July 18, 2014

Horseradish Dill Coleslaw

I love the idea of coleslaw, but rarely the execution of it.  In theory, coleslaw should be an amazing summer side dish – fresh vegetables, still crunchy, with some slight tang… perfect for those warm summer picnics.  Most of the time, however, I think it’s too sweet, too runny, and not crunchy enough.  A few years ago, I was at a restaurant serving coleslaw with both dill and horseradish.  I wasn’t interested in whatever the coleslaw accompanied, but the idea stuck in my head, and I went home to try my own version.  I’m always changing a few things based on what I have in my vegetable drawer, but no matter what I’ve added (zucchini? sure! beets? yes please!) it’s always delicious.  The horseradish is enough to add a welcome kick, but the yogurt and mayonnaise dull it down enough so even spice-averse individuals can enjoy this.  So delicious, even my dog can’t resist trying to sneak a lick… if only she was a little bit taller.

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Horseradish Dill Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 tablespoons pickle relish (or diced pickles)
  • 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large head cabbage, shredded
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 1 bunch radishes, julienned

Directions:

  1. Mix together lemon zest and lemon juice, mayonnaise, yogurt, pickle relish, horseradish, and dill.  Stir in the green onions.
  2. Toss together the cabbage, carrots, and radishes with the dressing.  If the dressing is too dry, add another tablespoon of lemon juice.  If the cabbage was particularly large and the dressing doesn’t seem to cover everything, add in an additional 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.

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July 4, 2014

Chocolate Covered Pretzels (Happy Independence Day!)

Happy Independence Day, friends.  I think if I had to choose a favorite holiday, I’d go with the 4th of July.  It combines all sorts of things that I love: good food, parties with friends, alcoholic beverages, and fireworks.  Throw in some red, white, and blue accessories and good old Sousa march, and you really can’t go wrong.  Growing up, my parents always held a big 4th of July party, with hot dogs and hamburgers, and patriotic-themed desserts, INDY-pendency Day on AMC (Indiana Jones movie marathon, naturally), and croquet in the backyard (thanks for that one, England).  During my long tenure in DC, I spent many years celebrating with friends who lived in Capitol Hill, and strolling outside just in time to catch the fireworks, portable beverage and camera in hand.  Now that we’ve moved north, we’ve decided to continue the tradition, and throw a party of our own!  We even have friends from DC coming up to join us, so there’s even more reason to celebrate this year!
These chocolate covered pretzels were made many years ago (this year, I opted for a trifle and homemade ice cream sandwiches), but they’re simple enough that you can make them last minute if you’re looking for something to bring to a party tonight.  Everybody seems to love the combination of salty and sweet, and they’re perfectly portable to take with you on a picnic.  Happy 4th – may your grill be hot, beer be cold, and fireworks display be magnificent!
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Chocolate covered pretzels obviously don’t require a recipe, but there are a few tips and tricks that make the process run a little smoother.
  • You can use either a bag of chocolate chips or candy melts for your chocolate – the candy melts tend to be a little smoother, but chocolate chips are a little tastier.
  • When microwaving the chocolate, go for short intervals at a time – 20 seconds, stir, 20 more seconds, stir again.  Chocolate burns quickly, so keep a close eye on it.  If your chocolate is melted, but not extremely smooth, add in a teaspoon of vegetable oil or coconut oil and stir.
  • Instead of using a bowl to melt your chocolate, use a tall glass.  Instead of having to spoon the chocolate over the pretzel rod, you can just dip the rod right in – super easy!
  • If you’re going to decorate with sprinkles, shake off all the excess chocolate first.
  • If you’re going to decorate with either frosting or a different color candy melt, either squeeze the frosting into a ziploc bag, or melt the chocolate right in the bag.  Snip off the corner, and drizzle by zig-zagging back and forth over all the pretzel rods.
  • Allow the pretzel rods to chill until completely set in the refrigerator prior to packing.  You can do this at room temperature as well, but cooling the chocolate speeds up the process significantly.

July 2, 2014

June 2014 iPhonetography

It’s funny that despite how many events happened in June – my husband’s birthday, my birthday, my husband graduating from fellowship and moving back – I really only took pictures of my dog and foster kittens.  I guess there’s no denying it: I’m officially a crazy animal lady.  Although these photos don’t really show it, rest assured that we celebrated our many events: dinner at Fork for Scott’s birthday, a nice Father’s Day weekend with my parents including dinner at Zahav, a very nice graduation celebration to culminate the end of Scott’s fellowship year (after 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, 4 years of residency, and 1 year of fellowship, his medical training is finally complete!), etc.  And lots and lots of dog and kitten time, as the photos do reflect.

{Sidebar: my foster kittens should be available for adoption this month, so if you happen to know anyone in the Philadelphia area who might be interested in an adorable kitten or two, please send them my way!}

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1) Campus is so lovely once all the undergrads leave for summer.
2) Dreidel is not a fan of warm weather, so there are frequent rest breaks on our walks once it hits 90+ degrees outside.
3) Raise your paw if you want a belly rub! 
4) I had the interesting experience of serving on a criminal jury for 5 days in June.  It was an experience, all right.  I’m glad I went through the process and learned more about how our justice system works, but it was so incredibly draining and left me feeling very emotionally abused at the end.
5) MES has the most amazing whiskers.  And yes, I did name my kittens after buffers.
6) Walking to City Hall everyday during jury duty was a nice change of pace from my normal walk to work.
7) Kittens and yarn, so cliché and yet so cute.
8) It officially feels like summer, now that I’ve been to a baseball game.  Despite how awful the Phillies have been this season, we managed to see a win and watch Jimmy Rollins become the Phillies all-time hits leader, which was pretty special.
9) I received rhubarb in my CSA box, so I made rhubarb simple syrup which went into these Rhubarb Collins.  If you’re baking with your rhubarb, you’re doing it wrong. 
10) My best friend mailed me a box of salsa for my birthday.  The Safeway brand chipotle salsa is the best jarred salsa I’ve ever encountered, but I can no longer purchase it since I’ve moved out of the Safeway market.  I’ve worked my way through Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and the standard supermarket chains in the area, but nothing can compete.  This ranks pretty high up there as far as birthday presents go!
11) Haircut day!  And the next day was back to regularly scheduled humidity-induced crazy frizzy hair.
12) This picture right here is why I foster kittens.  MOPS has taken a huge liking to Dreidel, and I just happened to capture this sweet moment between them.  And then it was back to the normal tail-chasing and head-butting that typically happens between those two.
13) Some of my herbs are growing like crazy, so I decided to freeze them in olive oil.  Apparently we don’t own any normal ice cube trays, so I used my gin-and-titonic set.  I now have cliantro titanics and chive iceburgs waiting for future use!
14) I was flying solo on my birthday, so I made myself some mint chocolate chip ice cream.  My favorite!
15) Dinner with a view – Amada, in Atlantic City.
16) The annual summer Counting Crows concert.  Last year, we saw them perform the night before my husband moved away for his fellowship.  This year, we saw them the day after he moved back.

June 29, 2014

Peanut Butter, Pretzel, and Banana Pie

No-bake desserts are perfect when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, when your oven is occupied with other things, or when you’re short on time.  I made this because of the reason #3: we were hosting a dinner party on a Friday evening, but I was in the lab all day and worked late the evening before.  I knew I’d be short on time, so I figured this was perfect; I could assemble everything Thursday evening without having to wait up for it to bake, and just pull it out of the refrigerator on Friday.  While it was good, I think it would have been better if I waited to add the pretzels on top until Friday, since they softened in the fridge overnight, and I think I would have liked this even more with the crunch. 

This recipe opened up my eyes to the wonderful world of peanut butter ganache, and I’m not sure my life will ever be the same.  I’ve never understood the obsession some people have with ganache since I’m not really a big chocolate fan.  Suddenly, I get it.  My life will never be the same.  Something about the combination of peanut butter, pretzels, and bananas reminds me of a picnic, and this really is a great summer dessert – I’m sure I’ll be making it again before the weather starts to cool off.

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Peanut Butter, Pretzel, and Banana Pie
Adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, divided
  • 8 ounces peanut butter chips
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 15 whole graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup pretzels, plus more for decorating
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 whole ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

  1. Bring a pan of water to a simmer and place a heat-proof bowl overtop.  Add 1 cup of the cream, 1/2 cup of peanut butter, and the peanut butter chips to the bowl and stir until melted.  Once melted and combined, chill the bowl in the refrigerator until cool, about 1 hour.
  2. Set a second heat-proof bowl over the simmering water.  Add the remaining 2 cups of cream and the chocolate chips.  Again, stir until melted and thoroughly combined, then stir in the salt.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator until mixture is chilled completely, about 1 hour.
  3. While the fillings are chilling, prepare the crust.  Combine the graham crackers and 3/4 cup of the pretzels in a blender or food processor.  Process until the graham crackers are all crumbs and the pretzels are small pieces.  Combine the graham cracker-pretzel mixture in a small bowl and mix with the melted butter.  Scoop the mixture into a 9 or 10-inch springform pan, and press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  4. Arrange banana slices into a single layer over the bottom of the crust.  This should use a little more than one-third of the total banana slices.
  5. Remove the peanut butter mixture from the refrigerator and stir in the milk and remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter, stirring until smooth.  Spread the peanut butter layer over the bananas.
  6. Add another approximate third of the banana slices to the top of the peanut butter layer.
  7. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and whip on high speed until lightened and slightly thicker.  Spread the chocolate over the peanut butter mixture.
  8. Arrange the remaining banana slices and pretzels around the edge of the pie.  Refrigerate until the pie is set, at least 3 hours or overnight.  If you are taking the overnight route, wait until the next day to add the pretzels to the top of the pie.
  9. To serve, unmold the pie from the springform pie and transfer to a serving plate.

June 26, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Ganche Cake

Today is my birthday.  I’m not really one for cake, so instead, I made myself some mint chocolate chip ice cream after noticing that my mint was growing out of control.  It’s funny; I had no problems at all with turning 30, but for some reason, 31 just seems so much older.  No, it’s not logical, and yes, I know 31 isn’t actually old.  Perhaps it’s because my lab is very graduate student heavy, and I spend most of my time with 23-year-olds.  Maybe it’s because so many of my friends had children this year and it’s hard for me to grasp that yes, we actually ARE old enough to have children.  Either way, no matter how old I’m feeling, I always get to remain a year younger than my husband and his friends.  It only seemed appropriate that I post a birthday cake on my birthday, even if it’s not for me – this was made for two of my husband’s closest friends, on account of their birthdays, and was an enormous hit.  I’m not one for chocolate cake, but the peanut butter frosting?  Just give me a big bowl and a spoon, please.

(And as for my birthday?  Tonight, I have a board meeting for a neighborhood organization (assuming I make it out of lab in time), a big bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream with my name on it, and some play time with my dog and foster kittens.  Sounds pretty good to me!)

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache Cake
From Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

  • For the cake:
    • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    • 3 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
    • 1 tablespoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
    • 1 1/2 cups coffee, hot
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the peanut butter frosting:
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
    • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • For the chocolate ganache:
    • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream
    • 30 miniature peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla, and set aside.
  3. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a mixer.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined, about 2 minutes.  The batter will be quite thin.
  4. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out almost clean.  Cool the cakes in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.
  5. To prepare the frosting, combine the powdered sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-low speed until fluffy.  Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed until the frosting is light and smooth.
  6. To assemble the cake, level the cakes if necessary.  Cover the bottom layer of cake with 1 cup of the peanut butter frosting, and sprinkle 10 of the chopped peanut butter cups over the frosting.  Top with a second cake layer and cover with another cup of the frosting, followed by another 10 chopped peanut butter cups.  Place the final layer on top of the cake, face down, and frost with the remaining peanut butter frosting.  Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, until the frosting is set.
  7. While the cake chills, prepare the chocolate ganache.  Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm just until it comes to a boil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a glass mixing bowl or a 4-cup measuring cup, and pour the cream over the chocolate.  Allow this mixture to sit for 2 minutes to melt the chocolate, and then whisk from the center outside until the ganache is smooth.  Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally, until the ganache has thickened but is still pourable.
  8. Slowly pour the chocolate ganache into the center of the cake, allowing it to push itself outward and flow down the sides of the cake.  Top with the remaining chopped peanut butter cups.  Refrigerate until the ganache is set, at least 30 minutes.

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