Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

‘Tis the Season for Cookie Swapping

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

To all of my loyal readers (besides Mom & Dad)…

I sincerely apologize for not blogging for the past few months and sharing my food adventures solely through Instagram. Fall has been hectic, living up the post-grad life and discovering what the “real world” truly is. But alas, it’s a weak excuse. And for that, I am giving the gift of a promise this year: a promise to have the redesigned wikiKitchen up and running in January!

But a promise is only worth so much. So I decided to treat a few fellow food bloggers by participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and taking it one step further. What beats receiving a dozen cookies from a stranger in the mail? Receiving an assortment of cookies from a stranger in the mail! Baking five different kinds of cookies in one day is no easy task though, so I partnered up with my mom so her swap-mates could also enjoy the variety of cookies (and yes, she really does refer to me as “the spawn” on her blog).

So, what did my lucky swap-mates (Melissa’s Cuisine, Bonibella, and Aubrey of Real Housemoms) receive? (Click the images for recipes!)

  • Cocoa Almond Cookies – A must-have for those who like nutella but love Trader Joe’s cocoa almond spread (remember to substitute it in the recipe!)
  • Meyer Lemon Butter Cookies – A melt-in-your-mouth kind of cookie (my mom’s fave!)
  • Pistachio Fudge – An easy-to-make holiday treat
  • Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies – A festive cookie that can be easily customized when it comes to shapes & lettering

And for the final cookie, saving best for last: Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies. When we read they were the best snickerdoodles in the world, we had to try them! Let me tell you, brown butter really does make the world of baking a better place. The few leftovers we had of these snickerdoodles were the first of the cookie assortment to go in our house! But I can’t blame ’em. These cookies achieve perfection when it comes to texture and flavor.

And for those of you wondering what I received in the mail? Lemon crinkle cookies (and chocolate-covered almond toffee!) from Sushi Day (a fellow UC Irvine anteater – zot zot!), vanilla crescent cookies from Bailey Bakes, and chocolate peppermint crackle cookies from A Kitchen Addiction.

Stay tuned for the wikiKitchen redesign! But until then, enjoy the world’s best brown butter snickerdoodle cookies.

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies
From Ambitious Kitchen
Makes 18-24 cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt

For rolling mixture:
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined.

Chill your dough for 3 hours or as long as possible in the refrigerator, or place in freezer for 30 minutes if you are super eager (this is what I did seeing as I had four other types of cookies to make in the same oven!).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Meanwhile mix 1/4 cup sugar and the 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a bowl. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies 8-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Bake longer if you like crispier cookies. Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.


In Season: Tomatillos

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…salsa verde! Ay ay ay! I know I’m not the only one who gets excited over salsa verde whenever I go to a Mexican restaurant. Tangy, fresh, and a little zesty…how can you resist?! If you love salsa verde, thank the “little tomatoes” called tomatillos.

For tips on buying, prepping, storing, and cooking tomatillos, check out my post at Small Kitchen College.

I included some tasty tomatillos recipes, too! Corn cakes with homemade tomatillo salsa, anyone?! Easy. Delicious. Yum.

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Impulse Buy: Speculoos Cookie Butter

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Hello, ladies. Look at your peanut butter, now, back to Speculoos Cookie Butter, now — stop. Grab a spoon and get ready to taste the guiltiest pleasure of your life!

Trader Joe’s describes it as “a deliciously unusual spread reminiscent of gingerbread and made with crushed biscuits.” Have your taste buds been whipped into a frenzy yet? No? Then how about this – Food bloggers describe it as “spreadable cookies”, “Christmas in a jar” or my favorite (and most accurate), “crack butter.” Your curiosity must be kicking into high drive by now as you’re probably wondering as I did…what exactly is cookie butter? Find out at Small Kitchen College. I provide different ways to get through a jar of Speculoos Cookie Butter!

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You’re Invited: Potluck Fondue Party

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Is it totally weird that I  get more excited about planning the food I’ll be making at my parties more than anything else? I couldn’t care less about the drinks! I recently threw a Potluck Fondue Party as a fun way to relax and reunite with friends after midterm season. I have to say, this is the perfect party theme for winter! There’s nothing like gathering your friends around the ol’ fondue pot, whether it be cheesy or chocolatey goodness. This if my second article for Small Kitchen College, and I especially had a lot of fun with the photo shoot (and, of course, eating the fondue afterwards). Read on for tips on how to throw the perfect potluck fondue party. You never know, I may have a few fondue tricks up my sleeve in the article. Chile con queso fondue in a bread bowl, anyone?

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A Meat Lover’s Classic Gone Vegetarian

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

I am definitely not a vegetarian, but I often find myself eating vegetarian meals without even realizing it. For instance, fajitas are my go-to meal when I have leftover bell peppers, onions, and tortillas lying around in the fridge. Basically anything with grilled bell peppers and onions wins my vote.

Instead of making fajitas, I got a little more creative for Student Health 101‘s February issue, which required me to cook a quick vegetarian dinner with an appropriate balance of nutrients (Keep in mind: just because something is labeled as “vegetarian,” that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy!). As a result, I created a concoction that is essentially fajitas in sandwich form. Yes, I went there. I made a veggie “cheesesteak.”

I thought it would be better to appeal to vegetarians and non-vegetarians, like myself, by taking a meat lover’s classic (the Philly cheesesteak, in case you couldn’t tell) and giving it a vegetarian makeover. This was the first time I used Portobello mushrooms to replace steak, and I have to say, they are a tasty substitute! They still have the juiciness of meat but with added fiber, iron, and potassium. I also substituted mozzarella for Swiss cheese since it is lower in fat and calories and still melts fairly well (just look at the ooey gooey-ness in the photo!).

And a cheesesteak isn’t complete without some fries, right? Although I’ve made these baked zucchini fries before, I can’t emphasize enough how much healthier zucchini are than potatoes. To learn more about the nutritional benefits of this vegetarian dinner, you can watch me prepare the recipes here. As always, you can also view the latest issue of Student Health 101 here.

Do you love meat but have a vegetarian lover? Hey, why not prepare these recipes for a romantic Valentine’s Day lunch or dinner?! It’s a win-win meal for both of you. Trust me.

Baked Zucchini Fries
Makes 1 serving

1 medium zucchini
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs, seasoned with ¼ tablespoon garlic powder and ¼ tablespoon dried oregano
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, trim, and cut off the ends of the zucchini. Cut into long sticks, even in length (about ¼ inch thickness).

In a large plastic bag, add cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. Shake well.

Place oil in a pie plate (or a shallow dish). Add zucchini to pie plate to coat with oil.

Place half of the bread crumbs on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place zucchini on top of breadcrumbs on baking sheet (dripping off excess oil back into the pie plate before placing on bread crumbs).

Sprinkle remaining panko bread crumbs on top to coat the zucchini. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Veggie “Cheese Steak” Sandwich
Makes 1 serving

Extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ medium onion, sliced
1 large Portobello mushroom, stem and gills removed, sliced
½ large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
¼ tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1-2 mozzarella cheese slices
1 whole wheat bun, split and toasted

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook and stir until soft and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add mushroom, bell pepper, oregano, and pepper. Cook and stir until vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and add the flour to the vegetables. Stir in vegetable broth and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and scoop onto toasted bun. Lay cheese on top of vegetables and let it stand for 1 minute so that the cheese melts. Fold over the bun and enjoy!