Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm Back! And I Have Apple Cider Cupcakes!

Hello you beautiful people. I've missed you! It's been over a month since my last post and things have just been completely chaotic lately. I started my masters program a couple of weeks ago, had a trip to Savannah that lasted a bit too long for my taste (delayed flights and unexpected overnight stays in Charlotte) and then I had a bad allergic reaction immediately following the trip resulting in a severe sore throat and a bad case of hives that kept me out of work all last week. Needless to say things have been nuts, but they're finally settling down now. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

To start out, I would just like to thank everyone for your kind words and huge amount of hits to my blog in response to the 25 Things I've Learned in the Past 25 Years post. It was a wonderful birthday gift and I hope to add more of my personal thoughts and feelings into normal posts from now on.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

25 Things I've Learned in the Past 25 Years

I was always one of those kids who couldn't wait to grow up. Not so I could drink or drive a car, but so I could be an adult. To me, 25 was going to be the perfect age. I pictured myself as having a short, mom hair-cut with kids, a husband and a house, and I would definitely have the whole life thing figured out. Clearly, to younger me, 25 seemed much further off than it really was. While I'm not where I thought I would be at 25, I'm in a pretty great place and wanted to share some insights that guide me through life every day. There will be no recipe at the end of this post, so now is your chance to escape if reflection and life lessons aren't really your thing...

Those of you who know me know that I'm not really a touchy-feely person. I usually have to make a concerted effort to open up in any capacity, but lately I've been thinking about how far I've come in the past couple of years and wanted to put it out there. I've made a complete overhaul of my life, from taking on destructive thought patterns, to putting myself out there in ways that make me uncomfortable on purpose (hence this post). 

I always lived by a few credos. Don't get too close, you'll just get hurt. Don't make too much noise, no one wants to listen to you. When you're upset, stuff it down because no one cares, so don't put your burden on them. The world was completely black and white and I felt comfortable in my little box, until the bottom rotted out.

Since then I've met some wonderful people and leaned in to the ones who were already there for me. The result: Molly 2.0. I'm a happier, more thoughtful, and all-around lighter human being. I'm with a wonderful guy who makes me very happy, but for the first time, I know that if for some reason it doesn't work out, I'll be okay, because I have built a strong but soft foundation for myself that will catch me when I fall.

Here are the things I've learned over the last 25 years that have helped to shape me as a person today (in no particular order):

1. The best friends you'll ever make are the ones who have seen you at your most vulnerable and love you because of that, not in spite of it. Let your walls down and you'll see who your true friends are.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Best Hollandaise Sauce You'll Ever Eat

I'm a big fan of breakfast. On lazy weekends, I lay in bed and think about what I'm going to make for breakfast when I get up. Even when I was in high school my parents frequently had to vacate the kitchen while I made waffles, pancakes, breakfast burritos, or any other egg dish that tickled my fancy that morning. Eggs Benedict was always a treat growing up and I never even attempted to make it on one of those lazy mornings because my mom's Hollandaise sauce was so delicious I was always intimidated to try it on my own. Since then I very rarely order Eggs Benedict when I go out for breakfast and I always rave to whoever I'm with about how my mom's recipe has ruined all others for me. Well, it was time to ante up. I tried making the recipe without my mom's instruction, for the sake of judging the recipe to a true Eggs Benedict fan.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

White Russian Cupcakes and Family Reunions

I've always gotten along better with people older than myself. During the reunion, this picture surfaced and it brought a tear to my eye. When I was younger I was pen pals with several of my relatives, two of whom, my Aunt Charlotte and my cousin Dawn are pictured above. My Aunt Charlotte passed away quite some time ago and it has been many years since I've seen Dawn. I didn't even know this picture existed, so this was definitely the highlight of the picnic for me. 

Due to the fact that I've always been more of a baker than a cook, I usually get asked to make some sort of dessert for the reunion, so I opted to try out an idea for a recipe I had several months ago: White Russian cupcakes. Because what could be better than alcohol and dessert in one?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Date Night Meal: Chicken Stuffed with Prosciutto, Bleu Cheese, and Figs

Whenever I start seeing someone, my blog inevitably comes up in conversation. Everyone always says "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" and I have found that to be true more often than not. Even if things don't end up working out, guys (especially guys who can't cook for themselves) usually find it very intriguing that I can cook. When it came time to show my skills, we were struck with a heat wave that made me want to do the bare minimum of cooking (hence my Curry Chicken Salad Recipe), but since the weather has cooled off, I wanted to show my skills. When it came time to figure out what to make, I realized most of the recipes I usually cook are quick and easy meals, nothing too impressive, so I turned to my friend Benny for help.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Curry Chicken Salad

As much as I would love to deny it, I am definitely one of those New Englanders who complains about the cold in the winter, and then complains about the heat in the summer. It's just been so hot for so long this summer! And the humidity, ugh, don't even get me started. I've never owned an air conditioner in my life but I caved and bought one this past weekend. The heat officially won this year. Don't get me wrong, I love summer, but it definitely makes me not want to be in a kitchen or turn on the oven or stove, that's for sure. Here's a recipe that my mom relied on heavily growing up for just this type of weather: curry chicken salad.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Holy Moly Guacamole!

When summer comes all I want to do is eat fresh produce. My body craves vine ripened tomatoes and lush avocados. I also love having the margaritas that usually go with making guacamole. In college, my friends and I used to go to an amazing restaurant in Northampton, MA called Mama Iguana's. They have strong margaritas and table-side guacamole. I remember watching the ingredients and the process very carefully one time. I was determined to make guacamole that was just as good without having to drive to Northampton to get it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mmmm Steak

I love steak. Who doesn't, right? Unfortunately, I'm famous for buying different cuts of steak because they're on sale and then way over-cooking them. I'm also abysmal with a grill. I was determined to make this time different, so I turned to Google for help. I Googled
"how to cook petite sirloin steak" and what came up? Alton Brown's ridiculously easy and genius solution for broiling steak. The recipe was great, but if your steak is closer to 1 inch thick, I would shave 1 minute off of the close-up broil time.

And what goes better with steaks and hot weather? A beer! I was first introduced to Slumbrew at a beer tasting I attended last summer, but now that I live closer to their Somerville home, I can luckily find this beer on tap pretty often. It's a light beer will delicious citrus and floral notes. It's absolutely delicious!

Sorry to make this such a short post. I got home from Las Vegas yesterday and am off to the Cape tomorrow until Friday. Las Vegas was awesome and I posted pictures of the delicious food I got to eat on my Instagram. One of the highlights was a happy accident. I went to Bouchon Bistro for breakfast one morning because I could see it from my room and there was an outdoor eating area that looked gorgeous. When I arrived I saw a cookbook that I own in the lobby area. The restaurant was Tom Keller's! I was thrilled and I was not disappointed in the least. I could have eaten at that restaurant every day for the rest of my life. I'm talking homemade corned beef hash and brioche toast. I'm talking sourdough waffles with strawberries and candied pecans with Tahitian vanilla butter. Mmmmhmmm it was to die for. 

The weather is hot and humid, and I'm going to attempt to make a watermelon margarita to help cool off and cheer on the Bruins tonight! Hopefully I'll have a recipe to report soon!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Key Lime Pie and Lime in the Coconut Margaritas

It's no secret by this point that I love just about anything citrus-y. Key Lime Pie is one of my favorite desserts, so when I saw a lighter version in my Cooking Light magazine last week I knew it would only be a matter of time before I tried it out. It was meant to be.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheap and Fast: Red Beans and Rice

This is an extra special post. Wanna know why? 2 reasons:

  1. This is one of my favorite pantry meals to make.
  2. I cooked this meal while wearing heels, so it's extra fancy.
It's been one of those paycheck cycles where certain...surprises came up. For instance, my car insurance jumped an extra $50/month without them telling me because of an accident I was in back in December (12/12/12 to be exact). Liberty Mutual apparently doesn't increase rates mid-contract cycle. Would have been nice to know! I also had to buy some new shoes for my trip to Vegas next week for work, so naturally I had to break them in--hence the cooking in heels bit. In general though, this meal is about anything but fancy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lemony Summer Quinoa Pilaf and Ricotta Tart

I love lemon. I worked for a year or so on a Perfect Lemon Square recipe because the other recipes I tried weren't lemon-y enough. I frequently make mini cheesecakes with pure lemon curd on top. And I love roasting asparagus with lemon and garlic. The smell, the taste, the vibrant yellow color. Everything about lemons just make me happy. ANYWHO, I've been working on modifying two recipes that were fine on their own but weren't quite right for me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

It's been too long my friends and I am very, very sorry. It's been a long past couple of weeks. Preparing for a week-long conference in Chicago, putting on said week-long conference in Chicago, a weekend of camping in the rain. Whew! Like I said, it's been a long past couple of weeks.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Easy White Pizza

I've been known to spend lazy Saturdays geeking out on Food Network. There are a few chefs who are my favorite, and one of those is Claire Robinson on 5 Ingredient Fix. Her food is simple, easy, and by virtue of its few ingredients, usually much cheaper than her other Food Network colleagues. One of my favorite recipes of hers is her Easy White Pizza recipe. This recipe is about as easy as it gets. Dare I say it, stupid easy. And the simplicity of the recipe allows for a lot of flexibility in toppings. I had a crazy day at work today and all I wanted when I got home was pizza.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Portobello Burger with Smoked Gouda and the Mexican Brownie Saga Continues

It's that time of year again when the weather gets warmer and I start to realize that summer is right around the corner and that I need to get out of hibernation mode and eat healthy! I absolutely love this Portobello Mushroom Burger Recipe, complete with lots of garlic, a bit of mayo and smoked Gouda. What more could one ask for from something that is a very healthy dinner? I did make a few tweaks of my own to the recipe: I doubled the marinade and used powdered garlic instead of fresh in the mayo, but other than that, it's a fantastic recipe and I love it every time I make it.

Now for my Mexican Brownie saga. I've always been the person who told people that if you're going to eat a brownie, eat a real brownie and only have one. Then I realized that my brownie recipe has something like 250 calories per brownie! I did some research and was able to get the calorie count down to around 160 per brownie by using avocado in place of the butter and black beans to up the protein (hence the name Mexican Brownies); however, after two attempts at tweaking the recipe, I still feel like they're not quite finished. It's a little like an artist not wanting to reveal his masterpiece until it is complete. 

They came out a little cake-y for my liking, but they also came out like bricks. As in I could hurl these at an intruder and probably stop him dead in his tracks. I'll continue to play with the measurements and promise I will post the recipe when it no longer tastes like diet food, or has a texture like diet food. For now, enjoy the portobello mushroom burger recipe!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Cooking Class with Locavore Amy Cotler

What a glorious Sunday! It finally feels like spring. And what better way to celebrate warm sunshine and bright blue skies than to think about cooking local foods that are coming into season? My mom has been a fan of Amy Cotler of The Locavore Way for several years now. My mom has been going to farmers markets and growing her own food since before it was trendy, and loved Amy Cotler's book. Yesterday, my mom and I attended a cooking class at Amy's 19th century farmhouse in West Stockbridge, making beautifully simple recipes using produce that is in season now.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cheap and Fast: Penne with Broccoli

Happy Sunday! It has been one hellish week and I for one am actually glad to be starting a new week, even though that includes work. Lock-down on Friday brought an onslaught of emotions: fear, frustration, and pride all at the same time. Luckily I wasn't alone in my apartment. Every couple of hours my roommate Jill and I would force ourselves to turn off the news and find something new to do. Louis CK stand-up on HBO helped to lighten the mood a bit. I'm just glad it's all over, although I don't think I will ever forget the feeling of being afraid to go outside or open a window.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner: Waffles

I have food issues. Sometimes when I hear people talk about food, be it doughnuts, ice-cream, pizza, what have you, I suddenly get a craving like a crazy pregnant lady. If it's something like ice-cream where I would have to go out to get it, sometimes I can coax the craving to go away. But when it's something I can easily make with ingredients I already have in my kitchen, that's when we have a problem. That's when you can find my in my kitchen making cookies at 9 p.m. Today, this happened to me with waffles. I was watching an episode of West Wing on Netflix (I'm obsessed), someone mentioned waffles, and the craving hit me like a truck. And then it dawned on me: I have everything I need to make them! And so, I had waffles for dinner.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My Perfect Lemon Squares

Confession time: I listen to music when I cook or bake. More like blast music. And more like terrible top 40 songs, not really music. My soundtrack for this recipe? "Can't Hold Us" by Mackelmore and Ray Lewis and "Heart Attack" by Demi Lovato. 

I've been inexplicably obsessed with both of these songs lately. I just want you to picture a freckled white girl in a cardigan, dancing around her kitchen, rapping or belting out pop songs into her mixing spoon. Either way it's a scary thought even to me. I shudder to think what would happen if anyone ever saw me. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eggs in a Hash Brown Nest

There are few things in this world that I love more than breakfast. Especially breakfasts of the egg and potato variety. But when that morning comes and you have to get ready for work, who has time to make a full breakfast? Unless you're an early bird (and I am not) you probably either skip breakfast or throw some milk into a bowl with some instant oatmeal and stick it in the microwave when you get to work, which is what I've been doing for the last couple of months. Oatmeal is great breakfast, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I need a little variety in my life, and the sunshine-y golden yolks of eggs make me very happy when they're smiling back at me. I'm weird, I know. But hey, it's the simple things in life, right?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Orleans

It has been a long couple of months but I'm back! While I haven't been cooking or baking as much as I would like, I have been enjoying food like a champ, especially on my most recent trip for work to The Big Easy. But first, a little update on my life: I absolutely love my job and the wonderful women I work with. I found an adorable apartment with one of my longest friends, Jilly, and we'll be moving next weekend. I can't wait to get my belongings out of storage and get settled. I also can't wait to wake up and see this handsome face every morning again:
Okay, enough with the cat lady talk. I decided that since this is a food blog and all, I should write about the places I visit and what I eat while I'm there. When I first started this blog I never imagined I would be traveling nearly as much as I will be in the future, but it's all food after all!