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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta

I really love goat cheese on anything, so it was only a matter of time before I made this dish. It is so easy and comes together in a snap. I thought it was going to blow my mind, because, well, goat cheese usually does. I'm not going to lie and tell you that this dish changed my life, but it was good. Definitely good. Easy, fast, and comforting.

1/2 pound spaghetti
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

Boil the pasta in salted water according to directions. While pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Ladle a bit of the hot pasta water into the cheese mixture and whisk to combine.

Drain the pasta and pour into the cheese mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately and grind a bit of fresh pepper on top. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes!

These are the best pancakes in the world. Seriously. I feel strongly that you need to make them ASAP. As in tomorrow morning for Sunday brunch. These get my highest stamp of approval.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs Let's Dish and it took very little convincing for me to make them after I read that the blogger's entire family deemed these the best pancakes they'd ever tasted. I told this story as I was serving these this morning and was met with vigorous head nods in agreement after the first bite (no words were spoken because mouths were full of buttery sweet banana cakes). Oh, and I served these with a sweet vanilla maple syrup. And you should, too. Top notch.

I apologize for the lazy iphone picture... I was unwilling to wait the 5 seconds it would have required to get my camera, adjust the settings, and snap a photo. These really needed to be eaten. Fast.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cup milk (or more)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (both flours, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg) and set aside. In a separate bowl stir together the milk and vanilla extract and slowly pour into the dry ingredients, stirring just until incorporated (don't over-mix pancake batter or else too much gluten will be released and they'll be consistency of bread, not fluffy pancakes). If the batter is too thick, add more milk. Add the bananas and melted butter and stir to combine.

Heat a griddle or nonstick pans over medium heat. I found that I needed very little to no butter on my nonstick pans, but its up to you if you want to use it or not. Dollop about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and cook for a few minutes on the first side and a bit less on the second (if they need more browning, you can always flip it back over). Repeat with remaining batter. Keep warm while the rest of the pancakes are cooking.

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (the real stuff)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix above ingredients together, heat briefly in the microwave and pour over pancakes. Mmmm. Drool.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guacatillo Salsa

The first (and only time until recently) that I've had guacatillo salsa was at a local taco place in North Carolina. Its an amazingly creamy dip that tastes like an exact mix between green salsa and guacamole. It's very easy to make and is a nice change of pace if you're looking for a new recipe to serve to friends. I made this as part of my contribution to our Super Bowl party a few weeks ago. It's a winner.

Bonus#1: its the easiest one-bowl thing to make.
Bonus#2: it makes a TON!

4 medium ripe avocados
5 fresh tomatillos
1 bunch cilantro leaves
1 whole jalepeno, stemmed (I left the seeds in, but if you don't like spicy food, you could take them out)
1/2 onion (red or yellow)
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper

Add all the ingredients to your food processor and blend. Taste for salt and pepper. The end.

Serve with tortilla chips!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Red Velvet Brownies

The other dessert snack that I served at the Valentine's Cocktail Party was red velvet brownies. I've not always been a red velvet fan, but I've found a few recipes that include a fair amount of chocolate (and therefore a TON of red food coloring) and I have now officially switched sides. These are sort of a mix between a brownie and cake and are super yummy! And its a 1-bowl batter! Adapted from Heidi Bakes.

4 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 oz. red liquid food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Melt together the chocolate and butter in a microwave proof bowl, stirring every 15 seconds just until melted. Add the sugar and whisk together. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each egg. Gently stir in the flour and stir lightly. Add the food coloring, baking powder, vanilla, and salt at the same time and stir until incorporated. Pour into a 9x9 brownie pan lined with lightly-greased foil. Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees, until toothpick in center comes out almost clean. Let cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting. 

1/2 stick butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated and smooth- add milk to desired consistency. Spread over cooled brownies and let frosting set. Cut into squares and serve! 

Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars!

The most delicious, easy, and fun sugar cookie recipe ever! I made these for a Valentine's Day themed cocktail party that I hosted this past weekend and they were a huge hit. The best part about this recipe, other than how tasty they are, is the fact that it made enough to serve probably 50 people. That is not an exaggeration. Its so much simpler than using a cookie cutter. Adapted from Lets Dish Recipes.

2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add the vanilla and beat. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and add slowly to the batter. Mix just until incorporated. Spread dough on a well-greased (with butter) baking sheet (13x18 or 10x15). Do your best to make the top smooth. Bake for 10-15 minutes- do not overbake. Remove from oven when toothpick just comes out clean in the center. Let cool completely. While cooling, make the frosting. 

1 stick butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar 
3 tablespoons milk

Beat together the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer. Add the vanilla and beat together. Add the sugar, a bit at a time, beating to incorporate. Add the milk (you may need more or less than this) until frosting is desired consistency. Spread over cooled cookie sheet and decorate however you want. Once the frosting has hardened a bit (I put mine in the fridge) cut into squares and serve!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are just delicious. Every day, at any time. This was the first time I'd ever really deep-fried anything and I was a bit stressed out about it, to say the least. But, it was a major overreaction (shock), because actually, it wasn't that big of a deal (a few days perspective is all ya need). Both the chicken and I made it out safely. Oh, and they were the best wings I've ever had. Seriously.

I served them with semi-homemade ranch dressing. Photo by Jason A. Volpe.

3-4 pounds chicken wing pieces
48 ounces canola oil
1 stick butter
12 ounces Frank's Hot Sauce
few dashes of tabasco
salt and pepper
candy thermometer

Pat the wings dry and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large soup pot to 350-365 degrees. Using tongs, place half the wings in the hot oil and stand back- they will bubble and splatter a bit at first. Fry, stirring occasionally with the tongs (so the wings don't stick to the bottom of the pan). I ended up cooking mine for about 15 minutes, but it depends on how hot your oil is. You want them to be lightly browned. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the wings.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large deep skillet. Slowly whisk in the Frank's Hot Sauce, if you don't add it slowly the butter and hot sauce will separate. If it does separate, though, don't worry. It all tastes the same in the end. Add a few dashes of tobasco and taste for hotness. Add more tabasco if you want it hotter. Add more butter if you want to tone it down a bit.

Once chicken wings are all cooked, put them in the large skillet of sauce and stir to coat. Either serve immediately or place them in a bowl until ready to serve and reheat them in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

Serve with celery and ranch/blue cheese. And football chocolate covered strawberries, if its the Super Bowl. Which it won't be for another.... year.

Sorry I didn't get these to you before the big game. Blogger fail. Good thing March Madness is coming up!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The World's Best Cinnamon Raisin Bread

I really love cinnamon raisin bread and all bread, in general. But baking bread is a major time commitment, so I rarely do it. But, I stayed home from work one day this week with a little head-cold and decided that I'd make myself soup and bake some bread.  You may (probably don't) remember that I've already posted a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Bread on my blog. That one is awesome. Its basically a cinnamon raisin challah. This current recipe is a bit easier than the old one, and a bit healthier (only 1 stick of butter, rather than 2; although, lets be honest, no cinnamon raisin bread is healthy), AND I think it might really be the best cinnamon raisin bread in the world. After being out of the oven for 20 minutes I had already eaten 3 slices. Makes 3 loaves. I've adapted the original recipe a bit: from And, as you can see, this lovely picture was taken by the one and only Jason A. Volpe. He's the best.

1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk (or buttermilk, or a combo)
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in water & vanilla
~8 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Pour the warm water in a large bowl and add the packets of yeast. Let dissolve about 10 minutes, until frothy. Meanwhile, heat the milk in the microwave until it reaches about 120-125 degrees (this should take less than a minute). Once the the yeast is frothy, add the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, salt, butter, and drained raisins and stir to combine. Add the milk slowly and stir. Slowly (1 cup at a time) add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition. You might need more or less flour than 8 cups. Stop adding flour once the bread is not too sticky and is stiff.

Knead the dough on a floured surface for 3 or 4 minutes until smooth.

Grease a large bowl and put the dough inside, rolling it around so all of the dough gets greased. Cover the bowl with a warm damp kitchen towel and place in your oven with the light on (but NOT the heat). Let rise in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.

Remove the dough and cut into 3 equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rectangle (15x8ish). Pour 1/3 of the melted butter on top and spread around the surface. Mix together the sugars and cinnamon and spread 1/3 of it on top of the butter. Starting at one end roll the dough tightly lengthwise and pinch the end to close it. Pinch the edges and roll them under the loaf. Place in a greased loaf pan and let rise for 1 hour.

After the 2nd rising, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven once the bread sounds hollow when you tap it. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then remove loaves from pans and continue cooling.