Category Archives: Recipes

Mac and Cheese Steak

It’s exactly what it sounds like.

My person has been going on for weeks about how incredible a cheesesteak made with mac and cheese instead of cheese sauce would be. This week, I gave in…

First, I marinated the steak in olive oil, balsamic, a little soy sauce, garlic, and SPCC (salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, otherwise known as the names of my future children). I used skirt steak and there is some debate about how long to let this particular cut of meat marinate for. If you have an opinion on this, please share in the comments!

Then, while the steak was a-marinating, I started the cheese sauce. I will be honest, this turned out a little strange, so if anyone has a better method, I’d be thrilled to hear of it. I started by sautéing some garlic, onions and jalapeños.

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Then I added equal parts butter and flour until I got a ‘lil rue going. Finally, once the rue turned brown, I started adding the milk and the cheese. I used a mixture of cheddar, fontina and gruyere cheeses — again, if anyone has better cheeses for mac and cheese, I am enthusiastically accepting suggestions 🙂

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The sauce was creamy and it tasted good, but the consistency was a little thin, that’s all. Perhaps I should have simply used less milk, but I managed by just adding more cheese. In the end, I had way too much cheese sauce, but who’s complaining?
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After I added my whole wheat elbows, which I recognize is a little like adding lettuce to a double cheese burger, but we all carry our little delusions. So, after I made this a healthy meal through the addition of whole wheat pasta, it was time to get that skillet hot and ready for the steak. mac and cheese steak, recipe, skirt steak recipe, mac and cheese recipe, homemade mac and cheese, comfort food

Since skirt steak is not a thick cut of meat, a searing-hot pan is paramount. Once that baby’s practically smoking, slam that steak down and hear that devilishly good hiss. …. Do you hear it? If not, next time the pan needs to be hotter. I only cooked this for two minutes on each side and then I let it rest for 10 minutes. Then I sliced it as thin as my knife would slice and it looked like this:
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If you like your meat cooked more than that, leave it on another minute or two. Then, after toasting the hero, I assembled this heart attack of a sammie: mac and cheese steak, recipe, skirt steak recipe, mac and cheese recipe, homemade mac and cheese, comfort foodAnd I saw that it was good.

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Veggie Chili & Jalapeño Cornbread

A few weeks ago, it was still winter in NYC so I wanted to make a warm-me-up meal and what does that better than chili? I decided to make a vegetarian 3 bean with black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans. For a little something extra, I decided to try my hand at some home made jalapeno corn bread. But first, the chili:
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This is a lot of chopping, but I’m into that sort of thing. Here’s what’s in this skillet:

1 red bell pepper, 1 poblano pepper, 1 long hot pepper, 1 jalapeno, 1 purple onion, 5 cloves garlic, the aforementioned beans, cilantro, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and the holy quadrinity: salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne.

I used to tell myself that I would cook more if only I had the proper cooking equipment. As you can see, by virtue of the fact that I gleefully make my chili in a skillet on the stove, that I have thrown that nonsense to the wind. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to cook great meals, it just takes a little creativity. For example, I had run out of foil on this particular day and, since it was freezing out, instead of getting more, I did this:

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And guess what? It flippin’ worked just fine. I let the chili simmer, covered, for 6 hours. It’s pretty good after 4 hours, but the longer, the better so since I had the time I decided to keep it on until it looked like this:

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This recipe was created in my brain thanks to a few other recipes. I started with 2 cups yellow corn meal, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg and 1 stick of butter. Here’s where it gets controversial: there are at least two schools of thought on corn bread. One is sugar, one is no sugar. I heard Emeril Lagasse makes his with no sugar, so since I’m a sheep, I made this with no sugar. But yes salt, add some salt!veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

This batter stays a little clumpy, so don’t over mix it, just do a medium-mixing job and pour it into a greased pan. I sprinkled the jalapenos on top here so that the didn’t all sink to the bottom of the pan during baking:

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Pop that bad boy into a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until it can pass a toothpick test, whichever comes first. I’m not going to lie, but I am going to brag: this cornbread was pretty good for a first timer (I guess I need to work on my bragging skills). veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

I have to admit, however, that I think it would have been better with some sugar. Sorry, Emeril.  veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipeTop that shiz with some fresh onions, cheese and avocado and that’s what I call a warm-me-up meal. POP POP.

 

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Roasted Veggie Gratin Recipe

This has been a week of celebrations for those in the Judeo-Christian faiths and a big part of those celebrations is the food! Easter dinner for me growing up in Texas was almost an identical repeat of Thanksgiving. We would gather, eat turkey, ham, stuffing, green bean casserole and we would watch the Texas Longhorns play.

A few weeks ago I was looking to make a fun side dish to accompany an otherwise unremarkable dinner at home when I stumbled upon a recipe for a Veggie Tian (whatever that means). It was a mixture of veggies and potatoes baked with parmesan so I took a few ideas, created my own version and called it a roasted veggie gratin. Last week, I had the pleasure of joining my person at a Seder for the first night of Passover and I decided to bring this as a side dish.

As most great dishes do, this one began with garlic and onions.

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First I sautéed garlic and onions in some olive oil.

I greased a square baking dish and spread the garlic and onion mixture along the bottom of it.

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Then I cut tomatoes, potatoes and zucchinis.

I cut the vegetables about a quarter of an inch thick and pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees.

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Arrange in a spiral fashion and sprinkle with salt, pepper, etc.

The “etc” here can be whatever you’re into. I’m a cumin-cayenne kinda gal so I added those. I think the original recipe called for thyme and rosemary, so whatever taste you’re going for ought to do just fine. Bake for 35 minutes.

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After 35 minutes add parmesan cheese and pop that baby back in!

Let it bake for another 25-35 minutes or until the cheese has browned.

https://leacraftspencer.com/2012/04/10/a-passover-seder/

Serve immediately and enjoy 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful Passover and Easter!!

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Pad Thai Recipe

I do hate to tell a lie. So if I’m being honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of pad thai prior to visiting Thailand. This may be due, in part, to the fervor with which my person loves this dish. If nothing else, I am what could be described as “needlessly defiant” and his absolute obsession with it made me go “meh” to pad thai whenever it was suggested. With all that said, I’m never one to turn down a new experience, so while traveling I tried this dish. I tried it both in restaurants and from street carts and I urge you to take any snobbishness you may harbor and throw it out the window because the street cart pad thai was infinitely superior to the restaurant pad thai. It was fresher and cheaper, plus you get to eat it at the nearby picnic tables with cold beer watching all the tourists mosey along.

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We were lucky enough to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai where we learned the traditional way of making this delicious noodle-based dish. Upon returning home (and waiting an appropriate amount of time, since we were a bit fed up of Thai food in the weeks following our trip) we decided it was time to put those cooking skills to use! I was able to find most of the necessary ingredients in my regular market; I began by chopping the bean sprouts, scallions, garlic, chicken and tofu:

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Garlic, scallions, bean sprouts, tofu

Then I put on the noodles to boil while heating up the skillet. The noodles should only take a few minutes to cook, so keep an eye on them!

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Boil rice noodles.

This process of cooking it all up takes a little finesse and pay attention, cause it happens fast:

First, heat regular vegetable or canola oil over low heat, then throw in the garlic to flavor the oil. Then add the chicken and tofu, cook for about one minute. Next break an egg (if you’re into that sort of thing) and add oyster sauce and fish sauce, then crank up the heat. Now, add the noodles to the mix, followed immediately by a tablespoon on water. This is a very important step, but a little scary. Do not be afraid! Forge ahead and add the rest of the veggies. Give it a stir or two and BAM! It’s done.

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Cook it all up.

The entire process only takes about 5 minutes once the pan is hot and it is well worth it. This dish is traditionally garnished with peanuts, red pepper flakes and lime. All of that, as always, is completely up to you!

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Add red pepper flakes.

What’s your favorite Thai or Asian dish?

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Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

So here’s how it went down:

Last week I was dying for something cheesy and delicious so I suggested we hit up our local favorite, Queens Comfort, a magical place that boasts the most fabulous macaroni and cheese. The only problem was mi amor. He too wanted some delicious mac and cheese, but alas Queens Comfort serves theirs with bacon and my boy is of the tribe, so bacon is a deal breaker.

So I suggested instead that I would make a delicious baked mac and cheese at home that was nutritionally appropriate for both of us. Then, while at the market, a non-kosher lightbulb went off, and we decided to kick it up a notch and add some buffalo chicken. BAM. And we’re off!

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Melt butter with garlic & onions.

The first (and most complex) step was the sauce, which began with 3 tbsp butter. To this I added garlic onions and some jalapeño (cause I’m spicy). After this began to simmer, I whisked in 3 tbsp flour, effectively creating a roux.

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Whisk in the flour.

Once the mixture turns a lovely shade of brown, add in 3 cups of milk. Then start slowly adding whatever cheese you fancy. We used cheddar here:

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Add milk and cheese.

Then once it’s all melty and delicious, lower the heat, but stir occasionally whilst getting the rest of the dish together.

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Marinade chicken in buffalo sauce.

I had my chicken marinating in buffalo sauce for about a half an hour, then into a buttery pan until it looks good enough to eat. I then moved the chicken to a cutting board to cool before I sliced it into bite-sized pieces. Then everything into the pan!

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Add broccoli and pasta to pan.

Return the chicken the skillet, followed by whatever kind of pasta you enjoy. We used whole-wheat elbows to convince ourselves this dish was healthy. See also: use of broccoli in this dish.

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Close up of the magic.

Because I’m naive enough to think you can just send a man to the grocery store and expect him to know what you mean when you say “foil baking pan,” I got to coin the soon-to-be-world-famous “mac and cheese pie” with these babies:

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Top with bleu cheese, breadcrumbs and butter.

I scooped it all into two of these pans, then covered them with a little more cheddar, a few bleu cheese crumbles and some breadcrumbs. Then pour on another 1/2 cup of butter and into the oven at 400!

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Cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

And in approximately 25-30 minutes, this is what you’ll have. Yeah. Mmm.

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And enjoy!!

Take THAT, Queens Comfort!

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Home Made Egg Rolls

We were lucky enough to take a cooking class in Chiang Mai while on vacation in Thailand this fall where we learned to make the elusive Pad Thai my  man craves so much. <– Stay tuned for that recipe. Today we’re going to make a version of the spring rolls we learned to make during that class. I say “version,” because I couldn’t find any “spring roll” wrappers, only “egg roll,” so the filling will be the same, but the outside a little crunchier. Who cares?! I get to use my new deep fryer and that’s really what this is all about, so off we go!

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Garlic, Carrots, Scallions, Bean Sprouts, Tofu, Chicken, Glass Noodles.

Put the water on for the rice noodles to boil then get to chopping! Obviously one would do fine stuffing an egg roll with anything (I’m even thinking a banana-nutella egg roll might hit the spot), but in this case we were really trying to channel those authentic Thai flavors, so I followed the recipe. First heat the oil, then throw in the garlic for a minute, followed by the chicken and tofu for another minute or two. Then throw in the noodles (followed immediately by a tablespoon or two of water), then toss in the other veggies, give it a stir and BAM: easy as that.

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Add fresh cabbage.

Next heap a portion of the mixture into whatever wrapper you are able to find at the market and get to rolling. I added some fresh cabbage to mine for the pretty color 🙂

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Roll it up, paste with egg.

Wrapping these things takes a bit of finesse; I think it’s easiest to roll from the corners, then over roll a bit, tuck in the edges, paste with egg, then roll it on up and paste a little more. The package of wrappers said to use water to make it stick, so if anyone has done that and thinks that’s easier than egg, please let me know! And now for the fun part!

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And fry-eems up!

This Christmas, I requested a deep fryer and was thrilled to receive this amazing and super easy to use compact fryer that fits perfectly in my apartment. Gracias Fajah. I used plain veggie oil to fry as I’ve been told olive oil has too much of its own flavor to properly cook Thai food. I don’t want to brag, but these were pretty delicious:

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Am I right?

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Chicken Corn Chowder

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Or at least it’s cold enough to warrant making something as decadently creamy and delicious as chowdah! Since we maintain a fairly seafood-free household, the first thing that popped into my head was chicken corn chowder, which I thought would pair perfectly with the wet and chilly weather we’ve been having.

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Thyme, rosemary, carrots, celery, onion

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Let the chicken simmer 20-30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve only used chicken stock in one recipe before and I really didn’t enjoy the outcome so I thought I’d just poach the chicken in water with some herbs and veggies along with a chicken bouillon cube. Little fun fact: I once dated a guy who convinced me chicken bouillon (which I had never seen before) was in fact chicken excrement. I was young and he was a jerk-a-saurus rex, but I digress…

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Mise-en-place de chowdah.

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In the pan with some buttah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut 3 stalks celery, 4 ears corn, 2 potatoes, 1 jalapeño and 4 cloves garlic (because I’m afraid of vampires). All of this goes into a pan or pot on medium heat until the onions are cooked through.

Meanwhile, the chicken should be finished cooking by now, so remove it from the pot and set it aside until it’s cool enough to shred. While it’s cooling, strain the poaching liquid and add it to the potatoes, corn and veggies. Let the potatoes cook in the broth until they are fork tender before adding the cream and chicken:

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Let it simmer a few minutes and serve!

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It’s like a hug from the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The amount of liquid to use depends on how thick and creamy you’d like your chowder to be. I used a 2:1-ish ratio of broth to cream, but I think it’s all personal preference. One woman’s “recipe-gone-wrong” is another woman’s “recipe-gone-even-better-than-expected.” It’s all perspective. 🙂

What’s your favorite kind of chowder?

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