Tag Archives: Winter

Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican meatball soup from LaurenFoodE
Last week I spent a full day on the couch due to a wicked case of the tummy aches. Ironically, the Food Network has never appealed to me more. I watched a full day of cooking shows and was actually quite inspired (Little known fact about me: I’m not a fan of cooking shows… I find them quite boring. Give me Kardashians any day.).

In a particularly lackluster episode of Mexican Made Easy, there was a little shining gem of inspiration: Mexican meatball soup. The perky host is one of those people with no trace of a Mexican accent until they’re pronouncing Mexican words and then they’re fresh off the boat from Tijuana. “We’re going to start this taco dish with a TORRRR-TTTEEEEYAAAA!”

Anyway. This soup looked flavorful, easy, and perfect for dinner on a day like yesterday where it finally felt like winter in New York (oh hello there snot-freezing winds, how I’ve missed you). I grilled up some fresh bread and cheddar for grilled cheese and voila: dinner.

On the menu:
Mexican meatball soup
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from Mexican Made Easy

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
2 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
8 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular oregano if it’s all you have)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Yukon gold potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook onion for around 5 minutes, or just until the onion starts to cook but before it turns translucent. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl, combine (by hand) the onion, ground beef, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, rice*, salt, and cilantro until completely combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, wetting your hands with a little water if the ingredients start to stick to your fingers. The mixture should make around 25 meatballs.

In the same large stockpot you cooked the onions in, add vegetable stock, tomato paste, potato, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the meatballs, zucchini, and parsnip. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for around 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Add salt and pepper as needed.

*Note: I know what you’re thinking, raw rice in the meatballs? But it does cook through completely and it is delicious! Promise.

 

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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting by LaurenFoodE
I don’t have to tell you about my problem with late night cakes. There really should be some sort of “Late Night Cakes Anonymous” group or something. In any case, it’s putting a reeeeeal damper on Project Lose That Holiday Weight. I may or may not have gained a small amount of weight due to excessive holiday eating (namely chimichangas and In N Out and Jack In the Box, all of which I blame on The BF and his SoCal roots). And I made one of those stupid New Year’s resolutions that I was going to get healthy in 2013, finally join the gym across the street from me, and stop eating as if I was hosting an un-televised version of Man Vs. Food.

But here’s a short story about me: The BF, being a stand up comic, works weekends and a lot of nights I find myself alone with nothing to keep me warm but a kitchen just begging to be baked in. My pantry had pumpkin, my fridge had cream cheese, and I had a recipe and a dream. You know what that means… pumpkin cake.

On the menu:
Pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting
Makes one 9 x 13 cake

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until combined. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting:
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together all ingredients with an electric mixer until combined. When cake is completely cooled, spread frosting evenly over top. Refrigerate cake until serving.

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Gosh, is it winter? I could barely tell.

I had planned on sharing a ridiculously sweet (literally and figuratively) recipe with you guys today but uh… something happened last night. I was tricked into drinking too much wine and then it blizzarded (it’s a word) here in New York and I found myself unable to resist the warm, snuggly, dreamy comforts of my bed. So no post for you today. Stay tuned for tomorrow…

A blurry picture of my neighborhood this morning

 

In other news, I realize I am behind the times on this but I had one of the most amazing cupcakes I’ve ever eaten last night. Have you had Butter Lane cupcakes? If not, RUN there right now. And try the banana cake with maple pecan frosting. It’s pretty much sent straight from the gods.

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Brown Butter Goodness

Remember that time I had planned on making fabulous Greek salads for dinner, and then The Boyfriend said, “…Oh. Really?” but I already had all the ingredients and was totally stumped and starving? That was a nice time.

So I looked at what I had, forced my brain into “comfort, filling food” mode, and came up with this. Very similar to chicken dishes I’ve made in the past, but with a twist. And brown butter never hurt nobody. Well… unless you’re prone to high cholesterol. Then maybe stay away.

On the menu:
Fried chicken with tomato brown butter cream sauce

2 large chicken breasts, flattened to 1 inch thick
1 Tbsp canola oil
8 Ritz crackers, crumbled [I use Ritz because I love the sweet, butteryness of the crackers but Panko works here, too]
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

In a small saucepan, melt better over medium heat just until the color of the butter turns light brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Lower heat, and whisk in flour until a paste develops. Gradually whisk in milk and raise heat to medium. Stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, around 10 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir for another five minutes. Add parmesan cheese and tomatoes and reduce heat so the sauce simmers. Cook for another ten minutes, and then salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, dip chicken breasts in egg and then Ritz crumbs. Heat 1 Tbsp canola oil over medium/high heat. Set chicken in the hot oil and cook for 7 minutes on each side, until the breast is cooked through. Plate chicken and pour sauce over.

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Creamy Dreamy Cuppa Love

A few days ago I left my apartment en route to The Boyfriend’s and the Christmas mood struck me mid trip. I stopped at a deli for hot chocolate, and when I arrived at the apartment, BF’s roommate said, “What kind is it?!” And when I answered Swiss Miss he made a face. “Oh. I thought you’d be drinking something fancy.” I was embarrassed.

So to maintain my reputation, here is my own recipe for hot chocolate, which I promise I do actually make for myself. All the time. And if you should ever stop my apartment and find an empty Swiss Miss packet on the counter next to a Twinkie wrapper… well, those aren’t mine.

On the menu:
Homemade hot chocolate
Serves 2 (in big mugs, which is how it should be)

Disclaimer: this hot chocolate is not for everyone. It is VERY cocoa-y because I use a little less sugar than most recipes call for. But I like it that way. So… there.

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Pour the milk and cream in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the milk simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cocoa, sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the vanilla and stir again. Bring the mixture up to a boil and let cook at the high temperature for around 5 minutes (careful not to let it overflow… or you might have to clean up a big, fat, chocolatey mess on your stovetop. Not that that has ever happened to me…). Reduce to a simmer and let cook for another 5 minutes.

At this point you can taste it to make sure it’s not too sweet (or bitter) and add sugar/cocoa/milk as you please. This is also the important time where you add a small truckload of marshmallows. And then you drink. And then you’re instantly happy. Like magic.

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These Pancakes Have a Secret

I’m about to tell you a story, but in order to read it, you’re going to have to put your judgment face away and slap on an open minded grin.

Got it?

Okay, here goes. I ate pancakes 3 days in a row. I can’t explain it. I needed something comforting and warm and salty and sweet and when I got home last night it was beautiful and snowy and I thought, “What else do people eat when it’s cold and snowy and Christmastime but pancakes?” I couldn’t come up with anything. So I made these. And they have a secret.

HEY. Remember when I told you not to judge me? Pancakes with bacon sounded good, so I thought, I will combine these beauties into one easily consumed dish.

I started by crisping up the bacon real nice, setting it aside to drain, pouring the grease out of the pan, and then making the pancakes (using this recipe*, obviously) in that same beautiful pan all ready to go and coated with bacon grease. Once I poured the batter in the pan I laid the crispy strips in the center of the pancake and cooked as usual.

Then for the sauce: I cubed some apple and sauteed it in a small saucepan with 2 Tbsp of butter, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Once the apples are softened, you pour the mixture on top of the pancakes.

And then you eat your face off. Or you share. But… probably the former.

*I realized upon arriving home that I was out of baking powder. I said a few curse words, looked out at the snow, and then remembered I could make my own. 2 parts cream of tartar to 1 parts baking soda = baking powder. (For example: in this recipe you need 3 tsp of baking powder, so instead you’d use 2 tsp cream of tartar and 1 tsp baking soda) A handy trick for you in case you’re ever in the same predicament.

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As American As…

Although this post is not timely, seeing as it is after Thanksgiving and not very many people make apple pie for Christmas (in our family it’s cookies all the way), I do hope you’ll look at it, file it away it your mental recipe box, and pull it out when you feel the urge to bake something hearty and patriotic, because this recipe is IT. This is some goooood eats.

On the menu:
Caramel crusted apple pie
Adapted from this recipe at AllRecipes.com

1/2 this recipe for crust (the full recipe makes enough crust for 2 whole pies)
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8″ thick slices
1/2 cup butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In preparation, roll out your crusts. The bottom crust goes in the pie pan. The top crust should be rolled out in preparation with decorative shapes cut out (I used a sharp knife to cut out hearts, but you can use any shape you have; or do a lattice crust if you prefer).

After your crusts are prepared and ready to go, melt butter in a saucepan and add flour to make a paste. Add water and sugars, and stir until melted. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Place apple slices in a large bowl. First toss with cinnamon. Next, pour 1/4 cup sugar/butter mixture over apples and toss until all the slices are relatively coated. Place crust in the bottom of your pie pan. Fill crust with apples, mounded slightly [don’t worry if you think you have a TON of apples; they really cook down].

Pour* the remainder of the sugar/butter mixture over the top crust, slowly and carefully so it doesn’t spill. Bake 15 minutes at 425. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for around 35 – 45 minutes or until the edges of your crust are nicely browned.

*Note: you may have to reheat the mixture a bit at this point, as it will thicken up VERY quickly.

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