Recipes

Winter Stew Series: Spaghetti

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Ok you caught me spaghetti isn’t really a stew but it’s warming and needed in these cold months. I have a deep and far reaching love for pasta that I’ve had since I was young. In fact, one of my earliest meals that I remember cooking was pasta (with a different sauce) but the recipe I’m going to share with you now is a favorite of mine and one that I’ve prepared for many years.

What you’ll need:

  • Pasta (I like fettuccine here, but do as you please)
  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 1 lb. of ground pork
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • 6 button mushrooms
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini ( I also sometimes use summer squash, leave it up to your taste and what’s available in the grocery store)
  • 1 6oz. Can of tomato paste (I like my sauce tangy)
  • 1 28oz. Can of peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tbsps. Of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded parmesan to garnish, if you’d like
  1. Put a large saucepan or a dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the olive oil
  2. Chop your onion, garlic, and shallot and add to the pan.
  3. Stir and cook until the onion is clear, about 7-9 minutes.
  4. Add your ground beef and pork, make sure to stir to break it up into chunks, and cook until all of the meat is brown, about 12 minutes.
  5. Add your tomato paste and stir to thoroughly combine.
  6. Rinse and chop your mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and zucchini. Add the mushrooms first and stir for 3 minutes. Add your tomatoes and zucchini and stir to combine.
  7. Take your peeled tomatoes one-by-one and crush them in your hand over the pan. You’ll probably want to wear an apron as they tend to spray in every direction. Add the liquid from peeled tomatoes to your sauce as well.
  8. Add 2 cups of water to your sauce, season it, and cover it to let it simmer for 13-15 minutes or until it reaches your desired thickness. Stir occasionally.
  9. Cook your pasta! Spoon some sauce overtop, drench it in parmesan and dig in!

I find this meal to be one of the most comforting and filling things to eat in the winter. I hope you find the same and eat a large amount over the next few months because winter isn’t coming, it’s here.

Be warm and eat well piggies.

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Recipes

I Do Want Your Apple Pie Mama

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I have been making an apple pie twice a year for my family for the past 10-11 years, so I know a little bit about it. In fact, pie crust was the first “difficult” recipe I undertook in hopes of becoming a serious chef. So I know a little something. The biggest thing I know is that I try something new every year, but as we continue through the holiday season I’ve got some tips and tricks for apple pie below!

Apples:

    • Granny Smith are superior. You can argue, you can beg, you can plead, but you know the truth. However, I do like using a couple red apples as they break down during baking and thicken your filling. Keep the Granny Smith as the frontrunner, but a ratio of 3:1 granny smiths to red apples (gala or red delicious) works best.
  • PEEL YOUR APPLES I don’t think anyone enjoys pulling a stringy bit of apple skin out of their teeth after they tuck in to a sumptuous slice of apple pie. Its tedious, but do it.
  • Depending on the depth of your pie tin I would suggest using 6-8 apples, more if you need to. Try to get at least 8 slices out of each apple but I shoot for closer to 16.

Crust:

  • COLD COLD COLD aka make sure all of your ingredients are as cold as possible. Freeze your butter, chill your flour, put ice cubes in your water, if possible, chill your bowls (yes it is that serious)
  • I almost always use a food processor to make pie crust now, but I did not come up in such luxury. If you are truly making pie crust by hand I suggest grating your frozen butter and putting it back in the freezer for at least half an hour. This will give you perfect, thin layers of butter without overworking yourself or overheating your ingredients.
  • Now you may be expecting me to give you a crust recipe, but pie crust is inherently quite vague and unwieldy. I will say the traditional ratio is 2 parts flour to 1 part butter and enough cold water for the crust to be cohesive. If you MUST have a recipe, I’m a pretty big fan of this one (though I do not follow their filling recipe).
  • Flour your surfaces, turn your dough often enough to ensure it doesn’t stick, and don’t be afraid of patching it up, it is your little baby and calls for constant care.
  • Feel free to get as wild as you’d like with the designs of your top crust, cut out designs, braid dough together, or go for traditional, the choices are endless.
    • All I ask is that you put a nice egg wash (1 beaten egg and a splash of water) over the entirety of your art.

Filling:

  • The last time I measured ingredients for my apple pie filling was in 2007. Needless to say this will be vague.
  • Use equal parts brown and white sugar and taste your apples before sweetening, the requirements will change depending on the taste. And yes, you do need both sugars, the brown adds something the white can’t quite manage and the white adds the necessary sweetness.
  • Be sure to add lemon juice (and zest if you can), nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, flour, honey and anything else your little heart deems necessary.

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  • After you put your crust in your pan, and your filling in your crust, add little chunks of butter over the top, these will melt and a depth of flavor to your pie.

Baking:

  • I bake mine at 350° anywhere from 35-50 minutes. Honestly, until the crust is as golden as I like it. Voila!

This dish is obviously best fresh out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or handmade whipped cream. This Thanksgiving, my youngest cousin ate the entire pie save my slice. I’ll have you know his stamp of approval is quite difficult to attain.

 

Eat well, be good, and pig out.

Recipes

Fall Weeknight Dinner Series: An Aside

While I am a big fan of the one pot stew dinner, I think we are all familiar with the “traditional” dinner scheme. What they pack in TV dinners to be reheated just to the brink of inedible: a protein, a carb, and a veggie. (Sometimes two veggies, one green and the other any color.) As Thanksgiving runs up on us faster than a brawl at a Black Friday sale, these recipes can also be of use to you.

First off and of course my very favorite: potatoes

Now there are obviously a large number of ways to prepare potatoes and you should go in whichever way your heart guides you, but I will give you three ways potatoes can be cooked to perfection.

Roasted:

  • The most important part here is to cut your potatoes into same sized cubes. You can do them as big or as small as you want, but you want them to be similar so that their cooking time is consistent.
  • With this method you do have some leeway in the type of potato you choose to cook: russet, red, new, fingerling (may not need to chop), the choices are endless.
  • I douse and I do mean douse my potatoes in good olive oil (you will taste it here so better to use a flavorful one than one with no ~conviction~). Also, season with salt and pepper and you can be somewhat heavy handed, potatoes tend towards being flavorless.
  • I roast my potatoes at 350 for about 40-45 minutes (checking and stirring them about every 15) because if I’m roasting them I’m looking for them to be soft not necessarily crispy, if you prefer yours crispy up the heat to 400 and cut 10-15 minutes off of that cooking time.

Pan-Fried:

  • TBH one of my favorite potato preparations just behind French fries and this is important.
  • And I repeat, the point here is that the potatoes are cut into same size cubes so that they can cook at the same time.
  • Again, don’t worry about type of potato, I happen to like russet here but you can do what you want.
  • Oils/fats here are very important because they do strongly flavor the dish. If you can, cook your potatoes in duck fat, you will never have a better experience. But if not, I like a 50/50 blend of butter and olive oil, they actually complement each other quite well.
  • Now this is gonna sound like a lot, but we are pan-frying so I make sure that there is at least about a ⅓-½ inch of oil in the bottom of my pan. I heat over medium heat, sometimes I throw in garlic first, and then my potatoes.
  • An important note: actually let your potatoes fry for a little bit before you stir them. If you stir prematurely they will rip apart and their skins will stick to the bottom of the pan. But if you leave them for about 5-7 minutes then stir, you’ll find them golden and homogeneous.
  • Now for overall cooking time, what is the most convenient about pan-frying is that you can cook them as long as you like. If you want them fluffy and just done, I would say about 25-30 minutes (until a knife slides cleanly through). Want them crispy? Add on another 10 or however long until you are pleased. Season with salt and pepper and destroy.

Mashed:

  • You must use Russet potatoes for this recipe, don’t be tempted by other varieties, use Russet don’t regret.
  • The most important pointer on mashed potatoes (besides using Russets), I picked up from a family friend: save the water you cook your potatoes in. When you’re mixing in your cream, butter, milk, and hopefully garlic add a little bit of this starchy water to reach the correct consistency. It helps keep you from overbeating and making gummy potatoes and also keeps you from using a gallon of milk and four sticks of butter.
  • Otherwise, mashed potatoes are a simple and delicious classic. Enjoy!

If you couldn’t tell I love potatoes, try these as you approach Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving and impress your auntie with your talents (don’t try mac and cheese though, you’re not ready yet).   

Recipes

Weeknight Dinner Series: Roasted Chiecken & Veggies

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This is a classic meal in my household and in everyone else’s too I’m sure. Ina Garten has a million and one recipes on how to roast chicken, from the whole bird to the bits and pieces. This is a presentation of my favorite iteration, though it is uninspired by Ina (consciously, but she is a guiding light in my life so subconsciously she probably helped me write this).

What You’ll Need:

  • 6 chicken thighs, bone-in skin on
  • 4 large Russet potatoes
  • 4 large carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1lb. Of brussel sprouts
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Let’s get started!

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Rinse, peel, and chop all of your veggies. Leave the skin on your potatoes for extra flavor. Smash your cloves of garlic, peel off the skin, and add them to the other veggies whole.
  3. Pour all of your veggies into a 13×9 baking dish, pour over a ¼ cup of olive oil, add salt and pepper, and toss your veggies until they are coated.
  4. Rinse and dry your chicken thighs. Rub with salt and pepper.
  5. Rinse and slice your lemon into rounds and place these over your veggies. Then place the chicken, skin side down on top of your veggies. It is ok if they sit above the edge of the baking dish.
  6. Put the whole kit and kaboodle in the oven. Let cook for 20 minutes, flip the chicken over then let cook for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the juices from the thighs run clear.
  7. Scoop out, add some Grey Poupon to the side of your plate, and devour.

*Depending on the size of your pan you can roast more chicken thighs and serve more people

 

Now eat happily and be good!

Recipes

Fall Weeknight Dinner Series: Pasta with Essence of Chicken

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My roommate prepares far more healthy meals than I do, but this just creates a balance in our diets allowing us to both get thick and tone at the same time. She prepared a version of this recipe for me once, and I enjoyed it so much that I riffed it and present my parody here to you. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 lb. of pasta of your choice (I often use whole wheat in this recipe and I like Rotini or Fusilli as the shape, but again do as you please)
  • 2 cups of kale
  • 2 lemons, 1 cut in half
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons of Sumac (the real star of the show, and a spice I will forever bless my roommate for introducing me to)
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan to taste
  1. So we’re going to use a new method to cook pasta here but it is one that Alton Brown backs so y’all should all be excited! In your favorite pasta pot combine the pasta, chicken broth, heavy cream, and both halves of the cut lemon. If there is any pasta that is above the surface of the liquids, add water until the pasta is JUST covered.
  2. Put the pot over a medium high flame and let cook. Keep an eye on the pot and stir often, the pasta will soak up all of the delightful liquid and you will not have to pour out anything! This whole process should take about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Rinse, remove the stems from, and chop your kale.
  4. Remove your pot from heat and stir in your kale and Sumac. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice your other lemon into wedges and squeeze over your pasta as you see fit, sprinkle with parmesan as you feel.
  6. Voila! A quick weeknight dinner that will tantalize your senses!

I like this dish because it is quite flexible. If you’d like to make a vegetarian option, use vegetable stock and no heavy cream. If you’d like a vegan version but the necessary pasta and do the same. If you’d like a more veggie rich version, add in whatever you’d like! I think it pairs well with tomatoes, red cabbage, and red onion. Feel free to riff off of my riff and while you’re at it

 

Eat happily and be good.

Recipes

Fall Weeknight Dinner Series: Chipotlambre

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I love Chipotle.

When they had the E. Coli breakout I was excited cause there was no line at my local location.

If they wanted to sponsor me I would allow it into my life immediately.

But some days we can’t get Chipotle, or we want to have a little more power over it. I also feel as though you should be able to cook every single dish that you love. So homemade chicken bowls it is!

What you’ll need:

  • Brown rice
  • ½ stick of butter
  • Olive oil
  • Boneless and skinless chicken thighs (5 for this recipe)
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 16oz. can of corn, drained
  • Greens of some sort
    • For my rendition I used baby kale and a head of red lettuce but feel free to use anything from baby spinach to radish greens
  • Guacamole (I bought my grocery store’s pre-made batch but feel free to make your own)
  • 2 tbsps. of chopped Cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. of Harissa
  • 2 limes (The juice and zest of 1 lime, and simply halve the other)
  • 2 tsps. of Cumin
  • 2 tsps. of Onion Powder
  • 2 ½ tsps. of Salt
  • 1 tsp. of Pepper

That’s alot I know but think of how many different things I (you) put on a chicken bowl. But in order to avoid any confusion I’m going to break down the different layers.

Rice:

  1. Honestly, follow the instructions on the back of the rice bag, but add to the cooking water the lime you halved, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of butter.
  2. Cook as guided and let cool, when it is cool add in the cilantro and stir. Enjoy!

Chicken:

  1. In a large bowl add your chicken thighs, zest, lime juice, Harissa, cumin, onion powder, salt, pepper, and 4 tablespoons. of olive oil. Mix together and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours, though you’re welcome to leave it overnight.
  2. After allowing your chicken to marinate, heat a pan over medium heat. Add in a tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter.  
  3. Place the chicken, and all that’s left of the marinade, in the pan and let cook until done, 7-9 minutes on each side (if you cut into the chicken the juices should run clear, that’s how you know it’s cooked).
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and let the thighs rest for 10 minutes, then chop them into cubes. Done!

Pico/Corn Mixture:

  1. In the same pan you cooked your chicken in, add in your chopped onion and minced garlic. Let cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and corn, and stir to allow the tomatoes to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and voila!

Greens:

  1. Rinse and dry them.

Preparation:

  1. Rice.
  2. Pico/Corn Mixture
  3. Chicken
  4. Greens
  5. Scoop of guac.

I like to make meals for the entire week on Sunday, call it meal prep or whatever you’d like. This recipe, however, can easily come together on a weeknight. The chicken will be as delicious after 30 minutes of marinating as after 24 hours (it’ll just be more tender with the latter preparation). It will take you from beginning to end about an hour and the proof is in the pudding (or chicken bowl) that it’s worth your time. Besides, what better way to relax than by having a beer, listening to some nice music, and cooking yourself an excellent meal. It’s the best fall aesthetic.

 

Eat happily, be good, and question why you didn’t start Chipotle before Steve Ellis did.

Recipes

Green Tea Cocktail

In my old age I’m co-opting the idea of a nice cocktail occasionally (my parents read this) before bed during the week. Obviously not to excess, I only have just the one, but there’s something incredibly charming about mixing your own little cocktail and enjoying it before you tuck off into your bedtime routine. That being said, I am no mixologist, this is a drink I enjoyed in the summer, honestly probably a bit too cold and light for the Fall and surely for the Winter, but if you’re in a place where Summer hasn’t been immediately cut short then I suggest to you this recipe. Feel free to adopt the practice of a cocktail before bed, but if you’re parents get mad, you didn’t hear it from me.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 oz. of Brewed, Cooled Green Tea
  • 1 ¼ oz. of Rum (white rum, not brown)
  • ¾ oz. of Rose’s Sweetened Lime Syrup
  • Ice
  1. Put some ice in a cup
  2. Pour all of the above ingredients into said cup
  3. Stir.

It’s that easy! If you want to be fancy, feel free to put it in a shaker. The green tea and lime pair nicely and if you always brew too much tea, you now have a leftover recipe for it. Now if you’re in a cooler climate, you could always do the same with no ice and hot tea. Now you can exercise your inner Kermit whenever you feel.

 

Be good and eat happily!