Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cape Cod + Frosting

I love Cape Cod, it's lovely. This past weekend, I was able to visit to celebrate Scott's birthday. We are officially the same age again after a month of me being older! Happy Birthday!!

Cape Cod is the vacation destination for a lot of New Englander's, for good reason. There are beaches that look like this...

(I can't take credit for this picturing, only the Instagraming. Maybe Scott will be designated picture taker for this site, seeing he is infinitely better than I am. Don't tell him I said that.)

And food that looks like this...

This was from Arnold's, in Eastham. So delicious. Do not be put off by the line out the door, it's so worth the wait!

And bicycles...

My butt still hurts. I haven't ridden a bike in YEARS, but I rode that one (the green one)! We may have had small collision that was not my fault. The tire on the other bike may be bent from that collision. But only maybe...

I love Cape Cod. I think everyone should make sure to go and visit. It's such an easy trip from Boston, too. Between the food, the adorable houses, and the insane beaches it's the perfect nearby vacation destination. For a quick trip, we certainly had a great time.

For his birthday celebration, I also made Scott a cake. Yellow cake with chocolate malt frosting to be exact, his favorite combination. The cake was okay, reminiscent of a cornbread texture rather than a light, fluffy cake, so that still needs work. However, the frosting was delicious and I would never keep delicious frosting from anyone, so here is the recipe!

Chocolate Malt Frosting

1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar (confectioners sugar)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
7 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter, salt, and vanilla extract together until smooth and creamy.
2. Mix together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and malted milk powder in separate bowl.
3. Alternately add milk and sugar mixture in a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review: In Honor

I just realized I hadn't done a book review in awhile! For shame. Usually, many of the books I read involve food. I have many of those i should tell you about, I'm sure I will one day. But today, I want to talk about a book I read this weekend. On the beach. It was glorious. I love Cape Cod. And I should listen to my boyfriend when he tells me to put on sunscreen, but that's another story. (In my defense, it was extremely cloudy. I do realize this was still dumb.)

Anyway, the book.

It's called In Honor by Jessi Kirby.

In Honor

This book was a relatively quick read and was well written, smart and funny. As I've said before, my little brother is awesome, and so anything with brother's gets me good. This book is about Honor and how she loses her brother Finn in Iraq. Already a heartbreaking story and then her brother's ex-best friend Rusty shows up. Honor is naive, heartbroken, and stubborn and Rusty is a grieving hot mess of a man. They embark on a cross country road trip in her brother's memory and along the way discover things about themselves, each other, and Finn that change their outlooks on their own lives. You root for the main characters, smack Rusty for the things that come out of his mouth, and genuinely feel for Honor. Although I wasn't a huge fan of the ending, I can appreciate it and see how it works for Honor and Rusty. All in all, a good read. I'm a sucker for anything with cowboy boots.

Yes, it's a YA book. Sorry I'm not sorry that I read them and love them. I think everyone will like this book!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Growing up, Chinese food meant poo poo platters, fried rice, chicken chow mein and copious amounts of crab rangoons. I never really ventured outside of these tried and true delicacies until I moved to Boston. Once here, I discovered beef and broccoli, orange chicken, and many other amazing things.

Let's not even get started on the discovery of Thai food.

Chinese food is also something I've never tried to make at home. Unless you count those frozen crab rangoons. I don't, you shouldn't either. You probably shouldn't make those frozen ones either, they are just not good.

But then I found a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken and knew that it was going to be dinner. The recipe itself was very easy, and the sweet and sour sauce was very good. I made some brown rice to go with it, and it felt like delivery. :) I also had every intention of sauteing some snap peas with garlic and soy sauce to go with it, but I was too hungry and forgot. Oops.

Also, I should be able to work my camera now. we'll see what happens with the next post!

For now, an Instagram picture:


Sweet and Sour Chicken
Recipe adapted from here

For the chicken:
3-4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbs canola or vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup white vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cube chicken into large bite-sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Toss the chicken pieces in cornstarch and then coat with the egg. (Trust me.)
4. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken, turning it so that all sides are browned. (Just browned nicely - it will finish cooking in the oven)
5. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish.
6. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and reserve about 1/2 cup and pour the rest of the sauce evenly over the chicken. Turn the chicken to coat each piece.
7. Bake for 1 hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes.
8. Reduce the remaining sauce in a small pan over medium heat. Use reduced sauce for serving and serve with rice and veggies!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hulk. Smash.

I had a baking disaster the other day. Well, like half a disaster. I tried to make these yummy, delicious sounding lavender cupcakes with a honey cream cheese frosting. The frosting was insanely good, but the cupcakes were not. They were so cute, I made them in little condiment cups (that I may or may not have grabbed extra of at a fast food restaurant. And then sent my two friends in to do the same). So sad. I think the lavender was just too much. Too much herby-ness (yes, that's a word) and a weird bite with the softness of a cupcake. Maybe if I ever am brave enough to make them again, I'll grind the lavender buds into a powder and add about half the amount that I did. I will also make that frosting to eat with a spoon. Often. I promise. So, in light of the baking disaster, I'm posting something completely off topic...

Captain America: Are you crazy?
Iron Man: Jury's out.

I've already seen The Avengers three times. I want to go again. Too much? I think not.  I loved this movie. I have a huge weakness for superhero movies, and I'm really not sure why. The Avengers is fantastic, and was actually pretty funny, I wasn't expecting that many punch lines. But with Tony Stark in there, I guess its inevitable. If you haven't seen it, go right now! I laughed. I laughed much.

Iron Man: Better clench up, Legolas.

Haha. See? Funny. Loki is a slimy bastard though. Don't like him. Which is obviously the point of a villain, but does his hair really have to be so greasy? And he doesn't even look formidable! At least make him LOOK like he'd cause problems.

Mark Ruffalo did an awesome job as the Hulk. I avoided Hulk movies previously, just because I wasn't really interested. But Mark did great as a neurotic mess who may burst into an indestructible machine at any second. I wish they had shown more of Captain America coming into society at a completely different point than where he left it. But I suppose that's what Captain America 2 will be (hopefully). I've heard they cut out a scene of him reuniting with his lady love from Captain America. It better be on the DVD.

Otherwise, I thought it was a really well-done movie that was very entertaining!

Anyway, since it was my birthday a few weeks ago, I decided to get myself some new baking supplies. :) I bought a pastry bag and some cute cupcake liners from Bake It Pretty last week, and will probably buy more soon (You saw both of these in action with the Limoncello cupcakes I made a few weeks ago)! Everything they have is awesome. And cute. God do I love cute cupcake liners. They also have mini ones (so I don;t have to use stolen condiment cups...). Speaking of, my current dream is to fill a big glass jar with colorful cupcake liners. Pathetic? Yes. Don't care. Specifically, this jar:


Point of this post? Check out the Avengers and Bake It PrettyI mean, these two things OBVIOUSLY go perfectly together... 

(Neither Marvel, Bake it Pretty or Crate and Barrel have any idea of who I am - I just like their stuff and wanted you to know about it!) 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pasta Carbonara with Peas and Bacon

I hate that pasta exists. I really do. It's not fair.

I also hate that pasta carbonara exists. It's mean.

Okay, maybe that's not exactly true. Maybe I love pasta. Maybe I love pasta too much. But only maybe. I won't admit to anything.

I've been scared to make pasta carbonara. Terrified, really. It has eggs in it. Eggs that need to just barely cook to thicken up the sauce. Not scramble. That would make a nasty, slimy, goopy mess. Eggs also seriously freak me out. I'll eat them, but they're not my favorite thing. They wiggle weird.

I'm scared of adding eggs to things, "tempuring" eggs, if you will, mostly because of an incident when I tried to make homemade pudding when I was about 15. I had a pudding CRAVING and we didn't have any in my house. Of course, being a teenager this was unacceptable. Completely ridiculous to NOT have pudding, right?

So, I tried to make some. Heated some milk and cocoa powder in a saucepan, added some things, and then came the horror. The "tempuring." Shudder. My milk mixture was too hot, and instead of adding the hot mixture to the eggs a little bit at a time, I put the eggs directly into the saucepan and stirred vigorously. Please, I'm begging you to not try to visualize the chocolate-scrambled egg mess that resulted. I'm cringing. I'm sorry I told you that. Please forgive me.

On a better note, this carbonara did not come out like that. It came out perfectly. Carbonara to me means bacon and peas. Perfection, really. Nest time, I'm going to use prosciutto. And chopped asparagus. Mmmm.

I'm also aware that this isn't technically carbonara, which is only made with eggs and cheese and bacon. No peas, no onions, yadda yadda. But this one is pretty damn delicious.

Pasta "Carbonara" with Peas and Bacon
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman
  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 8 pieces bacon (diced small)
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt & Plenty Of Black Pepper
  • 1 cup peas
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, with generously salted water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon until just barely crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off all of the bacon grease, but don't clean the pan.
3. Return the pan to the stove over medium-low heat and throw in the onions and garlic. Cook until golden brown. Set aside.
4. In a bowl, mix together eggs, Parmesan, cream, and salt and pepper until smooth.
5. When the pasta is done, reserve a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Add the onions and garlic to the pasta.
6. While the pasta is still really hot, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture, stirring the pasta the whole time. The sauce will become thick and should coat the pasta. Splash in a little hot pasta water if needed for consistency.
7. Halfway through, add the peas and bacon. Finish adding the sauce, stirring until it's all combined.

Serve im-med-iate-ly with crusty bread.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Food Truck Stop: The Cupcakory

Food Trucks!

Awesomely enough, the Boston food truck The Cupcakory came close to my internship the other day. The company I intern for is awesome in that they always set up fun treats for us (We actually have a cookie day once a month and cookies get delivered to the office!).So, they emailed us around lunchtime to say that The Cupcakory truck would be in the area. Who could resist. So, I did a little research...

They have a few fun flavors listed online like these, which I pulled off of their website {Cupcakory}.

Salted Caramel
our signature cupcake—chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream on top

Peanut Butter & Chocolate
chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting

chocolate or vanilla cake with nutella buttercream

Chocolate Espresso
chocolate cake with espresso buttercream topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean

Birthday Cake
traditional yellow butter cake with chocolate frosting topped with colorful confetti

Now, salted caramel anything is my weakness (see previous post on cookies!), so I knew immediately which one I was getting.They use mostly organic and naturally sourced ingredients, and everything sounded delicious! I LOVED that they frost each cake individually, to order. Instead of those cupcake bakeries that frost once and then leave them in the case all day so either the cake or frosting is dry and part of it tastes like plastic (I've been to a few of those. bleh.) I got my salted caramel and took a few pictures before I took a huge bite.

Pretty, isn't it? The frosting looked really promising with little globs of caramel over the top, and the cake looked super chocolaty and moist.

Verdict?: Really good! I was definitely a fan, and if I saw this truck again I would grab one. $3 seems like the standard for bakery cupcakes, so the price was okay for an afternoon pick-me-up. The cake itself reminded me of the boxed devil's food cake mixes a little bit (which is NOT a bad thing) and the frosting could have been maybe a little sweeter? But the cake and frosting had the most perfect texture and totally hit the spot.

Such a convenient way to get your sugar fix!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt

I had a hugeeeee cookie craving yesterday. I usually do a marathon cookie baking session at Christmas and make little boxes for everyone I know. It's insane, and I love it. Yesterday, I realized I hadn't made cookies since Christmas... crazy right? If I have, I don't remember doing it. 

So, I went hunting. Pinterest is my obsession, and I think I'm way too in love with it and should have a pintervention, but then it goes and brings me to recipes like these. And everything is fine. This is a chocolate cookie, rolled around a bit of caramel, then sprinkled with sea salt. Yea, I know. Dreamy.

I was obsessed. After making dinner, I decided to bust these out. And they were EASY and came together so fast. From mixing to eating it took about 30 minutes. Very rarely do I really love how a recipe comes out the first time i make it. I usually make it once, figure out what I need to change and then make it again and make it my own. This one though, I loved the very first time. I can't think of anything I'd change. The only thing I altered was the method a little bit, because I really hate using 100 bowls (even though I just bought a new glass set from Crate + Barrel I've been lusting after forever!). No dishwasher, tiny apartment. :( And added a little water because the dough was super crumbly.

These cookies. Are delicious. I love them. You will too.

There might be one missing out of that left corner. I couldn't help it. Strictly testing purposes.

Also, I really did try to figure out how to use my camera last night. However, there are far too many buttons and I wanted cookies. So, until I have more time and am less spacy, all pictures will be through Instagram. Unacceptable, I know. I'll work on it.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt
Recipe from Two Peas and their Pod
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used greek!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11 soft caramels, chopped in half
  • Sea salt 

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF; line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, lightly coated with cooking spray. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, soda, and salt into a large bowl, set aside.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add to flour mixture, stirring until moist. (I added a tablespoon of water here because my dough was really crumbly.) Wrap the chocolate dough around the caramel balls. Place balls on cookie sheets and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

I got about 22 cookies. There are maybe 3 left. I'm not sorry.

Does anyone else have the same freaky obsession with salted caramel as I do? I don't want to be alone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

We've talked before about my love affair with soups. I don't know why I love them, but I do. Yesterday, it was freaking COLD. Too cold for June. While that sucked, it totally gave me a reason to make some soup. I found a recipe for a sausage and tortellini soup, and it sounded so good that I put my own version of it together. It was really good! Can't wait to have some leftovers today. Easiest soup ever for a crappy weekday night.

Sidenote: I'd really love to make homemade tortellini. I hate ricotta cheese, and they all use that as a filler! Hmm...

Also, has anyone ever been to a Wegmans before? I went on Sunday, and I think I'm in love. LOVE. This place had everything! Cheese, (Oh man, the cheese! There were aisles of it!) wine (Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon was only $18. Here in Boston, it's almost $30. It's delicious boxed wine, let me tell you.). I also bought 2 lbs. of the most delicious strawberries for like $2. Insane. I really liked this grocery store and was unaware that one could love a food store so much. I have now learned. It was extremely crowded on a Sunday afternoon, and I didn't get to browse as much as I would have liked. I would absolutely make the drive to go on a Monday morning once my internship is over. I also just saw that they're opening one in Chestnut Hill which is way closer to me than Northborough. Oh man, I would be so happy. The steak I bought from there was delicious as well, and they had mixed bags of fingerlings potatoes which roasted up with some garlic just perfectly! Mmmm... hungry just thinking about it.

Anyway back to the important stuff. Here is the recipe for the sausage and tortellini soup! Enjoy :)

Sausage and Tortellini Soup

  • 1 pound ground Italian Sausage (I accidentally grabbed the hot sausage. Unexpected awesome flavor!)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine (Black Box worked very well here)
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 8 ounces cheese Tortellini

1. Brown sausage, onion, and garlic in a pot over medium heat until sausage is cooked through.
2. Add beef broth, wine, tomatoes, carrots, and celery and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
3. Add Italian seasoning and tortellini and cook until tortellini is done. Serve with some crusty bread.

I'm all over the place today, but can someone buy me a new blender? Or have recommendations for a quality (cheap-ish) one? Thanks!