Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Savory Ham Gumbo

Oh my gosh, where did summer go? Don't get me wrong, I am SO excited that it is fall, but I can't believe it's October already.  Silver lining: it's time to break out the dutch oven.  Although you can certainly use your dutch oven for all types of things in the summer, it's just something that says warm comfort food to me.

While recently organizing the contents of the freezer, I came face to face with a hunk of ham I had been ignoring since Easter.  I really dislike beans, so all of the traditional soups and stews that you make with ham were out of the question for me.  I had it in my head that I wanted to make gumbo with the ham, so I went on a hunt for recipe.

Surprisingly, using solely ham is not a common approach to making gumbo, but after trolling through lots of different recipes, I came up with an amalgam of my own that in the end was pretty darn tootin tasty, if I do say so myself.  The thing about gumbo is that it's more of an approach to cooking than it is a specific list of ingredients.  You make a roux (just fat and flour cooked together), you add veggies, meat, seasoning, and liquid, and let it all cook til it's thick. Boom. Done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why did I cry for Robin Williams?

Whenever a celebrity dies, I usually feel annoyed. 

Not by their death, of course, but by the outpouring of “R.I.P.”s and tears on Facebook.  I’m annoyed that people act as if that person was their best friend, as if they really knew them.  It feels like they’re going through the motions without meaning.  How sad can you genuinely be that a stranger has died?

But when I heard that Robin Williams died, I cried. I went on Facebook and saw the things people had to say about him and I cried some more.  When Philip Seymour Hoffman died, I was sorry a person had died, but I only felt personally affected by the loss of his future work because he was a great actor.  Losing Robin Williams feels like losing a friend.

It’s difficult to understand that distinction in myself as it makes almost no sense.  I didn’t know more about him than any other celebrity.  I wasn’t a fanatic devotee who owned (or had even seen) all his movies.  But I think the difference is that Robin Williams has been in my entire life.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Key Lime Pie Bars

Hola, mis compadres! It's been a loooooooooooong time, I know. Let's just put the hiatus behind us and never speak of it again. Instead, let's talk about delicious things, like key lime pie bars :) Yummmm.

Awhile ago I was at the grocery story and needed one lime, but all they had were bags of limes. So I thought to myself, when life gives you limes, make dessert.  I also happened to have graham crackers and some cream cheese, and thus was born the idea of a key lime style cheesecake bar. 

Key lime pie is a ridiculously simple dessert that is basically sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and a binder.  I usually add sour cream to my key lime pies, but because I was making bars instead of a pie, I used cream cheese instead to add a slightly fluffier, more cheesecake-like texture.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pumped Up Pot Roast

I came across this recipe for this particular pot roast years ago and have been waiting since then to have an opportunity to make it.  The right time presented itself over the holidays (yes, I made this over a month ago. Don't judge me.) when my family decided to reintroduce an old tradition and have a classic Christmas Eve dinner-- naturally at 3 o'clock in the afternoon for my Pap-pap's sake.

I'm not usually much of a pot roast fan.  I feel the same way about it as I do traditional beef stew.  Something about the combination of white potatoes and carrots and celery ends up seeming...bland. Unexciting. Predictable in a not good way. But this roast recipe caught my eye because it took your basic ingredients and amped up the flavor a few million notches (I don't know what the increments in this particular metaphor would be, but a million seems high, right?) Chef Anne adds a variety of root vegetables to make your basic "meat and veg" combo more exciting, but then she takes it a step further by adding figs, orange peel, and star anise.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Cocktails

Happy Holidays, everyone!

The holidays are one of my favorite times of year.  I love Thanksgiving, I love Christmas, I love twinkle lights and baking cookies and, most of all, spending time with family and friends.  With Christmas just around the corner, I'm trying to squeeze in as many moments with people as I can, and also fit in as much Christmasing as I can. 

My lovely roommate and I threw a Holiday Cocktail party last weekend as one of those moments and it was a smashing success, if I may say so myself.  In an effort to be a grownup, I wanted to have a couple special cocktails to offer people other than soda out of red solo cups.  But since I'm po, yo, I didn't want to buy a bunch of different liquors to make mixed drinks.

Enter the cocktail mixers in this post.  After snooping around the internet, I decided to make two different mixers: Cranberry Orange Spice and Apple Ginger Cinnamon.  The beauty of drinks is you can do whatever you want.  You don't have the same kinds of concerns you do when you cook, like your roast burning or your cake not rising.  Drinks are a great canvas on which to experiment with flavors.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top 5 shows from this fall's freshman class

'Tis the season for November sweeps.

November sweeps is when TV shows pull out their best story lines to bump up their viewing audiences.  Sweeps is a magical time when all your favorite TV shows have new episodes and every week really is must-see-TV.  But sadly, sweeps is also the precursor to that long, dark night that is winter hiatus.  Winter is coming, and it smells like reruns.

But here's the good news: you can use the winter break to get caught up on all the great new shows you need to be watching.  It's not too late to start from the beginning with OnDemand or Hulu.  And I'm here to give you the rundown on the freshman class of fall 2013. Below are my top five picks from this fall's newbies.  I'm serious guys-- you gotta start watching these, stat.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spicy Stuffed Shells

Hello hello, old friends!

I apologize for the rather long hiatus. In my defense, during the break I was moving from Erie to DC, so that was kind of life consuming.  But I'm back and prepared to start cooking up a storm.

One of my favorite things about fall (besides the leaves and the air and the sunlight and the smell and the cider and the treats and the everything), is the opportunity to break out your favorite comfort food recipes.  Dishes that are warm and hearty and make your house smell amaaaaaaazing as they bubble away in the oven.

This stuffed shell recipe is one of my all-time favorite recipes.  The shells are stuffed with turkey and artichokes and cheese and then smothered in a spicy marinara sauce that is amped up with extra pancetta and garlic.  And of course the whole thing is topped with mozzarella cheese before it's baked.  My mouth is actually watering thinking about it, and I just had this last week. It is that good.