Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pomegranate Martini

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Chillin'

Do you know what feels absolutely scrumdiddlyumptious? Coming home on a Thursday night filled with the anticipation that Saturday is only one workday away.

Saturday! Sleeping in! Farmers market hopping on the hunt for the perfect gourd! Cleaning out the DVR! Getting reacquainted with a good book! Reuniting your ass and the couch! Kitchen experimenting! Spending time with the ones you love! Tearing through the ample back issues of Boston Magazine that you have stashed away! The list goes on…

Do you know what really sucks? Coming home on a Wednesday and thinking that it is Thursday.

Ugh. Totally just happened to us.

But don’t fret, dear blog-friends. Make these and it will feel like Thursday regardless:

Heaven's Bounty

You’ll Need:

2 cups of Grey Goose vodka
1 cup Cointreau
1-2 cups of Pom brand pomegranate juice
½ cup of lime juice
1 pitcher and 1 gigantic spoon
3 Advil

Even if you are depressed because you thought today was Thursday, you can still bring yourself to make these. Throw them all into a pitcher and stir. Except for the Advil. That is for later. We served these in two chilled martini glasses and they were phenomenal. We ended up adding a little extra pomegranate juice to cut the alcohol because, lets be honest, it is Wednesday after all. Don’t go nuts.

Real Houswives material

They taste even better when you are drinking them while watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Something about them makes you feel like you are friends with Lisa Vanderpump. More than one of these and you might be fooled into thinking that you actually are Lisa Vanderpump.

xoxo

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Shrimp Scampi French Bread Pizza

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Crispy love

Picture this: Jason at (roughly) 8 years old or so.

Hair: styled with neon-green gel brought to you by LA Looks. (Slicked back, of course).

Clothing: Most likely a shirt-and-short set by the couture House of Bugle Boy. (If it were a special occasion, it would be a silk shirt from Burlington Coat Factory and pleated khakis from Hills or Ames).

Accessories: The “look” would not be complete without the quintessential leopard print snap bracelet and all-too-cool Reebok pump high tops.  (If it were a special occasion, the silk shirt and khakis would be paired with the pricier LA Gear sneakers that lit up when you rested your heel on the ground.)

The Soundtrack: Genesis or Phantom of the Opera (playing proudly and loudly through walkman headphones).

Now picture this epitome of style sitting in the backseat of an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (completely devoid of air conditioning, a working radio or muffler) screaming insisting begging asking nicely to be taken to The Ground Round for dinner. For Jason, The Ground Round was so much more than a pay-by-the-pound pork chop dinner. It was even more than the bottomless bowl of popcorn or back-to-back Betty Boop cartoons.

It was where he discovered parsley.

Don't hate, appreciate!

The Ground Round had a penchant for trying to be more fancy than it was and to accomplish this, they plopped a bouquet of parsley in the white space beside the baked potato and pork chop as if to say, “Hey, parents! We could have offered your kid a second side dish to fill this space, but since we are only charging you 62 cents for this meal, you’ll get a garnish instead.”

Jason would stare quizzically at the mound of stiff greens.

“It’s a garnish, darling. No one is supposed to eat it,” said a wise relative who watched as the young and awkward Jason stared longingly and curiously at the questionably fresh plant. It was sad to think that it served no purpose.

It was an impossible thought, to have something on the plate that wasn’t edible. It was almost insulting. There was no way young Jason could let this go to waste. So it was decided. That night, it wouldn’t. In an uncharacteristically bold and confident move, the young man brought the parsley to his mouth and devoured the entire stem.

From that moment on, parsley was more than just a garnish that wasn’t supposed to be eaten. It had a distinct taste that wasn’t horrible, but just needed a meaningful relationship.

The short of it: parsley is misunderstood. Parsley is unappreciated. Parsley developed a complex from all this hate. Be nice to parsley. So make this quick little treat and make some parsley’s dreams come true (ps, thanks shutterbean!):

You’ll need:

1 loaf of ciabatta bread or French baguette
12 cloves of garlic
15 oz of ricotta cheese
1-2 lbs of cooked shrimp
1 bunch of fresh parsley
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes

Now when you go to the grocery store, please note that 12 cloves of garlic does not mean that you need to buy twelve bulbs of garlic. Oh no! Two should do it. After all, it’s what is on the inside that counts and you will get more than 12 from two bulbs.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. This is by far the hottest we ever asked our oven to get and we weren’t sure how she would react. She did not explode. This doesn’t mean that yours won’t.

Meanwhile, smash up 8 of your garlic cloves and sauté them in olive oil. They should get all nice and brown and look like this. DON’T burn them. Burnt garlic is yucky.

Garlic breath, baby!

Scoop them out once they are brown (but keep the oil in the pan, so use a spoon with holes) and transfer them into the food processor. They will take a tumble in here with a handful of parsley until blended. Remove ¼ cup of the mixture and set it aside. We’d recommend adding some scallions or red onions to add a little spice.

Then add the ricotta and parmesan cheese to the processor. Ricotta cheese is an interesting substance. Not quite cheese and not quite yogurt. It’s a cheesegurt.

All over it like parsley on shrimp

Meanwhile, back in the pan of oil, you should mince your remaining garlic and add the red pepper flakes.. Cook for a little while until the garlic browns and then add shrimp. If you buy cooked shrimp like we did, it goes much faster. Once the shrimp is warm, add the ¼ cup of parsley mixture that you set aside and stir.

Turn your attention to the lovely loaf of ciabatta bread.

Yummers.

A little extra cheese on top never hurt anyone

Cut it in half length wise and then cut in half again, leaving you with four nice sized pizza crusts. Spread the cheesegurt onto the bread and top with the shrimp. Sprinkle a little more parmesan on top.  Bake in your exceedingly-warm-almost-dangerously-hot-oven for 20 minutes until the bread is crunchy.

To enjoy to the fullest extent, step into your LA Gear light up sneakers, slick your hair back, turn on some vintage Betty Boop to make up for lost time.

You owe it to parsley.

xoxo

Ridiculously Yummy Chocolate Marshmallow Cupcakes

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Um, yum. You'll need a moment alone with these.

We really didn’t need a reason to bake 24 cupcakes.

We could have easily baked these in secret, not blogged or photographed the evidence and devoured them swiftly before the week was over. You wouldn’t have known the difference. The old adage is to “dress a size up to look a size down,” and that’s exactly what we would have done until the bloat went away from our secret cupcake eating frenzy.

You would have been none the wiser.

Thankfully for us a reason came up to publically announce the birth of these little darlings! A very talented cupcake-maker friend of Mark’s was turning another year older. We have certainly benefitted from her baking talents in the past and it only made sense to return the favor by baking her treats in return.

So we kicked it up a notch. Like mega. Because after all, what do you bake a cupcake-making magician? Answer: Something with a wad of uncooked cookie dough in the middle, that’s what.

Now don’t say it. You won’t get salmonella because the binding agent in the dough is peanut butter, not raw egg, so life is good. For this recipe, there are quite a few steps so clear your schedule and turn on some Amy Winehouse. Pour a glass of malbec. And be prepared: you will be covered in homemade marshmallow.

You will want to start with the cupcakes first. And no matter how tired you are, do not settle for cupcakes from a box. Duncan Heinz is perfect if you are depressed and pressed for time, but this recipe is too classy for the box stuff. Splurge. Splurge and they will look like this:

Amazeballs

While the cupcakes cooled in the pan, things got real intense in the kitchen. Did you know if you simmer some water in a pan, drop a bowl on top of the pan and mix together a bunch of stuff it the bowl it will become a marshmallow? Totally true.

We know that because we are hardcore marshmallow makers. Now the original recipe says not to add the vanilla until it is in the mixer but we were tired and lazy and added it while the mixture was in the bowl simmering over the water. Newsflash, it made no difference. It still ended up gooey and delicious and all over our faces:

Depressed? Just grab a spoon.

Then you can make the cookie dough. You should double the recipe because you will eat about half of it before they ever make it onto the cupcakes. Plan ahead.

All we need is a spoon and the Grey Gardens DVD

After your cupcakes have cooled, take a knife and cut a small hole out of the center so that the tiny ball of cookie dough can rest safely inside without rolling off and taking the entire topping with it. Rest easy, ball of dough, because we are about to bury you in a marshmallow grave.

Lucky ball of dough.

Jason ate these four before they even got frosted.

This is where it gets messy. We couldn’t take any pictures of this next step because we were totally covered in marshmallow but allow us set the scene: two gays that hate getting dirty trying to fill a pastry bag with a cement-like substance with the goal of squeezing it out of a tiny hole and onto a cupcake in a neat and organic swirl. It was everywhere.

But we did it! And then you stick them under the broiler long enough to toast them to perfection. Please dear God, refrain from burning them.

Totally tubular when toasted

Our lovely neighbor holding one proudly.

Our dear friend Siobhan (hiya, Shiv!) came over to taste test these lovely wonders. She makes an excellent hand model, eh? Such a lovely person enjoying a lovely cupcake. Wicked perf! Life is good…

..and so is being obligated to eat a few so the batch will fit in the tupperware container.

xoxo

Baked Eggplant Fingers

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Did you know that sliced eggplants kinda smell like bananas?

Three separate times this month people have excitedly reminded us that football season is here.  What typically follows is a mildly awkward silence where we try to remember if football was the one with the brown ball or the orange one. There may even be a blank stare or two until the other person realizes that we do not share in their excitement, but do appreciate the effort regardless.

Now had these chit-chatters reminded us instead that the fall placemats were on sale at Kohls, or that we could finally buy leaf shaped cookie cutters from Crate and Barrel, then we would have had a more of a two-way conversation. That conversation may have even evolved into the three of us driving to Bed, Bath and Beyond where we would share with them our stash of 20% off coupons. It would have been a great day of frivolity that would end with chicken burritos and margaritas at Border Café. If there was still time, we would have them over and watch Glee together.

One thing we love about people that like sports is that they know how to throw a party. Nachos, beer, chicken wings, chex mix and mozzarella sticks! How wonderful!

Friends have been kind enough to invite us to Superbowl parties in the past and they are a hoot and a half. Mostly we like them because after the sports fans retreat to the living room, we are free to polish off the cheese and cracker plate in the kitchen.

By the way, if you eat an entire brick of brie and no one witnesses it, did it really happen?

We’ would TOTALLY go back to a football party if you would invite us to yours. If you did invite us, we would bring these stunning little munchies:

Not our best staging job, but you get the point.

What we like most about this recipe is that you can pretty much eyeball the measurements. Just make sure you have plenty of freshly grated parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, olive oil, marinara sauce and Italian breadcrumbs.

That’s it. How cheerful!

You should start by taking two medium sized eggplants and cutting them in half, and then the halves in strips. You might be able to get 4 strips per half depending on the size.

Well, that’s a lie. You should start by preheating the oven to 450. If you don’t start there you will find yourself dripping in raw egg trying to turn on the oven with your elbow.

In one bowl, drizzle the chopped eggplant with oil, salt and pepper. In a second bowl, add two egg whites. In a third bowl, add breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

At the end of your little assembly line of bowls, cover a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper. Then toss the eggplant in the egg whites, coat it with the breadcrumb mixture and space out evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes on each side (or until golden brown) and serve with warm marinara sauce.

They're baked, not fried! But fried would make them good too!

They come out crunchy but tender! If we could do one thing over again, we would have removed the skin. They weren’t horrible but just a personal preference.

Then serve to the hungry football fans. They will distract all of the straight men while you eat that brick of brie unnoticed in the corner.

xoxo

Roquefort Cheese Souffle

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Yummers

Summer is over in our household and today it was made official. Our once fragrant and proud basil; the custard-yellow begonia; and the once promising habanero pepper that populated our small patio garden are now resting quietly at the bottom of a black opaque trash bag. But I think our plants knew that they were in the sunset of their lives, so it’s all good. After all, we have more basil than we need and the peppers amounted to nothing more than three misshapen red acorns, so it was obvious to them that they were on borrowed time.

If this were a typical blog entry, we would tell you how we used the leftover basil to create a fabulous caprese panini. Then we would go on to tell you that those little acorn shaped peppers (albeit a bunch of stunted runts) could be used in some miniature taco. All would be well with the world and our organic friends wouldn’t have died in vain.

But not today! They really are in the trash and you need to come to terms with it, dear blog-friends.

R.I.P

With our sustainable garden in the dump, we needed to make other dinner arrangements. Since our last 30 minutes before we fall asleep is dedicated to watching Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network, we tend to default to her recipes when stumped for ideas.

And then it hit us. The soufflé!

We have always wanted to whip cream of tartar and egg whites in the mixer until they puff into a creamy mound of white magic. This little recipe gave us the perfect opportunity to do that AND toss in some butter and cheese too.

Um, perf! Sign us up.

This is a photo of 6 eggs in a bowl

Before you head to the store and get everything Ina tells you to get, set aside some eggs in a bowl so they get to room temperature. You won’t regret it. Not sure why, but Ina says so and you don’t ignore Ina.

The first step is to butter a souffle dish and sprinkle it with grated parmesan cheese. We recommend buying a wedge and grating it yourself. After all, you need to go to the cheese section for the Roquefort anyway, so go the extra mile.

We went overboard. You don't need this much.

BY THE WAY. Did you know that Roquefort cheese comes from a sheep?! Not just any sheep but French sheep so they are uber cultured and slightly rude.

We digress.

After you shred the cheese, you should take a handful or two and dump place it in your mouth. There is nothing like shredded parmesan cheese. It will go all over the floor and you will pause to assess if picking it up and eating it would be crossing some sort of line. It wouldn’t. BTDT (been there, done that).

Tangent. Sorry.

Look! We're prepped!

We recommend setting up all of the ingredients for this recipe and cleaning up as you go. There are a lot of things to add and some steps have to move quickly, so the more prepared you are the better. You can buy cute little prep bowls from Crate and Barrel. On sale now. But don’t go now. Finish reading first.

Sir Mix-a-lot

After melting some butter and adding some other treats to the pan, you can add the Roquefort and parmesan cheese to create a fantastic cheese sauce that is good enough to use as a topping for nachos. The mixture has a tangy pungency to it and it is divine. Keep stirring until it is completely blended and dump it into a bowl so it doesn’t continue to cook in the same pan while you set it aside.

Then we move on to the really fun part. Egg whites and 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar. As a side note, did you know that cream of tartar is a crystallized byproduct of making wine? We love it already. But when you add these ingredients together and let the kitchenaid mixer show them who is boss, it has a really remarkable result. The cream of tartar acts like prozac for the egg whites and stabilizes their pissy mood, allowing them to bulk up.

Wine crystals and egg whites. Who knew?

Like clean, sweet snow.

Then comes the art of “folding” the meringue into the bowl of cheesy bliss that you created a moment ago. There was some discussion between us on how to properly “fold,” but we decided that a gentle rolling with a spatula (from the center of the bowl to the edge) until the cheese lightly coated the white clouds was the way to go.

But don’t deflate the fluffy meringue. Then you are stuck with cheese for nachos.

When you are satisfied with your folding job, you can transfer the mixture into the souffle bowl and make a small circle in the center of the souffle with your spatula so it doesn’t collapse in on itself. You’ve come too far for it to fall in on itself.

After you toss it in the oven you will doubt that you did everything correctly. You will wait for it to collapse in on itself and leave you with a pizza for dinner. Hell, you will expect it and already start looking at takeout menus.

But DON’T! She will rise and you will have a fluffy, smoky, fragrant dinner. Think of it as a light quiche and not as a rude French sheep.

You should serve it with something equally as light. Like tomatoes and some of that basil that we just threw away.

xoxo

Almond & Blackberry Smoothie

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Purple is the new black

Do you want to know what today was made for? We will tell you:

–       Socks that don’t match

–       Sweatpants that you have had since college

–       A hoodie that you have had since grad school

–       Slippers that know the shape of your feet

–       Season Six (part one) of Sex and the City

–       A book of poems that make you smile (think Shel Silverstein)

–       A bit of private outdoor space

–       And a liquid lunch.

Before you point out the strange juxtaposition of baggy fall loungewear and sophisticated smoothies, could we distract you from noticing our appearance if we told you this was a smoothie made from a complete screw up from another recipe?

God bless mistakes. Sometimes they result in colossal issues, but sometimes? Joy. Unexpected bliss that is smooth with a hint of texture and subtle flavors that you can barely make out.

And who doesn’t like purple? So let’s repeat this mistake:

You will need:

1 cup of milk

1 cup of plain fat-free yogurt

1 handful of sliced almonds (equivalent of about 10)

2 large bananas

1 mint leaf

1 pint of Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet sorbet (you will use ½ to ¾ of the pint)

Pretty Preparation

Now pay very close attention to this next step because it is both complicated and critical: throw everything into a blender and blend baby, blend. Feel free to add more sorbet to thicken it up if you’d like or more milk to thin it out. Then pour into a classy highboy glass and style with a mint leaf and a few almond slices.

There you have it! Cheap and cheerful.

The End.

Wait, why are you still here? Oh! You want to know how we got to this screw up? Well, we always intended on making a smoothie. But it was supposed to be just vanilla and almond and as luck would have it, we got home with plain yogurt and not vanilla yogurt so our initial creation was sad and tasteless. So we kicked in the sorbet. The blackberry sorbet added a punch of flavor while the almonds added some subtle texture.

It was a heavenly and unexpected error and one that makes mistakes worth making. So get out there blog-friends. Screw up big time and just add sorbet.

xoxo

Our Savior

Post of Shame

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Aren't they adorable?!

Feast your eyes on our tableware! Isn’t she fabulous? Look at those circular ribbons of green against the cool, black, sparkly granite. Imagine them being host to a filet of soft haddock baked in panko and served on a bed of jasmine rice. You see it, right?

You barely notice the chip in one that was the by-product of so much love and enjoyment because they are just that beautiful…

…we are stalling.

Tonight we ate like absolute crap and are cowering in shame. After all, we promised to show you the best and the worst of our culinary efforts and this dinner decision can be filed away in the ‘gasp-those-boys-are-so-gross-and-make-bad-decisions’ category and we are okay with it. We have a perfectly good excuse.

It felt like fall outside. And fall feels like this for us:

No comment

Fried and fabulous.

But looking at the week ahead, we have some goodies in store for all of you. One of which combines raw cookie dough with everyone’s favorite chocolate cupcake and if we are really feeling ambitious, the other may be our first stab at a souffle. And maybe a soup of sorts. Mmmmm, doesn’t that sound nice?

Run boys, run!

But before we can do any of that, we need a mile or two with Charlotte. She is our neglected overpriced clothes rack treadmill that lives with us. Allow us to pay a little attention to her and we will be back ready to fill those plates.

xoxo