Friday, February 20, 2015

Don't you want 'Samoa' ?

We all love that time of year when co-workers and friends ask us to buy Girl Scout cookies from their daughters and love it even more when those boxes of delicious cookies arrive. And of course, we all have our favorites. Being a fan of the "Samoa" or "caramel delight", I had pinned a recipe for Samoa brownies that I was waiting to try.

Superbowl weekend rolls around and since P was smoking 6 racks of ribs on our Big Green Egg, I decided to bring a dessert to our Superbowl party.

Though a little time-consuming, these brownies are fairly easy to make and are a crowd pleaser for sure. Even with the epic snowstorm that buried Chicago this past weekend, we still made it over to our party (with a $30 cab ride one way) and I was able to share these decadent delights.
Behold the goodness that are Samoa Brownies:


ingredient prep
Samoa Brownies:
Brownie mix ( I used Ghiradelli)

3.5 cups shredded coconut, toasted

2 packages  of caramels, unwrapped

.5 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. milk

.5 bag semisweet chocolate chips


Directions

Prepare brownie mix according to box directions and cool. 

almost there...
Heat pan to medium heat and add coconut. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir coconut and cook for another 2-3 minutes until toasted. Watch closely so it doesn't burn. 

In a large, microwaveable bowl, add unwrapped caramels, salt and milk and cook on high for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally (about every 45-60 seconds). Cook until all caramels are melted and smooth. Add coconut and mix together. 

finished product!
Spread over cooled brownies. 

Drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Refrigerate 4-5 hours or overnight. Remove at least 1 hour from the fridge before cutting. Cut into bars and . Let chocolate set and enjoy. Store in fridge.
Midway through the game I was estatic to receive a call that school was cancelled due to snow. However when I arrived home I was greeted by about 2+ feet of snow in our alley and around my car. Spent the good amount of Monday shoveling as my workout and am feeling it today. Thank goodness I had tons of sugar to fuel me!
Have a great week!

CTL

Friday, January 30, 2015

Don't Call It A Comeback

WOW...

It's been a while. A. Long. While.

Now that I have really no excuse to not blog, I have decided to start back up again. Although I have been cooking quite frequently in the past year I have found it difficult to take the time to get back on the old blog.

The wedding is finally over. Though it was fun to plan and allowed me to see lots of family and friends, I could not be happier that I am not planning a wedding this year.

I am also done with my Master's degree, which leaves me tons of free time! After talking to some friends, I got asked SO many times if my blog was coming back that I finally didn't have a good response. Not only do I love cooking, but I love going back and looking at old recipes that I want to recreate.

This week was the perfect week to start. Though I was feeling sick, I still had my mind set on making a potpie. So on Thursday night after a totally non-productive and too sick trip to the gym I went to Whole Foods and stocked up on ingredients. I took a few Pinterest recipes and made up my own-totally delicious-potpie recipe.

Perfect Pot Pie

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 1/2 cups shredded chicken (we used rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup frozen peas
Storebought buttermilk biscuits

Preheat oven to the temperature on biscuit package.

Mirepoix
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery, and cook,  until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth, milk and thyme, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3 more minutes. Stir in chicken and peas; season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Ready to go in the oven!


Add chicken mixture to prepared baking dish. Place into oven and bake for 5-10 minutes. Place biscuits on top and let cook for another 10-15 or until the biscuits are fully cooked.

Potpie goodness for all.



Oh, the end result. Total comfort food, piping hot out of the oven. We left the biscuits in a little longer than originally planned because the bottoms were soggy. This was such a success that Paul and I almost demolished the whole pot while watching Top Chef.

That's all for now. I promise I will be back soon!

xx,

CTL

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Experimenting with Quinoa

Hello there loyal readers! Hope your summer is going well. I am in the midst of teaching summer school and taking grad classes while of course making time to have fun in the sun. Anyway, I digress. Let's get to the food. My recipe today starts with a quick anecdote:

I had offered to make a side dish for a BBQ at my brother's place and since pasta salad was already taken, I decided I wanted to try something new. I have cooked rice, couscous and risotto, but never quinoa-it was time. I made a Mexican style dish that I got so many compliments on. I had to make it again. This time I decided to make a quinoa salad for Paul and I to eat during the week. We have been all about our patio since we moved in.
Our patio!

I googled and googled and googled some more until I found a combination of recipes that looked good to me. It kind of has a Greek feel to it and is incredibly healthy. Recipe is as follows:

3/4 c quinoa
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber,cubed
1/4 large red onion, chopped
1 avocado, sliced or chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
Red wine vinegar
Splash of olive oil
Handful of mint
Handful of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa according to package. Mine is Bob's brand, so I cooked with 1 and 1/2 c water.

Add in the rest of the ingredients minus the avocado while quinoa is still hot-this helps it to absorb the flavors better. A few glugs of olive oil and red wine vinegar should be great. Adjust to your taste.

Mise en place
Feel free to add other spices. I put in some cajun seasoning and it was delicious.

Serve with sliced avocado on top.

Finished product!

We ate this as a side to the lemon pepper rotisserie chicken I bought earlier that day. It was the perfect meal for a perfect summer evening. Do you have any quinoa recipes you would like to share? I would love to hear them!

xo,

CT



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Back at it! (...and better than ever?!)

The past few months have been major for me. We've been to a couple weddings, I've finished off the school year, been to Aruba, Argentina & Uruguay and have moved (again!) Finally we are settled into our new place in Bucktown and loving it. Since I am jobless until I start teaching summer school in July, I have been focusing my time on the following things:
  • Setting up our new place
  • Being a full-time grad student
  • Watching the Hawks
  •  Helping my family move out of my childhood home
  • Cooking (of course!)
I have been obsessed with the chicken salad from the Goddess and the Grocer in Chicago since Paul and I went on a food tour a couple years ago. It's perfect in every way, so naturally I wanted to re-create it. Putting together a few recipes and subbing some healthier ingredients I came up with a pretty good copycat recipe.

This recipe feeds about 3 or 4, but feel free to double!

Copycat Chicken Salad
1/2 rotisserie chicken (mine was lemon pepper flavored)
2 stalks celery, Chopped
3 whole Green Onions, Chopped 
1 and 1/2 cup Grapes, Halved
1/4 cup Mayonnaise (I used light mayo)
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
Splash of Milk
A Small Handful Of Fresh Dill, Minced
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
Juice Of 1/2 lemon
Kosher Salt To Taste
Fresh Ground Black Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Shred or chop half of the rotisserie chicken

Chop all of your fruits and veggies and place them in a bowl with the chicken.

In another bowl mix mayonnaise, yogurt, splash of milk, lemon juice, brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

Add dill, almonds and maybe a bit of cayenne pepper like I did.

When the dressing tastes just right, pour it over the chicken/veggie/fruit mixture and stir gently until everything is thoroughly mixed.

Allow the salad to chill for several hours (or even overnight).



I can't believe I was able to get the same flavor of the G & G salad using healthier ingredients. This salad was incredibly easy and delicious. You can serve it as a sandwich or even eat straight out of the bowl like I did. We will have a hard time not eating all of this tonight!

Until next time,

 CT

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fluffy, decadent blueberry pancakes!

More than an apology is needed for my extended hiatus from blogging, but in all truth I've been having the time of my life in 2013. Work is going great and grad classes are going even better. My average from the past 2 quarters is a 99.7%! This next quarter, however, I am taking 2 classes and am nervous to start them tomorrow. It will be a challenge but I need to get my Master's asap!

Anyway, cooking and eating has been at all all time high these past months too. I gave up sweets and bread this Lent, so my food-loving lifestyle has been struggling a little. However, this morning I decided I needed to make some pancakes. There is only a tablespoon of sugar in the entire recipe so they I don't even consider them a sweet. Even without syrup, they are fantastic. I found the recipe on the Food Network site after seeing Trisha Yearwood make them on her show. I also halved the recipe since I was only making breakfast for Paul and I. With the substitution of Greek yogurt for sour cream, mine were a healthier version of the decadent cakes I saw on the show.

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes (I halved recipe)
Adapted from Trisha Yearwood's recipe

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk, plus more if needed
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 stick butter, melted ( I used waaay less)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest


Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl. In a separate large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the milk, Greek yogurt, half the melted butter and the vanilla, whisking to blend. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into it. Whisk the ingredients together just until blended. Fold the blueberries and lemon zest into the batter.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the hot skillet. Cook 3 or 4 pancakes at a time, depending on the size of the skillet. If the batter seems too thick, thin it with 1 to 2 tablespoons milk. When bubbles begin to form and "pop" on the pancake's surface, after about 1 minute, and the outer edge looks done, flip it over and cook briefly for about 30 seconds on the other side.
Nom!



My insatiable sweet tooth was satisfied by the blueberries as well as the creamy Greek yogurt. The perfect breakfast for someone who is struggling with giving up sweets. This recipe is also pretty figure friendly since I am heading to Aruba in 2.5 weeks and Argentina in 3.5 weeks. Yay for all-expense paid vacations!

Until next time,

CT

 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Little taste of NOLA

After coming back from New Orleans a couple weeks ago, I was once again craving some good Cajun food. This past Saturday I took Paul to the Chicago "Travel and Adventure" show. Although the show was a bust for the most part, we were able to see my favorite travel book writer, Rick Steves speak about traveling through Italy as well as the Bachelor's Chris Harrison talk about the show. Various vendors were passing out travel information and we gravitated to the Lousiana tourism booth where I found a cookbook. As soon as I saw the recipe for Oak Alley pecan pie, I knew what I was going to do that night.

We had visited the Oak Alley plantation on our trip and were incredibly impressed with the property as a whole. The pie recipe had to be just as impressive, right? So after a quick trip to the famous Gene & Jude's we picked up our ingredients. Although the recipe was only for one pie, I came out with two. Two pies were even better since it was my mom's birthday and she loves pecan pie. I made a couple of adjustments, but recipe is pretty basic and fast.
Us at Oak Alley

Oak Alley Plantation Pecan Pie
 2 9-inch unbaked pie shells
3/4 c granulated sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp bourbon (my special addition)
2/3 c light corn syrup
3 eggs
1- 2/3 c chopped pecans

Ready to go!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir to mix.
Before going into pie shell

 Pour mixture into pie shell and bake until crust browns, about 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing.

Done.


After baking time was up, it was hard not to immediately cut into the pie, but we were patient. And was it worth the wait. Not overly sweet, yet complex in flavor. Minus Bourbon Street, we were practically transported back to New Orleans. A sure crowd pleaser.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Soup's On!

Once again, its been far too long since I have posted anything and once again I am blaming my job as well as my Master's program. My winter break passed by waaay too fast, but I was able to spend lots of time with my family and friends, whom I am truly grateful for. I even got to cook the majority of our family Christmas meal!

After spending far too much money on our annual New Year's trip to New Orleans, I have resolved to be more conscious of my spending habits. Cooking at home is a great way to save money, but living alone makes it hard for me to use up all of my extra ingredients. So Paul and I decided to use Sunday night as my "get back into the groove" meal. We decided we wanted soup. I looked through my cookbook collection and once again came back to Mr. Michael Symon and his recipe for spicy tomato and bleu cheese soup. With a few substitutions and Paul's creation of parmesan croutons we were in for a great meal. Caution: this stuff is addictive!


Spicy Tomato & Gorgonzola Soup
adapted from Michael Symon's recipe

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano(or to taste)
1 medium red onion finely chopped
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic sliced
28 oz San Marzano tomatoes with their juice (1 can)
1½ cup Chicken Stock
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon sriracha sauce( I'm pretty sure I used more than this)
½ cup Gorgonzola(or bleu) cheese


Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a three-fingered pinch of salt and sweat for 2 minutes. 
 
Add the garlic and continue to sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice, and the stock and bring to a simmer.  Break up the tomatoes with spoon as you are stirring. Add the cream, sriracha sauce, and oregano and simmer for 45 minutes. 

 Add the cheese and let melt. (Michael Symon suggests putting this in a blender for smoother consistency, but we liked the rustic version better). The soup will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for a few days.





Although we claimed we could have finished the entire pot of soup in one sitting, we had more than enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Because this soup is easy, inexpensive and impressive, I can see myself making it many times in the future.

Love and Good Food,

CT