Category Archives: Cooking

C is for Craving Chocolate

Anyone who know me well knows that 1) I like to bake 2) I have a SERIOUS sweet tooth and 3) chocolate and I are buds. Best buds.

Here is a formula:

Enjoys baking + Has sweet tooth + Addicted to chocolate = BROWNIES.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but because I really do enjoy baking, I typically shun mixes. Everything is better from scratch, my friends. However, up until recently, I have not found this to be the case with brownies. I like rich, dense, fudgy, intensely chocolately brownies (i.e., not cakey) and I’ve generally found that box mixes are the best way to achieve this desired effect.

I’m pretty sure I’ve tested out 50+ brownie recipes in the search for the perfect gooey brownie, and behold: I have found it!

Thanks to Big Girls, Small Kitchen, brownie mecca has been achieved.

The recipe is as follows:

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup add-ins: chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, heath bar bites, or chopped toasted nuts.
Melt the chocolate and butter together, then mix into the sugars. Add the eggs, then the vanilla  (I’ve never tried adding espresso powder). Lastly, stir in the flour and salt, add any desired “add-ins” (I’ve tried regular and dark chocolate chips as well as semi-sweet chocolate chunks), pour into a greased 8×8 pan (I’ve been using a cake pan, actually.. my kitchen bakeware is currently somewhat limited) and bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes.
The BGSK blog calls for immediately freezing the brownies when they come out of the oven, but I love love love warm brownies, so to date, I have not heeded this advice. These brownies are just.. gooey, veritably dripping with chocolate. Completely ridiculous, in the best way possible.
I’ve already made them three times.
And I haven’t shared with my roommate…. oops. (I don’t like sharing chocolate, is that so wrong?)

C is for Christmas Cooking

Last Saturday,  my roommate and I hosted a pre-Christmas party inspired by the 22-pound Butterball turkey my roommate got from her company for Thanksgiving (it took a full four days to defrost!).

Saturday morning had me making sweet potato casserole (so delicious and sugary!) and potatoes au gratin:

(Side note: I missed a robbery at the bank in the grocery store by just a couple of hours, and I’m pretty sure I walked past the grocery store later in the afternoon, at roughly the same time the robbery was occurring, on my way to the UPS store.. crazy!)

Then it was time to do the turkey! I combined a couple recipes and the advice of about five people to create this turkey… The process involved rubbing the cavity with a mixture of lemon pepper, dried parsley, thyme, and salt, then stuffing it with celery, onions, granny smith apples, and oranges as aromatics. Then, I rubbed the outside of the turkey with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled the rest of the spice mixture over top. I poured chicken broth and a few mL of gingerale (sounds weird but totally legit) into the roasting pan, which was lined with tin foil so I could “tent” the turkey and retain the moisture instead of basting it.

Before & After:

Gotta have some booze, too:

The spread (an assortment of side dishes brought by friends) + the remains of the turkey carcass, which my roommate turned into a huge pot of turkey noodle soup the next day  (courtesy of crappy, no-flash iPhone camera):

Thank God for paper plates and disposable pans, etc. What was lacking in class was made up for by a hugely reduced cleanup time. Overall, a good time was had by all, and I got to cross some things off my bucket list (am I too young to have one of those?).

  • First turkey: check!
  • First time hosting an “adult” dinner party during which it is legal/permissible to consume alcoholic beverages: check! 🙂

Then, Sunday, I headed out to the suburbs where my grandma and aunt hosted a pre-Christmas luncheon before I head back to the motherland. The place settings were so cute, I just had to take a picture:

Menu: Butternut squash soup; Italian bread with olive oil and parmesan; spaghetti and meatballs in vodka sauce; individual brownie-in-a-mug; and champagne. Yum!

After lunch we watched the Bears painstakingly eke out some offense only to be stomped on by Tim Tebow’s fourth-quarter heroics. Ugh–I’m a Tebow fan and I’ve cheered him on in his previous crazy-come-from-behind games, but I was reeeealllyyyy hoping this wouldn’t happen versus my team. But alas, they were not exempt… and the season, which really was already over, gave up the ghost.

Fall Food

 One of the nicest things about living where I do now is how close the grocery store is — on the way home from work, as a matter of fact, and a mere block from my house.

While on the one hand, this could allow too many impulsive “I-need-chocolate-right-now” trips, it also means I can decide what I want for dinner as I walk home, and then stop by and pick up whatever I need.

Today, while crunching home through some nice orange and yellow leaves, I thought of two of my favorite fall foods: butternut squash and pumpkin.

A couple hours later, and voila:

(butternut squash soup)

and

(pumpkin chocolate chip muffins)

So. Freaking. Good.  I’m curious to see if my skin will start to turn orange after consuming pumpkin & squash for a few consecutive days…