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[red pepper flakes and curry powder are the stars of this show]

There’s nothing better than a quiet night in after a long, exhausting, cold winter day. Yesterday was one of those days where I was too tired to fix dinner so I resorted to a no-muss no-fuss meal, and last night my din du jour happened to be popcorn. Yes, I ate popcorn for dinner … sorry Mom, I know that’s disappointing. However, I doctored up my popcorn [per usual] with some unexpected ingredients that kicked this typically ho-hum snack into a full-flavored force to be reckoned with.

In the words of Rachel Zoe, I die for curry. I even have a sweet little spice pot from Anthropologie that’s sole purpose is to house curry. I’ve been using curry as the secret spice in my popcorn for awhile now and this is one secret I don’t mind sharing.

[wearing Forever 21 nail polish in silver as seen here. how festive am i?]

Throw some curry powder and red pepper flakes [about one teaspoon each, as you see fit] onto your next batch of microwave popcorn [oh the shame] and I’m telling you, you’ll never look back. It’s spicy, it’s flavorful, it’s easy – what’s not to love?

[do you like my miniature tree in the background? more to come on that jazz]


[curry popcorn + national lampoon's christmas vacation, done and done.]

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[doughnut muffins]

These cute bite-sized treats are just doughnuts stealthily disguised as muffins. By nature, muffins are healthy, therefore by definition these are healthy doughnuts, a rarity I know. These are baked, unlike their deep-friend amigos, and I do use whole-wheat flour + skim milk so they’re relatively innocent.

Doughnut Muffins

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour [if you only have white all-purpose, use that]
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk [I used skim, use whatever you have on hand]

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line mini muffin tray with paper liners or grease tray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream oil and 1 cup sugar; beat in egg. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Stir flour into egg mixture alternately with milk. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. While muffins bake, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Remove muffins from pan and let cool for 5 minutes. While muffins are still warm, roll muffins in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  4. [I was having trouble getting the cinnamon sugar mixture to stick to the muffins so I added this step] Make a simple syrup with equal parts cinnamon, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and dip muffin tops in simple syrup. Re-dip in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Share and make instant friends.

*adapted from recipe at allrecipes.com

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It was a cold, windy, rainy night here in Chicago – the perfect weather to watch some Real Housewives, catch up on magazines, and bake a batch of no-fuss brownies. Good thing I always keep a box of brownie mix in the pantry for times like this. One box of Jiffy fudge brownie mix, a handful of marshmallows, some mini milk-chocolate chips, and a dash of Reese’s pieces [mini for baking] later I had a plate of my kitchen-sink brownies. And, now my entire apartment smells like velvety chocolate, one of the upsides of living in a small space.

Kitchen-Sink Brownies

  • 1 box Jiffy fudge brownie mix [makes enough brownies for 2-3 people]
  • per box instructions: 1 egg + 1 tbsp water + 2 tbsp oil
  • handful of mini marshmallows, plus reserve handful to sprinkle on top towards the end
  • handful of Reese’s pieces [the mini kind you find in the baking aisle]
  • handful of mini milk-chocolate chips*

*as the name of the brownie implies, add whatever sweet ingredients you have. no need for a trip to the grocery store on a night like this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Pour into greased mini loaf pan [Jiffy says to use a 9"x 5" loaf pan but mine was even smaller and it turned out fine]. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Sprinkle mini-marshmallows on top and broil for 3-4 minutes until marshmallows are nicely toasted. Let cool completely. Here’s a tip I learned – if you dip a knife in cool water it makes it so much easier to cut.

[All that's missing? A glass of milk. On my nails: Revlon Minted layered with Essie Overnight.]


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Some days you need a little bit of comfort food and today was one of those days. I found this simple and yummy recipe for the classic staple egg salad. This sandwich will forever remind me of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Each Tuesday, Mitch would faithfully bring Morrie his favorite sandwich, egg salad of course. Morrie would immediately dig in and speak with mouthfuls of the stuff while bits of it spewed from his lips. He made no effort to contain his energetic zeal. I love this small showcase of Morrie’s passionate attitude. He squeezed the life out of everything he did and enjoyed it to the fullest, whether it was eating a sandwich or teaching sociology to a classroom full of college kids. If you’re looking for a good book that will warm your heart, give Tuesdays with Morrie a whirl.

Morrie’s Egg Salad

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt [or use mayonnaise if you prefer the flavor]
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Palmful of chopped chives
  • Handful of spinach
  • 2 piece of whole grain bread, toasted

Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so – long enough to stop the cooking. Crack and peel each egg, place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper, now mash with a fork. Stir in the chives. Place a scoop of egg salad on bed of spinach on toast and there you have it!

[recipe adapted from 101 cookbooks]


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Halloween, one of my favorite days of the year, is only four days away. This year I’m dressing up as Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, white pleather jacket and all [in case you need a visual, check this out]. In honor of Mr. Rooney ["ROOONEY!"], I decided to whip up some coconut macaroons, a.k.a. macarooneys. These crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside coconutty wonders were the perfect light bite to satisfy my sweet tooth. Although they look pretty fancy, don’t be deterred, they were a snap to make.

Edward Macarooneys

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • one 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, cold water, corn syrup, and salt to a boil over medium-high het, stirring to dissovle the sugar.

In a medium bowl, combine the syrup with the bag of shredded coconut and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg whites and vanilla until foamy and thick; stir into the coconut mixture. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto each of 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden [about 15 minutes], switching the pans halfway through. Let cool completely on racks.

[Recipe courtesy of Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine]

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If you’re looking for the easiest roasted chicken recipe around, look no further. I consider myself pretty adventurous in the kitchen. I’ll whip up cakes from scratch and slice ‘n dice with the best of ‘em, but for some reason the idea of roasting a chicken has always scared me [I'm aware of how pathetic this sounds].

if this cute little number doesn't get you into the kitchen, nothing will

I  was doing some casual grocery shopping at Jewel [a Chicago-area chain, also known as da Jewels] when I spotted some medium-sized drumsticks out of the corner of my eye. Normally I wouldn’t have looked twice but these beauties were FOUR DOLLARS for the package, 10 drumsticks per package, in other words less than a dollar per meal! Victory dance [speaking of bargains, the apron above is a steal for $32 from Anthropologie].

So each ‘stick was about the size of a fist and two would be enough for me, four for the bf, who f.y.i. has the metabolism of a 16-year-old . He could probably eat all 10 drumsticks deep-fried in blubber and still not gain an ounce. Some guys have all the luck. Anyways, that was my deal of the day and I had to scoop them up.

I was oddly excited about my new bounty. I’d never cooked drumsticks before and there’s just something about them that seems so rustic and filling, yet undeniably simple.

Behold, the most delicious [and easy] drumstick recipe.

[photo via we heart it]

Mediterranean Chicken Drumsticks

  • 4 medium-sized drumsticks
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil [this is for the rub only - doesn't include oil for searing chicken or drizzling on top of chicken. Normally I don't pay attention to oil measurements in recipes but I followed this exactly because you want the right balance of flavor for the rub]
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt [ditto]
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper [if you don't have a 1/8 tsp measurement, just fill half of 1/4 tsp with black pepper]
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper [if you don't have white pepper just use black pepper, so it'd be 1/4 tsp black pepper total]
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning mix [if you have none on hand, use oregano]

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over chicken. Drizzle some olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Wait until oil is nice and hot and sear chicken on all sides in pan. In a shallow baking dish [I used a pie tin], grate peel from lemon, squeeze out juice from 1/2 lemon, and add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir until mixed.

The recipe I was borrowing from said to take the skin off the chicken but I left it on for added flavor. Coat chicken in mixture and arrange, bone-side up, in pan. Cover dish and bake for 30 minutes. Turn and baste chicken and drizzle a bit more olive oil and squeeze more lemon juice on top. Lower oven to 400 degrees, bake uncovered for 10 more minutes, then broil for 5 minutes.

[adapted from recipe found at allrecipes]

I served it with mashed potatoes and spicy corn [added cayenne pepper, salt + pepper to corn]. This one was a winner!

To full bellies and wallets,


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Perfection in a few words:

  • The delicious smell of a pot roast plugging away in the crock pot [recipe below]
  • The triumphant feeling of finding a pumpkin patch not too far from Chicago [Bengston's is only an hour drive... totally worth it] – I had to post some photos from our outing:

who doesn't love a good goat on a roof sighting?

bengston's, our patch of choice, + the tiny head of my wonderful bf

  • Homemade salted caramel hot cocoa [recipe below]
  • A great glass [or two] of rich red wine
  • Going to a football game with a thick sweater and a cozy scarf wrapped around my neck
  • Taking a long walk with my mom while watching the leaves fall
  • Catching up on some good books indoors under a soft blanket
  • Hearty homemade chili in front of a roaring fire

What are your ideas of fall bliss?

my darling niece + her pumpkin

Easy-as-Pie Pot Roast for Two [+leftovers]

  • 2.5 lb. pot roast
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup [if possible get low-sodium, that makes it easier to control the sodium content in this dish as it's prone to over-saltiness]
  • 1 package of dry onion soup mix [ditto]
  • 1 can of diet coke [or use regular... diet was just what I had on hand]
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • carrots [as much as you'd like]
  • mushrooms [ditto]

Rub roast with salt, pepper, and garlic powder [it's okay if roast is frozen]. Drizzle some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, drop in garlic cloves. After several minutes remove garlic cloves and add roast to pan. Sear on both sides.

While roast browns up, pour diet coke in crock pot. It sounds bizarre, but trust me this is the secret ingredient that no one, absolutely no one, will be able to put a finger on… I think the carbonation tenderizes the meat and the sweetness lends additional flavor. Okay now where were we - Line bottom of crock pot with onion slices, mushrooms, and carrots [I will say this is the first time I've used carrots and mushrooms in my pot roast recipe and they add such a depth of flavor - they're an absolute must from now on]. In a bowl, mix mushroom soup with onion soup mix. Remove roast from pan and coat in mushroom soup mixture. Place in crock pot with a layer of onions on top. Throw in garlic cloves and the rest of your mushrooms and carrots. Fill the [now empty] mushroom soup can with water and pour around roast.

Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Pour over brown rice or mashed potatoes and dig on in.

Homemade Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa

  • chewy caramel candies [2 per cup o'cocoa]
  • 2 cups milk [use your favorite kind of milk]
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • handful milk chocolate chips
  • marshmallows
  • kosher salt

In a saute pan simmer milk, sugar, and dash of vanilla extract. Add chocolate chips, a couple marshmallows, and one piece of caramel, stir to melt all. In separate pan melt one piece of caramel with dash of water. Add to chocolate mixture. Pour into a nice, big mug and add a pinch of kosher salt on top. Yum!

Wishing you the coziest of fall nights,

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[breakfast]

doughnut muffins

cinnabon-like cinnamon buns

banana berry smoothie

 

[lunch]

morrie’s egg salad

tgif tuna salad

 

[main dishes]

roasted chicken drumsticks

easy-as-pie pot roast for 2 [+leftovers]

rosemary clementine cornish game hens

red white + green tortellini

coconut curry tofu

spaghetti squash with portobello mushrooms, basil & tomato

 

[salad]

garlic + bean winter salad

 

[dessert]

edward macarooneys

kitchen-sink brownies

irish oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

nutella pillows

basil banana bread

cookies’n cream bars

gooey cookies’n cream heath brownies

itsy bitsy strawberry shortcakes

mini pumpkin spice cakes with cider maple glaze

 

[drinks]

homemade salted caramel hot cocoa

 

[snacks]

popcorn with  panache

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