Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chewy Chocola-Mint Cookies

Interesting name? Yeah, but jam-packed with flavor and sure to not disappoint. This is the perfect recipe for when you are on dessert duty for a party or work luncheon and you may have forgot to make anything until last minute.

I conjured up this recipe making Christmas cookies a few years ago and my mom loves them so much, I find myself making them year around. T
he more I thought about it, the more I realized that peppermint is not just a winter flavor. Mint lovers will attest--there is no law that says it must be snowing outside or the holiday season to enjoy it's minty goodness.

So...I make this ode to peppermint and chocolate. And my beloved cream cheese icing. It is a strange thing. I do not like icing, unless it is cream cheese icing. This is how my mother does in fact know that I am her child. (An ongoing joke between us is when I don't like icing or something sweet like rich chocola
te cake she claims that I am not her daughter. I just couldn't possibly be because she enjoys sweet, rich things so much.)

Ingredients:
  1. 1 box of your choice richness of chocolate cake mix (Yes, the kind in the boxes at the grocery store. Obviously this cookie may taste a little better if you measured out your own flour and cocoa and such, but this method gives you more time to worry about your outfit for the party rather than measuring and dealing with flour!)
  2. 2 eggs
  3. 1/3 C of oil
  4. Peppermint (I get a few candy canes and some soft peppermint sticks you find at Cracker Barrel and other such old timey stores and mix them for ultimate deliciousness.)
  5. Cream cheese icing (I use store bought on most days, but this is delicious if you make it yourself as well.)
Method:
  1. Mix the two eggs with a wisk in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  2. Add the oil
  3. Slowly add, little by little, the cake mix. Stirring with a fork or silicon spatula as you add more mix. When mixed together, the ingredients will get very difficult to stir. Do not add anything else to it! No matter how tempting it is to add a little milk or water to make it easier on yourself. Put a little elbow grease in it and get those clumps out yourself.
  4. It's time to get your fingers dirty. When the mix is completely even and moist, grab about a spoon full-size and roll into a ball. As you place it on your greased baking sheet, softly flatten the ball to be about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Place finished pre-masterpiece into the oven at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes. I like my cookies chewy. Always. So I usually bake mine for 6 minutes.
  6. After they are baked to your liking and are cooled, put your cream cheese icing on top.
  7. Gather your chosen peppermint. It sounds crazy, but the easiest way to crunch these up without burning out your mixing bowl (which isn't made for hard candy, so don't try it) is to put them in a couple plastic bags, go to your garage, and take a hammer to it. Seriously. Don't use a can of pears...it will dent. I know from experience.
  8. Sprinkle your peppermint on top and enjoy. Delish!
I made these last night and brought some to the office this morning. Not really for lunch break, but just for a mid-afternoon snack before everyone starts their new years resolutions of eating healthy haha. So make these tonight for your last minute holiday party dishes. Or save this recipe for Valentine's Day, it is also a sure way to any woman's heart. Right, mom?

Cheers 2009, it was fun. Welcome 2010.



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So I stand at the crossroads...

So this blog was created as part of my assignment requirements for Journalism and Electronic Media 422 at UT. Now that I have graduated, and still have this blog to my Google account, I have decided to still make use of it. Though I did debate with myself on wither or not I should delete this. Anyway...

With that being said, I feel it's only fair to let you in on what you'll be getting yourselves into when you read. I am an aspiring food writer, or that's the life-long goal of mine as I have leaped into the magazine industry. It wasn't easy to graduate on a rainy Sunday afternoon and begin working full-time the following Monday morning. There's not a lot of time to transition your entire life routine, but I'm making it work. But that's not what I want to talk about on here...this isn't going to be a "reflect on my life and what I've done each day" kind of discussion. Though I may refer to myself or events of my past, that will not be the focal point. I can only imagine your sigh of relief...


Rather, I want this to be an experiment for myself on food writing. So hang with me on this one. I'm not going to claim to be Julia Child or Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller or Masaharu Morimoto by any means or capacity. (Though I have worked with Thomas Keller and have eaten at Morimoto's restaurant in Tokyo...maybe I'll tell those stories another day.)
I want to dig into a paradigm, ingredient or cooking method for a certain meat, for example, and see what I can do with it. Both in the kitchen and with my words. While it may be a recipe for a disaster, we will just have to see. The rest of my Subway sandwich is calling me...lunch break is almost over. That's all for now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Quarter Break: Fresh Salads Made Simple

Okay, your tailgate is coming along but everyone is still walking around and talking and grabbing bites of food here and there. To move your tailgate along from the dips into the next stop on the menu, serving salads make a great segue.

With that being said, this week's recipes and discussions will be all about salads and the many possibilities they present. Salads can be extremely healthy as well as flavorful so f
eel free to break away from the classic Caesar or pre-mixed salads you can buy in the grocery stores. Get creative and make you own--your friends at your tailgate will appreciate it and so will your taste buds.

I know a few of my friends hate green salads, so offer up a few salads that don't have a lettuce or spinach base as an ingredient to liven things up. Many salads I will provide recipes for will not be your traditional green salads, but I will include a couple that are out of the ordinary as an idea for your tailgate menu. I hope you guys are as excited as I am about this week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dips and Spreads: "Smokey" Salmon Pâté


This salmon pâté is especially easy to make and doesn't break the bank. With the exception of the smoked salmon, most people have all the other ingredients on hand anyway, which makes your trip to the grocery store that much shorter the week you decide to bring this to your next tailgate. And anything to make cooking easier and fun is fine by me!

I made this recipe with Vol fans specifically in mind. What could be more appropriate than to have a spread with a title to celebrate Tennessee's mascot: Smokey! But this recipe is very versatile--you don't HAVE to used smoked salmon if you would rather use pink salmon for a more natural fresh tasting spread. However, I personally think the smoke flavor of this salmon spread awakens your palate in a way other smoked flavored meats cannot. And paired with the cream cheese and other ingredients, this recipe is a velvety delight to have at any tailgate.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of smoked salmon (cooked and shredded)
  • lemon juice from 1 large lemon, zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 T of fresh, chopped thyme
  • 3 oz of cream cheese
  • 2 T of unsalted butter
  • 1 teas. cayenne pepper
  • 1 teas. paprika
  • pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
Directions:

Mix salmon, lemon zest and juice and thyme in a bowl with a fork until salmon is evenly coated. (You can choose to use a food processor to make this: add ingredients in the same order but make sure you keep the salmon a little chunky. Not purée.) Next, throw in the paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and mix until salmon is evenly coated. Finally, mix in the cream cheese and butter with a fork until it is all one even consistency--making sure that all of the salmon mixes in with the cream cheese and butter. Toss the pâté into the refrigerator for at least an hour so the flavors can meld together. When you want to serve it, set out at room temperature for 15 minutes before eating.

A note about the smoked salmon itself: I went to Kroger this time for groceries and they did not have canned or bagged smoked salmon, but they did have a thinly-sliced option that you just pop in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and pull apart when it is done. Super easy and the fact that it was thin strips of salmon made it even more simple for a salmon pâté. I had a lot of fun making this spread and ate mine with Wheat Thins Garden Vegetable crackers and it was delicious. Hope you all support Smokey and enjoy some for yourself!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dips and Spreads: Guacamole

Guacamole is a veggie dip that is jam-packed with vibrant flavor, but can be a bit intimidating for people to make. The all-star ingredient for guacamole is avocado, which is not exactly the most common vegetable to cook with on a weekly basis. However, it is one of my absolute favorites. This dip is a bit more challenging than the first recipe I shared with you--the avocados take a bit of elbow grease to smash but is totally worth it when you're done.


Now for the recipe...Alton Brown is one of the most intellectual chef personalities on Food Network. His show, Good Eats, is filled with food science and facts of ingredients and cooking tools he uses on any given episode. Because I admire him so much, it is only appropriate that I praise one of his favorite dip recipes from the "Dip Madness" episode of Good Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.
Now of course, as with any recipe, you can alter spices to your taste preferences. Back down on the cayenne pepper and ground cumin if you don't like the extra kick this recipe has. Personally, I like a little spicy aftertaste in a guacamole. And a fun idea for serving is to keep your hollowed out avacado peels and place the dip inside like I did in the picutre. Something different as far as presentation goes and is functional in helping you portion the dip out to everyone too! Hope you all enjoy this "good eat!"

Dips and Spreads: Tangy Veggie Bean Dip


My mother shared this recipe with me (one of which she stole from a friend) is now one of my favorite dips to dive white corn chips into when I'm watching the pregame show on ESPN. This recipe takes about 10 minutes of prep time (dicing up some veggies) and absolutely no baking time. Aka: piece of cake and a staple dip when you are "volunteered" last minute to bring an appetizer.

Ingredients:

- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 4 oz of diced pimientos
- 30 oz of black-eyed peas (unsalted, without bacon)
- 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup of diced green onion
- 3/4 cup of Italian dressing (light dressing is an acceptable alternative)

Directions:

- Dice bell peppers and green onion into bites no larger than your pinky fingernail.
- Chop 1 handful of cilantro and flat leaf parley leaves (discard stems).
- Drain pimientos and black-eyed peas.
- Mix all ingredients into large mixing bowl. Chill for 20 minutes prior to serving.

This is super easy and quick to make. Let me know how you like it!
Keep an eye out for my next post for a killer guacamole dip recipe!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the pregame to any successful tailgate: dips and spreads

During the tailgate discussions I'll be leading this football season, I will choose a specific type of buffet item or tailgating tip to highlight each week. I hope you are all as excited as I am to tie up your apron and sharpen your knives as this project gets into full swing. It is going to be fun.
This week is all about preparing different dips and spreads--breaking away from the go-to Pace salsa and Tostitos chips.
Now there's nothing wrong with those; they're actually one of my favorite snacks, paired with sour cream of course. However, it is a snack that is overly relied on to appease palates while the rest of the tailgate menu is cooking up.

I have done some research through personal recipes and cookbooks of famous chefs and am going to share some vegetarian bean dips, fish spreads and of course a Mexican dip to replace the staple salsa dip.

The first recipe is on the cutting board tomorrow, so check back for a zesty vegetarian dip from my own kitchen.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So it begins...

If you have read my "About Me," you realize that I am a student at the University of Tennessee, however, I am entering my last semester this fall. Yes, somehow I managed to graduate early from college. Yay yayee! A little bit more about me: I have a dream of writing recipes and articles, cooking in a test kitchen, and representing a the publication in media interactions at a food or lifestyle-oriented magazine. My passion and calling in my career life is food writing. I'm very excited and eager to start! But I realize I have a lot to learn and look forward to each day discovering a little bit more about food and wine.

One of my classes is titled, "managing news web sites" and we will be developing a project using various media throughout the semester. Discussing our project topic on a blog is one requirement, thus the reason for this blogs creation! My professor advised us to pick a specific topic about something we are highly interested in because we will be researching and developing the topic over the course of the semester. If you know me personally, it will be no surprise to you that I chose something in the foodie world to do my project on. :) My plans for this blog include posting my research or personal recipes on alternatives to bland and mundane tailgate food. Because football season is gearing up, I will focus on football tailgates. Any tailgating fan is used to (and probably very bored with) having hot wings, grilled burgers and hot dogs, deli sandwiches and Coca~Cola or beer on game days. I will give suggestions of recipes and drink options to spice up your game day that are quick and easy, so you can worry less and focus on enjoying the company of friends and family. Everyone will have smiling faces, full bellies and eager hearts in waiting for the marching band to take the field for pregame...because we all know that means it's football time!