Cheesesteak Like A Boss

A few weeks ago I was prepping for a (totally normal, totally planned) shoulder surgery (which went totally well, thank-you-for-not-asking), I needed something to distract myself from the fact that I would be undergoing a surgery that will result in the doctor sending me home with a DVD of my experience. A “highlight reel,” if you will – the surgeon certainly did, since he asked two weeks into recovery if I’d watched my DVD yet.  I’ll share with you what I shared with him: That until I could lift a fat glass of wine to my face with my previously injured arm, there would be no such DVD watching.

During that mind-blocking keto time, I created some really cool recipes that happen to be gluten free (since gluten can be very carb-y). Overall I wouldn’t recommend keto to most people, and to no one as a long term solution, but it was amazing to think of foods I’d previously thought of as unhealthy as the “good” food, and vice versa with those I’d thought were “good.” So it’s a great distraction and way to reconsider what you put into your everyday diet.

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I was also shocked that I was literally never hungry on keto; by logging the amount of fat/carbs/protein in my daily intake into an app I googled I realized I’d been way too low on protein and way too big on snacking. Lessons learned: watch your potato intake - a struggle as an Irish person - deciding to save room for sides by not eating as much chicken/steak/salmon at a meal will backfire and leave you hungry, and always treat yourself to whole milk instead of cream with your coffee (milk was what I missed most! Unexpected).

Alright! Now onto the first recipe from my keto days. This cheesesteak stuffed pepper made being keto feel luxurious. I was able to enjoy the best of a sub - sorry sub roll - and go back for a second cheesy, semi-greasy (in the best Philly way possible) serving. This was minimal work with high reward - I took another pepper into work for lunch the next day, and by the time I microwaved it in a Rubbermaid container and transferred to a plate, everyone else around me was drooling at the smell.

One note: I decided I prefer red or yellow peppers as the “container” since I used green peppers in the traditional mix, but do whatever makes you happy! We all know you will anyway. 😉

Serves: 4 individuals, or 2 for a dinner and lunch

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

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  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 Red Bell Peppers, tops removed and de-seeded (is that a word?)
  • 1 Green Pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced (YouTube worked in my favor figuring this shit out, so I’ll let you work with the pros and not embarrass myself by trying to explain how they taught me)
  • 1 pound flank steak/ground beef - in the vein of a traditional Philly cheesesteak, I bought flank steak and cut it myself. As you know though, I do whatever I want after reading a recipe and hope you have the confidence to do that too. So buy the pre-shaved steak, go ground beef, just don’t fuck this up with ground chicken or turkey, okay? Please. I froze some that I shaved in individual plastic bags for stir fries and dinners later - genius!)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worchershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6-8 slices Provolone cheese
  • Fat glass of wine, for consumption while cooking obviously


Instructions

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  1. Preheat oven to 400° and line baking pan with tin foil; because we all hate cleanup, right? Again: psychopath test.
  2. Heat up a skillet with butter on a medium-hot stove, adding onions and cooking for 15 minutes until translucent. Add peppers about 8 minutes in until they’re cooked down, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove peppers and onions and with remaining fat in pan (or the 1 tbsp olive oil), add steak. Top with Worcestershire, garlic powder and s&p to taste, and cook through (watch out to not over cook since this puppy will hop into the oven next!). Some people use paprika too, but do you.
  4. Start to layer red bell peppers (still uncooked - an unpopular opinion, but I find they are well cooked during the next phase)  with a half a slice of Prov, meat mixture, green pepper and onion mixture, a half slice of Prov, another layer of meat and peppers and onions, and final full slice of Prov. You can use less, sure - but are you really human then?
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, enjoying a bit of bubbly cheese on top of each pepper at the end or expiditing the process by turning on your broiler - with the oven partially open! Well worth repeating 🔥
  6. Cut in half to let the steam out and add ketchup or hate yourself and enjoy plain - it’s your life! 

Also reheats well after about 2 minutes in the micro - just beware of a little grease coming out of the bottom of your container. That’s why I switched to a plate after reheating for lunch. 

 

PS - Sorry for the title, I genuinely could only think of that Lonely Island song when I realized what an amazing sub substitute this pepper was.

 

The Easiest Coffee of All Time

This isn’t Elf, I’m not promising the best; although if you spend the money for good coffee beans you could certainly accomplish both.

Now that we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, I know some people outside the New England area will say, “Kerry, you’re explaining cold brew but it’s November; isn’t this more of a summer thing?” NO. As everyone in New England knows, iced coffee is a year round thing. Ask anyone who’s visited us in the winter, or any transplant you know who’s currently in your part of the world. Doesn’t matter how cold it is outside or how many inches/feet of snow you just forced off your car; iced coffee is always okay.  

 

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I bring this us more so because I’ve had so many people at work and beyond ask what cold brew is lately. Even though they see it on the Dunkin and Starbucks and Peet’s menus (although now all Peet’s iced coffee isn’t cold brew anyway), they are afraid to ask during the quick transaction at the register and look anything less than a genius in front of the strangers surrounding around them. Well screw that, this shouldn’t be a secret!

I prefer cold brew because I love picking the coffee beans instead of relying on the shop’s brand - right now my favorites come from George Howell - and I do notice a difference in taste between cold brew and regular iced coffee. Where iced coffee is traditionally hot coffee cooled and served over ice, cold brew is cold water that steps in beans overnight and is ready to enjoy the next day, avoiding the heating process entirely. This is supposed to keep the beans from getting a bitter flavor from the heating process, and I also think it’s stronger this way. Plus, if I use espresso beans, I get that espresso taste without the burnt espresso taste I’ve been finding at coffee shops lately.

So how do we do it?

Serves: 8 or so coffees or lattes (depending on your beans)

Time: 5 minutes hands on, at least 12 hours for the drink to steep

Ingredients

  • 3 oz ground coffee or espresso beans - buy yourself a nice big bag of coffee beans that you wouldn’t normally splurge on since you’re going to save a shitload anyway by not going to a coffee shop. You deserve it!
  • 24 oz cold water

Instructions

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  1. Now, you could just take your beans and pour them in a big mouthed Mason/Ball/Kerr jar, but I personally like to buy whole beans, measure 3 ounces out on a kitchen scale, and grind them fresh. The cool kids in all the original posts I read said it makes a difference in taste - and sue me! I’m a sucker for their instructions.  
  2. If using a filter insert, like the one I found on Amazon pictured for about $10, add in now; otherwise you can use a fine mesh strainer or other coffee strainer after the coffee has steeped. I used mesh strainer at first, but the kind of wire filter that fits directly in a wide mouthed jar is so freaking helpful since all you have to do is pull the strainer out and dump the grounds later on.
  3. Pour coffee grounds in your jar (I say 26 oz, but I mean the kind that reads up to 24 and has some space at the top) and slowly cover with cold water, making sure to move the jar without tilting to get maximum water coverage without shaking around the grounds (again, no idea why/ if this really matters but the Cool Kids said it so here I am). If you do it slowly enough, you’ll strat to see beautiful layers form like when a nitro cold brew is being poured. As you can see in the top pic. Put your cap on and ignore this magnificent layered coffee for at least 12 hours!
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4. Two options at this point in our own version of Choose Your Own Adventure:

A. Remove your filter, grounds included, dump them, rinse the filter out and enjoy!

B. Use a fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or other straining method to remove grounds. I like to strain twice with this method just in case. 

5. To enjoy: add ice cubes (see note below to make it even better), and milk/milk alternative. With espresso beans I treat this like a latte, and fill up a cup with ice and add lots of milk before pouring two or three ounces of espresso over the top. With a lighter coffee bean I’ll add less milk and more coffee. If you drink it black you may decide to add some water, but otherwise I highly discourage watering down this excellent caffeine hit!  

 

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A few notes: you could freeze one batch of this for coffee/espresso ice cubes (pictured at right), or add flavors to it while steeping. I tried vanilla beans and wasn’t pleased with the results (no real vanilla taste, would have been better to just add syrup layer), but if you have success with other flavors I’d love to hear how! 

Am I A Fucking Chef or What

 ...or what isn't a real option, by the by.

Coming back to the cooking section here in a big way to share my most recent success, where I made a restaurant quality dinner for a third of the price - and with real portions! Honestly going somewhere where you order scallops and they give you a big ass plate with three fat suckers on it is offensive. Like how am I paying you a dollar per scallop? Why did Yelp lie to me? Can I please have my money back, sir?

I'd always wanted to make scallops and risotto, but two things stopped me: price (for the former), and effort (for the latter). I circumvented the first by finding some great looking day boat scallops at Whole Foods one day that were the same price as a giant frozen pack, and the latter I dealt with by pulling up a great show on my iPad (currently rewatching Leverage since I know you care). With those issues resolved, this was a dinner with a pretty quick turnaround and loads of compliments.

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With that, prepare to impress your significant others, wannabe in-laws, wannabe significant others and, I don't know, your bosses? If for some reason you're hosting a fancy give-me-a-raise dinner party? Actually that's not a bad idea - anyway, prepare to impress the world with simple seared scallops and risotto.

 

Serves : 4

Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients

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  • 2 pounds scallops - I went fresh, with day boat scallops that looked great, but feel to grab bigger or different ones depending on what's available that day
  • 1 knob, as the British say, of butter (maybe 1 1/2 tbsp?)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus, broccoli, or green veggie that can roast well
  • 1 cup white wine - I just used what I was drinking 🙃 
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • Chicken stock  
  • salt & pepper for seasoning 

Instructions

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  1. Rinse under cold water and thoroughly - like with plenty of paper towels - dry each scallop. I like to legit put two paper towels on each hand and press my hands together after the initial dry. Lay on a sheet of paper towels to dry more (otherwise your sear will be worthless; is my point coming through yet?) and then sprinkle well with s&p.
  2. Using your hands (duh), hold each end of an asparagus stalk and bend, until the old shit breaks off. Put all the good stuff in a foil pan for zero cleanup and zero shits, add a little bit (maybe a teaspoon) of olive oil and salt and pepper and shake together, and preheat the oven to 400°.  
  3. Dice the onion - I always hold off on this as long as possible to save my house from the smell. Remember to start closing bedroom doors before you cook it! 
  4. Start the risotto; I like to prep everything else first since this needy sucker is going to need almost all my attention for the next 30 or so minutes. Take half of your butter and half a tablespoon of olive oil, and heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about four minutes, until they start to appear translucent.
  5. Add rice to pan, stirring for about three minutes so the rice is toasted but not burnt, then add wine and stir to combine. The trick here, as with the British scrambled eggs Gordon Ramsey taught me how to build, is start to continuously stir the pot with small movements. Get ready for strong arms!
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6. Add asparagus to the oven for 20 minutes, shaking halfway through to give every spear some time to shine! 

7. Pour chicken broth into a small pot and heat through on medium, then add a cup of warm broth to your risotto. Keep that rapid stirring up, adding another cup of broth every time all of the previous pour has been absorbed. You’ll end up doing this for about 25 minutes, until the rice has fully absorbed the vino and broth and has been stirred enough that the proteins or enzymes or whatever - I’m not Bill Nye - have thickened the rice to a glorious risotto.

8. About fifteen minutes into your broth-pouring, heat up a nonstick pan to medium-high and add the remaining butter and olive oil. Salt and pepper each side of your now very dry scallops like you’re Salt Bae, then when the oil/butter combo is so hot a drop of cold water flicked in sizzles, add your scallops in an even layer with some room between each. Keep up with your risotto and leave those scallops alone so they have time to sear! Smaller scallops may take two or three minutes each side, but my day boat puppies needed more like four to five. 

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9. When you've snuck a peek and like the color on the bottom of a scallop, use tongs to gently lift and flip. Try not to lift directly up - I found that ripped some scallops; instead, pull from one side of the scallop first, sort of a left to right wrist action. Then give them the same amount of time on the other side, keeping a bit of a closer eye for those smaller ones. 

10. Hopefully your asparagus is ready, and your risotto is plumped up from stock and ready to rumble. I added just a *bit* more butter along with some sea salt and stirred to combine, but since this is the super simple version maybe you’re throwing in a shit-ton of cheese, peas, bacon, or something else right about now. Whatever you’re up to, start to plate, with your scallops set up so the first seared side is facing upward,any residual pan “sauce” on top, and start reeling in those compliments!

Thoughts on how to make risotto easier or better? Any easy pan sauces to elevate scallops?

Zucchini Squash "Pasta" - Get In Mah Belly*

At this point I think everyone's heard about zucchini or squash "pasta," where you spiralize your preferred veggie(s) and pretend you're getting your carb on. As big as the hype has been, I honestly figured it was all the health kick weirdos lying about the taste to let everyone know they're eating "clean." 

Luckily, I'm your no-bullshit friend that typically eats the opposite of clean, and I'm here to tell you: I can fuck with some zucchini/squash noodles. Now I'm not working with a spiralizer, or even peeling that shit myself; I grabbed a pre-cut zucchini/squash combo at Wegman's and it was the best $4 I ever spent (for 2 servings worth). That, a jar of vodka-cream sauce and some shredded parm made one of the best dinners I've had in a long time.

So here you go friends: the ultimate fast way to indulge in cheese and sauce without missing out on flavor. Fuck yes.

Serves: 4

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons basting oil, or olive oil with 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 4 large peeled or spiralized zucchini, or 1 family pack at a grocery store
  • 1 jar of tomato sauce - I went wild and bought Sugo Rosa on sale for a fancy treat
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder, red pepper flakes and basil (fresh is fine but we're not Ina Garten here so I know what you're up to)
  • Sprinkle salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese, and extra to taste

 

 

Instructions

  1. Set a large nonstick skillet to medium-high, with basting oil or olive oil and minced garlic
  2. Once pan is hot, add 3/4 of veggies, along with salt, pepper, garlic basil and pepper flakes. Cook for 4 minutes, moving every few minutes with a nonstick spatula.
  3. Once veggies in the pan have lost some of their crunch and start to release moisture and stick to each other, add the remaining group. I came upon this by accident not making enough since everything cooks down, but the addition of some that were only lightly cooked added awesome bite that balanced everything out. Cook for 1 more minute on medium high.
  4. Turn heat to medium-low and remove pan to a cool burner. Add sauce slowly, keeping in mind the veggies will absorb some! I did about 3 tablespoons per serving. Add in cheese and return to warm burned, stirring until well coated and slightly bubbly, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add extra cheese and dig in!

Roasted tomatoes are a great add on, so would some homemade sauce with meatballs or sausage. Enjoy cuties!

 

* - "Get In My Belly"

Forgiveness Dip (Crack)

I realized my last few posts have all been very healthy; and man and I'm so very sorry about that. It was never my intention to make you suffer through (delicious but) healthy food, especially when the posts trick you into thinking I'm a healthy eater. I eat well, but I don't eat well. To make it up to you, here is one of my all-time favorite snacks. This has always been a family favorite at parties, and is one of the main reasons we have such a hard time eating dinner after apps have been served.

Oh, it looks gross? Yeah move past it Buster Rhymes (That is my joking name for Busta Rhymes however a quick google search informs me there was a real athlete named Buster Rhymes. Shit.). Every single person who has been intimidated by this appetizer looks-wise has overcome their trepidation the second they tried this life-changing dip. So move past the fact that it doesn't photograph well and give this a try; your arteries will thank you (no they won't).


Serves: 15 as a party appetizer, 5-6 as serious afternoon snack
Total Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients

  • 1 stick plain cream cheese
  • 1 jar salsa - mild is the usual go-to, but I go medium when I'm feeling spicy. If you're a spice person go for something hotter but honestly I get a good kick from the medium (although I'm a weakling). Also, chunky or regular salsa but never ever cantina style salsa here! Makes everything watery and gross.
  • Bare minimum one party size bag Fritos or Tostitos (more on that below), preferably 2 bags

Instructions

  1. Let cream cheese soften by leaving on counter for 10 minutes, then cut into small cubes.
  2. Add cubes to large bowl along with jar of salsa, then blend with hand mixer on low until well-combined, where dip turns pink and very little cream cheese bits are still visible. Cover and chill in fridge until ready to serve.
  3. Serve with Fritos (scoops are a favorite here) or corn chips (Tostito Scoops are also a hot commodity).

 

There is a lot of controversy over how to serve this: I always go cold, but one of my best friends was horrified in college since her family always covered the final version in cheese and heated it in the over like a seven-layer dip. Either is amazing, so do what makes you happy! I'm a little too eager so 98% of the time I hop right in.

Cheers! Hope we're friends again.

Change Your Life Zucchini Pizza Bites

This. Shit. Is. Gold.

Looking back, maybe not the most appetizing phrase, but it was the first thing I thought of to explain how amazing this snack is.

Now that you've had some time to perfect your tomato sauce with my previous recipe, I wanted to give you something to put it on other than gluten free pasta. Actually, you could put it on anything, or even make it a main - add a little milk and spice for tomato basil soup with grilled cheese(!) - but today, I want to go as simple as possible.

Last week I read about zucchini pizza bites - taking zucchini slices and throwing them in the oven with sauce and cheese and whatever other toppings you like. Seems too good to be true, but I wanted to make the zucchini a little more pizza-like ( crunchy) before tossing it in to cook. None of the recipes I looked at Seemed to agree, so I did a little playing around and ended up with a delicious pizza alternative. Unfortunately, I made these when no one else was home, so I had a whole zucchini's worth of pizza (read: a non-literal shitload of pizza bites). That meant that even though this was a "healthy" lunch, I still managed to feel as full and satisfied as I do after eating a whole basket of chips at a Mexican restaurant. Minus the bloated-from-salt fingers, thank god.

The final process: pan sear zucchini slices, drain excess oil, add sauce, cheese and other faves and broil. Voila! An amazing lunch/dinner/app is ready to go. And with my favorite sauce, you'll have a slightly spicy, sweet rich base that cannot be outdone.

Serves: 8-10 as app, 4 as part of a meal

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 large zucchini, washed, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (thick enough that they'll hold toppings, but thin enough that they'll be crunchy after searing) and patted completely dry

  • 1-1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar (I know it's not the recommended pizza cheese, but goddamn does it go well with this sauce, and Sharp cheddar gives it a nice bite with the veggies!)

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to pan over medium-high heat. 

  2. Once pan is hot and oil is evenly distributed, add zucchini without overlapping slices. Batches are recommended, especially if you don't have a large pan or wok! Cook 2-3 minutes, or until each slice has a little brown sear, then use tongs to flip. Cook another 2 or so minutes (eyeballing is key depending on the thickness of your slices).

  3. Set oven to broil, making sure you leave the oven door slightly ajar. Drain excess oil (maybe even leave slices on paper towels for a minute) then place slices on two foil-lined cookie sheets. Use a spoon to evenly distribute sauce, then sprinkle cheese and any other toppings (some people slice tiny pepperoni slices, if I liked pepperoni I'd be all about that life so do yo thang, honey).

  4. Broil bites and watch like a hawk! As soon as those puppies start to bubble, pull out of the oven and serve hot.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

You asked, I delivered.

Well. No. You didn't. But like the mailman with the credit card offers and junk mail, I'm bringing it to you anyway (on that note though is there a way we can opt out of stuff like that? That poor guy takes a lot of extra steps to bring things we throw out).

Homemade tomato sauce! It's quick, it's easy, and of course it's gluten free.

Now there are two ways we can go about this: the easy way or the slightly less easy way.
The former involves canned tomatoes, while the latter involves taking fresh tomatoes, boiling them to peel the skin off, deseeding them *but saving the seeds and extra goop in case they're necessary in a bit*, and then you're back to where the former was. The less easy way is delicious in the summer with fresh tomatoes and a blast to play around with if you're tactile (read: very messy and very odd texture), but if it's winter or you're just in a rush you'll really just stick to the canned version, which I'll go off of here. Sorry overachievers.

My inspiration came from stalking the Instagram lives of NYC chefs and restaurants - mostly Italian restaurants. Those clean close-ups of fresh pasta or pizza: Come. On. They eventually led me to Scott Conant and his  godly homemade marinara served at Scarpetta. The original article I read was from Serious Eats, and as soon as I finished reading I decided to make it.

You should understand first: we are a very Irish family. Sauce from a jar is the norm, except for high school pasta dinners at teammates' homes before a big meet (swimming!). I was always in awe when other families whipped out these seemingly complex Italian dinners for us with hunks of garlic bread (ugh I know I'm sorry my Celiac friends), endless plates of pasta and homemade marinara, chicken parm, and meatballs. Now I'm distracted.

Long story short, deciding to make a sauce from scratch was a big deal, but it immediately paid off. This is a sweet sauce that relies on real tomatoes, essence of basil and garlic that were warmed in oil added at the very end, and the sneaky trick I don't typically use but could really love to - butter. If you're looking for a decadent (weird word but *one hundred percent emoji* true here) but easy addition to amp up that gluten-free Barilla penne you're heating up right now, look no further. As a bonus, I think picky kids are more likely to eat this since all they see is the red sauce - the basil is removed and there aren't any mushrooms/onions/weird stuff (sauce purist rant over).

I have riffed off this recipe for years, making it this lazier version, but I would highly recommend reading through the original recipe as well.

Serves:  6-8

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 cans San Marzano/equivalent tomatoes (I use crushed or whole - depends on if you mind the aseeds really!), or as many fresh tomatoes as you can gather/boil/peel/deseed 
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 6 basil leaves (or 1 little nugget if you use frozen packs of basil, it'll just be harder to pick out the big pieces later)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly pressed with the side of a knife but still whole
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, whatever you have (we always have salted YES)

Instructions

  1. Put a large pot on medium on your stove, once it's warmed up add in your tomatoes! Bring to a boil then return to a simmer. Add salt, some red and black pepper and sugar (to bring out the natural sweetness!) and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. During this time you get to work on the fun part - breaking down the tomatoes! The original recipe's recommendation for a potato masher is spot on. There are few things in the world as fun as mashing down tomatoes after a long day (or even in the middle of a Saturday). Enjoy!
  2. In a smaller pot, heat olive oil over medium-low. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes (or what you can manage) with the basil and garlic. Now just let that baby go. Close any doors and open windows if possible if you don't want that garlic stankin' up your house for a week. Take olive oil mixture off burner once garlic is slightly browned, and remove everything from the oil (threw a strainer or just with a spoon if you're a B0$$).
  3. Gently and carefully (seriously this stuff will explode on you otherwise), add olive oil to tomatoes. and stir. I bring this up to a nice warm temperature and then serve with pasta.
  4. Now, if you're going for extra credit and willing to clean up an extra pan, pour some of your sauce into a large pan on medium. Add in your butter, a spoonful of pasta water and a bit more sauce and stir to incorporate, then throw in your pasta and heat everything up together. 

Serve with inappropriate amounts of cheese, red pepper flakes, and lots and lots of milk (seriously though if it's not 2% or whole you're drinking water - don't pay for gallons of water).

If you've ever eaten at Scarpetta I'd love to hear about your experience, especially if you tried making the sauce after!

Fully reduced with oil added!

Fully reduced with oil added!

Badass Hasselback Apples

So at this point we've all heard of hasslelback potatoes right? Like it's not a new thing to cut lots of slivers into a potato then bake it with cheese melted in and all sorts of wonderful shit. But what about hassleback apples? The worlds most amazing dessert comprising of an apple with little slivers full of cinnamon and spices and topped with ice cream? Well, let's right that injustice shall we?  Although lots of these recipes are gluten free already, the hassleback apples I most admired - and for the record, I don't even like apples in real life (not doused as a dessert in cinnamon and butter) - had a glutenous crispy pie-like topping to finish them off which didn't think too much about it until I was about ten minutes from eating time when I just needed to figure my life out. 

Thank god I'm a genius and remembered the gluten free bisquick mix we have for pancakes, which I used as a flour substitute and worked PERFECTLY. Now you too can experience the decadence of a semi-healthy (depending on your ice cream serving on top)dessert with minimal work and lots of flavor. On to it!

Serves: 6

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 apples - pick firm apples that can withstand your cutting and baking; I went with honeycrisp
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted on low in microwave
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour, or gluten free Bisquick pancake mix 
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter, diced into tiny pieces
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Wash, peel, cut apples in half and core. For non-apple-corer-owners (me), a small spoon should do the trick, then use a knife to carefully remove anything else in there without going in too deep.
  2. Here's the hardest part: with apples cut-side down, slice into the apple as close as you can to the center without actually reaching it, so your apple will end up with lots of deep slices that can be filled with your buttery-sugary mixture. The trick here is really to go slowly with a good knife, but I think even the best of us will make a few mistakes. Your cuts should also not all go straight down - on the sides of the Apple, try to cut with your knife at the angle of the table, until you reach the middle and your knife is directly over (if I'm confusing you, I've found this excellent video on Tasty that should be more helpful).
  3. Melt butter on low heat for 40 seconds or so in the microwave, then stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, salt nutmeg and vanilla extract. While you have your butter out, you may want to cut the butter for that topping now then put it in the freezer to chill for optimal effect.
  4. Place apples on parchment paper or aluminum foil on top of a cookie sheet, sliced side up. Use a pastry brush or spoon to coat your apples, although I strongly believe you should really go all in and open the apples with your hands like fans to get some of the mix inside the apple slices. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. While apples are baking, mix together gluten free flour, white sugar, then add in the cold chopped butter. When 20 minutes is up, turn oven up to 425°, add topping to each apple, and return to oven for 15 more minutes. Top with ice cream, and save leftovers (if you know what leftovers are) for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Crispy Roasted Broccoli

Happy Friday! The weather has been horrible and life has been busy, but in exchange I am sharing with you one of the easiest and most rewarding veggie sides possible. It is sweet, it is salty, and it has excellent crunch. Without further ado, the yin to last week's honey mustard roasted chicken's yang: crispy roasted broccoli.

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This is a seriously simple side: you really just need to wash, dry and cut up the broccoli - extra points if you take the easy out and buy the pre-washed and pre-cut broccoli in the prepared foods section of Wegman's  - toss it with some olive oil and seasoning, and toss halfway through cooking time. One thing to keep in mind: this will really bake down. Make a lot more than you think necessary for your group unless you want to taste vegetable heaven then be taken back to earth way too quickly because you didn't make enough. As DJ Khaled says, don't play yourself.

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Keep in mind too that this is all to taste - I like my roasted veggies with a little char and crispy, if you like yours less on the roasted side, pull those suckers out as soon as you think they look appealing. Tasting as you go is the real key here.

Serves: 4

Total Time: 45 minutes (3-10 hands on, depending on if you bought pre-cut)

Ingredients

  • About 1 head of Broccoli per person - you can go stems and florets in a ratio of your choosing, but I went for mostly florets to the tune of about 2 pounds of pre-cut and it wasn't quite enough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste (I did literally four red pepper flakes since we're weaklings)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Seasoning in the corner pre-bag shaking (oil got away already!)

Seasoning in the corner pre-bag shaking (oil got away already!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 , although honestly you can adjust the time the broccoli spends in the oven based on the temperature the rest of your food needs to cook properly.
  2. Wash, thoroughly dry, and cut broccoli into smaller pieces, keeping in mind that they will shrivel up - so don't cut too tiny! 
  3. Pour all ingredients but broccoli into the corner of a storage sized resealable bag, starting with the oil. Add broccoli, seal tightly and shake shake shake (shake your booty).
  4. Pour broccoli onto a cookie sheet lined with foil (one less thing to wash!) and leave in oven for 25 minutes or desired doneness, tossing around about halfway through with a spatula. I like mine to look a little burnt, which gives it the best crunch and flavor, which takes me closer to the 30 minute mark.

Some people like to add gluten free soy sauce and sesame seeds or vinegar, but I think these are pretty perfect on their own. Enjoy!

Hands Off Dinner Party Decadence

Or, I'm-poor-but-want-to-eat-fancy, I'm-easily-distracted-but-I-hate-takeout or my personal favorite, I-hate-recipes-but-I-want-to-impress-friends. Whatever your reason, I have discovered the secret to perfection: this lemony, honey-mustardy roasted chicken, served here with rice and some insanely good roasted broccoli I'll share later this week.

With only about 10 minutes hands on time TOTAL (unless you move like a sloth then maybe 20), you will be able to go back to your main priorities: catching up with friends, pouring drinks, checking off the last 4 episodes of Downton Abbey you haven't watched because the series is ending and why!?

Backstory to this dinner: I decided I wanted chicken thighs, because they were so amazingly tender and delicious when I made the gluten free chicken pot pie a few weeks back. I also knew I hadn't touched the whole grain mustard I bought for that recipe, so I googled "whole grain mustard chicken thighs" and the first recipe up was from Martha Stewart's website, albeit not from the icon herself. I watched the cooking video, and was surprised that the recipe actually came from the author's son when he was playing around with what he had in his place during college. That settled it; if a guy in college was making this as an alternative to ordering wings, it had to be easy and delicious enough for me to try. I highly recommend clicking on that site, which I've hyperlinked again here, all I did was play around with the recipe a little bit below but the real credit obviously goes to him.

With the tiniest bit of planning ("How much time can I let the chicken marinade before it spends almost 40 minutes in the oven? At what point does the rice I've chosen play into this waiting game?" There, planning done) you are on your way to a relatively hands-off dinner that will impress everyone you serve it to - including, and most importantly, yourself.

An extra note: I bought the biggest chicken thighs I could find, bit they were still a bit small for dinner. Plan on an extra side or making more than one thigh per person if you have hungry guests! I'm making a special dessert tonight you'll hear about soon though, so it was almost better to make sure everyone saved a little room.

 

Total time: 2 hours (Hands on time ~10 minutes)

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in (6-8 if you have a hungry bunch)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, no need to be fancy here
  • 1 large lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ~1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • ~1 tablespoon honey 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (yes again, shut up!)

 

 

 

Instructions

  1. In a storage sized resealable bag or large bowl (depending on cleanup preferences, I went bowl), pour in olive oil, zest of as much as you can of the lemon, and all of the juice. Salt and pepper to taste, then add chicken and seal/cover, storing in fridge for at least an hour (that's all I needed!).
  2. If making roasted broccoli, or any other veggie or side, start prepping! Otherwise watch your shows, pour a bev, chat with pals! At some point in this hour or so, preheat your oven to 400° and set up your rice so you don't make a mess pouring grains of rice all over the place in a rush like I always do. Honestly rice is the worst. Sure, it's a filling grain that's delicious especially with loads of butter and salt, but I alway manage to screw it up. Pretty sure this was my second successful rice-making experience in my life and it's only rice! Ugh. So do what you need to do here so your rice doesn't suck, takes more work than ya think.
  3. Line a large pan with foil, then pour a little bit of olive oil in (maybe a tablespoon? Gotta eyeball it) and tilt pan to spread. Use tongs to place chicken on pan skin side down - that way we can crisp it up at the very end! Throw that sucker in the oven for, if you'd like to get exact here, 23 minutes and 11 seconds.
  4. In those 23 minutes and 11 seconds, you can work on other sides or refilling drinks, then throw together the glaze: whisk mustard, honey, olive oil and s&p together in a small bowl, making sure to taste to make sure it's just the way you like it! Testing with chips isn't a bad idea...
  5. Flip the chicken skin side up and put back in the oven, turned up to 425°, for another 10 minutes. Work on finishing touches now or finding a less heart-rending show since you're going through too many boxes of tissues watching Downton.
  6. Add your glaze - and make it rain on all sides and any little crevices - then broil for 5 minutes; I really only needed 4. Reminder for those new to broiling: leave the oven door slightly open! Otherwise you'll be way past Nelly's "Hot in Herre" in your way to Pitbull's "Fireball" - but your house, not the drink.

 

                       Serve and enjoy!

Should-I-Have-My-Vision-Checked? Cauliflower STEAKS

First off, no your vision is fine. Second, I do mean steak in that this is an insanely savory, meaty (gross, I know but applicable), decadent dinner. Even though it is made of cauliflower. Seriously check this puppy out:

This is not only a healthy dinner (ugh hate saying dinner two lines in a row but you know how I hate the word meal), but it has everything you want: crispy on the outside from searing, tender on the inside from roasting, tangy from balsamic vinegar, a little salt to since I need salt every meal and of course it's covered in CHEESE. So yeah minus real animal meat everything I want.

And to keep the health craze going add some limes! To gin and tonic water, that is.

And to keep the health craze going add some limes! To gin and tonic water, that is.

I found this recipe on a Tastemade snapchat video a few months ago, and remembered how amazing Katie made it look ever since. But I don't really go out of my way for cauliflower, and normally once purchased it has a specific use (veggies and dip, a side with dinner). Finally this weekend I noticed a head of cauliflower in the fridge that was purchased just because it looked good! Luckily for me I had just enjoyed a bagel sandwich for brunch and an ice cream sundae for a late lunch/dinner so I was on a hunt for something veggie-packed that I would make me feel a bit more balanced.

And shit was I surprised that all three foods I ate that day were equally delicious. One head of cauliflower will cook up two steaks and a whole bunch of extras little pieces of cauliflower to keep in a bag in the fridge to dip in dressing later.

Full (and also simple) directions are on the  Tastemade link (above and at the end), but to make the steaks, you'll cut down the middle of a cauliflower and make parallel cuts on either side of your main cut (thank god for her video right). After that it is an immensely simple recipe - sear for 2-3 minutes per side in olive oil, add salt and pepper, throw in the oven on parchment paper at 400° . I flipped them about 15 minutes in then added the balsamic vinegar with a spoon (a tablespoonful on each steak) and grated Parmesan cheese. Voila! Easiest, fanciest veggie main you could ever make. Even my steak-obsessed dad was impressed.

 

Just for fun, I washed and cut up a few heirloom cherry tomatoes then tossed them in a tiny amount of olive oil and s&p. This made for a sweet and borderline syrupy side that was an amazing compliment to the steaks, without making anything else dirty!

 

 

 

Katie outlined the other options you could dress the steaks with, but I highly recommend the balsamic vinegar/parm combo for your first rodeo. Enjoy! Just in case you missed the link before with Katie's name and Tastemade, here it is again: https://www.tastemade.com/videos/cauliflower-steak

All Time Fave Soup

I love soup. There's something so comforting about a big warm bowl of veggies to warm you up, from a noodle bowl to a tomato soup with (gluten free) grilled cheese. I can't have soup for dinner too often, since it seems like more of a lunch thing, but on the occasions I do there are few things that are so comforting while still being packed with foods that are good for you. Plus, it's one of the easiest things to put together! If you can manage to not murder someone cutting up a billion different types of vegetables (seriously though I've said it before all that cutting is a major bitch), you're setting yourself up for one excellent dinner and a bunch of work/school lunches. 

Although do people in school bring soup anymore? Somehow seeing a thermos of soup isn't something I remember seeing since elementary school. God I'm old.

My mom made this soup, and it was honestly one of the best soups we've had in our house ever (including canned soups from the store and hot soups from local places we've brought home). Sadly though that means I don't have an exact recipe, just a general idea of what was used and how it came together. As with all soups though, follow the basics: throw in your aromatics, add veggies then broth of choice, simmer and season until happy. And serve rice/g-free pastas or noodles on the side, otherwise as part of the soup pot they'll soak all the broth up. Sidebar: great job mom!

Serves: 4 for dinner (with a few lunches)

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours, more if you want some real simmering time

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stocks celery
  • Half a small or one whole onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 medium turnips
  • 2 Yukon potatoes
  • 1 16oz can San Marzano/equivalent stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water (add more or less at your discretion)
  • A few bunches of kale, or 2 packed cups of spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Prep veggies (the worst part! It'll be over soon.) - wash everything, then chop celery, peel and chop carrots, shred kale, dice turnips and potatoes (skins on the potatoes or peeled off is totally personal preference, but for yukons I say who cares?).
  2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until shining. Add chopped garlic (or, ideally, use a garlic press to get the garlic directly into the pot). Once garlic has begun to brown, add onions, carrots and celery, and stir as onions begin to sweat (aka everything will cook down a bit and start to smell great). 
  3. After about 7 minutes, add turnips and potatoes, letting brown for about two minutes before pouring in the tomatoes and as much stock/water as you need (I feel like my girl Ina Garten, with whom I have a v serious love/hate relationship for another day, but you will notice the difference using stock over water here). When I say you "need," * I should qualify how much broth you'd like in your soup - straight up veggies popping out of minimal broth or a big ol' soupy soup. 
  4. Bring the whole thing to a boil, then cover this bad boy up and reduce to a simmer (in my world, right around medium). Taste intermittently, say every 10-15 minutes, adding salt and pepper as necessary. 
  5. Let this go as long as you can - 40 minutes minimum in my book - but when you're ready to rumble (by that I mean your stomach is making gross hungry sounds), add in the kale 20 minutes early or spinach for another 5-10 and cook down, stirring and finalizing seasonings.

Serve with grated cheese - I used Parmesan for dinner and Cabot shredded cheddar for lunch - and add-ins like noodles or rice if you'd like! Personally with the potatoes I think this is filling enough. For food, that is. Wine is still strongly encouraged to aid with digestion...or something medical.

*Since this post is based on my moms recipe I had to include a piece on "need," because one of her favorite subjects to discuss is how I don't really "need" anything. For example, I don't really "need" ice cream, or I don't really "need" a glass of red since my sister opened a new bottle. Ha.

 

"Fuck Your Cleanse" Smoothie

Tis the season! For workouts and summer prep, that is. It seems like everywhere I look I see ads by celebrities and friends on social media for different magic shakes and bevs that will help you look great for the summer. Even worse than the protein shakes are the cleanses - whether they're homemade "lemonade" or a box of daily juices you can buy at the store. You can do whatever weird shit you want to your body, but I am sticking to my carbs-and-dairy lifestyle. 

Even so, there are days where I've eaten wayyy too much Chinese food at lunch and by dinner time need a jolt of something healthy - combined with a treat, of course. That was me yesterday, so I fought my bloated body with a hit of berries, Greek yogurt - and ice cream - in a smoothie. Eating clean is overrated.

When you've stuffed yourself full of popcorn binge-watching Olivia Pope or spent the afternoon laughing over chips, guac and margs, this smoothie will make your feel full and keep you from popping wide open from all the salt you just inhaled. Enjoy!

Serves: 1

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries (I'd already washed and cut up mine to store with a bit of sugar)
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 container Greek yogurt - I used Chiobani Black Cherry for even more fruit (...in sugar)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free vanilla ice cream
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Sprinkle cinnamon
  • Tiny dash of gluten free vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients except cinnamon and vanilla to blender, covering tightly and pulsing until combined. Use a spoon to stir between pulses.
  2. Add cinnamon and vanilla, then pulse again to combine. Serve in a tall glass with a straw, and congratulate yourself on being fabulous.

Spring & Chocolate Covered Strawberries!


It's finally spring! Okay fine I was in Mississippi all last week where it truly was spring, and back home it's a very sad excuse for that warmth and sun. But I its do snowing anymore (OKAY just for the moment)! And that's good enough for me. 


Strawberries dipped in chocolate are usually a Valentine's Day treat, or something you admire at the Godiva store as you pick up with your free monthly truffle (we all do it right?) but never actually cave in to. Well, this Easter we made these bad boys at home, and I have to tell you that not only are they ridiculously easy, but you can meet them in 15 minutes (with fridge chilling time of course - but that's time for you to get dressed/dance to Yoncé/have a glass of white wine; whatever floats your boat).


So next time you're making something for a family holiday and want the easy way out while looking like a hardo, or want to impress your friends, or just want decadence without paying a shitload at a store, whip this up!


Serves: ~20 as one of a series of desserts (about 4 as a serious dessert)


Total Time: 1 hour (15 minutes or less hands on)


Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I went for Nestle)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (or shortening, but why not feel great about yourself with this dessert?!)
  • 1 large pack/about 2 pounds strawberries


Instructions

  1. Carefully wash each strawberry and lay on a towel to dry - try to push leaves up as you wash and set on towel to prep them as holding points for chocolate dunking!
  2. About 15  minutes later, pat down any residual strawberry dampness with paper towels. Spread one sheet of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, pour in chocolate chips and coconut oil. Set microwave to half heat and microwave in 30-40 second intervals, stirring in between. Basically nothing will happen after the first, but there should be some melting by the third and beautiful glossy chocolate by the last. Give it another 25 seconds if not! The coconut oil will Dave the chocolate from freezing down after it sits for awhile, so this or shortening is key.
  4. With your totally dry strawberries (or they'll mess up your chocolate!), hold by the top and roll at a 45° angle in chocolate until evenly coated. Lay on parchment paper in a pretty order and repeat until all are coated, making more chocolate mixture as necessary. This is where Lindt/Godiva store stalking comes in handy, otherwise you'll have to play around with the best chocolate-dipping technique. Go do some taste testing if you need to!
  5. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, then serve as is or arranged on a cute serving plate. Savor your excellence!
     

You're A SUPERSTAR Chicken Pot Pie

I hope your Pi day was full of the best of the best - whether for you that meant a traditional fruit-filled gluten free pastry or a more modern twist like a pizza pie (with my favorite Against the Grain premade pizza, peut-être?). My celebration started on Sunday, but after taking so much time to make my pie I had zero energy to write about it that night or in time to post it Monday. So here it is now! My very difficult but completely delicious and possibly worth it although I've sworn to never make it again gluten free Chicken Pot Pie!


I had found this recipe earlier in the day from a tweet linking to a Jamie Oliver post. I ignored the warning label that the difficulty was "Showing Off" (at my own peril) and decided that I would make this recipe - with so few ingredients, how could it be hard? Ha. Ha. Ha. (Evil Kerry really reveled in Optimistic Kerry's pain).

The recipe itself seems straightforward, but you have to start off by converting British units to how we cook in the US (don't worry, I've done it below for you!). Then come the silly things - I have a mini food processor but not a full size one, so I could do a little work in that before I decided to transfer to my stand mixer to add the other ingredients that wouldn't fit - very messy when gluten free flour is involved. Since I didn't want to clean a pie pan (on top of every cooking utensil I have in the house, as I soon learned), I halved the pie recipe and just placed it on the top, using 9 inch foil pans with a bit of Crisco as the base. This worked really well! If you're feeling like a Cooking Queen/King/Royal though feel free to go all the way. 

I tried a bit of the pastry crust before it spent some time in the fridge, and I was disappointed. I really started to talk up how lousy that part would be, and became quite the Debbie Downer about the whole affair. Unfortunately (fortunately?), the crust tasted delicious when it came out of the oven, and this was one of the best things I've made. If only I hadn't promised I would never make it again...

The recipe mentions that you could use precooked chicken, but being a complete idiot I figured it couldn't take that much time/be that hard to follow the recipe exactly. I also didn't trust rotisserie chicken at the store to be gluten free, and what was the point of making a pot pie *gluten free* if it potentially wasn't? It was also insanely delicious chicken, so if you have an afternoon where you're snowed in, or realize you hate everyone you know, this is the full-day recipe that will make you a star chef to your family or those other people you've decided you hate but for some reason have decided to feed.

For the crust, I used about a cup of gluten free flour that I'd kept in an airtight container in the freezer from the America's Test Kitchen How Can It Be Gluten Free Volume 2. I'm sure any flour you have would be successful here!

 

Without further ado, my version of Jamie Oliver's blog's recipe. Strap on your running shoes and here we go!

Total Time: 4 hours

Serves: 5

Ingredients

For the Pie:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 large leeks, saving and washing some of the green tops as well as the white bottoms
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 5 oz crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (recipe says cornflour but I didn't want to buy it when I knew cornstarch and water would thicken just as well!)
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

For the Pastry

  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I used ATK's All Purpose Flour Blend recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free xantham gum - I didn't have any and didn't realize until too late, so I omitted it and had no issues (there wasn't any in my flour blend either); as a bonus there was no gross xantham gum taste!
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded - use a bag of shredded or a food processor on a block of cheese, which was my method
  • 7/8 of a stick of butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs - one whole and one just yolk with water for glaze the crust
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon cold water

 

Instructions

  1. Prep the goods! Thoroughly wash and dry the leeks - I cut off the tip-tops of each, then worked with the still-green-but-not-as-dirty middle parts remaining before digging in separately to the white pieces. I recommend washing them by hand then cutting the green parts into large pieces then the white parts into tiny pieces and washing them separately in a salad spinner. Wash, peel and slice carrots, and start thawing frozen peas.
  2. In a large pot, add chicken and top with the green leek pieces, black peppercorns, and 3 sprigs of thyme. Cover with water about an inch above the chicken and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer (just below medium for me), and cover so there's just a little gap for air to escape for an hour.
  3. While your chicken is simmering, start in on your pastry crust. If you're a genius pull our your bag of shredded cheddar and skip to the next step, otherwise take a few pieces off a block and run them through a food processor (or mini processor if you felt like suffering Kerry-style). Put in a bowl to use next.
  4. To a food processor or well-covered stand mixer (seriously this shit will fly everywhere), blend together your flour, xantham gum and salt, then add in your cheddar and butter. Pulse or blend on high until everything is totally incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together one egg, mustard, crème fraîche and water with a fork until combined, then slowly pour into the flour mix while it's running on low. Continue to run until the mixture becomes a soft dough, then roll out onto a large piece of plastic wrap in a shape slightly larger than your pie cover (I used the pie cover as my guide), and shape plastic wrap tightly around dough. Place in fridge until firm.
  6. Right about now your chicken should be ready to strain, so pull out your leeks and thyme and place your chicken in a medium pot, then strain the broth into the pot. Bring the pot to medium heat and boil for about 30 minutes, when the broth will reduce by half and smell delish.
  7. Start washing your dishes! You've collected a whole bunch right about now and god only knows you don't want to save them for later.
  8. Take chicken pot off heat and leave to cool for a few minutes, until you can start pulling out the chicken and shredding it into a bowl. I used tongs to pull out the chicken, and it was so tender and delicious (tenderrr, if you ever watched "Recess" in the '90s, below) that the meat literally fell off the bone and I just used two forks to break it down a bit. Do whatever you need to to attain the same result.
  9. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add in white leeks and the rest of your thyme, along with carrots and peas. Cover and cook on medium-low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Add in shredded chicken, along with  crème fraîche and a cup of your stock. In a small cup, combine cornstarch and cold water, stirring with a fork until combined and all lumps are removed, the pour half into the pan. Heat through on medium low until the sauce thickens and everything is incorporated, about 5 minutes, adding more cornstarch mixture if necessary. Season with s&p to taste.
  11. Line 9 inch foil pan (or real pan if you're a glutton for punishment) with a bit of Crisco or other gluten free vegetable shortening. Pour in pie mixture, and top with pie crust from the fridge. Crimp edges of crust over the pan and cut some lines to let out steam, then mix egg yolk and cold water and brush some over the top of the crust.
  12. Preheat oven to 400, and place pie to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes. Add a bit more egg wash once your 10 minutes are up.
  13. Bake for 35 minutes, then let cool for 5 before serving.

For those of you deprived of a childhood...



Too much egg wash! Don't be like me (in this singular instance in time)!

Too much egg wash! Don't be like me (in this singular instance in time)!

 

 

CONGRATS! You've made it out alive. Pour a glass of white wine and celebrate your culinary skills. You're a real maverick.

Chocolately Peanut Buttery Heaven! (Cookies)

Mondays are just the worst. I've yet to meet someone in person who actually enjoys them, just seen a few errant posts on social media in the past alerting me to the fact that they exist. At this point I am going to engage in a bit of self-congratulations that I've avoided becoming friends with any of them in real life thus far. Keep up the good work, me. Hope you can say the same! 

So while those weirdos already have something to celebrate in that it's already Monday again, here's a little something for the rest of us: sugary, salty, dense-yet-not-heavy peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. We'd been in the mood for some kind of peanut butter cookie in the last few weeks, and in the past they're the kind of treat that we've enjoyed either in othe humongous cookie form from a bakery or in those little buttery peanut butter cookies that come with a Hershey's kiss on top that family makes for parties. What do you call those? Something about kisses, right? Well, this cookie gives those bad boys a real one up, since it provides many of the same ingredients but in a more accessible format. The kisses version forces you to either go all in on one bite - where's the rest of the cookie after that? - or nibble on the chocolate as you eat the cookie around it. No more! Now every bite is full of these wunderkinds.

This recipe is my own version of a ton of other recipes I found - a gluten free peanut butter cookie google search came up with fairly similar recipe recommendations from Real Simple, the Food Network, Whole Foods, and a billion other sources. I read all of them then felt I was newly knowledgeable enough to risk messing everything up by doing things like changing the ratios of white-to-brown sugar, using mini chocolate chips, and adding cinnamon (I think cinnamon is a must for cookies, even if you don't notice it). With a nice cup of English Breakfast tea, two of these would be a great snack or filling dessert before bed.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 8 (2 cookies each)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (creamy is another gross word but it had to be said! No chunky pb)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (check that it's gluten free!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon - adjust to your taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or small pinch) sea salt
  • pinch of table salt
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips - use your best judgement here. I eyeballed the Nestle mini semi-sweet chips (with a mandatory toll of one handful straight to my mouth of course)

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet (probably going to need 2 sheets) with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl (a stand mixing bowl if you have a stand mixer), add both sugars and peanut butter. Beat on high with a hand or stand mixer for 2-3  minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in egg, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon and salts and blend together on low. Once all are sufficiently combined add chocolate chips until they look as chocolately and delicious as you'd pictured when you first read this recipe (you're imagining it now aren't you? Good) and mix just a little bit more on low to evenly distribute. Mini chips are key here, so you may want to think about roughly chopping any bigger chocolate you have on hand.
  4. Roll into cookies around one inch. Isn't it annoying when people say one or two inch cookies? Like, just tell me to palm it and see how it looks. You'll probably notice that this dough isn't as, well, doughy as other cookies you've work with. It's not dry, but it seems to be happiest in it's own little pieces, so use both hands to help it stick together as happy little balls. Add to the parchment paper using your discretion in terms of how far apart they should be (trust: major key to success).
  5. The recipes I'd read recommended trying the classic little cross-hatch pattern with a fork on the top. I tried it, but found to do it best I needed to sort of cup the cookies with one hand while lightly pressing in the fork with the other. Even then they liked to crumble off on their own, so you might want to skip this step.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even baking. When edges are starting to firm up pull 'em out and transfer the cookies on the parchment to a wire rack or cutting board.

 

Extra note: There's a little salt in these already, but I also made a few with a sprinkle of sea salt on top. If you're a salt-on-cookies kinda gal/lady/person it's definitely worth adding to at least some of your batch! Just make sure to label them for your friends that are on the sweeter end of the spectrum.

Bag these right up for later in the week or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days!

 

Summer Daydreaming: Tomato Mozzarella Salad

June? June are you there? It's me Kerry. Are you ever coming back, with your warm weather and your endless sunlight and your long weekends for adventure?

Ghost of summers past!

Ghost of summers past!

Hmm. June doesn't seem to be responding to me. I don't remember being a bitch to her last year but it's a definite possibility. In the meantime let's pretend and make a classic summer app or entree: tomato mozzarella salad! 

The great thing about this option is that it's already gluten free - nothing else to adjust or worry about, just the simple joy of fresh, meaty tomatoes (I'm SORRY I know meaty is a bogus word I just couldn't help it) with whatever fresh mozzarella you can find with basil leaves from the garden - or little plant by your windowsill - and a good drizzle of EVOO, balsamic vinegar, s&p. What am I doing? By the time you read all of this you could be enjoying it. Go already!

Serves: 1 (or 2 as an appetizer)

Total Time: 3 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large tomato, ripe and beautifully red (really feeling like my girl Ina Garten rn)
  • Small balls of fresh mozzarella, or a few slices (I'm not going to go all measure this out on you for this one!) of a larger mozzarella hunk (again with the gross word but so accurate)
  • 5 fresh large basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry tomato, then slice into 4-6 thick slices. 
  2. Arrange on a plate and top with mozzarella slices, and full or torn basil.
  3. Pour EVOO into a large spoon and slowly drizzle over each tomato, repeating with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste and have a party!

Some people go full sea salt here; I'll do that occasionally but most of the time I prefer having some lighter salt that's a bit less obnoxious for something this light. It's not guacamole, people.

Around this time of year you could also just use some cherry tomatoes: cut them almost in half the long way, rip off a little piece of cheese with shredded basil to put in the middle, and set with a toothpick. Then follow your usual process and drizzle and sprinkle over the whole cherry tomato plate! Easy party play that's a bit less messy for the guests, although there will still be bits of olive oil and vinegar dripped around your house. Unless you have very well-trained guests (if so send them my way!).

Savory Goat Cheese Toast

So I'll preface with a bit of a warning: you will need your favorite gluten free bread for this. Specifically I'd recommend a crusty white, or as crusty gluten free white bread can be without just being crusty. Also! Although the picture itself isn't super exciting, I promise the snack is. It's like the upper-crust version of pizza - bread, cheese and tomatoes - but in a way that doesn't make you feel like you ate greasy unhealthy food (still love you, pizza!) or like you can't have a real pizza later in the day.

I like this particular combination so much I've had it for breakfast a few times, although each of those times I find myself a little grossed out by tomatoes at breakfast - sorry England, I love your scrambled eggs but hate the mushroom/beans/tomato part of your breakfast staple. This is seriously the most filling and feels-like-a-treat lunch dinner or snack you can have while doing almost no work. You could even have it with a glass of white wine for dinner, or cut it into tiny pieces and serve as an app for a party with people you're trying to impress. Stop trying to impress them, by the way! You're way cooler.

 

Serves: 1 

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of your favorite gluten free white bread that will hold well under toasting
  • About 1 tablespoon goat cheese
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt 
  • 2 grinds black pepper

Instructions

  1. Toast gluten free bread until slightly brown, when it will hold other toppings while retaining crisp but not hard - you'll know the best setting for the bread you choose. Rinse, dry, and cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. 
  2. Set small pan to medium-low heat, then add tomatoes. The center of the tomatoes will try to stick to the bottom of the pan; make sure to move them around. These little guys will cook fast, keep shifting them then let sit for a few minutes before taking them off heat. Original recipes I've read want you to broil them, but this is so time consuming when you can warm them up with a little char in a pan within a few minutes.
  3. Spread goat cheese across toast, and top with tomatoes. Pour olive oil in a spoon then distribute evenly over toast and tomatoes, repeating with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with s&p and serve!

 

I've also tried to reduce the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan before using it here. Sure, it's sweeter, but it takes a lot of vinegar to reduce it down and shit does it smell! Super sour and harsh and will make you hate vinegar for months. Just don't bother and use un-fucked-with balsamic - your future Dwight will thank you. 

Oh You Fancy Huh Salmon

I know I've mentioned before that my alma mater has one of the best college dining programs in the country (probably beyond too if we're being honest), so it should be no surprise that the first time I tried salmon was in one of their dining halls. And I was hooked (fishy pun unintentional)! It's pretty much a weekly staple at this point - and since it involves almost no prep and cleanup (if you do it right), why wouldn't it be?!

 

In this picture I made homemade French fries, a Brussels sprout salad I'm obsessed with, and a salad with homemade blue cheese dressing. I'm still tweaking the fry recipe, I'll share the Brussels sprout salad recipe in a future post since it is the perfect savory/salty/cheesy/vinegary accompaniment to any filling entree, especially with barbecue in the summer, and the blue cheese dressing will be brought up next time I make it! Always a work in progress with so many blue cheeses to play with. There are endless options for sides here - couscous, risotto, rice, or OreIda gluten free fries are all great starches, and steamed broccoli with lemon, the tomato salad from my barbecue sides post, or Caesar salad would be great for some fresh crunch.

 

Serves: 4

Total Time: 20 minutes (not including your sides! Probably want to prep those first)

Ingredients

  • 4 fillets salmon
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 grinds of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Line a pan with aluminum foil,  or - even better! - use a disposable foil pan. I really should've bought stock in these a long time ago.
  3. Dry salmon with paper towels, then evenly space in pan and drizzle EVOO over, rubbing in to coat. This should be a super light layer, we're not trying to swim in oil right now kiddos. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over each fillet.
  4. Place salmon in middle setting of oven for 13-16 minutes until you can flake it easily with a fork and tell it's fully cooked through (not opaque).

Some people will add mustard or soy glazes before serving - the most exciting I'll probably ever get here is adding some full lemon slices on top first, but let me know if you've found a wonderful addition that takes this next-level. Don't forget your lemon wedges and tartar sauce!*

 

*This tartar sauce piece is much more divisive than I ever realized. To each his own, but I'll be using some a jar (or whipping together mayo relish and lemon juice if I'm all out) of it fo' sho.

British Eggs

These are a real doozy. But honestly here trying is believing. Looking at these you may think, "Eh, scrambled eggs. Whatever." But no! You'd be totally wrong. These are slow and low, perfectly cooked, life-changing scrambled eggs. You'll believe me when you make them.

I first tried these during a summer in Oxford in college. Friends of mine who studied there the summer before alerted me in advance to their magical powers, and told me that no matter how weird it sounded, my number one priority was to try the scrambled eggs at breakfast.

The first few days I was a bit too apprehensive. Now all I think about is how I wasted those perfectly good British-egg eating days. On some "brown" toast with s&p these are fantastic. Part of the initial appeal is that these aren't the big weird chunks of egg you get with regular scrambled eggs. I was also positive they put cream in them, but after checking back in and comparing to a billion recipes I think it's just one of the never-ending benefits of butter! And maybe creme fraiche if you're feeling wild.

After having these in Oxford, and again at the palatial wonder/Spice Girls mecca that is the London St. Pancras hotel, I needed to know how to make these at home. After endless google searches, I happened upon the recipe that outlined the basic process for me - with a little patience, Jamie Oliver taught me, happiness is a few minutes away. I've played around with it ever since, and even though my family are egg snobs and don't want try these, everyone else I've ever met who has is a convert. 

Serves: 1

Total Time: 8 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 "knob" butter - I freaking love this phrase. Cut off a piece or two of butter a little more than what you'd put if you were buttering two pieces of toast
  • Crème fraîche (optional; and really only use it if you have it and want to be extra fun)
  • 2 pieces gluten free bread

Instructions

  1. To a small saucepan, add butter and break in two eggs. Add saucepan to burner once it's heated up to medium.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, continuously stir mixture, almost like you're whisking - small circular movements around the pan instead of big, pan-wide rotations. I watched a video where it was said this is the same constant stirring used to create a risotto (although pronounced with a beautiful British accent that gave made it sound so profound). Continue for about a minute and a half before taking saucepan off heat and continuing to stir.  Throw your bread in the toaster now before you forget!
  3. Continue the back-and-forth motion between medium heat and off heat, continuing to stir each way, until eggs begin to come together. I go about a minute on and a minute off for 5 or 6 minutes. You'll know your eggs are ready when they are a beautiful bright yellow and all moisture is absorbed into the eggs in small curdles (gross word but it's true! This is how it will look!).
  4. If using crème fraîche, add in now, then fold and stir to totally coat them - you shouldn't see any of the crème fraîche here!
  5. Butter up your toast if you're going all-in on the butter, otherwise add salt and pepper and plunk right on your toast! Pro Tip: Add some ketchup to the eggs and mix it around with a fork before topping the toast with them.  Serve with a glass of milk and a side of Kerry-is-so-right.

 

Extra Pro Tip: If you have the patience (I never do), cook on medium-low. This will take  little longer but the eggs will be even creamier and decadent. If you can imagine that.

 

Dying to go back to England so I don't have to make these for myself for once! And tell me how you like them if you've had them before, or once you've made them and come over to the British side!

Ready for the heat! Then off it.

Ready for the heat! Then off it.

Just a few minutes away!

Just a few minutes away!