spin. It can't be helped. 
Don't even try making a small batch of Chili. It is impossible.
No matter how hard you try, two batches of Chili will never turn out the same. 

Learn it. Practice it. Embrace it. Hey, you can't make this stuff up. Except I totally did. But that doesn't make it any less true.

I mean it when I say embrace it, though - I've never met a (giant) pot of chili that I didn't like. From mild to fire-breathing, from shredded beef to ground chicken, from 15-bean to no-bean, from green to white to red...I like 'em all.
Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tamarind Margarita + 24 more Margarita recipes for National Margarita Day!

Tamarind Margarita + more Margarita recipes for National Margarita Day |
I love celebrating National holidays. You know, things like Independence Day, Memorial Day, National Garlic Day (my favorite), National Pecan Sandy Day, National Blueberry Pancake Day, National Empanada Day, National Whiskey Sour Day, National Oranges and Lemons Day, and National Strawberry Shortcake Day. Important holidays like those*.

Today just so happens to be a National holiday, one that I take very seriously, National Margarita Day. I'd throw a party in honor of it, complete with a concoct-your-own-Margarita Bar, if I had the space. Or the ability to fly all of my friends and family to a toasty beach to spend the day.

While I may not have the ability to do that (yet), I can invite my friends over for a virtual party to celebrate National Margarita Day! And hey, that's almost as good. Maybe even better (minus the no toasty beach part) since it's like a boozy potluck. Everybody is bringing a different type of margarita. Some traditional cocktails, either on the rocks or frozen; some margarita-infused food to soak up complement the cocktails. I'll raise my glass, salted rim and all, to that!
Monday, February 17, 2014

Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) - Bread Baking Babes

Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |
This month marks the 6-year anniversary of The Bread Baking Babes! Congrats Babes, it's been a pleasure both baking along with you, both as a former BBBuddy and a current BBBabe. And welcome to our brand new Babes, Aparna and Cathy - we are once again a complete dozen!

Lien is our kitchen-of-the-month, and she has chosen a Moroccan Flat Bread (Rghaïf) as our challenge. Rghaïf is a common street food in Morocco, and often eaten at breakfast or tea time. We were warned that they were a bit tricky to make. So of course, in usual fashion, I set about making them at the last minute.

At the risk of sounding like a pompous arse, I'm gonna go ahead and put this out there - I actually found these super simple to make. Making them is basically like making flour tortillas, except that you have to stretch and roll them thinner; paper-thin, actually. And in case you were wondering, yes, they taste like a tortilla, too. A thick, layered tortilla, but still a tortilla.
Sunday, February 16, 2014

Roasted Salmon with Burgundy-Balsamic Glaze

Roasted Salmon with Burgundy-Balsamic Glaze |
There's just something about a glaze that says "special" to me. All lacquered and shiny, it's an eye-catching finishing touch, just like the icing on a cake. This salmon, for instance, has a burgundy-hued sheen that will enchant you, should it make its way to your plate. I'd say it's only fitting that I prepare it in honor of 50 years of Gallo Family Vineyards Hearty Burgundy wine.

This week, the Sunday Supper Movement is celebrating  by sharing a menu full of recipes highlighting Ways to Pair, Cook, and Entertain with Hearty Burgundy.

When deciding what to make for this occasion, I changed my mind no less than 7 times. My ideas ran the gamut from drinks to dessert, pasta to beef, comfort food to lighter fare. In the end, I decided to lean towards the lighter side with fish, but still go slightly decadent by choosing a rich, oily variety.
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila {she made, ella hace}

Pepita Cake with Mexican Chocolate and Tequila |
This month for she made, ella hace, Leslie and I thought that chocolate would be a fitting theme. After all, Valentine's Day is tomorrow...and when one thinks Valentine's Day, one thinks chocolate. Funny how both of our dishes wound up using Mexican chocolate, though. That's just part of that connection we have - the one that makes me want to hang out with this cool chick  month after month.

The chocolate in the cake that I'm sharing to day may not be visible on first glance. The base for the cake is actually pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds). There is still some flour in there, but ground pepitas act as a flour, as well. Using them definitely reminds me of using coarse, freshly ground almonds in baked goods. It lends deep, earthy flavor, plus it makes for a super moist cake.

You may remember me mentioning that we have some friends that go to Mexico every year, and I'm so lucky that they always bring me back a few homemade disks of Mexican Chocolate. I adore the homemade variety beyond compare. Sure, I like the varieties you can buy at the store, too - but the homemade is soft and easy to break apart, and there's just something magical about chocolate made from scratch!
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Boozy Sugar Cookie Milkshakes to celebrate 5 years!

Boozy Birthday Sugar Cookie Milkshakes to celebrate 5 years! |
5 years...1349 posts...this calls for a celebration!

I'm bringing the booze (of course). Spike those shakes and let the good times roll! Don't worry, I'll have two blenders going - one will be booze-free for the kids and designated drivers.

I'm also bringing the sprinkles, because everybody knows it's impossible not to get in the spirit (no pun intended) if you have sprinkles.
Sunday, February 9, 2014

Orange-scented Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce for Two

Orange-scented Bread Pudding with Hard Sauce for Two |
I would have brought the entirety of Eataly home with from NYC if I could have fit in on the plane. That includes the baristas. It's funny how you can become so accustomed to something in such a short period of time. I would happily start every day with a Doppio Macchiato and a croissant.

Doppio Macchiato from Eataly in NYC |
But, since bringing Eataly home wasn't an option, I settled for an Eataly canvas bag with two loaves of gorgeous, freshly baked loaves of bread tucked inside. One loaf was Prosciutto and Provolone, the other Rustic Raisin. And yes, it made me unreasonably happy to cut thick slices from the loaf, sending a spray of crust onto the counter.

The thing is, each time I cut into that loaf of raisin bread, the urge to make bread pudding hit me. And I don't really crave bread pudding often. Okay, I don't think I've ever gotten the craving for it before. But that rustic loaf just wanted to be transformed.
Saturday, February 8, 2014

Supreme Pizza Soup

Supreme Pizza Soup |
I've been staring at a blank screen for close to an hour. I can't find the words. The older I get, the more I realize how fragile life is. How one day you can be laughing and joking and loving and making plans, and then not wake up the following day. Or worse, you can get caught up in the stress and frustration that sometimes seems to pile up - you can be grouchy and angry and fed-up and take it out on those you love. And not wake up the next day.

Tears are streaming down my cheeks at the thought of either scenario. But, why, you wonder? Why am I thinking out loud about this when you expected to hear about soup?

It's because I'm trying to find a way to put the way I feel about having known Elle. Elle (Lee Ann) from Elle's New England Kitchen passed away suddenly a week and a half ago. I was in a state of shock, disbelief, sadness, and fear all at once. How could this young, spunky, kind, snarky, hilarious woman whom I'd known through the world of food blogging since 2009 just be gone?
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Apricot-Almond-Chia Granola Bars + 32 more recipes using Chia Seeds!

Apricot-Almond-Chia Granola Bars + 32 more Chia Seed Recipes at
Here I am, still on my quest for new and exciting ways to use my favorite superfood - chia seeds. I've mentioned some of their amazing health benefits before, and since... a) you may have already read that post, or b) you've probably read/heard about these benefits numerous other times, or c) "I'm just looking for some recipes, so stop the jawin' lady" ...I won't repeat them now.  But on the off-chance that up until this very moment, you had no idea that chia seeds were even edible, let alone extremely good for you, you can check out my mini-intro here.

So, like many people, when I brought home my first bag of chia seeds, I wasn't sure where to start. What would I do with them? What types of foods and beverages could I slip them into? The answer to those questions are: pretty much anything that you want to.

If you know me, you know that I drink my daily chia. I love sliding the gelled seeds through my teeth; my day would not be complete without it. I think slipping them into your beverage is the easiest way to familiarize yourself with them and what they do. After that, try adding them to breads, crackers, even cookies. Throw a couple of teaspoons into your next batch of homemade granola (or granola bars like I did here).
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pimiento Mac 'n Cheese

Pimiento Mac 'n Cheese
What's every kid's favorite food - at least at some point?*

Mmmm-hmmm, macaroni and cheese. It's been my daughter's favorite for darn near her whole 11 years. And she even likes the boxed stuff. Dare I say, I think she may even prefer it sometimes. Whatcha gonna do?

Now, me on the other hand, have never liked the boxed stuff. Not even as a kid. But I love me homemade mac and cheese. As often happens, we're tossing out ideas for dinner. 6 times out of 10, said daughter throws the mac out there as a suggestion. Groans rise up from around the room, and she looks wide-eyed around at everybody like she has no clue what their problems are.

But as long as I have some sort of pasta noodle in the pantry, and some sort of cheese in the fridge, everybody else is a lot more receptive.  This particular mac and cheese is all done on the stovetop, and can be on the table in under 30 minutes.
Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chinese Barbecue Wings

Chinese Barbecue Wings |
So usually when Super Bowl rolls around, I'm busy planning a menu that includes trays piled high with nachos; bowls filled to the brim with dips; platters of cheese, fruit, veggies, and crackers; tender carnitas with homemade pico and guac; wings and burgers; and some good beverages to go along with it. But this year has been different. I haven't really been able to think of anything else besides wings.

It's gonna be an all wings kinda celebration today!  Baked wings, fried wings, grilled wings...marinated wings, breaded wings, sticky wings. WINGS! I'm not sure what started the craving, but it may have been these Sticky-Sweet Caribbean Wings. They were just so ridiculously good that I was sad when they were gone. Ever since, I've been pinning wings like a madwoman, pulling out old saved recipes, and writing down ideas for new flavors of my own.

But you know what? I don't think my family is going to mind. We can smash numerous pounds of wings in one sitting between the five of us.