Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fancy Pants App: Nacho Fries

Hard to believe that it's been 4 weeks since I posted and this week we're doing two NEW posts, right?!  Sometimes I have inspiration and sometimes I don't.  I'm not trying to force it any more since this year I've decided to focus on the balance in my life.  Admittedly, I don't have much balance with work and family and John and the downtime I need to make sure all of those things happen but balance is still important and something that I strive to do better. 

Long winded way I guess of saying if I don't feel like posting a recipe, I'm not going to.  But, hopefully the next few months will be inspired ones and we can enjoy them together!  Balance is also about taking time out of hard work and pressure to find relaxing time.  John and I have a few wonderful vacations planned over the next few months, both with family and without that I'm really looking forward to!

For now though, onto the Super Bowl!  These nacho fries are so delicious and a big hand really goes to John for helping me with them!  They're so easy to make but also a nice twist on a normal nacho that I think it's something everyone should have on their table on game day!  Mix it up by adding some barbecued meats if you're a Carolina fan or Salsa Verde if you're a Broncos fan and call it a day!  The best part is, you can use whatever you want in the cabinet.  I won't tell...
Nacho Fries
Serves:  8
1 1-lb bag of frozen waffle fries
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup enchilada sauce
4 tablespoons sour cream
cilantro to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place frozen fries in a single layer on a large cookie sheet that has been lightly greased with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.  Add flour and whisk well.  Add milk, whisking until it is fully incorporated with no clumps.  Then, slowly add 4 ounces of cheddar and 4 uonces of pepper jack cheeses, whisking until melted. 

Pour over the fries evenly.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese shreds and bake 12-15 minutes until fries are crispy.   Meanwhile, combine enchilada sauce and sour cream.  Drizzle over the tops of the hot fries.  Add cilantro and serve immediately.
Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sassy Sweets: King Cake (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Fat Tuesday has been a holiday in my house since I can remember.  My dad loved the idea of a holiday celebrating eating.  Before I even understood Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday was a February holiday we all looked forward to!  Even Mom got into the spirit making a cajun dish and decorating the table.

It's a fun tradition that John and I keep because, hello, I am totally my father's daughter.  Anything that celebrates food, I am absolutely a fan of!  When sister K started on a gluten-free diet, it was a fun challenge to start making things she could eat!  Then, she also added dairy-free to that on her doctor's suggestion and the challenge became practically impossible!

With Fat Tuesday next week, I wanted to make something she could partake in and played around with Emeril's recipe until I got a great resemblance of a traditional king cake.  Although she had to eat it a little early (poor blogger's family), I think it was a big hit!  Wishing you and yours a wonderful Fat Tuesday (February 9th - you still have time to plan your menu)!

Gluten and Dairy Free King Cake (adapted from Emeril)
Serves:  12
2 envelopes active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sugar
12 tablespoons margarine
1 cup almond milk
5 large egg yolks
4 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I like King Arthurs)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
 2 tablespoons almond milk

4 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons almond milk
3 cups confectioner's sugar
Sugar Sprinkles (purple, green, and gold)

Cake:  Combine the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add milk and heat until warm to the touch.  Add to the stand mixer and beat at low for 1 minute.  With the mixer running, add the egg yolks.  Continue to beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed so the egg yolks are broken up and incorporated.  Add the flour, salt, and nutmeg.  Beat until everything is incorporated on medium speed.  Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a rough ball.

Remove the dough from the bowl; using your hands, make the dough into a smooth bowl.  Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, turning once so the top is oiled.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Filling:  Combine cinnamon and sugar, set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.  Spread the filling over the entire dough, leaving 1/2 an inch from all the edges.  Roll up the dough carefully (if the surface was not well-floured it may stick and break).  Form a circle by pinching the edges of the dough together. Place on a well-oiled cookie sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Let rise until about doubled, 45-60 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush the top of the cake with 2 tablespoons of milk and bake until golden brown, 25 - 30 minutes.  Let the cake cool completely.

Icing:  Combine the almond milk, vanilla extract, and the confectioner's sugar with a whisk until smooth.  Generously spoon the icing over the cake and then decorate with strips of colored sugar. 
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Date Night Dinner: Lamb Burgers with a Mediterranean Compote and Mint Aioli

With all of the festiveness going on in our house lately, I was ready for a savory break.  Lamb is one of my favorite meats but we rarely buy it ,mainly because hello!  It is so expensive!  But, we lucked out and lamb was on sale last week at our local organic food store.  A pound went into my shopping cart before my brain realized what my hands had done!

One of our favorite dinners is from the Breslin restaurant in the Ace Hotel in New York.  The lamb burger is a decadent treat but too expensive to be somewhere we go often.  It's used for super special occasions or when we have friends and family we're looking to feed well.  I wanted to recreate the juicy lamb burger they make so well at home.

A lot of people think I'm crazy that I leave work at 7 and want to come home and cook a meal like this one.  But just because it sounds fancy and tastes absolutely insanely delicious, doesn't mean it has to be a ton of hard work.  In fact, the whole thing came together with time to spare as we waited for the oven fries to finish crisping up.
Lamb Burgers with Mediterranean Compote & Mint Aioli
Serves:  2 (2 burgers)
2/3 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
2 kaiser rolls, toasted

Mediterranean Compote:
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup olives, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 teaspoon mint, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, minced

Mint Aioli:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mint, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Burgers:  To make the burgers, form lamb into 2 patties.  Season with seasoning on both sides.  Grill 6-8 minutes per side, until fully cooked through but still juicy.  Place on kaiser rolls immediately so rolls can soak up extra juice!

Mediterranean Compote:  While burgers are cooking, combine feta cheese, olives, roasted red pepper, onion, mint, and parsley.  Divide evenly over the burgers.

Mint Aioli:  Combine mayonnaise, mint, and salt.  Spread on the cut side of each top roll.  Cover and serve burgers immediately.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Dark Chocolate Cookies Spiced with Orange and Star Anise

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, there was no one more thrilled than I was that I FINALLY remembered (on time) to enter the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!  It's a little more intense than you might originally expect.  I mean, first there's a participation fee.  Then, there's bonus gifts from sponsors (yes, really!  We got a great little beaker set from OXO!).  Then, you get paired with super fancy bloggers and you have to make a new cookie recipe.

And then you're traveling from London to home and then Cannes, home, Milan, home.  And you start to curse yourself for perhaps thinking you could make a super fancy cookie for all these equally fancy bloggers.  Finally, it's the weekend before you have to ship them out and you put your brain and pantry to work and go for it.

In the end, these are what came out!  At first, I wasn't in love with them because they are meant to be slightly harder cookies but the flavors were great and between John and the boys in my office, all signs pointed to sending these out!  And send them out, I did.  My cookie recipients were Jen at The Rebel Chick, Farrah from FairyBurger, and Milisa from Miss in the Kitchen!  I hope they all enjoyed the cookies as much as we did!

I got some fantastic cookies from other bloggers too!  Nusstalers from the Brooklyn Homemaker (most gorgeous packing too)!, Brown Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies from Gimme Delicious (and OMG so delicious), and Skinny Maple Glazed Snickerdoodles from Enticing Healthy Eating (John ate these and I had to fight for a single cookie!). It was great receiving packages in the mail other than those I had spent too much money on for other people!  Definitely a swap I'll make a tradition in our house.
Dark Chocolate Cookies Spiced with Orange and Star Anise
Serves:  36
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, star anise, and salt into a large bowl.

In a very small bowl, combine sugar, dark brown sugar, and orange zest.  Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, beat butter until smooth.  Add egg, sugar mixture, and vanilla extract.  Beat until well combined.  Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated.  Add mini chocolate chips and stir well.

Form into 3 long logs.  Refrigerate for 1 hour, up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Remove the logs and with a serrated knife cut 12 cookies per log. Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, until firm.  Let cool completely before serving.  Can store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Make-Ahead Butterscotch Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you ever made your own butterscotch sauce?  If not, you must start now.  It is seriously the easiest caramel type sauce I have ever made...and the best part of all is you put WHISKEY in it!  And then it doesn't cook down all the way and you have to taste test and it's 10 AM on a Saturday and before you know it you're feeling a little TOO happy for that time of the day.

Not like this has happened to me before.  I'm just speculating here.

The hardest part about holiday baking is that you feel you have to do a marathon baking session a week before so all the cookies are at their "freshest".  This year, I have been invited to our annual company end of year meetings.  It's a pretty big deal and my group is even going to run one this year which I really am looking forward to.  The only downside is they are taking up every Sunday in December!

So what to do when you have no time?  Make cookies ahead and freeze them.  That's what we've done here and (because I cheated and have been baking them for John and I), they are delicious!  In fact, so good, we might not have any left for Christmas.  Since you still have over 2 weeks until the big day, these could be the ticket to some sweet holiday gifts!
Make-Ahead Butterscotch Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serves:  48 (4 dozen)

Butterscotch Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whiskey or scotch or bourbon

1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butterscotch sauce (above)
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

Butterscotch Sauce:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Then, stir in brown sugar and let cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until darkly caramelized.  Remove from heat.  Very slowly, pour in the heavy cream and then the alcohol you are using.  Return to the stove and cook 12-18 minutes, until the sauce is nice and thick and coats the back of a metal spoon.  Set aside to cool.

Cookies:  Meanwhile, make the cookies.  Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, stirring between each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.  Then, add flour and baking soda.  Mix until fully combined.  Add the butterscotch sauce and chocolate chips and stir only a few times until just combined.  Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop out one piece of dough.  Roll it in your hands and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Continue until all the dough is used (because you aren't baking these cookies, you can place them super close together for ease).  Freeze for 1-2 hours, until firm.  Then, pop them off the baking sheet and put them in freezer-safe storage bags until ready for use!  I label all of mine so I can remember what I actually baked!  

To Bake:  Remove the cookies from the freezer approximately 15-30 minutes before you want to bake them.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, usually on the longer side, until the bottoms are golden brown.  Serve immediately.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Latte Cookies

For the past few years, I have been actively trying (and actively failing) to sign up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!  Every year around Thanksgiving, I think to myself, remember that cookie swap?  You wanted to be in it.  Why don't you look it up and see what's going on?

Every year, by that time, sign-ups are closed and I'm out of the loop, again, vowing, again, to make it in time next year.  Finally, by last year, I was so annoyed I missed it, I just signed up for their newsletter.  Easy, I thought.  I'll get a little sign-up form the DAY it goes out!  Of course that is exactly what happened, and I ALMOST missed it again just due to travel schedules and hectic lives.  But, I remembered on the very last day and signed up.  WOO!  This year I am IN!

Now though, comes the tricky part.  I have to figure out the type of cookies I want to make.  The last three weekends I have whipped up a few batches of cookies.  Each of them was met with a resounding chorus of happiness from John.  I can't send them all so I have picked one and the rest of them, well, you all get to enjoy in advance!
Latte Cookies
Serves:  18 (3 dozen cookies)
3/4 cups butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cups white chocolate chips
2/3 cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until well-combined.  Add vanilla and egg and beat until the mixture is smooth.  Add flour, espresso powder, and baking soda.  On low speed, carefully mix the dry ingredients in until the dough is completely mixed.  Stir in white chocolate and dark chocolate chips.

Using two spoons, scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and look dry on top.  Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fancy Pants App: Loaded Skillet Fries

This weekend we are going to the Giants-Patriots game at the Meadowlands!  It is something I have been looking forward to since we got the tickets in late August.  Obviously this doesn't happen to us too often which means we have to make a football experience every other Sunday when we're just on the couch!

I struggle thinking up new appetizer / snacks for the games week after week.  Of course, new and exciting ones are preferable because then, well, I can share them with all of you!  These fries are just the ticket and, best of all, everything is made in just one cast-iron skillet.  If that isn't the easiest thing ever, I'm not sure what is.

They reminded me a lot of these mini potato skins but a little more fun (and as we already said, way easier).  As John told me, no one would turn down bacon and cheese on potatoes.  I guess he's right.  The skillet went so fast, it was almost embarrassing.  Luckily, no one but us was around to witness it!
Loaded Skillet Fries 
Serves:  4
6 pieces bacon
2 large Yukon potatoes
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons light sour cream

Place bacon in a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat until crispy.  Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel to drain.  Then crumble and set aside.  Drain almost all of the bacon oil, leaving about 2 teaspoons to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Meanwhile, clean the potatoes and cut into wedges.  Place potatoes evenly over the bottom of the skillet and up the sides.  Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and paprika.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the potatoes are browned.  Evenly distribute cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles.  Broil for 3 minutes.  Dollop sour cream over the skillet prior to serving.
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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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