A Love Sandwich

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A funny thing happened this past weekend, dear blog-friends. I’d like to share it with you if that is okay.

We had family in town and it was important to not spend all day in the kitchen when there was important family time to be had.  It was time to bust out the crock-pot and find a recipe that was as delicious as it was easy. Then it hit me. This blog featured a great pulled pork sandwich recipe not too long ago. It was the logical choice for the occasion, so I visited our blog to refresh our memories on how to brew this little treat.

When the familiar banner loaded and I revisited some of our experiences, I was reminded how fun it was to do. I recalled the soufflé that I was so sure would collapse in on itself (but didn’t) and the cupcakes with the cookie dough middle that were a lot of work, but even more fun to try.  I remembered struggling over a boiling pot of molten caramel to capture a picture with my iPhone. I also thought of Mark’s cheeks collapsing while trying to suck the too-thick blackberry shake through a straw. What fun!

It’s been great talking to family and friends that read the blog and took the time to let us how much they enjoyed it. We were reminded how much we enjoyed cooking and chronicling it.  We even miss the random spam comments from people overseas trying to trick us into posting comments about buying cheap pills on the black market.

So…

Consider it a late New Years resolution, but we are determined to find the time to do the things that we most enjoy and doing this is one of those things, dear blog-friends. We enjoy YOU! So we’d like to come back, if you’ll have us!

Until very soon,

xoxo

Pulled Pork Sandwich (a la root beer)

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Are you more interested in the salad in the background or the mac and cheese in the lower corner? That's mean...but stay tuned

Happy Thanksgiving!

For many of you, it will begin the same way:

All you hear is the creaking of your hammock and the sound of the waves connecting with sand. All you can feel is the soft touch of your sarong as it dances in the light breeze. The sinking sun is casting an orange glow on your closed eyelids brings. You can sense the presence of your private hut nearby.

It is paradise. It is your paradise.

Then a soft sound can be heard. The sound grows louder. Harder to ignore now. You are shifted from your beach to your bed. It’s 4am. You are tired. You smack your alarm and shuffle your feet to find your furry slippers. You’d give anything for another hour of sleep.

But you have to get up and stick your hand up the ass of a bird.

Don’t worry. Your family will appreciate it. They love you. We love you, too.

Despite your hard work, let’s face it: by Saturday your family will have had enough with turkey sandwiches, stuffing and squash and YOU want something easy and different.

You’ll need:
3lbs pork butt
1.5 bottles of IBC root beer
Potato rolls
1 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce

Go ahead. Say it. Get it out of your system. Yes, this recipe calls for pork butt but it has absolutely nothing to do with the ass of a pig.  You’re sick.

#childhood

And yes, there is root beer in this recipe so don’t knock it until you try it. We had our lovely friends Brian and Charlie over for dinner the night we made this and they left here in the car they came in and not an ambulance.

This really is a simple recipe because it involves our good friend the crock-pot that we spoke about previously on this blog. It does most of the work while you watch Ellen.

Your first step is to heat the cooker on low and drop in your pork ass butt. Add enough root beer to barely submerge the meat. Set it to cook for 7-8 hours or until the pork effortlessly pulls apart.

Questionable beginnings

Drain the root beer from the meat and return to the cooker. Add the BBQ sauce and heat for a few more minutes. Serve immediately on delicious potato rolls. We served the sandwiches with jalapeño and scallion cornbread, a fresh salad with homemade citrus vinaigrette and homemade macaroni and cheese.

The result was a tender, sweet and lovely sandwich that you can cook to perfection while getting caught up on your trashy celeb magazines.

From us to you – Happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

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Swoon!

Did you ever notice that there are so many rules in life?

No white after Labor Day
No pleated pants
No scrunchies
No parking
No braking
No soliciting
No feeding the birds
No loitering
No substitutions
No refunds
No exchanges
No complaining
No whining
No moving about the cabin
No magic outside of Hogwarts

Just don’t get caught wearing pleated white khakis in November while doing magic outside of Hogwarts. That just crosses the line and is unforgivable.

Thank God there is no rule about eating ice cream after summertime. And a special thanks to God that you can make ice cream yourself out of just about anything you want. Peppermint for the winter, butter pecan for the spring, lavender vanilla for the summer, and caramel for the fall!

It would seem that salted caramel is all over the place recently so it would only make sense that we jump on that bandwagon and make an ice cream version.  Once again we rely on St. Ina Garten to provide us with the most excellent caramel sauce.

You’ll need:

For the salted caramel sauce
1 ½ cups of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1 ¼ cup of light whipping cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ tablespoon of sea salt

For the cream base:
1 cup of whole milk
4 large egg yolks
¾ cups sugar
2 cups of light whipping cream

First lets make some sweet auburn goodness, shall we?

In a saucepan, add the sugar and water on low-level heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Sorry folks, but we have a rule for you: No stirring. Let the natural process take its course (about 10 minutes) then bring the mixture to a gentle boil until the sugar turns a warm auburn color.

Molten hot sugar!

Remove the sugar from the heat and add the cream and the vanilla. Be careful during this process since the splatter could disfigure you. No pressure (Damn! Another rule).

Caramel beer? Now that is an idea!

Return the caramel to the stovetop and heat on low, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer into a glass bowl. Add salt and set aside at room temperature for about 4 hours.

Bowl of beauty!

In the meantime, do your laundry. Wash your floors. Run to the farmers market and buy a mum. Rake your leaves. Read a book. Loiter. Solicit. Feed the birds. Return to your kitchen and start the cream base.

Heat the milk in a saucepan medium heat. Meanwhile in a large glass bowl, add water and ice until about half full.  Take a smaller glass bowl and set in the ice water. Pull out your strainer and place it on top of the smaller bowl. It will slosh around, you will get wet. FYI.

Confused? Sorry. It helps if you have a set of glass bowls of various sizes that stack together.

In a new bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add your warmed milk to the bowl and whisk until your wrist bleeds. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan where you heated your milk and cook for 5 minutes until custard thickens.

Be careful here because your eggs can turn to scrambled eggs in no time. What could be more disgusting than scrambled eggs chunks in your caramel ice cream?

Strain your custard into the bowl floating in the ice water. Add the heavy cream and stir lightly. Add your caramel sauce and let sit in the fridge for a few hours until chilled.

Pour into your ice cream maker...or into a glass with a straw. Whichever.

Whip out your ice cream maker. Add the mixture. Make ice cream. Eat it proudly. Share with friends. Share with us.

Twisted!

Oh, one more rule: No regrets.

xoxo

Feta and Olive Hummus

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Deconstructed hummus...you'll find out why

When an idea comes to us it could signal something good, or it might foreshadow an oncoming disaster.  Take for example our decision to refinish Mark’s childhood furniture to use in our den. See? Good decision. Now consider our decision to eat funfetti frosting out of the can with a spoon. Some may argue not our best decision.

But today we decided to puree some of our favorite things into a hummus. How often can you combine some of your favorite things into one really wonderful creation that is just as good as its parts? Not often, and we will prove it to you:

  1. Peanut butter cups melted on everything bagels…no thanks
  2. Chicken parm drizzled with a Starbucks macchiato…we’ll pass
  3. Pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes with crumbly bleu cheese…we’re appalled
  4. Godiva chocolate brownies baked with Cape Cod chips…a vile thought
  5. Macaroni and cheese drizzled with homemade vanilla extract…could it get any worse?
  6. Yes it could: cream of broccoli soup milkshake

You get the point, right? Now if you are seriously pondering #4 or if you can’t 100% agree with #6 then we should probably go our separate ways.

So let your last thought of us be about this amazing Greek-Middle Eastern fusion that takes seconds to make and even less time to eat the entire bowl.

You’ll need:
1 can of drained garbanzo beans (about 15 oz)
½ cup of pitted kalamata olives (make it a heaping ½ cup)
3 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup tahini
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon of cumin
Pinch (or two) of salt

What is so insanely simple and foolproof about this idea is that you can throw everything together in the food processor and pulse until at your desired consistency. You may need to add a little water to the mixture to loosen it up if you so desire, but it is entirely up to you.

A little warning: tahini is an interesting substance. It is sesame paste but is the consistency of watery peanut butter. We can’t quite decide how we feel about tahini. It is a paste? Is it an oil?  One thing for sure, it’s a little weird.

Now what is totally embarrassing is that when we finished making this we threw it right into a container and fled to a family dinner where it was devoured before we could take a final picture.

So sorry! But use your imagination…it was sweetly arranged in a metal bowl with slices of pita bread.

Yum!

xoxo

Red Velvet Cake

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It's really really RED(rum)

For someone that doesn’t like Halloween, I certainly take advantage of what comes with the season. I taunt diabetes by devouring any stray peanut butter cup that might be lying around. I watch scary movies seconds before bed and then proceed to dream that Michael Meyers is after me, or worse yet I dream that I am Michael Meyers and they won’t serve me at Starbucks.

This past weekend I put myself through two screenings of The Shining; one screening of Hocus Pocus; one third of Silence of the Lambs; Harry Potter 7; Halloween 1 through 3; Child’s Play; and the worst mistake of all, Paranormal Activity 2. If nothing will make you wet your pants with fear, that movie will. I was straight up frightened to death. Had it not been for that bag of Cape Cod chips and Helluva Good french onion dip in the kitchen, I wouldn’t have left the couch.

I need something to take my mind off of everything that I put in my head recently, so I return to you my dear blog-friends to share with you a recent recipe that Mark whipped up for his mother’s birthday.

Yes! This will get my mind off of the fright fest that I have created for myself! This is what I need to forget all the blood and gore that I have seen recently! This is a red velvet cake, which in its early stages can resemble a scene out of ‘Dexter.’

Ok, so maybe it won’t get my mind off of things. Oh well. Happy Halloween.

You’ll need:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting you’ll need:
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Meanwhile, sift together your flour, baking powder and salt into a cute little bowl.

Then take another bowl, the food coloring and the cocoa powder over to your neighbor’s house and ask them to use their kitchen. This next step is sure to temporarily stain your counters, your hand and your clothes so it is better to do it their kitchen. Unless you like your neighbors, then that would be mean.

Dexter was here

The job here is the blend the powder and coloring until it looks like this. Then you can say goodbye to your neighbor and return to your clean kitchen.

In your Kitchenaid mixer cream together the butter and sugar and then toss in the eggs, vanilla and bloody paste. Add a little of your flour mixture and 1/2 of the buttermilk. Add some more flour mixture and the rest of the buttermilk. Let it combine, scrape down the sides if necessary, and add the remaining flour mixture.

In a small cup, add your baking soda and vinegar. It will react. This is okay. It’s science.

You just made science in your kitchen! You are so cool, you science geek, you!

No special effects. It is really this red.

Add your science to the batter, stir and divide your batter into two greased cake pans. Toss them in the oven until baked nicely (use the old toothpick-in-the-middle trick). For us it took about 30-35 minutes.

A red mound of warm love

While the cakes bake, start making the frosting by creaming together the butter and cream cheese in the mixer. Once combined, add the powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Crank the mixer to high until it is whipped to perfection.

Can you hear us getting fatter?

Once the cakes dry, make sure they cool before you frost it. Otherwise it will melt and slip off onto the cake platter leaving you with the ugliest and saddest little cake around. Frost the top of the bottom layer first, add the top layer and then frost the entire outside.

Oh! It's someone's birthday!

It was creamy, rich, sweet and absolutely divine. It was something you could eat with a fork while standing up in your kitchen. It was something you could bring to your neighbor whose kitchen you stained.

It’s something you could bring to me while I huddle under the covers tonight after watching the ‘Saw’ marathon on Showtime.

I’ll never learn.

xoxo

Ghoulish Meringue Ghosts

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Hey, boo!

For many of our gay brothers and sisters, Halloween is better than Christmas. Slap on some wire glasses, draw a thunderbolt on your forehead and suddenly the otherwise boring barista becomes Harry Potter for the night. Strap on some hooker boots, a blond wig and a blue mini skirt and the quiet guy at the Whole Foods olive bar becomes Julia Roberts circa Pretty Woman.

You’re trying to picture that now aren’t you? If you aren’t, you are trying to figure out why the olive bar at Whole Foods needs a full time attendant.

The truth is (queue the gay gasps) we don’t like Halloween at all. While people are out tossing eggs at cars and launching perfectly good two-ply toilet paper into trees, we prefer to sit at home in the dark double fisting peanut butter cups.

Why go through all of that hard work of begging for your candy when you can buy your own damn bag and eat it in your sweatpants while watching chuckle-worthy horror flicks? Save yourself the face paint and fake blood and take the easy way out.

If you’d prefer to work for your candy, go ahead and make these.

You’ll need:
4 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp of vanilla
1 cup of sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and set out a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Not very ghoulish, yet.

In your mixer, whip the four egg whites on medium speed until they turn frothy and then add the cream of tartar. Turn speed up to high. When the eggs begin to build in volume, begin to add the sugar at a slow pace.

When firm peaks form, toss in the vanilla and continue to beat until the meringue is voluminous and clings to the paddle, about 5 minutes.

Ghastly!

In an ideal world you would be a four-star pastry chef that mastered the use of a pastry bag in a three-credit course you took while spending the summer in Paris. We say this because it appears to be easier to remove your own appendix or to teach table manners to a llama than to successfully use a pastry bag to form the meringue into perfectly formed ghosts.

Don’t even bother. We tried. We failed.

Instead, take a small spoon and scoop a generous mound onto the parchment paper and swirl until it takes on a ghost-like shape. Our’s weren’t perfect, but people aren’t perfect so their ghosts shouldn’t be either, right?

So right.

Bake on a center rack for 1 ½ hours until firm and set aside to cool on the pan for another hour.  We used food coloring to make the eyes.

Then turn on AMC. They are most likely showing either Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween, I Know What You Did Last Summer or the quintessential teen horror film from the 90’s, Scream.

What could be better than that?

xoxo

Guiltless Pumpkin Bread

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She lasted about 30 minutes

We’ve got moves like Jagger. Can you see why?

Come in closer. Clooooooser.  Can you see it yet? No?

Fine, we will tell you. We made low-fat pumpkin bread with homemade pumpkin spice!

Take it from us: there seems to be no supermarket in metro west Boston that carries actual pumpkin spice. These two suckers would have bought a little jar of it even if it were 10 bucks, because the recipe said so. We debated sucking up to the sometimes-not-so-nice Starbucks barista that works at the Lexington location just so she might give us some of hers.

But here is where those Jagger moves come in. It turns out that only a few ingredients mixed together makes pumpkin spice!

How nice.

Homemade spice is so nice we'd make it twice

For the pumpkin spice, you’ll need:
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinammon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (allspice)

Mix all of those together in a little bowl and set it aside. It’s that simple.

For the bread, you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
All of your fancy pumpkin spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Baking spray
9×5 loaf pan

Pre-heat your oven to 350 and then grab a bowl out of your cabinet. In that cute bowl of yours, combine the flour, sugar, nutmeg, your fancy pumpkin spice, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and whisk them lightly together.

One of the bowls we had to clean

Then grab another bowl (ugh! We know! Two bowls to clean!) and mix your egg whites, oil, puree and vanilla and beat together until combined. We didn’t get a picture of this because honestly, it’s not a pretty picture. You’ll see.

Add your flour bowl SLOWLY to your egg mixture and continue to beat until combined. Workin’ it slowly allows it to mix evenly, avoid lumping and keeps it off of your counter.

You can tell that it is done when the paddle on your mixer retains some of the batter without it slipping off.

See how it isn't dripping off the paddle?

Spray your loaf pan with some baking spray and pour that liquid pumpkin mixture into it. Plop it in the oven for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Moves. Like. Jagger.

This bread was truly magical. Sweet, spicy, soft and fluffy. Our dear friend and neighbor Siobhan (her hand made an appearance on our chocolate marshmallow cookies entry) stopped by for a slice and liked it as well! At least she told us she liked it. We liked it.

Now we’re paranoid. Siobhan, you did like it, yes? If you didn’t you’d tell us, right?

Lovely landscape

We decided that the usual yogurt butter that we are used to wasn’t good enough for this little loaf, so we decided to whip up some ALMOND BUTTER to spread on top of her smooth surface. More to come on that recipe later!

And just like that, dear blog-friends, we mixed homemade pumpkin spice and made a little bit of autumn in our kitchen. Do the same, darlings!

xoxo