Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tyler Durden Chicken

This recipe is from All Bower Power. It's called Tyler Durden Chicken because in their version, they make it super spicy. My version is less spicy, and kind of changes every time I make it.

Let's start off with this:

Normally, I would never be suckered into a product packaged in individualized portions. Why not just buy generic store-brand chicken breasts, then wrap them in plastic wrap myself? But this was on sale, you guys! And it was calling out to me and me single-mouth household. This is a serious issue around here, because when you are only feeding one person, you have to go through ingredients before they spoil. So while something could serve a family of four or five for one meal, at my house it means having the same thing for lunch and dinner every day for a week. With this 'perfect portions' chicken, I can pull out just one serving to defrost at a time, and the rest can stay frozen for weeks. Also it was on sale. Did I mention that already?

Back to Tyler Durden Chicken:

Garlic (real or powdered)
Cayenne/Red Pepper/Chili Powder/What have you
Orange Juice

1. Toss some butter in a pan and get it going. Meanwhile, chop up your chicken into bite size pieces.
2. Add your chicken to the pan. I like to add my seasonings at this juncture - salt, pepper, chicken seasoning, garlic powder, cayenne, or whatever you like.
3. After the chicken cooks for a minute or so, pour in the OJ. I pour about 2/3rds of the way up the chicken.

4. Cook that sucker on medium high. Stir it occasionally.
5. Let the orange juice cook down until it's nice and goopey. This may take awhile. If you are impatient, start with orange juice concentrate instead of regular orange juice. I've found a good balance is partially watered-down concentrate, but either way will work. You're good to go when it looks like this:

You can serve it with rice, or a salad, or you can be lazy like me and eat it alone. Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Candy Cane Cookies

It's that time of year - time for Christmas cookies.

My family doesn't really have any family recipes, but this is one of the few. My mom made these cookies with her family when she was a kid, and then made them with my brothers and me when we were kids. And here's where the cookies become infamous: one year, my youngest brother Jeff got a bit overzealous with the raw cookie dough. Let's just say the now, years later, he still gets a bit green around the gills when he smells almond extract. I still love them, though. They're easy to make, pretty to look at, and mildly sweet. Why we use almond extract and not peppermint I don't know, but trust me, they taste delicious.


1 c. shortening
1 c. sifted confectioner's sugar
1 egg
1 ½  tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
Red food coloring


1. Mix together your wet ingredients - shortening, egg, vanilla, almond, and sugar. I recommend an extra-large egg, because the dough can be a bit dry. 
2.  Sift in the flour and salt.

If your dough is a little crumbly, you can mix in a smidge of water. You want your dough to have the consistency of playdough. I added water because mine came out like this:

3. Once your dough is mixed, remove half and place in plastic wrap in the fridge (make a giant dough ball). Take your remaining half and add red food dye until you get a nice pink color. Put this in plastic in the fridge as well.

4. Clean up the red food dye you invariably got all over your hands, counter, and the cat.
5. After at least one hour or overnight, break out your dough balls (heh).
6. Roll out some 'worms' the thickness of your pinky.

7. Twist them together, the roll a bit to get them joined.

Then place on a cookie sheet and shape like a candy cane.

7a. Alternate method - the marble. Roll two pieces of dough into a ball, then roll into your worm shape.

8. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

9. Bake at 375 degrees for 9-12 minutes. These cookies don't really puff, so you can place them fairly close to each other on your cookie sheet. They also don't brown too much, and will come out looking pretty much how they looked when you put them in.

Yields about 4 dozen. Last approx. 4 hours until they're hoovered.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Easy As Chicken Pie

Here's a great throw-it-together recipe that I came up with. I even entered it into a recipe contest. A few of the commenters there despaired that it was 'not cooking' and that 'you might as well just buy a frozen chicken pot pie from the supermarket and call it a day.' But then others chimed in that they appreciated the easiness of the recipe, and while it may not be health food, it's damned delicious!

1 deli rotisserie chicken
1 can condensed chicken soup
1 can condensed potato soup
1 bag frozen vegetables (optional)
1 can refrigerated biscuits or puff pastry or pie shell

1. Shred the chicken from the deli and place into pie pan. Save the carcass for stock and make chicken stock!
2. Combine both cans of soup with one cup of milk or water, then pour over chicken. If you want to add thawed frozen vegetables, go for it.
3. Place biscuit dough/puff pastry on top of the pie mixture.
4. Bake until the biscuits/puff pastry are ready (about 20 minutes at 375 degrees)
5. Eat!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Milk Foam UPDATE #2

I followed the directions. The results were meh. Microwaved milk ≠ steamed milk. This took a lot of effort and two extra dirty dishes, so I'm sticking with plain cold milk. I like it to cool down my coffee anyway.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Milk Foam UPDATE

Last night I posted this tutorial on how to make milk foam for your morning beverage of choice.

The results were a disaster! My milk barely foamed. It also squirted milk all over my microwave. And counter. And walls. It took a ton of effort for only middling results. And you know why? Because I didn't read the directions correctly and microwaved my milk with the lid on. Always follow the recipe, kids!

Take 2 tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to Make Milk Foam (Without a Frother or a Machine!)

Just read about this over at The Kitchn, and I'm gonna try it tomorrow morning! Though I'll go more lowbrow than a mason jar and use a trusty Magic Bullet cup.

1. Find a jar with a lid and fill it with as much milk as you normally like in your coffee (or other hot beverage!). The milk should fill the jar no more than half way to allow room for the foam.

2. Shake the jar with the lid on
as hard as you can until the milk has become frothy and doubled in size. This takes us about 30 seconds.

3. Take the lid off and microwave
for another 30 seconds. The foam will rise to the top of the milk and the heat from the microwave will help stabilize it.

4. Pour the milk into your coffee
using a spoon to hold back the foam. Then scoop the foam on top!

We first heard about this technique in Harold McGee's book On Food and Cooking, but didn't believe it would work until we tried it. Now we're hooked and make a little warm milk and foam every morning while our coffee is brewing. We usually use 2% milk, but cream and half-and-half make even better foam!

Recipe and photo from The Kitchn.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon and Pear (Apple) Recipe

Ingredients and instructions are probably not necessary, but let’s stick with tradition.

French or Italian loaf bread, sliced
Bacon, cooked
Bartlett pear
Sharp white cheddar cheese (high quality)
Butter, softened and spreadable

1. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat. Layer your sandwich - bread slice, cheese, pear slices, bacon, bread slice. Spread butter over the top of the sandwich. Place the sandwich top side down (butter side down) on the hot pan. Butter the exposed side of the sandwich. Let cook for a minute and then use a metal spatula to turn the sandwich over to its other side.
2 While you are toasting the sandwich on the remaining side, press down on the sandwich with a spatula. Alternatively, you can mimic a panini press (albeit without the ridges) by heating a smaller cast iron pan on a separate burner. Use the weight of this pan to press down on the sandwich from above. The sandwich is done when the sides are toasted and the cheese is melted. Cut in half and serve
recipe from Simply Recipes

I don’t really like pears, so I made mine with granny smith apples. I bet pineapple would be good too.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homemade Oreo-esque Cookies

This recipe is billed as "homemade Oreo cookies," but after making them, I'd call that a stretch. They are chocolate sandwich cookies with a cream center, but they don't taste like Oreos. But they're still good and they look good too!

(note: cat/cookie proportions not to scale)


For the chocolate wafers:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
  2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
  4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
  5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.
Recipe: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via SugarCooking

Sunday, October 25, 2009

RESULTS of The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment

In an earlier post, I mentioned my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I decided to give Kristen some credit and try the recipe she recommended.

1 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips

  1. Combine shortening, sugars and vanilla. 
  2. Sift flour, soda and salt. 
  3. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. 
  4. Stir in chocolate chips. 
  5. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. 
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.


For the first time, I used an actual teaspoon to scoop out 'teaspooned-sized' drops of dough. It really did help with consistency, and contributed to nice, even baking.

As for the cookies? Success! Crunchy but not hard, and salty but not too salty. I'm sure this won't be the last recipe I try (still need to try the bread flour one), but it's my favorite so far!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Speaking of grilling...

Next summer I’ll be trying this:

Grilling pound cake is simple. Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium. You can even grill the cake indoors on a grill pan.
Cut the cake into 1-inch thick slices and brush both sides with melted butter. Grill the cake slices for 1 to 2 minutes per side until they are warm and toasted.
Grilled pound cake slices can be topped with almost anything. Some delicious combinations are blueberries and crème fraiche, strawberries and whipped cream, mascarpone and cherries, or my personal favorite, vanilla ice cream and tequila-roasted pineapple.

Photo and recipe via Serious Eats

Chocolate Cakes Grilled in Orange Shells

Last weekend, Ashleylayne and Adam had an end-of-summer grill party. This was my contribution.

Chocolate Cakes Grilled in Orange Shells
(adapted from the Boy Scouts)
serves 12-15
1 box chocolate cake mix, or 1 batch of batter for a single-layer cake of your choosing
12 large oranges or 15 small oranges (types with a thick rind work best)
  1. Mix cake mix according to the instructions on box; put to the side (do not bake).

  2. Slice the top third of each orange; leave the top pieces to the side (you can use them as garnish later). Scoop the fruit out of the bottom 2/3 of the fruit, so that you have an empty shell.

  3. Fill each orange shell 3/4 full with cake batter.

  4. Nestle each orange within an 8-inch square of foil; place directly on grill.

  5. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes; shift frequently. To check if the cake is done, insert a skewer or toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake’s ready.

  6. At this point you have two options: you can let them cool, and frost liberally with chocolate fudge frosting and slices from the unused top portion of the orange as garnish; or, you can eat the hot, unfrosted cake directly from the orange. Your choice.
It’s harder to scoop out the oranges than you think. And messier. But it’s worth it!

Recipe and photo via Cakespy

The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment

I thought I found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I used the Joy Of Cooking recipe (Colin gave me the infamous cookbook for Christmas last year), substituting shortening for butter, and got the best cookies I ever made. But, as every good scientist knows, in order to publish your theory, you’ve got to be able to reproduce your results.

And I haven’t been able to. Round 2 came out thick but hard. Round 3 came out flat and chewy. And I swear I used the same recipe!

My cousin Kristen swears by this recipe from
1 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. plain M&M's
1/4 c. chocolate chips

Combine shortening, sugars and vanilla. Sift flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in M&M’S® and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

I haven’t tried it yet, but this recipe from Sugar Cooking has a key difference: bread flour.

Makes 20 - 30 cookies

2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini m&m’s (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, egg yolk, and milk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and m&m’s by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

  5. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

I have a feeling I’ll be experimenting soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Shrimp Recipes

If I knew how easy it was to cook shrimp (especially with frozen, pre-cleaned shrimp!) I would have started years ago.

Chipotle Lime Shrimp

Chipotle Lime Shrimp
serves 4

1 chipotle chili in adobo (chopped)
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 lime (juice and zest)
2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)

  1. Mix the chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl and and let marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Skewer the shrimp.
  3. Oil up the grill and grill the shrimp until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Orange Chipotle Marinated Shrimp

Orange Chipotle Shrimp
serves 4


1 pound shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
1 orange juice and zest
1 tablespoon chipotles chilies in abode sauce (chopped)
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Marinate the shrimp in the orange juice and zest, chipotles, oil and cilantro for 15+ minutes.
  2. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Skewer the shrimp and grill or fry in a pan for 1-3 minutes per side.

Recipes and photos thanks to Closet Cooking

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Welsh Rarebit

I made this retro recipe last week, and was shocked by how delicious it was.

Welsh Rarebit
serves 4

Slices of crusty bread, buttered and toasted under the broiler
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup beer
1 heaping teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Couple of dashes Worcetershire
1 1/2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar
1 egg yolk

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Sprinkle in flour and whisk together until combined. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in milk and beer, whisking constantly, and cook for an additional minute. Add mustard, paprika, and cayenne and whisk.
  4. Add cheese and whisk slowly, cooking for a couple of minutes or until smooth, melted, and very hot.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolk.
  6. Serve immediately (while hot) over toast. Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.

Recipe from Pioneer Woman

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Polenta Stuffed with Spicy Greens and Cheese

I’ve only recently discovered my love for polenta. I forget exactly what we ordered, but when Colin and I visited Savannah in May, we had one of my top ten meals ever at The Pink House. A beautiful square of fried polenta accompanied one of our appetizers. I bit into its yellow, crunchy, creamy goodness and was hooked. Just last month, I ordered the grilled shrimp at the Brewster Fish House (again, what I ordered isn’t on the menu), solely for the polenta cake it came with.

I haven’t yet ventured in making polenta at home. It seems so easy, but I’m terrified that I’d mess up and ruin my polenta taste buds for life.


Polenta Stuffed with Spicy Greens and Cheese 
serves 8

11 cups water
2 2/3 cups coarse-ground cornmeal (polenta)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch chard, triple washed, stems separated, stems thinly sliced and leaves sliced 1/2” wide
1 bunch beet greens, triple washed, stems discarded, leaves sliced 1/2” wide
1 cup red wine
2 teaspoons chili flakes or more to your taste
8 oz. caciocavallo + more for garnish (aged provolone is a good substitute, or try smoked mozzarella)


1. Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot and add 5 teaspoons of salt. Whisk in the cornmeal in a thin, slow stream. Stir continuously for 2 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to a lively simmer. Stir one minute out of every minutes for a total of forty minutes, then uncover and cook for five more minutes. It should be creamy and thick at this point. Keep it hot until you are ready to assemble the dish, otherwise it will set up.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium high flame. Fry the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add the thinly sliced chard stems and saute for 3 minutes. Add the leaves. It is ok if they are still wet. You may have to add them in batches to get them all in the pot, waiting til the first bunch “melts” a little. Add the chili flakes, red wine and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until they are fully tender. Taste and adjust salt and chili flakes.
3. Grease a 13” x 18” half-sheet pan (aka jelly roll pan). Pour in half of the polenta and spread it into an even layer. Top with the sauteed greens (leaving behind any excess liquid) and the Caciocavallo cheese, distributing them as evenly as possible. Cover with the remaining polenta and use a spatula to form an even layer. 
4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill until the polenta has set up firm, at least a couple of hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice into squares and then triangles. Brush on the remaining olive oil. This will seem like a lot but we are trying to encourage the top to crisp up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through (a thermometer should read at least 160°F.) Now turn on the broiler and cook until you’ve got nice brown spots all over the top, watching carefully to avoid burning.

The mixture of beet greens and chardworks great, but feel free to substitute kale, collard greens, mustard greens or any other greens you fancy. I served the polenta with roasted beets, then made a sauce from the liquid left over from cooking the greens reduced with saba (also known as mosto cotto, or the cooked grape syrup rendered in the first step of balsamic vinegar production). This recipe serves a crowd—you can easily cut it in half. To serve the polenta in neat triangles, you’ll need a shallow pan of the appropriate dimension.

Picture and recipe from Serious Eats