Friday, April 24, 2015

All-American Potato Salad

Woops, I forgot to actually finish telling you about the barbecue last weekend, besides just the amazing Crack Cake.

SO, this was my plate:
Cornbread, potato salad, grilled vegetables, tomato salad.

I don't have a recipe for the tomato salad, because a guest brought it. The vegetables were just seasoned with olive oil and grilled. We'll skip those.

My gentleman made ribs for the first time. He used this Alton Brown recipe. Everyone really liked it a lot, so if you eat meat you might want to look into it.

I also made the Best Cornbread In The World, which is still my favorite cornbread recipe.

And then I made this potato salad:

I LOVED this potato salad. Because you soak it ahead of time in a mustard sauce, the mustard is able to flavor the potatoes without getting all weird with the mayonnaise. It's so subtle and lovely. It was also great the next day (not that there was much left). I didn't add any celery because we were out. I didn't peel the potatoes because we prefer it that way. I would definitely make this recipe again next time.

All American Potato Salad
From "Cook's Country by America's Test Kitchen," episode 106, "All-American Picnic."

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons pickle juice, divided
1 large dill pickles, finely diced (1/4 cup)
1 small celery rib, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 hard-cooked eggs, cut in 1/4-inch dice (optional)

Peel and cut potatoes in 1" cubes. Place in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring up to a gentle simmer and cook until tender, when a knife slides in and out of cubes without resistance, about 10-15 minutes. Drain potatoes and turn out onto a baking sheet.

Whisk mustard with 2 tablespoons of juice from a jar of pickles. Pour over hot potatoes and toss with fingers to coat. Spread out potatoes and refrigerate for 30 minutes until cool.

Combine pickle, celery, red onion and remaining 1 tablespoon pickle juice with salt and celery seed. Add mayonnaise and sour cream and whisk together.

Add potatoes and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes longer. Add diced egg and fold to combine.

Yield: 8 servings

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crack Cake

We had a barbecue this past weekend and I wanted to make a really exciting cake, but I reallllly did not want to put in much effort because I was already making so much food. In some magical twist, I had ALL of the ingredients available to make this cake. It's super easy. Mix everything together, dump it in a bundt pan, bake it for an hour. Then as soon as it's out, pour melted butter & white wine over it. It'll bubble and sizzle, like this:


Then the liquid will soak evenly into the entire cake, and then you dump it out and you have the best cake EVER.


The cinnamon flavor is strong, the wine flavor is not. It's amazing. I promise. I will make this again. Also, I used my Williams-Sonoma Nordic Ware Bundt Cake Pan, which I love love love.

Crack Cake
It's The Little Things via Pinterest

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 box vanilla pudding instant mix
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup white wine

For the topping:
1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the above ingredients by hand or hand mixer.

Grease a bundt pan.

Pour into pan.

Bake for one hour.

When cake comes out of the oven, melt 1 stick butter into 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup wine.

Pour over hot cake.

Cool. Flip out of pan onto plate and serve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Fudgy Swirl Cookies

I made these for Cookie Monday this week. I did not double the recipe, and I got 4 dozen huge cookies. If you make the cookies smaller, you could probably get tons more. I used half regular cocoa, half hershey's extra-dark. This was a brilliant idea and made the cookies VERY chocolatey. Freezing the peanut butter is very important because it helps it to hold its place when you bake the cookies, other than melting everywhere or absorbing into the dough.

I couldn't take a picture because it kept looking like poop. I can't explain it. It was horrible. The cookies are delicious though. Bake them, and then you'll know what they look like!

Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Fudgy Swirl Cookies
Picky Palate

1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.

Place peanut butter into the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

In a stand or electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well combined.

Place flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add to wet ingredients along with cocoa powder, and chocolate chunks, slowly mixing until just combined. Drop dollops of frozen peanut butter into dough and turn mixer on for just a few turns of the mixer to get swirls of peanut butter through the dough. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart from each other. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Yield: 3-4 dozen

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Double Tahini Hummus

Even though I recently discovered the amazing Restaurant-Style Hummus recipe, I saw this in a recent issue of Eating Well and felt like I had to try it. It uses dried beans and is extremely complicated - why wouldn't it make the best hummus ever in the world?

Well, it didn't. It took FOR EV ER to make. I covered the stove in starch when boiling them. My refrigerator smelled funny as the beans soaked. I used up the rest of the tahini I had in the house to make a nice big double-batch, and... was completely disappointed. I'm sure the guy who makes this for his restaurant is a hummus champion. I'm sure I just didn't do it right. But it wasn't worth it, even if it was done right. I'm going to stick to the other hummus recipe from now on.


Double Tahini Hummus
Eating Well

8 ounces dried chickpeas (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon baking soda
7 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup cold tahini, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
Paprika for garnish
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place chickpeas in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water; stir in baking soda. Soak overnight. (Alternatively, to quick-soak: Bring the chickpea mixture in the saucepan to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.)

Drain the chickpeas and rinse well. Rinse out the pan. Return the chickpeas to the pan and cover with 2 inches fresh water. Add garlic. Bring to a boil. Keep at a rolling boil until the chickpeas are tender and almost falling apart, 25 to 40 minutes.

Reserve about 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the chickpeas. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the prettiest chickpeas for garnish. Rinse the remaining chickpeas and garlic and set the colander over a bowl. Refrigerate the chickpea mixture, reserved cooking water and pretty chickpeas separately overnight.

The next day, combine the chickpeas, 6 of the garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water in a food processor (or blender) with 1/4 cup each oil, tahini and 1/4 cup lemon juice, salt and cumin. Process until creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Puree the remaining 1/4 cup each oil and tahini with the remaining garlic clove, 2 table-spoons of the cooking water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until smooth.

Make an indention in the center of the hummus and spoon in the tahini-lemon mixture. Sprinkle the hummus with cumin and paprika, if desired. Garnish with the reserved whole chickpeas and parsley.

Make Ahead Tip : Cover and refrigerate hummus (without garnishes) for up to 5 days. Garnish just before serving.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shrimp Scampi with Pasta (or Squash)

When I was in fifth grade, I used to read my teacher's Woman's Day and Family Circle magazines when she brought them into school. Then I started subscribing to them myself. I loved the quick tips for cleaning, simple recipes, decorating ideas, and human interest stories. Nothing was heavy. So stereotypically female but I've always been a domestic kind of person. Everything was a quick little sound bite of an article. IT WAS A PRINT FORM OF PINTEREST. But then I was poor after college and cancelled most of my magazine subscriptions, and then Pinterest was invented so those kinds of magazines were no longer needed.

Every once in awhile, I find a recipe or a little article I may have saved and I feel nostalgic. This is one of those recipes! I found it while looking for a quick shrimp dish to serve with some baked spaghetti squash, because I'm currently obsessed with spaghetti squash. While the squash was resting after baking, I made the shrimp. Super fast! Then I sauteed the shredded spaghetti squash in the remainder of the butter/garlic sauce in the pan. Served together, and ta-da! Shrimp scampi with not-pasta.

It was delicious and simple. I thought it paired so well with the spaghetti squash. I would make this again! Here is the original recipe.


Scampi with Pasta
Woman's Day, April 2006

12 ounces linguine
3 tablespoons butter, cut up
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound peeled, deveined, extra-large shrimp, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Boil linguine as package directs. Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium heat until butter melts. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add shrimp, scallions, salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat; stir in lemon zest, juice and parsley. Drain pasta; serve with shrimp.

Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Italian Cauliflower Sauce

I'm going to start off with the picture.


Now, at a brief glance or from a distance, this looks like meat sauce. I brought leftovers for lunch and my coworkers were confused. It is not meat. It is cauliflower. Apparently, if you chop up cauliflower and cook it in tomato sauce, it ends up looking like ground beef. So that's weird.

But this was delicious! It did take a LOT longer to simmer than I had anticipated. Even after an hour, it still wasn't the right thickness. I'd actually decrease the amount of water next time to make it thicker. I also added some extra Italian seasoning. It was delicious and I really liked it a lot. And reheated very well!

Italian Cauliflower Sauce

1 medium head cauliflower
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
5 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon oregano and/or basil

Clean the cauliflower and cut into small pieces, leaving some stem attached. Coat the cauliflower well with olive oil, using 2-4 tablespoons or more, as desired. Check that it is all coated so it doesn't burn. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, cook, stirring and turning occasionally, until it starts to brown a bit, 5-10 minutes depending on how much cauliflower is in the pan. Cover, reduce the heat a bit and let cook a little longer until it is nearly done but not soft (al dente). Add the tomato paste and stir it into the cauliflower well, then add water. Fill the paste cans with some of the water to get out every bit of paste. Sti to combine, add sugar, salt, pepper, and oregano or basil. Raise heat to medium high, bring to a boil, then turn down to low to simmer, uncovered, until it has reduced to the thickness you desire. Serve over small-sized pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fairy Bites

One of the easiest cookies to make is shortbread. It has so few ingredients, requires very little time, and one tiny square can be as satisfying as any other large cookie. So, out of laziness, I made these little shortbread bites. I used 100s & 1000s, the Australian version of nonpareils, that a friend mailed me awhile ago. They were so festive and pretty!

These came together really quickly. They didn't crumble because you cut them into squares before they're baked, rather than afterward, so they hold their shape. I read reviews of the original recipe on the Land O' Lakes website, and people recommended doubling the recipe but still making it in an 8x8 pan, so that the squares would a little more substantial. I did this, and I'm glad I did. I'd definitely suggest doing that if you make it, too.


Fairy Bites
Pink Piccadilly Pastries, adapted from Land O' Lakes

1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp multi-colored nonpareils

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap (or cut parchment to fit) leaving 1-inch overhang.

Combine butter, sugar and almond extract in medium bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low, add flour and salt. Beat until well mixed. Stir in nonpareils.

Knead mixture 4-5 times in bowl until dough forms a ball. Pat dough evenly into prepared pan. Use overhang to lift dough from pan. Cut dough into 1/2-inch squares. Gently place squares 1/2 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake approximately 15 minutes or until bottoms just begin to brown.

Yield: about 100 little squares