Sriracha Caesar Salad

If you read food news sites, January is the time of year you see everyone making their best guesses at what the year’s foodie trends will be. You also see articles dedicated to foods and food trends we’re all supposed to be just so over by now. I think it was maybe two to three years ago that I saw Sriracha on one of those It’s So Over lists.

Ask me if I care.

Sriracha is one of my absolute favorite condiments. I have personally elevated it to the status of A Classic Never Dies, and if you ever find my pantry without a bottle, you may safely assume I have developed a terrible brain injury or a fatal allergy to it. This beautiful hot sauce is from the gods. End of story.

Thankfully, cookbook author Chrissy Teigen agrees with me. Her cookbook debut features Sriracha in almost every recipe (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but a ton of recipes call for it). This could not make me happier.

{Don’t you love my cat photo-bombing my picture? I know I could’ve (perhaps should’ve) edited that out, but hey, we keep it real around here!}

And, as a self-proclaimed Caesar salad fiend, I was outright giddy at the thought of combining one of my favorite condiments with one of my favorite salads. If you’re like me in this respect, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, it might be a little silly to be this excited about a salad recipe, but I highly doubt I’m alone here. Enjoy!

Source: slightly adapted from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Ingredients:

CROUTONS:
2 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
¼ tsp crushed red chile flakes
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
About half a regular baguette or 1 mini-baguette, cut into crouton-sized pieces

DRESSING:
1 cup mayonnaise
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 ½ cups grated Parmesan
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs Sriracha, or more to taste
1 ½ tsp anchovy paste
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper

SALAD:
About 8 cups chopped or torn romaine lettuce
¼ cup shaved Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Grilled chicken, optional

Directions:
To make the CROUTONS: preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.
In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, chile flakes, salt, and pepper. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat. Transfer to the baking sheet in a single layer, and bake until crisp, 11-12 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Now make the DRESSING: in a food processor or blender, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, Parmesan, lemon juice, Sriracha, anchovy paste, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth. Refrigerate if not using right away.
Assemble the SALAD: arrange the lettuce on a plate, drizzle with dressing to taste (plus chicken if using), then toss in the croutons. Shave on the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

NYC Bodega Breakfast Sandwiches

One of the best parts of my holiday break was a little stay-cation Matt and I took for about three days between Christmas and New Year’s. We booked a hotel in the East Village, made a bunch of restaurant reservations*, explored an independent bookstore, found some really cute bars, went to a cat cafe (swoon!), braved a bad rainstorm to get to Kalustyan’s (totally worth it!), and just generally enjoyed a few days off.

Believe it or not, I actually brought my laptop with me and had planned to post at least one or two blog posts while we were “away”, and this one was my top priority. I’d even planned out what to write – like, oh hey, I’m in NYC for a few days and have easy access to these iconic bodega sandwiches, woohoo go me.

But, two problems emerged with that little plan: 1) our hotel was nowhere near a bodega, so we didn’t end up eating any of these; and 2) more importantly, I forgot to download the pictures off my camera before we left home. So, yeah…

It’s all good, I’m here now. And whether you live next door to an NYC bodega or you’ve never heard of these even once, it matters not, because we all need this recipe. These are incredibly fun to make at home, unbelievably delicious, and a little bird told me they are a foolproof hangover cure (wink).

Sometimes, I think we all need a little New York in our lives. The kitchen is good for that. And this is one amazing breakfast sandwich. Enjoy!

Source: recipe from Lucinda Scala Quinn, found on Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
1 everything bagel, or other bagel of choice, cut in half and toasted
1 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for buttering bagel
2 large eggs
1 deli slice of American cheese
2 to 3 slices cooked bacon
Hot sauce and/or ketchup, for serving (after testing a few hot sauces, we determined Frank’s RedHot Original to be the winner)

Directions:
Butter cut sides of each bagel half. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add butter to skillet. Carefully crack both eggs into skillet. When whites begin to set, immediately puncture yolks. If they don’t do so on their own, spread the yolks around a little.
Top one egg with cheese, then bacon. Flip remaining egg, yolk-side down, on top of bacon (like an egg-on-egg sandwich). Transfer eggs onto one toasted half of the bagel (this seems to take 2 spatulas, just FYI); top with remaining bagel half and lightly press together. Use a serrated knife to cut the sandwich in half, then serve immediately with hot sauce or ketchup, or wrap halfway in parchment paper or aluminum foil for a portable breakfast.

Serving size: 1 breakfast sandwich, can be multiplied up easily

*Restaurant Recommendations:
Gato NYC
Stanton Social
Ngam
Blue Smoke
Sushi Samba
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue

Note: this post is not sponsored in any way, the aforementioned staycation was paid for in full by the author and her husband. Links are provided for reader curiosity/information only.

Mesa Grill Black Bean Soup

Happy (belated – gulp) 2017!! With some extremely notable exceptions – a new nephew! a wonderful extended vacation with Matt! a good friend getting married! – I didn’t like 2016 any more than anyone else, so I decided to skip all the food blogger end-of-year countdowns and just jump into 2017 with good vibes. Mold in my apartment has hampered that a little, but take heed, it will not win!

I’d been planning to jump back into blogging yesterday, but seeing as it was MLK Day, and this particular MLK Day seems more … I don’t know, pertinent? Important? … than usual, given the current political climate and happenings, I didn’t feel that I personally could add much to that conversation. So today it is!

I want to begin this New Year with one of my favorite recipes, one that I first cooked years ago and never forgot, yet have never committed to my blog. What you have here is perfect comfort food for cold weather or grumpy days that will not interfere with any fitness/weight loss/lose those holiday pounds goals. In fact, it might even help! And this soup is SO delicious. The genius of this recipe is in the garnishes. Garnishes to soup or chili are usually in the vein of just throw whatever you like on there, if you like anything at all – and of course that’s totally fine! But it’s just not how this particular soup works. On its own, it’s a solidly built yet kind of non-special black bean soup. But when you garnish it as instructed, the entire bowl sings and makes everyone all kinds of happy.

On a different note, I do aim to be a better blogger this year. When your blog is not your primary source of income, it’s too easy to back-burner it, but that’s lame. I want this to be a fun, inspiring, and of course delicious space, so I vow to be better at time management. And feel free to hold my feet to the fire, my dear readers whom I love!

Source: slightly adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

SOUP:
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cup red wine
3 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled, and seeded
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tbs fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

GRILLED ONION RELISH:
1 large red onion, sliced ½-inch thick into rounds – do not separate the layers of the rounds
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

TOMATO-SERRANO RELISH:
2 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 serrano chile, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

CUMIN CREMA:
8 oz. crema, crème fraiche, or sour cream
1 scant tbs ground cumin
1 tbs fresh lime juice
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

AVOCADO-TOMATILLO RELISH:
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 large tomatillos, husked, scrubbed, and chopped
3 tbs finely chopped red onion
1 small jalapeno chile, finely chopped, seeded if desired
3 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
First, make the SOUP: heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add carrot, onion, and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half.
Add the beans and reduce the heat to medium. Add the jalapenos, poblano, and stock. Simmer 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the lime juice, salt and pepper. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. If the soup has cooled, rewarm before serving.
While the soup is simmering away, make the garnishes. I recommend starting with the GRILLED ONION RELISH: preheat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Cheater’s note: a griddle pan or nonstick or cast-iron skillet works fine as well. Just sayin’. Anywho, brush the onion slices with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Grill on each side for 4-5 minutes, until lightly charred and cooked through. If the rounds start coming apart when you flip them, it’s fine. Remove the onions from the grill and chop.
For the TOMATO-SERRANO RELISH: combine the tomatoes and serrano chile in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
For the CUMIN CREMA: place the crema in a small bowl, add the cumin and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and whisk to thoroughly combine.
For the AVOCADO-TOMATILLO RELISH: gently combine the avocados, tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and oil in a bowl, then season with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls, then spoon at least one tablespoon of each garnish on the soup, laying them side-by-side as much as possible. And it’s totally okay to add more of any or all garnishes when your bowl of soup is halfway gone. That’s why you make so much of each garnish!

Frito Pie Packets

Frito Pie Packets

I know it’s the middle of December, and we’re in the throes of Christmas and Hanukkah prep and celebrations, and present-wrapping, tree decorating, and cookies, and yada yada yada, but let us pause and not forget that it is still football season! Let us also not forget how freaking amazing the Dallas Cowboys are doing this year. Only TWO losses, neither of which we will be discussing at all! Frito Pie is the perfect game day food, especially once cold weather sets in.

Frito Pie Packets

Frito Pie is apparently a Texas thing, but I think its popularity is spreading quite nicely. You basically put beef chili on top of a big pile of Frito corn chips and garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, and whatever else your heart desires. It’s awesome.

Now, I’ve eaten more Frito Pie in my life than you want to know about, but thus far it has always been in a bowl, mainly because my family of origin is made up of civilized people who do things like, well, eat on proper dinnerware with proper utensils. Enter Chrissy Teigen, quite possibly one of the most creative home cooks on this planet, a home cook and cookbook author who encourages well-mannered souls such as myself to forgo the boring bowl and eat our Frito Pie right from the Frito’s bag. It was a revelation for me.

Frito Pie Packets

And I think it’s totally brilliant! Matt and I completely loved this one. This is a quick-cooking chili (as chili goes), and the presentation and experience is basically the coolest thing ever (does me saying that indicate I should get out more? Nah…). The only problem with it is that now I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to eat Frito Pie from a regular bowl again! And I think we all know, I will be eating Frito Pie again. And again, and again…. Enjoy!

Frito Pie Packets

Source: adapted from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

Ingredients:
1 tbs olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used sirloin)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs seasoned salt
3 tbs chili powder
1 heaping tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
2 tbs brown sugar
6 individual bags Frito corn chips (not scoops)
Shredded cheddar cheese, or a Mexican blend, for garnish
Sour cream, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish
Chopped scallions, for garnish

Directions:
Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then add the ground beef. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Now add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add the seasoned salt, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to coat thoroughly and cook about 1 minute. Pour in the beer and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce, kidney beans, and brown sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chili thickens and the liquid reduces, 35 to 40 minutes. Stir occasionally and lower the heat if necessary to prevent the chili from scorching on the bottom of the pot.
Once the chili is to your liking thickness-wise, taste for seasoning and add a little salt if needed (it probably won’t be needed). Now comes the fun part – serving it! Carefully slit each bag of Frito’s with scissors. You can do this across the top, across one side, or lay the bag down and slit down the middle of the logo. Ladle some chili over the chips in the bag, then top with cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and scallions in the amounts you prefer. Serve immediately.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I have a bone to pick with America’s end-of-year food-centric holidays. Why is it that all the flavors of Thanksgiving are still acceptable to serve at Christmas, except pumpkin? I mean, sweet potatoes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sage, turkey, pecans, apples – they’re all carried over past the fourth Thursday in November, but pumpkin is abruptly dropped and seemingly considered verboten even one day past Turkey Day. Why? I mean seriously, who made that rule?

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I’m not accepting this. Pumpkin isn’t that different from the rest, and too many people love it to just wantonly disregard it with such a thud. It should be in our collective repertoire until at least December 25th.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

If you agree, then you just have to make this superb pumpkin dessert for your Christmas feast. It’s more work than a typical pumpkin pie, but it’s also much more special, and more than delicious enough to be worth it. One small change I made to Fine Cooking’s recipe: they call for candying raw unsalted pepitas. I didn’t do that for two reasons. One, because it’s yet *another* step in an already involved and time-consuming recipe; and two, because online reviewers said it made the tart too sweet. I was extremely happy with my results. Enjoy!

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Ingredients:

CRUST:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs fine cornmeal
1 tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vodka

CARAMEL:
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup bourbon

FILLING:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup plus 2 tbs canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup half-and-half

A few handfuls of salted, roasted pepitas, for garnish

Directions:
First make the CRUST: pulse the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal or wet sand. Combine the egg, egg yolk, vodka and 1 tbs ice water in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding more water 1 tsp at a time as needed, up to 2 tbs. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help gather the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased 9-inch springform pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan without stretching it. Tear any high areas of the dough so that the height is about ½ an inch below the rim of the pan; the edge will look ragged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork at 1-inch intervals, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it to the top with dried beans, gently pressing them against the sides. Bake until the edges are firm, 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake, rotating the pan once and popping any bubbles with a toothpick, just until the bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Now make the CARAMEL: in a 2-quart saucepan, cook the brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream (some sugar may seize) and simmer, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thick, 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1/3 cup caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to set the caramel. Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.
Make the FILLING: in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and then the egg yolk, beating until combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix thoroughly until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the half-and-half. Mix until just combined.
Slowly pour the filling into the crust. Bake until filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, 35 to 40 minutes. It’s okay if cracks form, they’ll be covered later. Cool the tart on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and warm, about 1 hour.
If the remaining caramel sauce is no longer pourable, warm it in the microwave until pourable. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pepitas around the edges of the top caramel and press lightly. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the tart and remove the side of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate and serve chilled.

Classic Mexican Picadillo

Classic Mexican Picadillo

I must apologize for my absenteeism, right before blaming the walking pneumonia-turned double ear infection that’s had me quite derailed the past couple weeks. I do not recommend it. Starting to feel just this side of human again = let’s blog some more!

Classic Mexican Picadillo

Unlike the end of 2015, December 2016 has been, well, cold, and we’ve even seen some snowflakes! And since I’m well aware it’s not just me battling illness – the season for that has begun, grrr – I figured some healthy comfort food to soothe embattled senses and perk us up was in order.

Classic Mexican Picadillo

I believe Mexican Picadillo to be Mexico’s precursor to Texas’ chili, but without the extra calories we all love to pile on in the name of garnishes, which let’s face it, sounds much fancier and more virtuous than admitting we made chili solely to eat copious amounts of shredded cheddar, sour cream, and Frito scoops. No, you don’t do any of that to Picadillo. The most you do to Picadillo is maybe serve some warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips on the side.

Classic Mexican Picadillo

Which, if you’re now wondering what the point is, 1) I don’t blame you; and 2) let me assure you it’s incredibly delicious. This isn’t chili. The flavors and textures are familiar, yes, but different – less heat, more subtle sweetness, and if this makes sense, it just feels more pure than chili. Not that I’ll ever say a bad word about chili – that’s certainly not what I mean. I will recommend this (highly!) to both chili-heads and those who aren’t so crazy about chili. If you, like me, adore a bowl of chili, this will broaden your horizons and introduce a lovely, easy one-pot weeknight dinner into your repertoire with far less calories than chili; and if you don’t groove on a bowl o’ red, I’d say this is distinct enough that you should definitely give it a shot. Everyone, enjoy!

Classic Mexican Picadillo

Source: The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil, divided
1 lb. ground beef (I used sirloin)
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, seeded and diced
3 tbs chili powder
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cinnamon, preferably Mexican
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup beef stock
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with their juice (can be fire-roasted if you prefer)
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
½ cup dry red wine
½ cup raisins
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
Chopped fresh cilantro, to garnish

Directions:
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbs olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom evenly. Add the ground beef and cook it, breaking up lumps until browned. Add the second tbs of olive oil and add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook 30 seconds more, stirring to evenly combine.
Now stir in the stock, tomatoes with their juice, tomato sauce, wine and raisins. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the beans and olives and cook 15 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve hot, sprinkling each serving with cilantro.

Bar Americain’s Sweet Potato Pie

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

Alright, I know everyone who’s hosting has likely finalized their Thanksgiving plans already, and is very likely already in the throes of prepping their feast; so I won’t share this superb pie in the spirit of giving you an idea for your Thanksgiving this year, but more in the spirit of giving you a break from all the cooking/cleaning prep work to look at (somewhat) pretty pictures of a delicious sweet potato pie you can almost taste. And hey, if anyone bookmarks this to put it on their menus for Thanksgiving 2017, then I’m very flattered! I’m sure Bobby Flay is too.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

I have been fortunate enough to dine at his Bar Americain restaurant several times, but never have I ordered this particular pie, or the ice cream he serves with it at his restaurant. I have the cookbook; you should have the cookbook too.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

As making ice cream is a little more work than this time of year allows, I topped the pie with a sour cream-whipped cream concoction I learned from the great Ina Garten, then topped that with toffee chips. Let’s just say, no one complained about any lack of ice cream.

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

The pie is outstanding! A traditional sweet potato pie filling ensconced in a cinnamon graham cracker crust, topped with billowy whipped cream and the light tang of the sour cream, plus toffee. Because what can’t be improved with a little toffee? Enjoy!

Bar Americain's Sweet Potato Pie

Source: lightly adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

FILLING:
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs molasses
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups evaporated milk
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

CRUST:
2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (about 15 crackers)
8 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

TOPPING:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbs sour cream
Confectioners’ sugar, to taste
Toffee chips, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, halve each potato lengthwise and scrape out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Discard the skins. While the potatoes are still hot, mash with a potato masher or fork until mostly smooth.
To make the crust, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until combined. Grease a 9” deep-dish pie plate, then evenly press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until light golden brown and firm, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Keep oven on.
To make the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugars, molasses, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and milk. Gradually add the egg mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes, whisking gently until combined. The filling mixture will be a bit lumpy at this point; hit it with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.
Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and pour the sweet potato mixture into the shell. Bake until the filling is set around the edges and the center is jiggly but not liquidy when jostled lightly, about 45-55 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until chilled, 2 to 12 hours.
Now make the topping: in a clean mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Spread on the chilled or room temperature pie, then top as you wish with the toffee chips. Slice and serve.

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Thanksgiving is mere days away, and thus begins the food blogger surge in trying to get all our pumpkin recipes worth sharing onto our blogs before the fourth Thursday of November, lest we seem uncouth, or hurt our SEO ratings, lol! Or maybe this is just me – I feel this crunch every year.

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Whatever reality happens to be, I am in fact sharing a pumpkin bread with you; not because I think it’s unique to do so, but because it’s on my home cooking bucket list, and because it’s extremely delicious.

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Of course, anything that comes from Ovenly is going to be so. While I must admit that I’ve never met a pumpkin bread I didn’t like, this one is exceptionally good, and I’d be perfectly happy with my life were I to only eat this particular pumpkin bread from now on. If you’re needing a go-to, I speak quite highly and think you should land here. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Olive Oil Bread

Source: Ovenly by Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin

Ingredients:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
½ cup unsalted butter
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2/3 cup water
½ cup olive oil
4 large eggs
Turbinado sugar, for topping the loaves

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and all the spices.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and set aside to cool (alternatively, you can do this in a microwave if you prefer).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer and a large mixing bowl), blend the sugar, pumpkin puree, water, olive oil, and melted butter until smooth. With the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined.
Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing on low speed to combine between additions. After the third addition, mix 15 seconds to ensure the batter is smooth and homogenous.
Split the batter evenly between the 2 prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops of both evenly with turbinado sugar. Bake 60 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Featured Cookbook Friday: Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin

It’s undoubtedly been such a rough week for many, myself included, but I really don’t want to wallow in it. Grieve – yes; wallow – no. Getting back to one of the more fun aspects of my blog, my Featured Cookbook Fridays, seems right. Today we have Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin!

1305w-sunday-suppers-lucques-x

So yes, I’m well aware that this book was published over ten years ago, but I just got it a few months ago. In my defense, when this book came out, I had *just* started cooking on my own, and frankly Allrecipes and Sandra Lee were much more my speed then. An acclaimed restaurant chef like Goin would have likely been overwhelming to the point of fainting spells. Now, I’m more experienced, confident, and have no problems with books like these. It’s actually perfect for experienced, adventurous home cooks, and if that describes you, I really want this book to be in your collection!

This cookbook is divided by the four textbook seasons – spring, summer, fall, winter – so naturally I focused on fall. First up I made Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta and Balsamic Brown Butter. Yes, almost every recipe in the book has a long name. No matter! This was FANTASTIC. A lot of steps, yes, but none of them were difficult. I adore skate, but it can be very hard to find, and actually finding it spurred me to make this particular recipe more than anything. Absolutely no regrets though, as it was incredible. So many fall flavors made light, but not inappropriately so by a flaky fish. Amazing!

Sauteed Skate with Parsnip Puree, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, and Balsamic Brown Butter

Next up I made a dinner salad: Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives. This could easily serve an army. I halved the recipe and still wound up with way more than we could eat. But, we happily devoured what we could, and filled up on it. Quite delicious! The squid was cooked perfectly according to her instructions, and it almost melted in your mouth. The salty flavors of the chorizo and olives punctuated the spinach and squid for a perfect balance of flavors.

Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo, and Black Olives

After that, I made… another salad. This one was a Warm Kabocha Squash Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Manchego, and Pecans. After halving this recipe, it was the perfect amount to feed two people a good dinner. We raved for days after this one. You’ve got sweet squash balanced with bitter greens, salty bacon, and then the cheese shards and crunchy toasted pecans garnish it perfectly. I can’t believe how delicious this was.

Warm Kabocha Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Manchego and Pecans

And lastly, I made dessert: Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with Bourbon Whipped Cream. I changed this one up a little (I know, I know!), but the recipe called for dried cranberries, which made no sense to me. In my mind, dried cranberries are always a side component of a dish, like in granola, or part of a salad, but they are never the main ingredient. So I gambled on using a pound of fresh cranberries, and I think it worked just fine. I’ll say no one complained at all!

Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with Bourbon Whipped Cream

And in conclusion, I’m very, VERY impressed with this work of genius. This book will be in the regular rotation for me. The recipes have long titles and some have many components, but the difficultly level is much lower than I expected. Her flavor combinations are spot-on, and perhaps more importantly, you get that satisfaction of having turned out a restaurant-worthy meal in your little home kitchen – and often on a weekday! Can’t beat that.

Obama Family Chili

Obama Family Chili

Like so many of us, I got up early on Tuesday to vote (but was not given a sticker!!!), then awaited election returns with a sense of calm, feeling like I knew what to expect – our first woman president. I called it quits around 11 pm with a feeling of acute anxiety, not liking where this was going, and then woke up completely heartbroken the next morning. This is the closest I have ever come to crying over a presidential election. My heart is heavy with fear, embarrassment, and mostly sadness. I feel sick every time I read another story of someone’s young daughter bursting into tears upon finding out that a bully won instead of the first woman to ever run for the office, or worrying about what will happen to their Muslim or Mexican friends at school.

Obama Family Chili

I’d planned on sharing this recipe yesterday, thinking it would be a celebration of a major glass ceiling being shattered – whatever my admittedly not always positive opinions of Hillary Clinton were, I was incredibly excited at the thought of our first female president – but instead I’m sharing it in a spirit of mourning, really.

Apparently the only thing President Obama really cooks is this pot of chili, which he’s been making since college, according to food historian Robb Walsh. He (Walsh) published it in his latest cookbook, and I thought if there was ever an appropriate time to make it myself, well, here we are.

I will miss President Obama and his family terribly. Whatever one may think of his politics, no one can deny he’s a man of class, grace, dignity, and integrity. He is loved and respected the world over. He genuinely appears to be extremely devoted to his family, with eight years going by without one whiff of sex scandal. Class, grace, and a thick-skinned, measured temperament in the White House will be abruptly ending come January 20th. It hurts.

Obama Family Chili

This chili, as well as being a tribute to someone I greatly admire and will sorely miss, is also just plain delicious and easy to pull off. It’s quite “Midwest” in style, a lovely meaty carb-fest since you’re instructed to serve it over rice and with cornbread on the side, and not nearly as spicy as most Texas bowls-o-red tend to be. Whatever your personal politics, I’d highly recommend giving this a go next time you need a simple, hearty bowl of chili in your life. Enjoy!

Obama Family Chili

Source: slightly adapted from The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh

Ingredients:
1 tbs olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey or lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped (I used a large poblano, a bell pepper would be fine too)
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ – 1 tsp ground cumin, to taste
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp dried basil
1 heaping tbs chili powder
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices; tomatoes should be chopped or broken up with a potato masher or snipped into chunks with kitchen shears
Water, as needed
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
White or brown rice, for serving
Cornbread, for serving
Garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheddar, and diced raw white onion are the President’s preferences, but you can adapt as you like, obviously

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the ground turkey. Crumble and cook until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and cook until softened. Now add the cumin, oregano, turmeric, basil, and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the vinegar and tomatoes, including juices. Stir together until combined, then fill up most of the now-empty tomato can with water. Add it about a half cup at a time, just to give the chili somewhere to go while you simmer it for at least 1 hour. You want the tomatoes to cook down and the flavors to marry. Add more water, a little at a time, if it’s getting too thick. You want the final product to be nicely thickened, but with a little bit of liquid. Add the kidney beans and cook a few more minutes. Once it’s ready, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Serve over steamed white or brown rice and garnish as instructed or as desired. Enjoy!