Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blogging Real Talk

The maddening truth, and reason why I blog so infrequently:

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and A Seasonal Rant

 I am fully aware that what I'm about to say will be wildly unpopular. That's okay. I've come to terms with it, but I just think it needs to be said! And it's far enough into the holidays and out of fall that I feel the hype has died down enough to avoid getting egged for the following words:

I. Hate. Like, seriously hate. Pumpkin spice lattes.

And here's the biggest reason: I think it's inappropriately named. And I'm serious. To me, the term "pumpkin spice" indicates the same thing that the little jars of "pumpkin spice" in the spice section mean: cinnamon, clove, allspice, etc. What Starbucks and the look-a-likes are actually serving is Pumpkin Pie Lattes. Without the crust. Maybe Pumpkin Custard Lattes? But pumpkin spice is literally (yes, literally) spices used to spice your pumpkin pie. And if that's what the lattes were, then that would be the tastiest thing this side of Nutella crepes. But it's not. It's a mug of lies!! That said, I completely respect everyone is enjoys their mug of lies. I don't have to like everything that Starbucks makes. But the very least they could do is rename it, and stop filling me with false hope at every turn.

Was that a bit much? Are you still with me? Wow - congratulations. Seriously - thank you for sitting with me through that rant, I think we're all a little better for it. Go ahead and unfollow me, that's fine. But my premise is valid.

Now, I'll tell what won't fill you with sad and bitter remorse of wasted seasons sat in the office: these pumpkin cinnamon rolls (not pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls - they're appropriately named).

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and didn't change a thing. However, I did have trouble with the rise. I'm not sure if it's the Pacific North West working against me, or that the yeast wasn't fully awake (it was within the expiration date on the label)... I've made them twice and had trouble both times. On the second round, I was making them for family after Thanksgiving and couldn't wait for a longer rise. I thinned the dough with an extra egg, some oil, and some milk to make it into waffle batter. It made fan-TAS-tic waffles. We topped them with the same cinnamon roll icing. The batter made exactly 8 waffles for the group. And exactly 8 cinnamon rolls on the first attempt.

Check out the link here for the printable version of the recipe at Smitten Kitchen's website. These rolls are fantastic. But I need to continue tweaking to get these as fluffy as other rolls I've tried. The flavor is great, though. And perfect for New Year's morning after a night of partying!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Icebox Cookies

It's holiday cookie time, y'all!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

For The Great Food Blogger Cookies Swap, I decided to make a family favorite of mine: Icebox cookies! I have never made them before, but are one of the earliest cookies that I remember.

My mom never considered herself a baker, but she could (and still can) ROCK a cookie tray. At her legen-wait for it, because this next part is used to top your latkes-DARY! Legendary Hanukkah parties, latkes are brisket were always the star, but you have to have something sweet to finish the meal. She became a master of meringues (something I have failed at several times over) and spritz cookies (a favorite of my dad). But the cookie from her childhood, and the only cookie that I remember from my great grandmother, is the icebox cookie. I remember my mom making it a few times, but the meringues and spritz were her staples. 

Icebox cookies are beautiful - spiraled and lightly flavored - and so easy to make in bulk. And, once rolled into its tube, it will stay in the fridge for days, or (if well-wrapped) in the freezer for a few months. They're like homemade slice and bake! The set up is easy: make a batch of plain dough. Divide into thirds. Add the flavor and food coloring to each of the small sets. I usually use vanilla and chocolate, then switch up the third. My mom would use green coloring and mint. I sent out blue coloring (teal?) and coconut. I experimented with chocolate, almond, and red raspberry. After you mix each third, you roll out each layer until its 1/4 - 1/2" thick and all about the same size (roughly 9x13) and stack. Roll into a log, refrigerate, roll in sugar, then slice and bake!

Coconut flavor was a big hit! I used sanding sugar around the outside to add extra holiday pizazz (Holiday Jazz Hand Cookies!). And, here's the part to explain my lack of photos... They were so good and so plentiful that in addition to the dozen I had to send to each of my swappers, I had about 2 dozen left at home. I set aside about 5 for a photo shoot later (I get off work so late that I didn't have any daylight by which to photograph!), and gave my hubby permission to eat at will. He usually doesn't eat very many of my creations because they're all fancy. And he literally begs for sugar cookies. And apparently these were boring enough that in less than one week, he ate all of the extra cookies AND my secret stash. Leaving me without any photos for this. Now, I can't really stay mad at him because he is usually so good about leaving food that I need for blogs, and it does mean that he finally liked something enough to devour it.

Recipe notes: This follows 3-2-1 proportions of the main ingredients of flour, sugar, and butter. Use 3 units of flour, 2 units of sugar, and 1 unit of butter. If you're using pounds, cups, or shoe horns - just keep these together. I found that 1 egg for the cups was *just* a little dry. I needed about 1 Tbs of milk to get the dough to a Play-doh consistency. Depending on your humidity or elevation, you may not need this. Decide after you add the flour. The proportions below, using cups, produce about 18 cookies.

Soooo... here's the recipe! I hope you enjoy. And that yours come out mostly like spirals.
Chocolate Coconut Icebox cookies:

1 cup of butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 egg
3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs milk (optional)

1/4 extract of your choice (I used vanilla and coconut)
~1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa (if using chocolate layer)

Food coloring
Flour for rolling
Granulated or crystal / sanding sugar for the outside
Wax paper and saran for storing.

(1) In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy.
(2) Add the egg and mix until smooth.
(3) Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix just until combined. If necessary, add milk (1/2 - 1 Tbs) until dough just holds together, like Play-doh.
(4) Remove dough from bowl and divide into three individual bowls. In each bowl, add a separate flavor and food coloring (if using). For the best contrast, leave one without any dye. A chocolate layer also adds great contrast.
(5) On a floured surface, roll out each batch into a rectangle about 1/4 - 1/2" thick, and about 9" x 13" in size. Stack the layers as you finish them.
(6) Starting with the long size towards you, roll the dough along the short side so that it spirals on itself. Roll the entire log in saran wrap, and then in wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but up to 3 days.
(7) When you remove the dough from the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
(8) Put your sanding sugar in a shallow dish and roll the dough log to coat the outside in sparkly sweet goodness.
(9) Slice your sparkly dough log into cookies about 1/2" thick and place on the cookie sheet. These will not spread much, but shouldn't touch on the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Check after about 8 minutes, though - these will not brown much, but will start to look dry on top. My batches took 11 - 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, then hide from your hungry husband so that maybe you can enjoy a few, too!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Crab Scampi (And a rant typed from a claustophobic death tube)

Preface: The following was typed while flying at 31000 feet in a small, claustophobic plane from Dallas to Portland, on our approximately 5th rescheduled flight back from South America on a work trip.

If you follow me on Twitter (@kvetchnkitchen), you probably noticed last week that I was traveling for work. The location where I was working is quite difficult to get to – at least 3 flights. More flights come with an increased chance of delays and hiccups. Let’s face it – it’s hard enough with one flight. Though, to be honest I don’t remember the last time I took a single flight to get anywhere. It’s been at least a year, I think. Anywhere for work requires at least 2 (usually 3), and vacations are usually cheaper with a connection (even SEA à LAX, because who wouldn’t want to double trip time and fuel cost by laying over in Salt Lake City but it’s okay because it’s cheaper).

Crab Scampi

Anyways, I don’t want to gripe too much because I really do love my job, and I realize that I am very lucky to get these amazing travel experiences, even if it is just to spend 11+ hours working most days. But the trips to South America have been the most challenging. The country we visit has a small airport (4 gates). It averages about 4 incoming and 4 outgoing flights every day, and with the exception of Miami, it only services other South American countries. As it is late Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, thunderstorms are very frequent and prolonged. Basically, we were delayed several times over and I am writing this on a cramped plane that is on it’s 3rd of 4 hours but for such a long flight, there is no sight of television monitor, in-arm entertainment, and I’ve drained the power reading on both my phone and iPad. So as I sit, going on hour 24 of travel time, tummy rumbling, I tend to fantasize about what I will make when I get home. Or what I can eat at the airport. Or if that cough drop in my bag will stop the grumbling. And it’s a bit much to spend $9 on a questionable Caprese salad.  And I would just like to add that trapping us on a flight with *zero* free entertainment options (not even a terrible, one-sided documentary?) and then charging $6 per hour for Wi-Fi, but not make charging ports available, is simple extortion. My butt hurts. My foot is asleep. And I want my two bites of stale pretzels that I am entitled to!

Crab Scampi

Crab Scampi
And the previous rant has nothing to do with anything except that I’m hungry on this plane and wrists are contorted into weird typing angles as the man in front of my has his seat fully reclined into my personal bubble and I have no idea what I’m actually typing. Anyway, onto to the recipe I made before I left on my work trip. This recipe combines some of my most favoritest things (in no particular order): butter, garlic, pasta, and crab. And because I was feeling guilty, I added some zucchini into the final sauté. The recipe itself has no special story except to say that one day I wanted shrimp scampi because of my love for butter and garlic, but then the grocery store had a special on crab, so I went for it.

Crab Scampi
Crab Scampi

Note – I was able to find quality, shelled crab at a decent price. If you cannot, and want to splurge, find a nice whole crab and go through the work of steaming and shelling (which I certainly would have done because I am obsessed). If not, you can substitute shrimp, or even some nice boned white flake fish (like cod… Cod scampi? This post is counterproductive because now I’m hungrier than ever and we still have 45 minutes until our descent). If you choose the fish, add it halfway through the zucchini sauté and then add a lid to the pan to let it steam.

Crab Scampi

1 stick of butter (stop with the judgey eyes – SURPRISE: scampi is mostly butter. Let’s move on.)
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and minced [about ¼ cup] (use fresh, please. I will admit to using jarred on many blasphemic occasions, but never in scampi)
1 large onion, diced (Yellow, brown, or sweet are all fine here)
2 cups dry white wine, divided (one in a measuring cup, one in a wine glass)
2 lemons, juiced
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
dash of Tapatío
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 large zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
half box of angel hair pasta (you may use whole wheat if that will make your conscience feel better, but to be honest it won’t do much for that stick of butter you already put in your pan)
8 oz fresh crab meat, picked through for shells
1 Tbls packed fresh basil, thinly sliced 

Crab Scampi
Crab Scampi
Crab Scampi

1.     Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
2.     In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
3.     Once all melted and starting to foam, add the diced onion. Salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to turn translucent, but before the butter starts to burn. Reduce the heat, if necessary.
4.     Add the garlic, and cook a few minutes, until fragrant.
5.     Add 1 cup of wine (have you been drinking the other?), and cook just until the alcohol evaporates (usually about 2-3 minutes). Add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and dashes of Tapatío and Worcestershire sauces, to taste.
6.     Add the angel hair to the boiling water and cook per package directions (usually about 4 minutes).
7.     Add the zucchini to the scampi mixture. Toss to combine, and cook until zucchini is tender (usually just about the same time as the pasta takes to cook).
8.     Add the crab to scampi, and toss to combine. Toss to combine, place a lid on the pan, and turn off the heat (but leave the pan on the burner). Let the carry-over heat warm the crab while you drain the pasta.
9.     Personal preference: I like to toss the pasta and the whole scampi mixture together in the large pasta pot. Serve, finishing with the basil.

Crab Scampi

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cranberry Relish

Confession time: I never enjoyed cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving when I was growing up. I am all for sweet-and-salty, but it always seemed way too sweet, weird color, and basically with no business taking up precious gravy space (Truth: I love gravy almost as much as coffee). I never understood it, but everyone seems to be obsessed, and I'm left out in the cold on this seasonal conspiracy.

Cranberry Relish

So the idea of being tasked to make it for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law's home was not really settling. I couldn't see getting it from a jar or can, especially if it's time for me to grow up and actually enjoy it. Plus, I have a pathological need for approval need to impress my in-laws with my awesome cooking skills. 

And then Megan sent me this. I laughed. I cried (from laughing too hard). It is rude, crude, and dead on. And it described a Bourbon Cranberry Relish that Williams & Sonoma will sell to you for $40. I'm not rich. But I could make that. In between my laughing tears, I actually stopped to ponder this dish. I like bourbon. So I could probably like anything made with bourbon. This highly scientific hypothesis has yet to be dis-proven (because, kids, you can never prove a hypothesis. You can only disprove it's opposite, and the closest yet has been a maple-bourbon martini but I haven't tried it).

Cranberry Relish

Enter: Eat, Live, Run. She made a Bourbon Vanilla Cranberry Relish, and I adapted it based on my ingredients. I tried it this evening, and I was surprised by it! It's still a bit sweet for my taste - I'm still not sure if I will eat it with dinner on Thanksgiving. However, I am satisfied with this as an offering for my in-laws. I will consider adapting this as a dessert, too. Maybe I'm just not cut out for cranberry-lovin'. But I gave it a shot, and it's better with bourbon.

Cranberry Relish

14 oz. Cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Zest and juice from 1/2 orange
1/4 cup whiskey (or bourbon)
1/2 vanilla bean seeds

Cranberry Relish

  1. Weigh out the cranberries, picking over for duds. Afterwards, rinse the berries and let them airdry. Place them into a large pot.
  2. Halve an orange. Zest and juice directly into the cranberries.
  3. Halve a vanilla bean. Split one half and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the cranberries.
  4. Add the measured whiskey, sugar, and water.
  5. Heat the pot over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, until all of the berries have burst. 
  6. The sauce will thicken as it cools. If you prefer most of a sauce, hit it a few times with your immersion blender.
Cranberry Relish

Saturday, October 27, 2012

C is for Cookie. And Crohn's

Crohn's can make things complicated. Like pooping exercising. Or work, or moving, or having energy to do anything. Basically Crohn's makes life complicated, and there is no cure, and I have it, and I'm running a really far, long time to help raise money towards research and a camp for kids that does not suck and is not complicated.

But do you know what's NOT complicated? Cookies. So turn right around, go back to Megan's site, and go bid on some cookies. The profits from these delicious baked goods (not just cookies, by the way) go directly to my fundraising towards my goal that will allow me to participate in a half-marathon with Team Challenge and CCFA. And you get cookies. That's a win-win if I have ever seen one.

Thank you for your support! And even if you lose some bidding, please consider donating even $5 (less than you were willing to pay for those cookies!) towards my goal. You can find my fundraising page, and more about my story here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crab Chowdah - CHOW-DAAAH

News Flash: I'm having trouble discovering what life outside of school should be like. Seriously - I have no idea. For the past 2 years... I've worked, gone to school, and then squeezed in some cooking in between study breaks.

And now... I work. Hang with my husband (which is addicting). I cook. A lot. I've helped Megan maintain sanity during the final stages of wedding planning. And I started training for this. And I haven't been writing. As I struggle with my "blogging identity", I am constantly amazed at the bloggers who can post witty and insightful things day after day - sometimes daily. I am still trying to learn, and I appreciate your patience as I continue to try. Because my cooking jazz hands are too jazzy to quit this. *jazz hands*

Manhatten Style Fish Chowder

In the mean time, let me introduce you to my new favorite soup. Manhattan-style crab chowder. Pronounced "Chow-DAH". Say it: CHOW-DAAAH! It has enough substance with the potatoes and carrots to stick to your bones as winter noms. It has enough fresh seafood and light flavor to be satisfying even in the summer. And it is, while a little indulgent, insanely tasty.

Manhatten Style Fish Chowder

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Outlander Brewery (or: How I Learned To Like Beer)

Welcome to Beer Week. I went and tasted beer. And with the help of some friends, I was converted to enjoy some beer. Here's the tale of Outlander Brewery and Pub. Also it's long.

Confession time: I don't didn't like beer. I was the girl in college who, when playing beer pong barbequing having a quiet night at home studying with some pals, would do so with the malted fruit drinks (also known as: B***h Brew). It didn't help that the college beer of choice was Keystone Light. I grew up with Coor's or Bud in the house, and was taught the fine art of wine, not beer. 

But over the years, my friends didn't give up on me. They helped me find (and like) Blue Moon (before my mom found it!) and other local Hefeweizens. They learned that I made the best ugly faces when I tasted IPAs (and yet I continue to try them. WHY?!?). And they learned that given the choice, I will still (almost always) pick cider or wine over beer.

Enter Jackie.  
Hi, Jackie!
 Jackie has a friend, and his brother is Nigel.
Nigel, owner and awesome dude of Outlander.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rum Cake - two birds, one bite

Now that our favorite Country Cleaver is finally Mrs. Ben, I suppose I should *finally* finish posting the recipes from her shower. Times like this when I wish I could still blame grad school... But I don't have any excuse, really. But there's another post coming with an actual update...

In the mean time... Here's my favorite from the party - drunk cake. Have a snack AND catch a buzz at the same time. Okay, well these were miniature, so there's not much of a buzz... But these can easily make one large bundt cake by just adjusting the pan. Also - a quick note about "mini bundt pans": they really vary in size. Unlike "cupcake tins", there is not a uniform size. I got the cake recipe from her greatness Martha Stewart, and based on the cooking times and quantity... her baking tins were from a different planet. So, I halved the recipe, had many leftover, and watched them very carefully (so my cooking time is an estimate...). I did *not* use her glaze - it wasn't nearly drunk enough. I did find a wonderful version from Bacardi, and everything is combined below.

I'd like to apologize for the lack of story with this post, but I also want to add that this cake is so good that it doesn't need a story, an excuse, or a history - just make it. Then put it in your cake hole.

Rum Cake
Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, her holiness.
Glaze recipe adapted from Bacardi (I could not find an original source)


Baking spray or shortening
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Buttermilk
scant 1/4 cup Dark Rum
2 sticks Butter, room temperature
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
5 large Eggs

1/2 cup butter (not margarine - don't play me like that)
1/4 cup water
1 scant cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded (optional)
1/2 cup + 3/4 cup rum

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously coat the mini bundt pan in cooking spray or shortening. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl (or measuring cup), combine the buttermilk and rum.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars. Beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one a time, combining between each addition. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredient mixtures, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.
  3. Fill each cavity ~1/2 full with batter. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles. Bake for 10-12 minutes (will vary depending on pan size) or until the cakes just start to brown, and bounce back to the touch. Let the pans cool for a few minutes in the pan (just to set), then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Once cool, gently poke each cake a few times with a fork. Using a pastry brush (or just... a pour spout?), sprinkle the cakes with 1/2 cup of rum, and let that soak in while you prepare the glaze.
  5. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Then add the water, sugar, and vanilla bean (seeds and pod). Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat slightly, and boil for about 5 minutes to cook the sugar. Remove from the heat, remove the vanilla bean pod, and slowly add the rum. Let the glaze come to room tempterature in order to thicken, then pour/spread over each cake. Enjoy!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Prosciuotto Crostini-gasmic

This next bite is my single favorite mouth morsel from the infamous bridal shower of the great Country Cleaver.

It's time for... Prosciutto Crostini.

Guys, let's rap for a minute. The following is real math. I could provide a proof, but it's all on your taste buds. The rap:
[Bread] + [Jam(sweet)] + [Creamy] + [Salty] = Party(Mouth)
There is literally nothing more that you can ask from this snack. Nothing. Not one darn thing. Just trust me. This can be dinner - it has meat on it. It can be breakfast - it's got jam, which is fruit-esque. It will dance on your taste buds. It will marry your saliva. Not to be crude, but you might need to change your pants. You challenge my poetic love? Then I triple-dog-dare you to make them. Then come back and look me in the eye and try to tell me it sucked. 

That's right - you won't have a single bad thing to say.

Like most of the tidbits we made for the shower - this is insanely easy. This dish isn't so much "cooking" as "flavor-profile-assembly".

The following recipe makes at least 2 dozen pieces.
  • 1 loaf sourdough baguette (french baguette will do if you can't find sourdough)
  • ~4 oz Fig jam or preserve (if chunky, you may need to run through a food processor to make it spreadable)
  • ~4 oz. Whole-milk ricotta
  • ~8 oz Prosciutto (paper-thinly sliced)
  • Cracked pepper to taste
  1. Slice the baguette into slices about 1/4 - 1/2" thick, on a slant (you need to be able to bite these). 
  2. Lay out all the slices on a baking sheet or clean counter for easy assembly.
  3. Spread enough jam on each slice to just cover the slice (too much will ooze with your bite). 
  4. Dollop about 1 teaspoon of ricotta on top of the fig on each slice - again, too much will ooze.
  5. Place one a thin piece of prosciutto on top of the stack - it won't take much. You can pre-cut the meat in the package to help you portion it evenly.
  6. Crack pepper on top of the whole lot.
  7. Put. It. In. Your. Mouth.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Devil in My Kitchen

For the whole story about Megan's Bridal shower... click here.

So here's the thing about my experience with Deviled Eggs - people hate to love them. You will never have many left-over deviled eggs at a party. But people will not request them, or comment on them. But they will lick that plate clean. Seriously. And it may be a regional thing - I don't know how people in the South act about them (my research tells me that it's serious business), but in the West, they're not really sought after. But if you make them... they will come. It's like a good egg salad sandwich. You don't normally tell people that's your favorite. You lie and say it's something passe like turkey. Because only 10 year olds love an egg salad sandwich. On some lightly toasted rye. And maybe some lettuce. And a little bacon if you're feeling crazy. Alright - maybe I'm 10 at heart. I love eggs to the same capacity that my dad hates them. That's okay - I'll eat his.

Some history: yes, I actually researched before the shower. Back to the trend in the mid century: stuff things into other things. Deviled eggs? Whole lot of egg-ception right there. An egg stuffed with ITSELF. Apparently, these things have been around in some form for centuries. And for the last century, they've been quite the international traveler and remaining quite popular in most of Europe.

Deviled eggs remain a beautiful platform for many other things. Very versatile... You can make the filling with onion, celery, and/or diced olives. You can add heat with jalapenos, flair with curry, or tang with pickles. Top with salsa, brisket, or caviar. Infuse with flavors from Caesar salad, barbecue, or sushi. And then when you're full that day, try something else! Seriously guys - these things are freaking amazing.

And obviously I made them for the shower. They were a little plain, but more purest than anything. But here's the problem I always have with making deviled eggs... recipes for them are the worst! Different eggs have different moisture content - so they'll need different amounts of fillings to reach the desired consistency.

So you will find below the ingredients that I used. The yolk mixture is so easy to taste along the way. I always start with the mayonnaise and mustard to get the main consistency right. I'm not a huge fan of relish in the eggs, but I love the texture of minced celery. I like to top sprinkle the top with just a bit of paprika and seasoned salt for both color and they brighten the flavor profile. For this special occasion, I also topped with minced parsley, though you can omit this. You can make these in any quantity - from one egg up to your army-sized needs. I find that 6-12 eggs (making 12-24 servings) is enough for most parties. Finally - I piped the filling. There is no shame in using a spoon. But even if you don't have a piping tip, I just think it's easiest to put all the filling in a zip-top bag, trim the end, and fill that way. You almost always need with 2 spoons, or a messy finger, and I lose the least amount of filling by using the bag method.

That's it!
  1. Eggs
  2. Mayonnaise
  3. Mustard (I like Dijon)
  4. Finely minced celery
  5. Seasoned Salt
  6. Paprika (if you're feeling spicy)
  7. Lemon pepper (if you're feeling zesty)
  8. Other things to add-to-taste: Relish, salsa, caviar (on top), or pesto.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beastly Elegant Tea Sammiches

For a full recap of Megsie's Shower-of-love-and-wedding-schmoopiness, check out my post on her blog here. Below, is a recipe for one of the featured snacks that day - Roast Beef Tea Sandwiches.

I’m not sure why, but nothing quite says “fancy” like miniature, crustless sandwiches. Regular sandwich? For the working man. Crustless? For the kids. Small? Just sloppy. But combine a delicate size and the ladylike ease of edibility without the crust? That is teatime GOLD! And while crustless tea sandwiches started much earlier, they were indeed a staple at parties in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

No matter the function, there is a simple equation for the perfect tea sandwich:
[Thin bread] + [Fat] + [Filling] + [Sauce] = [Gold]Teatime
·    The bread can be any kind – white, sourdough, whole wheat 19 grain hippy (if you’re into that sort of thing) – but the key is for it to be thinly sliced.
·    The fat can be butter, cream cheese, actual cheese, or, in this example, mayonnaise
·    The filling can be protein or vegetable – I used paper-thin slices of roast beef, but you can use cucumbers, tomatoes, egg salad, or even smoked salmon.
·    The sauce is just an extra punch of flavor, and as long as this element is incorporated, it can be combined. For example, you can season you cream cheese with pepper and chives. You can mix horseradish with mayonnaise. Or it can be its own sauce: mustard, garlic spread, relish.
I have provided a recipe below, but as long as you use the formula above, I have faith that you, too, can make a sandwich. Seriously – who needs 7 steps??
Mmm, sammich...

  Roast Beef Tea Sandwiches
(makes enough for a large tea party)
¾ lb sliced roast beef (paper thin)
¼ cup mayonnaise
Scant ¼ cup horseradish sauce (either pre-made, or add prepared horseradish to mayonnaise)
8 slices of thin potato bread

1.  Lay out the pieces of bread in two rows.
2.  On each slice in one row, spread a generous amount of mayonnaise (or your preference)
3.  On the remaining four slices, spread the horseradish sauce – amount depending on your spice preference.
4.  Add the meat evenly to one row of bread. You may have a little extra – don’t make them too thick!
5.  Sammich two pieces of bread (one from each row). Repeat with remaining bread to create 4 sandwiches, total.
6.  Remove the crusts from all sides. Slice each sandwiches into quarters (I found diagonal to be easier).
7.  Serve on a platter lined with doilies.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Grand ReOpening!


*Blows off dust*

Well, Hello!! Sooo... I graduated. You may now refer to me as Master. Master Kitchen, or Kvetchin Master will also do.

Okay, fine. We're all friends. You don't have to call me Master. But I'd like to gloat for just a moment. *Ahem* EFF YEA!!!! *cough* okay, I'm better now.

And now that my learning and, like, thinking or whatever is finished, I hope to make my grand re-debut very soon with actual recipes and what-not. Crazy, right? A blog with NEW POSTS!! Well, that's where we're headed. The wild and crazy future. And now, just a few photos of my awesomeness. Then it will be out of my system and I won't have to brag about it all the time.

Thanks for hanging with me!! Noms to appear soon :-)

PS: this entire post was created and edited on my phone during lunch... So I'll try to fix any wonkiness laterz.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chicken and Waffles. Like a Boss.

I did a bad delicious thing. (okay... maybe it was a little bad... for my waistline). I mean, it was good. Shut the front door. Shut the back door, shut the windows, and shut the garage - this was good. It was a full stimulus to the palate - sweet, salty, and just a little spicy. And it was (dare I say?) playful with textures - crisp and juicy chicken, chewy and tender waffles, and just a little creamy from the condiment accessories. That's right - chicken and waffles.

In case my previous posts are any hint at all... allow me to spell it out for you. I am a stress eater. I've tried to transition (with moderate success) to workout instead of eat. But it's hard when I have so much homework and thesis to do, when I can eat while I study. But it's hard to type much in downward dog or running uphill. And, if my lack of posts is any indication, I have been sort of extremely busy. And it's getting to the point that when people as me to do anything, I automatically say "Sure! How's June??". Work is busy, class is intense, my thesis is at a turning point, and I have 3 friends getting married. And somewhere in all of that, I still have a husband who sometimes wants attention because he kind of likes me. SO! I get through it, because that's really the only option, and I don't want to miss anything with my friends, work, or family. 

They're escaping... make sure your front door is shut!

As a distraction from the stress, and as background noise to my ever-growing thesis paper (only 16 pages...), I obsess over the Food Network. And my favorite show (partly because Guy Fieri reminds me of my uncle) is Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives. In general, I prefer the kinds of shows where the star cooks, rather than gets paid to drive around and eat. But DDD features great local restaurants all over the country, and you haven't caught DDD fever, I suggest you scope it out. A dream of mine is to plan a road trip based on some his recommendations. Also (as I push up my hipster glasses) I voted for Guy when he was on The Next Food Network Star. And I prefer DDD to his regular cooking show. One of the challenges, though, is that they don't give precise measurements when they're cooking, and only some restaurants will allow their secrets to be blasted all over Food Network. One of the newer episodes featured some southern specialties, including (wait for it) chicken and waffles. In fact, chicken and waffles have been featured on many Food Network specials. But I had never tried it. And to make it just seemed too much. 

First you have to marinate the chicken overnight (planning?!?), then you make the waffles from scratch (frozen just won't due here), AND THEN you have to fry the chicken (how many dishes can I dirty??). PLUS!!! The Kvetchin Husband does not (and will NOT) eat sweet and salty together. So making this would risk him turning his nose up and needing a second dinner (of cereal). I delayed making this until one day, the stress was too much and I needed to spend an afternoon in the kitchen. And I just neglected to post here immediately because I was unsure of the deliciousity. I mean, I thought it was awesome, but since I didn't get great reviews from KH, I wasn't convinced it was worthy to post. And then last night, I made it for some dear friends willing to slip on their fat pants and save me from a possible anxiety attack by letting me feed them.

Some notes before I unleash this... 
  • It does create a lot of dishes. But it's worth it.
  • You can make either the chicken or waffles first (I can't multi-task) and keep them warm in a low oven.
  • You can use your favorite buttermilk waffle recipe (I just provided a recipe below) and add in the syrup and seasoning. 
  • This calls for pecans in coating the chicken (I'll pause so you can wipe the drool away), and while I haven't tried it, I'm sure that nearly any nut would do here. I would probably avoid peanuts and cashews, but I imagine that walnuts or pistachios would also do quite well.
  • I used "scant" and "heaping" a few times in the recipe... I'm sorry to those who really enjoy hard-nosed recipes. The good thing about this combination is that the recipe is really quite adaptive and forgiving. The flavors are meant to be intense, but feel free to adjust to your own tastes.
  • This is... trying to find the right words here... out of control. Unfortunately, the chicken is not great the next day. So call your friends, and make them all fat.
  • I'm only sort-of sorry for the photo quality in this post - I only had shots from my phone because I ate it far too fast to get actual photos. After you make, you'll understand.

Plate ready - smothered with spicy mustard and maple syrup
Chicken and Waffles:
Inspired by watching DDD feature The Early Bird Diner in South Carolina
Waffles recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

For the chicken:
~1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups buttermilk (or scant 2 cups regular milk, topped with white vinegar)
3 Tbls Honey (about 3 healthy squeezes)
1.5 Tbls of your favorite blackening/jerk seasoning

For the waffles:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbls sugar
2 tsp blackening/jerk seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 c buttermilk
4 Tbls butter, melted and cooled
3 Tbls real maple syrup (or 1 tsp maple extract)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For frying:
1/3 cup chopped pecans (they have small bags prepackaged in the baking aisle - I think about 4 oz. Pause for shame in food blogger who has not properly researched her ingredients... Aanndd shame resolved.)
1 heaping cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbls blackening/jerk seasoning
1 scant Tbls white pepper
1 scant Tbls salt
Vegetable oil

(This list is quite intimidating - but nothing here is "strange" and I had everything laying around my cupboard.)
  1. In between two pieces of seran wrap, pound out the chicken to about 1/2" - 3/4" thick. You can skip this step if you are lucky enough to find your chicken pre-thinned when you buy it.
  2. In a gallon-sized plastic bag, combine the buttermilk, honey, and seasoning. Zip the top and shake around to combine. Unzip, and add the chicken. Seal the bag and turn to coat the chicken. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours (up to 1 day).
**I'll pause here, in case you're glancing at the recipe and don't realize that there's a lengthy pause in the middle. Have a drink, if you're into that sort of thing. And pick up here in 3-24 hours.

Reminder - it does not matter if you fry the chicken or make the waffles first. I found it easier to make the waffles.
  1. Heat up your favorite waffle iron (or your least favorite, but that doesn't really seem practical).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just to combine.
  4. Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil or butter.
  5. Pour the batter into the iron - my iron uses 1/4 cup for each of 2 waffle cubbies. Close and cook until the iron tells you it's done.
  6. If making these first, slide into a warmed oven (about 200-225 degrees).
For the chicken (we're nearly there!!)
  1. In a food processor, pulse the pecans until they are very fine (pecan flour). Set aside.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to fill about 1/2" in the pan (I used vegetable, but you can use canola or peanut, also. Please do NOT use olive oil for this use). 
  3. In a deep dish (like a pie plate), whisk the pecan flour, all-purpose flour, seasoning, pepper, and salt together.
  4. Remove the chicken from the fridge and dredge the chicken, one-piece at time, and place in the oil. My pan was big enough to cook 3-pieces at a time. You may need to adjust the heat to prevent burning, but the chicken will only take about 4 minutes per side. Once both sides are brown and crispy, place the chicken on a paper bag to drain the oil.
  5. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  6. Keep warm in the oven.
To serve, combine your feats of deliciousness. Top the waffles with butter and syrup, and decorate the chicken with spicy brown mustard. The syrup with do delicious, naughty things to the mustard. Slip into your fat pants... and enjoy together. In your mouth.

*Health warning - yea, you probably shouldn't eat this frequently. Take a run. Get your arteries checked. Enjoy it with some fruit juice. If you're smart, a Bloody Mary can offer fruits, vegetables, AND a delightful buzz. Again, if you're into that sort of thing.*