Second Day Apple-Herb Stuffing with a Fried Egg

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I can’t take credit for this recipe – it’s all Smitten Kitchen – but I can tell you that it’s really damn good. I saw this recipe while in class one day, and knew that I needed to pick up something from the grocery store later that afternoon for dinner. I wandered around the grocery store aimlessly for a while, and eventually decided that I would make the stuffing for dinner. Just stuffing. Nothing else. It was a great, finals-inspired choice.

I ate this stuffing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two days in a row. I didn’t get tired of it. And the best version of the stuffing was the one that you see in the above picture – stuffing with a fried egg on top. Holy breakfast deliciousness.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

1 large French baguette, cut into pieces

5 T butter

1 large yellow onion, chopped small

2 small stalks of celery, diced

1 t thyme leaves (dried or fresh)

salt and pepper, to taste

2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced small

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley (dried or fresh)

1 T sage (dried or fresh)

1/2 – 1 cup chicken stock

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spread the cubes of bread in a layer on a baking sheet. Bake them until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.

Then butter a baking dish (I used a 9x 9 square dish, but you can also use a loaf pan) and melt the remaining 4 T butter over medium heat. Saute onion, thyme, salt and pepper, then add the celery until all of the vegetables in the pan are tender. Finally, add the apple to the pan and saute for 3 to 4 more minutes. I used all dried herbs, but fresh would taste even better.

Next, put the cubed, toasted bread in a mixing bowl and add the contents of the pan into the bowl, too. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg with 1/2 cup broth and pour that mixture over the bread. Then add parsley and sage. If the mixture looks dry, add a bit more broth. Then add the entire bowl’s contents to the pan. Bake it for 30-40 minutes until it is brown on the top and no liquid appears when you insert a knife into the center of the pan.

To make next-day stuffing with an egg, put a slice of stuffing under a broiler for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. While the stuffing is warming, simply crack an egg into a pan that is at high heat and coated with olive oil. Leave it for several minutes, until the white looks cooked through and the oil is bubbling, then use a spatula to flip the egg over without breaking the yolk. Once the second side is browned, remove the egg from the pan and slide it onto the stuffing. Season with salt and pepper.

When the yolk of the fried egg breaks onto the apple and bread mixture, it’s pure decadence. This is truly one of the best things I’ve made in a while – thanks Smitten Kitchen!

Take-Out Style Sesame Chicken

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I love take-out Chinese food but because I’m a poor graduate student, I can’t spend money on restaurants very often. That’s why this recipe, adapted from Budget Bites (a great blog) is genius – it tastes like take-out sesame chicken, but it’s half the cost. The Budget Bites website even has a price breakdown, if you’re interested.

To make 3 portions of sesame chicken, you’ll need:

1 egg

3 T cornstarch, plus 1 T more for sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 T vegetable oil

4 T soy sauce

2 T water

1 T toasted sesame oil

3 T brown sugar

3 T rice vinegar

1 inch fresh ginger

4 T sesame seeds

5 cups brown rice

2 green onions, sliced thin into rings

In a bowl, whisk together the egg and 3 T cornstarch, as well as a pinch of salt and pepper. Clean the chicken thighs – they’ll probably be pretty fatty – then cut them into 1-inch pieces. Toss the chicken into the egg and cornstarch mixture in the bowl.

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes while you make the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, water, sesame oil, brown sugar, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, minced garlic, cornstarch (2 T) and sesame seeds. I usually grate the ginger with a microplane grater!

Then heat a large skillet with 3 T vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When it’s very hot, add the chicken to the pan. Cook it, stirring only occasionally, until it is golden brown and cooked through. This will take about 10 minutes, and the egg mixture is meant to coat the chicken. The more you move the chicken in the pan, the less the coating will stick. Hands off!

Once the chicken is cooked through, pour the sauce over the top. Cornstarch acts as a natural thickener, so the sauce will automatically begin to thicken as soon as it hits the hot skillet. Once the chicken is coated and the sauce looks thick enough, turn off the heat.

I heated up some pre-made Trader Joe’s brown rice (frozen) to put under the chicken. If you’re making your own rice, start it before you start the chicken. Then put both in a bowl and garnish with sliced green onions.

享受 (that means “enjoy!” in Chinese)

Sour Cream and Chive Biscuits

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Dana and I met on the first day of graduate school orientation. There was a bar event after our journalism session, and I didn’t know a soul. I wanted a friend to walk over with, so I scanned the room, thought she looked normal, and went over to say hi. We’ve been friends ever since – we just finished our graduate program, and next month, we’re headed on a month-long excursion to Thailand and Nepal.

During grad school, we developed a tradition of “gremlining”, or making comfort food and talking through everything that was going on in our lives. We did this every few weeks, and our most recent food choice was a batch of sour cream and chive biscuits. Yum!

To make these, you’ll need:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

2 T minced chives or green onions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Then cut the butter into the dry ingredients – I usually use my fingers – until the mixture resembles a course meal.

In a small bowl, stir together milk and sour cream until smooth. Then stir in chives.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the milk into the middle. Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the wet mixture with the dry mixture until the dough sticks together. Then dump it onto a lightly floured surface, knead it a few times, and roll it out 1/2-inch thick. We used the top of a cup to cut the biscuits, but you could use a real biscuit-cutter if you have one. Put the biscuits on a greased pan and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with butter.

Coconut Curry Noodles with Chicken

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This recipe is courtesy of the lovely Austin Morris. He posted a picture of some coconut curry noodles that he’d made a couple of months ago, and I immediately messaged him asking for the recipe. He didn’t use a recipe, but kindly wrote one up so that I could try it out and post it on here!  It’s a wonderful dish, and can be adapted for whatever you have leftover in your fridge.

You’ll need:

1/2 box angel hair pasta
1 chicken breast, cubed
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 cup snap pea pods, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can coconut milk
1/3 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 T dried basil
1/2 T dried parsley
2 T yellow curry powder
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper, to taste

Recommended additions (if you have them): 1 inch ginger, minced; 1 stalk lemongrass, sliced thin lengthwise; 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded to taste; fresh basil in place of dried

Boil a pot of salted water.

Add a tablespoon of canola oil to a deep skillet and heat to medium. Once the oil is fluid, add the chicken and spices (including garlic and ginger). Stir quickly to coat, then let the chicken sear. Once the chicken is at least colored on all sides, add the lime juice to deglaze. Add the vegetables (and fresh herbs if you’re using them instead of dried). Once they’re coasted in spicy oil and lime juice, add the stock and coconut milk (and lemongrass). Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it to a simmer over low heat. Let the sauce reduce by about half.

Once the sauce is reducing, add the pasta to the salted water. It should cook quickly, probably in about 3 minutes. Drain it.

Once the sauce is reduced, remove the lemongrass stalks if you added them. Otherwise, toss the pasta in with the sauce and the veggies/ chicken. Stir everything to coat, then serve with a fresh parsley garnish and a wedge of lime, possibly some chopped cashews if you’ve got ’em lying around. Have fun!

You could also add some bean sprouts with the other vegetables – that’s a classic thai thing! Happy cooking.

Empanadas

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Top Chef New Orleans just started, and I’ve been so busy that I missed the first few episodes. So, of course, last weekend I had a Top Chef marathon and I was so inspired that I started getting more creative with my cooking. In one of the episodes, the chefs had to cook a meal in teams on food trucks, and one of the chefs made homemade empanadas.

So, here’s my version of (mostly) homemade empanadas! Feel free to experiment with fillings – these recipes are just based on what I had in my fridge on Thursday night when I made these with Sean.

For this recipe, which makes 10 small empanadas, you’ll need:

3 cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 onion, minced

2 T butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

ground chicken (1/2 package)

1/2 can of canned, drained tomatoes

3-4 T goat cheese

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 t fresh (or dried) basil

1 t oregano

1/2 bag baby spinach

salt and pepper, to taste

pie dough (homemade or store bought)

1 egg, beaten

We made two types of fillings: vegetarian and chicken. For the vegetarian version, we sauteed 1/2 an onion with the mushrooms in a pan with butter. Once the mushrooms were golden brown and the onions were translucent, we added 1 clove of minced garlic to the pan and cooked for another 30 seconds. Finally, we wilted spinach into the mix and turned off the heat. Then we mixed goat cheese, basil, salt and pepper to taste, and the juice of 1/2 lemon into the mixture.

For the meat version, we cooked the ground chicken in a saucepan until done, then added minced onion and cooked the onion until tender. We drained canned tomatoes, reserving 1/2 cup of the tomato juice, and added about 3/4 cup of tomatoes to the meat. Then garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper went into the pan with the reserved liquid, and the whole mixture sat over the heat for a few minutes (the liquid disappears fairly quickly).

We used Trader Joe’s pie dough for our empanadas, but you could also make your own. Roll out the dough fairly thinly and cut it into 6 inch discs. Then spoon about 2 T (or more – up to you!) of the filling into the middle of the dough and fold it in half. Wet the edges with water, then use a fork to crimp the edges.

Line a pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Finish assembling the empanadas and lay them on the pan, then brush the tops with egg wash. We baked them for about 25 minutes and they were delicious – like “gourmet hot pockets” according to Sean. I can’t wait to experiment with more fillings. Remember that this isn’t an exact science, and lots of different ingredient combinations/ amounts would be great.

Enjoy!

Autumn Acorn Squash Salad

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So of course I wrote last week about how I hate eating salads, but now I’ve posted two salad recipes in the past week. Oops! Honestly, though, I only like salads when they are chock full of delicious elements. Salads that only contain lettuce leaves and dressing are boring. So this is an exciting salad adapted from this recipe, which I found on Pinterest.

For this recipe, which is enough for two salads, you’ll need:

1 acorn squash, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds (remove the seeds)

2 T brown sugar

2 T butter

1/4 cup sliced almonds

4 handfuls baby spinach

1 avocado, sliced

1 handful pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup orange juice

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 t freshly grated ginger

1 garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c olive oil

Put a skillet over medium heat and add 2 T butter. Melt the butter, then cover each squash slice with brown sugar and add the slices to the skillet. Cook them until they are golden brown and tender (prick them with a fork to check), which will take about 5 minutes per side.

While the squash cooks, distribute 2 handfuls of spinach, a handful of pomegranate seeds, and 1/2 avocado (sliced) in each bowl. Once the squash is cooked, add the almonds to the pan and let them brown. They’ll collect the leftover sugar and butter in the pan and take on a candied quality. If you want, you can cut the skins off of the squash once it’s finished cooking – it was a bit tough for my liking, so I decided to do that. Then add the squash and the toasted candied almonds to the salad.

To make the dressing, combine the orange juice, apple cider vinegar, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Whisk those ingredients, then add the olive oil into the mix. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat!

Enjoy🙂

Dijon Ham Loaf

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This is my family’s go-to meal. When we have family movie night, we make dijon ham loaf. When a family friend has surgery, we make dijon ham loaf. When I visit Seattle and we want comfort food, we make dijon ham loaf. So when I had to make bread for a class project (I’m writing a story about bread), clearly I decided to make dijon ham loaf!

To make this recipe (which makes one loaf, or about 5 servings), you’ll need:

4 cups of flour

2 T sugar

2 packages of active dry yeast

1 cup water

1/4 cup dijon mustard

2 T butter

1 1/2 cups chopped ham (I love to use the rosemary ham from Trader Joe’s!)

3 cups shredded swiss cheese

1 egg, beaten

Mix 3 cups of flour with the sugar and yeast. In a saucepan on the stove, heat water, butter, and dijon mustard to 125 degrees F. You can use a meat thermometer to gage the temperature, and make sure that it does get to exactly 125 degrees – which will probably happen in about 2 minutes over the heat. If the mixture is hotter than that, it will kill the yeast and the bread won’t rise. If it’s colder than 125 degrees, then the yeast won’t activate at all.

Once the mixture is 125 degrees, stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Mix in some of the reserved flour until the dough becomes soft. Dump it out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes.

Put flour on a baking sheet and roll the dough out until it’s about an inch thick and shaped like a giant rectangle. Sprinkle the ham and cheese in a line down the center of the dough (pile it up!) and then make cuts along the edges of the dough, leaving an uncut area in the middle for the ham and cheese. Cut the same amount of strips on each side of the loaf, each about an inch thick. Then bring the opposite strips together, twist them, and place the ends at angles across the top of the bread.

Once the entire loaf is braided, cover it with a cloth. Fill a large, shallow pan with boiling water and place the bread over the pan to help it rise for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, brush the loaf with beaten egg (this will help it become golden brown) and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

You’ll be able to tell when it’s done because the bread will sound hollow when you tap on it with your finger. Cut it into 2 inch thick slices, and serve with a green salad or some asparagus/ broccoli. You can also freeze a loaf if you’re cooking for yourself and don’t think you’ll eat it all in one sitting.

Enjoy!

BLT Salad with Avocado and Garlic Butter Croutons

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I’m not much of a salad girl. I usually think that salads taste like rabbit food – I’d much rather have a bowl of macaroni and cheese or a great burger. But after a weekend of eating heavy food with my best friend Holly (she came to visit Boston from L.A. a few weeks ago), we realized we were actually craving salads. Bizarre.

So this was my version of a non-salad salad: a bacon, lettuce and tomato salad with avocado and garlic butter croutons. Check it out!

For this recipe, which makes enough for one salad, you’ll need:

2 handfuls of spinach

3 slices of thick-cut bacon, fried and broken up into pieces

4 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 avocado, diced

10 chunks of french bread

2 T butter

1 clove garlic, minced

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

First, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Then melt the 2 T of butter in the microwave and mince the garlic. Add the garlic to the melted butter and brush the garlic butter onto the chunks of french bread with a pastry brush (you can drizzle the butter, too, if that’s easier). Arrange the bread on a pan and put it in the oven for about 5 minutes or until golden brown, flipping the croutons halfway through.

Meanwhile, dice the avocado, cut the tomatoes, fry and breakup the bacon, and put those ingredients, with spinach, in a bowl. Grab the croutons from the oven once they look golden brown and throw them onto the salad, then dress it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Easy, (kind of) healthy, and delicious – a win, win!

Enjoy!

Roasted Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

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I’ve never been much of a runner – I dreaded running “the mile” in middle school and freaked out when I didn’t have my inhaler – so I never thought that I’d attempt to run more than 5 miles in my life, let alone a half marathon. But somehow (probably riding on the high of the Tough Mudder), I ended up signing up for the BAA half marathon and running it a few weeks ago.

I loved the training, because honestly there are few things better than running along the Charles River during the fall in Boston. On the day that I ran 10 miles I felt both triumphant and completely in pain, but it was cool to be running 10 miles at a 9:15 pace. I never thought that would happen.

On the night before the half marathon, I was paralyzingly nervous. I knew that the race was going to hurt. And so I made comfort food: Mac and cheese. I’ve been looking for a good mac and cheese recipe for a long time, and this is the best one I’ve found. It makes a creamy, thick cheese sauce and the roasted veggies are key. Check it out:

For a 9 x 9 pan of mac ‘n cheese, which is 3 or 4 servings, you’ll need:

1 red or yellow pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

3 small mushrooms, diced

1 cup broccoli, cut into small chunks

1.5 cups pasta

1/8 cup butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1.5 T flour

3/4 c milk

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 t red pepper flaked

1/4 t cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c panko bread crumbs

2 T shredded parmesan cheese

Although the veggies above are the ones that I used and that I recommend, you can get away with using a lot of other things – carrots, squash, asparagus, zucchini, or whatever you have in your fridge. To start, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and toss your veggies onto a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in a pot of boiling water and drain. While the pasta cooks, work on your sauce. Heat the butter in a large skillet and add minced garlic. Be careful not to let the garlic burn, and cook it for about 30 seconds or until it starts to make your kitchen smell amazing. Then sprinkle flour onto the butter and whisk the flour consistently for a full minute. If you stop whisking, the flour may burn, so be careful. This is called a roux and it’s what will thicken your cheese sauce!

After you’ve cooked the flour and butter for a minute and it starts to turn brown (light brown, not burnt!), add milk in a slow stream to the pan. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Once you can tell that the mixture is thick (it will look fluffy), take the pan off of the heat and add in the cheese. Once that’s incorporated, add the red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and veggies. Then mix in the pasta.

When the whole dish is combined, put it into a casserole pan and turn up the oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle the macaroni with panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, then put it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until the top becomes golden brown.

That’s it, easy-peasy! I have to admit: I hated running the half marathon. At no point during the race did I think, “Wow, this is so fun!”. But I did feel pretty accomplished afterwards, and despite the fact that I couldn’t move very effectively, I woke up from a 2 hour post-race nap and had another bowl of this delicious pasta. It’s going on my new rotation of recipes.

Enjoy!

Coconut Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

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My mom made these Ina Garten coconut cupcakes a lot when I was younger, and they became one of my favorite recipes as I got older. It’s been a while since I’ve had these, but I started craving them the other day and made a batch tonight.

This recipe is from Ina Garten, who has a show on the Food Network. They’re heavy, hearty, rich cupcakes, so I made a half batch. Check out the above link for the recipe for a full batch. This recipe makes 14 cupcakes. You’ll need:

1.5 sticks (3/4 cup) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1.5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting, you’ll need:
6 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat your oven to 325 F degrees. Then cream the butter and sugar with a hand mixer or KitchenAid mixer in a large bowl, and add in the three eggs and the vanilla.

Next, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) and mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, just until moist. Mix the buttermilk into the batter, then fold in 1.5 cups of coconut with a spoon. Line muffin tins with paper liners, then fill each cup 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake for 25 minutes, then let them cool for 15 minutes before frosting.

For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Then add in the powdered sugar and mix until the frosting is smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle the remaining coconut on top, and enjoy!

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