Sunday, January 31, 2010

happy birthday, dad!

thanks for keeping me in line.

in his honor, this week i will perfect a recipe for one of his favorite foods and mine to prepare for the super bowl: chicken wings! more soon...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

my funny valentine.

i picked up my new valentine in the dollar bin at target, so i don't have high expectations for things to really flourish with him.  still fun to give it a try, no? 

ps - it's restaurant week, nyc! i'm still glowing from the stout-braised lamb shank with aged cheddar polenta and green apples at park avenue winter last night. thank you to mo for great company and bite swaps.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

recipe #2: yellow cake with chocolate icing.

5: the number of times the german woman in the office next door to mine blasts george michael's heartfelt hit "never gonna dance again" per day.
3: the number of fresh eggs in my fridge.
1: the number of post-neurosurgery/birthday parties i will be invited to in my life (i hope).
0: the number of times i've made a cake from scratch.

add 'em up and i've got the inspiration to bake my very first homemade cake for my dear, divine friend kevin, who just bravely underwent brain surgery (unscathed...whew), turned 28, and threw a small party to celebrate the two. oh, and i've also got "gifted feet have got no rhythm" running through my head. anyways...

Kevbo Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing
Soundtrack: The Best of Ray Charles - The Atlantic Years (sorry, george.)*
Time: 10 minutes for icing, 50 minutes for cake

Servings: 10 nicely sized slices

Icing -
3 cups confectioners' sugar, 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of butter, 5 tablespoons whole milk, 4 tablespoons (cold) expresso, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 3/4 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup butter, 3 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, ¾ cup milk, 2 teaspoons nutmeg
 *very important: keep a spare spatula handy for singing along to "night time is the right time"
The plan: i will admit that i only like cake because it is covered in icing, so i spent more time playing around with that than the cake. okay, yes that also meant i got to take lots of samples to check the taste but whatever, that's not important. nor is the fact i had chocolate all over my face for a large part of this baking experience.
Icing: in a large bowl, mix confectioners' sugar and cocoa together so the mixture is consistent - use a sifter if you have one. then melt the butter and stir that into the mix, next add the milk, vanilla, expresso and cinnamon. and taste. and get another spoon and taste again. and, oh, wait, sorry... hide frosting in airtight lid in fridge so you will stop tasting.
Cake: preheat your oven to 350 degrees. in a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. melt the butter and in a separate bowl, mix it with the sugar and then add eggs one at a time while stirring. add milk, vanilla and then dump liquid mixture into the dry mixture. then mix it on up with a handmixer until those bumps be gone.

grease a pan or two depending on how thick you want your cake to be or if you want layers. i think 9" is best and chose to try out my new fancy-pants springform pan. pour the mixture into the pan and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is a golden brown. test the cake by sticking a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, your cake is ready! you did it! it's tempting, but please do not give the cake a high-five. 

Things I learned: to be careful to use baking powder instead of soda unless you want one sorry looking cake (fortunately i found this out on the internet and not from experience). i also should have used a 9" pan and not the 11" one i did because my cake turned out - like me - very short. finally, that i don't think i will ever be able to eat chocolate icing again unless it has expresso in it and that drizzling it on the homemade vanilla ice cream i also made (another post) was one of my most brilliant moments.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

recipe #1: chicken noodle soup.

so, i don't really like traditional chicken noodle soup. i like all of the things that go into it separately, a lot, but together they do nothing for me. and since i lost my voice this week (which is almost back now and yes i will totally credit my new soup recipe thankyouverymuch) i thought this to be a perfect first experiment.

i figured i'd keep the colors the same for consistency's sake, so using my handy produce bible i picked nutritional powerhouses kale and sweet potatoes as subs for celery and carrots. i figure if this is supposed to be the go-to when you're feeling down, make it pack a lot of punch! i also threw in red beans for their fiber and high antioxidant value and cancer-fighting pearl onions. enjoy...

Jill's Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe
Soundtrack: My Best Friend's Wedding Movie Soundtrack (shut. up.)
Time: 1.5 hours
Servings: 8-10

Ingredients: 2 chicken legs w/ bone, 5 pearl onions, 1 large sweet potato, 1/2 pound of kale, 1 can red beans (not kidney), 1/2 box of Ronzoni 7 grain fusilli pasta. For seasoning: olive oil,  rosemary, thyme, 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves, chicken bouillon, cloves, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper. 
The plan: coat the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil. slice onions (i kept mine in rings) and mince garlic and add to pot to "sweat", or cook until clear, over low heat. next, add the two salt and peppered chicken legs until skin is browned and then add 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon. cover and bring to a boil, then keep over medium heat for 45 minutes. next, add 2 tablespoons each of rosemary, thyme, red pepper, salt and pepper, the two bay leaves and 3 cloves. using a fork, remove the chicken legs from the soup and strip the meat from the bones, adding the meat back into the soup. add cubed sweet potatoes and let cook for 15 minutes, then add pasta, kale (remove from stems and cut into ribbons) and beans and let cook for another 15 or until pasta is tender. remove bay leaves, add more salt/pepper to taste and then get out a big ole bowl and serve yourself up some of this goodness. i sprinkled some parmesean cheese on top too because when is that NOT a good idea? 
Things I learned: firstly, that i enjoy my best friend's wedding movie soundtrack as much as when i was 15, which is a whole lot. secondly, that i wish i had browned the chicken legs like i said i did above, because i am that gross person who loves the skin and kept it in my soup. thirdly, i used too much water at first (10 cups) and as such my pot boileth over, so i had to use a mug to remove some before i could add any more ingredients. fourthly, that although while i was cooking it i wondered if i should have used squash instead of sweet potatoes, when i tasted it i knew i had done good. 

SO hope you enjoy this as much as I did/am since I have 7 more servings left in my fridge. bring on your thoughts/suggestions/favorite moments in "My Best Friend's Wedding." jsx

Monday, January 11, 2010

a salty saint.

like most folks, i am trying to cut back on salt (especially on pizza slices... yes, please judge me for that so i will not do it anymore), so why not make the times when using salt is justified make me feel more healthy too? enter himalayan pink sea salt crystals. i grabbed a bottle of this at trader joe's for only $1.99 to try more for the pretty/fancy factor and was very excited to learn that it is kind of the best thing ever for you, as far as consuming salt goes. they are fossilized sea salts from a pristine time without man-made pollution that have been dried from the sun over millions of years, and are pink because their whopping 84+ minerals and trace elements (copper, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and more) have not been removed though refinement. table and and most sea/rock salts are white because they have been simplifed to just sodium chloride, which is unhealthy because high amounts of it cannot be excreted from the body and cause all kinds of health problems as it stores in the body.

by contrast, the mineral content in himalayan salts are metabolized easily and help eliminate toxins from the body, improve circulation, help to balance the body's ph levels (acid/alkaline balance ), keep the nervous system working correctly and keep muscles in tact as well as relaxed.

i find the taste is similar to sea salt and look forward to using it in my attempt to create my own special chicken soup recipe this week, which will hopefully cure my very, very sore throat. more on that soon!...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

oh, good! another excuse to drink champagne.

wednesdays are my favorite not because they break up the week, but because my source of much-needed eye candy to keep me going through the day - design sponge - posts several easy and fun projects in its "diy wednesdays" installment. one of today's hit my sweet spot because i also love drinking anything with bubbles - prosecco, champagne, sparkling wine - and now have even more reason to do so... so i can make miniature bistro chairs, of course! i recommend using almond-flavored sparkling wine from trader joe's ($5.99) and mixing it with a splash of vanilla flavored vodka for a cocktail for the drinking part, but what you choose to do with the minature chairs is up to you (if you live in nyc, maybe play house with the mice that are likely running around your apartment...).

Soundtrack: Family of the Year's Songbook because these chairs are almost as adorable as this band.
The plan: i think it's pretty self-explanatory from the pictures... drink up!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

beam cream swoon.

oh, the levee. you wooed me with your free cheese balls, pinball and $3 yuenglings ($2 during happy hour!), but you won my heart with the "beam cream." at the wise insistence of a friend, I tried the levee's specialty drink and it is pretty much what it sounds like: half a pint glass each of jim beam and cream soda. and it. was. delicious. i immediately decided this would be a thrifty yet crowd-pleasing drink to serve at a party, or for me to drink while i watch arrested development in my pajamas, and hope you do too. next up, "the gatorita"... tequila mixed with lemon-lime gatorade!*

*not really

Friday, January 1, 2010

time to go duck hunting.

the blog's first post on this first day of 2010 just so happens to time out perfectly with the rose bowl, so i am very excited to have an excuse to write about osu football. today the buckeyes face the oregon ducks in the "grandaddy of them all", which i will watch from mugs ale house where $7 will get you a burger topped with cheese, bbq sauce and onions next to a side of fair-style fries... one of the best deals in williamsburg. GO BUCKEYES!