Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arancello

I am a limoncello fan for sure, in addition to being a fan of making my own booze, so when I saw someone sipping Arancello I knew I had to find out more.
Imagine my surprise when the recipes I found basically just tell me to substitute lemons for oranges.  Duh.

Limoncello or Arancello
10 lemons or 10 oranges
1 750 bottle of vodka (or everclear if you can find it - purists swear it's the only way to go)
3 1/2 cups of water (some recipes only call for a little bit of water if you need it, but I prefer to make a syrup to start)
2 1/2 cups of sugar

Scrub your fruit with a vegetable brush and HOT water to get them super clean.  You can let them sit in the super hot water until it cools enough for you to get your hands in there - I use gloves so the heat doesn't bother me.Use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemons, taking care to avoid as much of the pith as possible - the pith will make your limoncello (or arancello) bitter.
Combine the peels with the alcohol and allow to steep for about a week. 
Strain the alcohol to remove the peels and any little bits.
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat - stirring frequently to create a simple syrup.  Allow to cool and add to the alcohol.  Bottle and keep in the freezer as a digestif after your next big bowl of pasta.

You can also use this as a cocktail base - just think how yummy this would be with some champagne!  Maybe a little bit of chambord, or perhaps some orange juice. . . delish!

While hunting for limoncello recipes, I found this intriguing recipe for Liquore de Fragole which I'm sure I'll have to try this summer.

2 pints strawberries(washed, hulled & halved)
1 quart everclear
4 cups water
2 ½ cups sugar

Put the strawberries in a gallon glass jar. Pour in everclear and cover. Let sit for about 2 days in a dark cool place. Spin contents of the jar 4 or 5 times a day to mix. Strain and discard the strawberries. Combine sugar and water over medium flame, and heat until sugar becomes clear-do not boil. When syrup cools, add to the alcohol. Store several more days, then put in freezer.

Hash Brown Casserole

It was at a diner in. . . .Florida maybe?, where I had a life altering breakfast.  You know the type - you take a bite and think, "OMFG, why doesn't EVERYONE serve this EVERYWHERE?!"  It was basically all my brekkie favorites - eggs, cheese, meat and hashbrowns - cooked into a casserole dish.  Soft, ooey, gooey, flavorful HEAVEN.
I've only dreamed of it for oh, four years or so and have yet to try to make it on my own.  Between Paula Deen (my arteries slammed shut just thinking of what her version would be like), Cooks.com, and everywhere else  you can find a recipe, you're sure to find some variation (bacon!  sausage!  ham!  potato chips?!) you'll be dying to try.  I'm tempted to give it a whirl now because I just had my step grandmother's amazing scrambled egg Christmas morning casserole and thought I could try out the hashbrown version for a hungover January 1st.

Breakfast Casserole
3 cups of potatoes O'Brien, thawed  (you can use the cubed type hash browns if you can't find O'Briens)
1/2 cup milk - I used heavy whipping cream because I had it and also because wow, but I wouldn't normally!
5 eggs
1/3 cup chopped onion (use 1/2 cup if you're not using O'Briens)
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (I have a swiss and Gruyere mixture ready to go, but use your fave)
sliced ham, cooked & crumbled bacon, or cooked & crumbled sausage
breadcrumbs
salt & pepper

Beat the eggs and milk and season with salt & pepper (feel free to try paprika, onion or garlic powder, or celery salt here as well).  Stir in onions, 1 cup of cheese and the ham or sausage (the bacon I'd keep to crumble on top so it stays crispy, but you could stir it in if you'd prefer).
Put the hash browns into a baking or pie dish and pour the egg mixture over the top.
Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and put into oven.  Turn heat on to 350 and allow to cook for 35 minutes or until set.  About five minutes before it's done, add the bread crumbs and bacon to make a nice crispy crust.

Butter Tarts

Butter tarts?!  Next I'll be making treacle tarts I'm sure. . . whether inspired by Alice in Wonderland, my Irish boyfriend, or The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network, who knows, but butter tarts sound like something I can totally cheat at (premade pie dough anyone?) and make delicious.
Between Beau MacMillan and epicurious, I'm ready to give them a whirl.

Butter Tarts
12 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 drops vanilla extract
9 ounces butter (!!!!!)
4 ounces eggs
4 teaspoons water

1/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins
1 vanilla bean


Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the lemon zest and vanilla. Cut in the butter and mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the eggs and water and mix until combined. Divide the dough into 18 pieces and roll each into a circle. Press the dough into tart pans.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Filling:
Melt the butter, brown sugar and milk in a saucepan and stir until the sugar starts to dissolve.
Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the egg and raisins.

Bake the tart crusts for 12 minutes. Divide the filling among the tarts and bake until bubbly, about 5 minutes.

Amish Friendship Bread

A fantastic holiday treat and a fun way to share with like minded, baker type friends - Amish Friendship Bread is a time tested classic.  The only problem?  Waiting for someone to give you a starter!!!  The last one I received must've been 6 or 7 years ago and that's just mean.  My stepmom swears by a recipe that has pudding in it (?!), but the one version I made did not involve pudding.  Here is a pudding inclusive recipe that also features some good Q&A about substitutions and such.
AllRecipes also features a recipe with tons of reader comments that may be helpful.
This starter will yield enough batter to make yourself a loaf and share with three of your friends.  Be sure not to use metal bowls or mixing tools for this - plastic, glass and wood only!  You can dress this bread up however you'd like.  We've done apples and raisins, chocolate chips, and my stepmom even did banana.
Now I don't recall needing to refrigerate this bad boy - despite the milk. . .someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think refrigerating it makes the yeast lazy and slows down the fermentation magic.  Put it in the fridge or freezer only if you're not baking your bread on day 10.

Super Secret Starter:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (warm means 110 degrees F when you're working with yeast if you didn't know - I sure didn't the first time I encountered this direction)
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup of warm milk (110 degrees F again)

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes or so, stirring well.
In a medium-large bowl, combine the flour and sugar mixing together to prevent lumps.
Slowly stir in the warm milk and the yeast.  Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap - it will go all bubbly and exciting as the yeasties chomp on all that sugar.  This is Day One of your bread.


Amish Friendship Bread (directions to include with the starter you share with your friends)
Note: The batter can be left in a bowl, covered, to do its thing.  If you'd prefer to give these gifts in a Ziploc bag, that works too - in that case you can just "massage" the batter around in the bag.  After day five you'll probably need to "burp" your bag so you don't come home to an exploded Amish mess.



Day One - the day you receive the starter (unless you're told otherwise by the giver!)

Day Two - stir the batter
Day Three - stir the batter
Day Four - stir the batter
Day Five - Add 1 cup each of sifted flour, sugar, and milk
Day Six - stir the batter
Day Seven - stir the batter
Day Eight - stir the batter
Day Nine - stir the batter
Day Ten - Add 1 cup each of sifted flour, sugar, and milk.  Separate into four, 1 cup portions and give three to friends.  With the fourth portion, do the following:
Add 2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup of sugar
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Using a fork (yes it's okay to use metal now), or wooden spoon, beat by hand until well blended.  Add any additional treats now (raisins, nuts, etc.).
Grease two loaf pans with butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 325 F for 45 minutes to an hour until sides have pulled away and a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool and remove from pans.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Deviled Eggs

I'm not a huge fan of deviled eggs.  I don't dig cooked yolks see.
This means I don't like my eggs over well.
I toss the little sulfuric sphere out of my hardboiled ovum.
I DETEST egg salad (cooked yolks AND mayo - man, how could you?).
My stepmother makes deviled eggs for most events because most people quite like the things.  At some point during this last year (Easter I believe it was), she had the brilliant idea of adding pickled jalapenos.  Now there's something I can get on board with.  I branched out.  I tried a deviled egg.  And another.  And maybe one more.  Okay two.  But that's really only two full eggs so it's not that bad.

This year for festivus, my darling friend Jennie wanted to use her grandmother's crystal egg plate, but she had no idea how to make deviled eggs.  Enter me.  A quick call to my stepmother, a walk through of a semblance of a recipe (she cooks like I do), and I was on my way.  They weren't quite as good as hers, though nothing I make ever is, but they were a hit, and a decent first go if I do say so myself.

1 dozen eggs, hardboiled and cooled
(put the eggs into cold water and bring to a boil; boil for 17 minutes and immediately remove from water and immerse into an ice bath)
Peel the eggs, and cut in half.  Place the whites on papertowels to absorb any extra moisture and mash the yolks into dust.  A little more.  A little more than that.  There you go, that should be good.
Add to the yolks: 2 tsp of white vinegar (you may want to add more later, but start here), onion powder, garlic powder, salt, white pepper, 1 tbsp of mustard, and mayo to consistency.  It's all about taste here - start small and add more until you get to a spot you (or your boyfriend and his brother) approve of.  I think I might even like to add chopped up pickled jalapenos and sour relish sometime, but that's neither here nor there.
Put the yolk mixture into a plastic bag and cut off the tip (or a pastry bag with a star tip if you'd prefer) and pipe into the egg halves.
Garnish with whatever you like - paprika, pimentos, olives, sprigs of dill, crumbled bacon, and pickled jalapenos all seem like good options.  Stroke of genius: deviled eggs with crispy bacon on top could equal a great egg dish for a brunch party.  Yes.

Take photos before you bring them to the party or they'll all get eaten and you'll have to post with no photo, yet again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Puffcakes


I'm gonna have to go ahead and name these puffcakes.  Although puffins is cute too.
Mini Maple Chocolate Chip Pancake Muffins
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift together with a wire whisk.
  • In another bowl, stir buttermilk, egg, maple syrup and melted butter until just combined.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with a spoon until combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Spoon into muffin tins, either minis or regular - no need to spray them if they're nonstick.  The butter in the batter will keep them stick free.  We did spray ours and they ended up a little bit greasy.
  • Bake for 8-9 minutes for mini muffin pan, or 10-12 minutes for regular muffin pan.
  • Makes 24 minis or 9 regulars sized muffins.
Let cool slightly and remove from the pan. You may need to use a toothpick around the edges to separate the pancake muffins from the pan.
Serve immediately with more maple syrup for dunking.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wild. Boar. Ragu. . . . Oink.

I'm finally doing it y'all.
Wild Boar Ragu.

Patrick and I stopped in to Bud's Custom Meats in Penngrove and picked up a couple of hunks of wild swine (and Bloody Mary jerky, of course) and I set to work marinating for my ragu.
I found this recipe on Chow and proceeded to screw it up immediately by combining ALL ingredients into a bag and allowing them to marinate overnight.  :/
Luckily I did not destroy it (wild piggies are spency) - in fact, it was amazing.

I also stopped into Whole Paycheck and picked up some gnocchi and a little hunk of Parmesan and I am ready to get pan searing and give those Myth gnocchi of my memories a run for their money.

2 pounds wild boar tenderloin, cut into large chunks
carrot, small dice (about 1/2 cup) - I used baby carrots since that's what I had, but you could use 1 large one
2 ribs celery, small dice (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
4 medium garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf

3 fresh thyme sprigs or 2-3 teaspoons dried
1 cup hearty Italian red wine, such as Sangiovese - I used a Pinot Meunier I got from my wine club that I wasn't wild about, but was good quality so I felt bad chucking it and kept it to cook with
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 -4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium beef broth (or brown veal stock if you'd prefer)
sliced mushrooms
Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
 
Combine boar with carrot, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme,tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and red wine in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange the rack in the middle. Remove meat from the marinade and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reserve marinade for later.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large heavy-bottomed pot with a tightfitting lid over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add meat and sear until nicely browned, about 6 minutes per side. (You may have to do this in 2 batches.)
Add reserved marinade, and bring to a simmer.
Cover the pot and place in the oven until meat is fork tender, about 2 hours (but check it - ours was ready after an hour and a half). 
 
I thought it wasn't quite rich enough at this point, so I added another tablespoon or two of tomato paste and stirred it through, and added some sliced brown mushrooms and put it back in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes.
 
When meat is tender, shred it with two forks and mix well. Keep ragu warm over low heat until ready to combine with pan seared gnocchi. 

For those pan seared gnocchi?  I just put a tablespoon of unsalted and a tablespoon of salted butter in my pan (because I had them, not because I think you have to - I think all of one or the other would be fine and if you use unsalted you can season to taste) and allowed it to melt.
I chucked in the gnocchi and tossed them about to brown on most sides and crisp up a little.  A couple of scoops of the ragu and a hearty dusting of grate Parmesan and you're ready to swoon.
It would also be great over tagliatelle.

I don't know if there are many things better for a chilly December night.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ultimate Rice Krispie Treats

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen's Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats, I whipped up a batch of the classic snack last night.  I cannot even tell you the last time I made Rice Krispie Treats, but it can't have been in the last five years.  I think I imagine them as the too hard, sickly sweet gigantic hunk o'krispie that you get in coffee shops and bakeries and I cringe.  Salted brown butter RKTs are a different animal entirely, but every bit as mind blowingly simple.
 Why yes, I did open up the Ziploc bag to take this photo after I had packaged them up.

I used:
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 stick salted butter
1 10 oz bag of jumbo marshmallows
6 cups of crispy rice cereal (I admit - I used store brand - sorry Kellogg's)
Butter flavored Pam
a large pan (baking, cake, Pyrex, heck a jellyroll pan will work, you'll just have thinner treats)

Melt the butter over medium heat and allow to brown slightly.  In the meantime, spray your pan with Pam.
Turn off the heat and add in the marshmallows.  Stir to combine as the marshmallows melt.  If you need to turn the heat back on to low you can do so, but for heaven's sake, don't walk away!
Once the marshmallows are melted, dump in the cereal and stir to combine.  Scrape into your Pammed pan and flatten out.  I get my hand a little bit wet with water to prevent too much sticking and smoosh the top of my treats down flat.  Now, I'll be honest, with this much butter, things are already less sticky and a hair more greasy than normal, but whatever.

I thought about topping my treats with a sprinkling of French sea salt (yeah, that's how I roll), but opted instead to leave one batch plain, and to top the other with butterscotch and chocolate chips.  I thought kids might balk at the salt and these are for a children's hospital fundraiser and I thought there was a decent chance kids might be eating them.

Next time around since we weren't wild about the overly sweet butterscotch chips, we're thinking peanut butter and chocolate.  Luckily, SK already thought of that as well.  I think I'll stick to the RKT recipe and then add a thin layer of the peanut butter and chocolate toppings rather than much with all that corn syrup though.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Double Apple Cake with Brandy Brown Sugar Sauce


I loves me some appley things.  Cakes, breads, pies, etc.  When I saw this recipe posted on the kitchn I nearly seized.  Appley cake PLUS boozey, salty caramelly sauce?  Sold.
Plus, you can make it gluten free?  Shut!  Up!!

Here, my slightly altered version that I'm sure was every bit as delectable as the original.

Sticky Spiked Double-Apple Cake with a Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce
Serves 10 to 12
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup unsulphured dried apple slices (cut rings in half)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1-1/2 cups tightly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans - I used the lightly salted and sweetened ones from Trader Joe's and chopped them
2 medium sized tart cooking apples, one peeled, one unpeeled, both cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan

In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the brandy for 45 minutes. Add the dried apple slices and macerate for a further 15 minutes. Do not drain!
While the dried fruit is macerating, start your prep:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan and line the bottom and up the two long sides with a sheet of parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the edges by an inch or so. Lightly butter the paper.
In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside.
In a large bowl with a hand held electric mixer or whisk, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend both sugars. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until thickened and pale, about 2 minutes with a machine, 4 to 5 minutes by hand. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to blend. Fold in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just enough to moisten most but not all of the flour. Add the dried fruit and brandy mixture, chopped pecans, and diced fresh apple, then fold them into the batter with long, deep strokes.
Note: this is a very fruit heavy batter, but don't worry.  It bakes out just lovely.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and set in the center of the oven.
Bake for some amount of time from 40 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on your oven.  I set my timer for one hour, but it was done much earlier than that.  It is done when the center springs back when lightly touched, a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a healthy pour of the warm Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce.

Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce
Makes about 2-1/4 cups, aka, way more than you need - but you'll love it on ice cream and fruit - apples and bananas especially - too!
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream (36%)
2-1/2 tablespoons brandy
Combine the butter, sugars and cream in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir this mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a very gentle boil, stirring all the while.
Cook 5 more minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy.
Serve immediately, or cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.
To rewarm, either microwave the uncovered sauce on low power or transfer the cold caramel to a saucepan and stir over low heat until warm.


Wrap the cake and store it at room temperature - I baked mine on Wednesday night to be ready for Thanksgiving on Thursday, and I still enjoyed the last piece on Monday, so this bad boy can stick around for a while.  Well, depending on your level of self restraint. . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Best" recipes

I frequently head over to Allrecipes.com when I'm looking for a recipe for something.  There are typically eleventy billion versions, so I can pick and pull the parts that I like and tweak with my own ideas and come up with some semblance of a recipe, which I like.
Imagine my delight to find all of their BEST recipes in one place for me to try as I please!  Based on user ratings, these are the creme de la creme of allrecipes, and I can't wait to try them out.  Except for you pot roast.  You'll have to wait.  Um, and you grilled salmon, because ew.

Banana Crumb Muffins

World's Best Lasagna (which I've already written about wanting to try)

Delicious Ham and Potato Soup

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Clone of a Cinnabon

Chicken Pot Pie IX

Apple Pie by Grandma Ople

Mom's Zucchini Bread

Annie's Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips (which makes me think of the guacamole in this post)

Chicken Cordon Bleu II

Too Much Chocolate Cake

Banana Sour Cream Bread

Guacamole

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread

Jamie's Cranberry Spinach Salad

BBQ Pork for Sandwiches

Amish White Bread

Taco Seasoning I

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

Grilled Salmon I







Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I did something wrong here.  5,105 people have given this recipe an average rating of 4.5 stars.  They rave about it!  It's moist, it's delicious, it's AMAZING!!!!

My meat was tough and the gravy thin and flat.  Where did I go wrong?!  I only tweaked the recipe a tiny bit, and in ways the 5,105 reviewers had suggested!  I'm going to have to try this again.  It certainly wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't awesome.

2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used the low fat ones)
1 package of beefy onion soup mix
1 1/4 cups of water
5 1/2 pound pot roast
baby carrots
pearl onions
baby potatoes (reds, yellows, fingerlings, anything small and waxy so you don't have to worry about peeling)
button mushrooms
flour
salt
pepper
seasoning salt or garli garni
optional: Marsala

Season your flour with salt, pepper and seasoning.  Dredge the roast in the flour to get all sides coated.  Sear in a pan over high heat.
In the meantime, mix the mushroom soup, dry soup mix and water in your crockpot.
Once the meat is seared on all sides, put it in the pot.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8-9 hours.
One hour before it's done, add your veggies and allow them to cook along with the meat.

This is where I'll try things differently - I cooked my roast for 5 hours on high; next time I'm going to try the 8 hours on low.
My gravy was a bit thin, so I ladled some out into a pan to thicken up.  I added a little bit of a slurry of flour and Marsala to flavor it up a bit as well since it tasted a bit flat to me.

Overall it was good, but not nearly as richly flavored as I had imagined.  What a let down. 

Stuffing

At that same Thanksgiving prequel, my darling friend made a fantastic stuffing.  It was the best (non Stove Top) stuffing I've ever had.  It's her boyfriend's mom's recipe, and now here it is for you.  Yum!

1 yellow onion
2 apples  (Golden Delicious are good)
½ cup dried cranberries
1/2 of a bunch of celery
Chicken broth
1 sourdough baguette
1 French baguette
1 ciabatta
1 LB mild Italian sausage, casings removed
Butter

Cube bread the night before and leave out, or if you're doing this the day of you can put it in the oven for 10 minutes to make the bread crunchy.
Saute the chopped onions, celery, and apples in butter for about 10 minutes over med heat and set aside.
In same pan cook sausage and when done combine with onions, celery, and apples.
Combine bread, sausage, apples, celery, and dried cranberries in a baking dish.  Pour about a cup to a cup and a half of chicken broth over the mixture (this may vary I think I used a bit too much, but you can eyeball) and bake 25-30 minutes at 350!

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

While I already have my own pumpkin spice cake recipe, I was at a Warm Up to Thanksgiving dinner last night (wherein we begin stretching out our bellies in preparation for the real deal on Thursday) and there was a very tasty pumpkin spice cake that one girl made from a recipe she found on Epicurious.  Her frosting hadn't worked out, but the cake was divine on its own, and well, with a little dollop of vanilla whipped cream that was probably made to go with the chocolate bundt cake, but that's neither here nor there.  Epicurious has plenty of yummy looking pumpkin spice cakes btw.

For cake 
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
For icing 
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar 
Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 quart)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.
Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.
Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

Of course, my new focus now is a gorgeous bundt cake - I have always lusted over those fancy ones, and seeing this gorgeous cake only reinforced my desire.
You can find some good ones at Amazon.com.

Money Saving Thanksgiving - oh the SHAME

As horrifying as this is, Sandra Lee made a simple, affordable Thanksgiving dinner that actually looked quite yummy.  Trust me, I can hardly even choke out the words.  And yet, I'm still going to post here because hey - foods is foods and these recipes look easy.
I admit; this is the recipe that won me over - cream cheese?  IN the mashed potatoes?!  Madness.

Baked Mashed Potatoes
You basically just make your standard mashers (with salt, butter, milk, salt and pepper; whatever you use) and then add the fun.  Throw in a hefty handful of shredded cheddar cheese, a half a block of cream cheese and smoosh it in to incorporate.
Scrape it into a baking dish coated in nonstick cooking spray, then cover in crumbled cooked bacon and breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes or so at 350.  You can serve with chives or green onions.  Nom!

Cider gravy sounds pretty tasty too.  Again, get ready to make your standard gravy, but combine 1 cup of cider with 1 cup of chicken broth and slowly mix that into a roux (butter & flour; 3 tbsp of each).  You can add pan drippings if you want, or skip them.  Her recipe calls for 1 tbsp of brown mustard, but ew and I'm thinking honey mustard might be great.  A teaspoon of fresh thyme to finish, and ta da!

For her Roasted Turkey Breast with Spicy Herb Oil, she did a yummy spice rub.  I typically jam a bunch of pats of butter, cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary under my turkey skin, but her version sounds good too.  She just takes canola oil with chopped rosemary, chopped sage, chopped thyme, garlic powder, chile powder, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and rubs the mixture under the skin and on top before baking.

The final recipe that caught my eye was one of her round two recipes for Fried Potato Cakes.  My Irish boyfriend loves him some potato cakes, and since these ones have bacon, cheese, and green onions if you're using the leftovers from the above recipe, they sound divine!  You just take some of your leftover mashers, stir in some more cheese, and  dredge in bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne and fry til the outside is crispy.  Easy peasy.  Drain them on paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil.

And it just wouldn't be a Sandra Lee recipe post without cocktail time. . . how about Pumpkin Pie Martinis and Holiday Party Punch?
The martini is a bit labor intensive, requiring you to make a pumpkin pie spice simple syrup with brown sugar; 1/2 cup of each with 1 tsp of spice (hmmm, how else can I use that I wonder?), and then one of those awful sugar rims using regular sugar and more pumpkin pie spice - which I'll skip thanks.  They always either slide down the glass making it all sticky, or they dry onto the edge of the glass requiring you to nibble it off.
Then you whisk together 2 cups of half and half (Trader Joe's fat free!), 2 tbsp pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and half of the simple syrup.  Combine with 4 ounces of vanilla vodka and shake or stir well with ice.  Pour into glasses and top with a little bit of sparkling water if desired.

The punch is a bottle of cranberry juice, a bottle of sparkling cider, half of a 2 liter bottle of gingerale, the juice of 2 lemons, and 12 ounces of vodka mixed together in a punch bowl.  Garnish with a sliced orange and frozen cranberries to act as ice for, oh, 2 minutes or so.  In fact, I'd probably freeze a bit of extra juice to use as the ice cubes to keep things cool.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Once upon a time, in one of our Iron Chef battles, the ingredient du jour was Pillsbury Crescent Dough.  Seriously.  I made a dessert - an apple turnover thing I think, and a savory - samosas.  They were yummy - not win worthy it seems, but yummy.  I got the idea from a snack I used to make for the boys I babysat in highschool.  If their mom had leftover mashed potatoes, one of their favorite snacks was a dollop of potato wrapped up in the middle, baked, and then served with ketchup.  Simple, boring, but comforting.  This led me to big plans for Thanksgiving leftovers - can you imagine little pockets of leftover deliciousness?  Stuffing, potatoes, turkey, gravy, maybe some cranberry sauce?  Hot pockets!!!

Also, I'm a little ashamed to admit that I am totally going to make these.  But just because I'm a "foodie" doesn't mean I can only like fancy, expensive or difficult to make dishes - right?

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls 
2 tablespoons ranch dressing
1/4 cup cooked real bacon pieces or 4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese (2 oz)
1/4 cup chopped green onions (4 medium)
 
Heat oven to 350°F.
If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate into 2 long rectangles. Press each into 12x4-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut lengthwise into 2 long rectangles. Press each into 12x4-inch rectangle.
Spread dressing over each rectangle to edges. Sprinkle each with bacon, Cheddar cheese and onions.
Starting with one short side, roll up each rectangle; press edge to seal. With serrated knife, cut each roll into 8 slices; place cut side down on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.

More Bourbon Caramel

I know I've posted about this before, but I just love bourbon and caramel.  What can I say?


Butter Bourbon Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring with a fork until it begins to melt. Once it is melting, stop stirring and cook, swirling the skillet occasionally so the sugar melts evenly. Cook until it is dark amber in color, and then remove from the heat. Put an oven mitt on the hand you will be using to stir in the ingredients and stand back to avoid splattering. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the butter, water, bourbon, vinegar, and salt and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel has dissolved. Add the cream and bring to a boil and allow to cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, and then remove from heat. Allow to cool down.

Butterbeer

We're going to see the latest Harry Potter movie today (only two more to go!  Wah!), after weeks of rewatching the old ones - man those kids were so tiny the first time around.  I think it goes without saying that we are fully immersed.  What better way to celebrate than with a nice warm cup of butterbeer?  I can't think of one.
There are only a gajillion variations floating around tha interwebs and they all sound intense.  Intensely rich, intensely sweet, intensely caloric . . . I think I might have to tweak it a bit to get it drinkable for more than 1/4 cup, but we'll see.


Start to finish: 1 hour (10 minutes active)
Servings: 4
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the rum extract.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass). Add 1/4 cup of cream soda to each glass, then stir to combine. Fill each glass nearly to the top with additional cream soda, then spoon the whipped topping over each.

I poached an egg!!!

Believe it or not, I have never poached an egg.  I know, right?  Well, today I did it. 
I had dinner with a friend at Marlowe the other night and had this amazing, decadent, rich like woah polenta dish.  It was intense - I could only eat half.  So today I figured I'd poach a couple of eggs, dump them on top and eat it like my name is Michael Dickerson.  It was perfection.  Rich like woah, decadent perfection.  But I just LOVE the combination of egg, truffle oil, parmesan and earthy something - either mushrooms or asparagus.  It is the best, and perfect for an ucky, rainy fall morning.
I can't take full credit, since you know, I only poached the eggs, but I bet I can make something similar.  I don't really like polenta though, so go figure.

For my eggs, I filled a small saucepan maybe 2/3 full of water, added 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of white vinegar and maybe a teaspoon of salt and brought the water to a boil.  I cracked my eggs in a small bowl and gently eased them into the water.  I let them boil for a few minutes - 2?  3? til they looked set.  Voila!  Perfection.

You can go ahead and nestle your eggs into a bowl of soft polenta, just make a little nest for it in the middle.  The yolk all mixed into the polenta is divine.  Sautee up some wild mushrooms, Place them all around the outside, and sprinkle with arugula and some shaved Parmesan, then drizzle truffle oil all over.  Or maybe mix it into the polenta?    Eat a small portion, seriously.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Selfy Snacks

The holiday pot luck/entertaining season is upon us, and our waistlines.  You can't control what everyone else brings (looking at you, hot spinach artichoke dip made with cheese and mayo and a million other calorie laden delicious things), but you can certainly bring something you know you can eat without consuming enough calories to sustain a village for a month.  Self sent out an email to their subscribers featuring plenty of holiday tipples and treats that will probably wow your friends and family, while still allowing you to button your pants.
Thank God leggings and big oversized tunics are in this season.

Because I know avocados are ac/dcs of the fruit and vegetable world (going well both sweet and savory; I actually made an avocado pie for my first Iron Chef battle - and WON), I am totally into the idea of incorporating fruit into my guac.  The mangoes and pomegranate seeds make it both gorgeous, and even more Mexican than it was before (imho).
113 calories per serving (with 10 chips), 6.9 g fat (1 g saturated), 3.9 g fiber, 14 g carbs, 1.7 g protein  - not counting the millions of calories in chips, of course; try it on fish tacos or with baked flour tortilla chips instead; maybe even with a little sprinkling of cinnamon sugar!

Having made some variation on prosciutto wrapped dates or figs for ages, I was happy to see them considered "healthy" AND to see them combined with my greatest love - goat cheese - even if I know that having 10 of them sort of negates that.
187 calories per 2 dates, 3 g fat (1.9 g saturated), 36 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, 6 g protein

I actually want this shrimp dish for dinner; I love the sour/sweet tang of Tamarind and I think with some steamed or stir fried veggies and brown rice?  Nom.  As an app at a party, it doesn't get much easier - salt and pepper on the shrimp, grill them on both sides for a couple of minutes and serve with a dipping sauce?  Easy peasy tamarind squeezy.  For the sauce:  
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
1/4 cup tamarind paste (found in Asian markets) 
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
1 to 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes 
1 tablespoon sugar 
156 calories per serving, 3.8 g fat (0.6 g saturated), 5.9 g carbs, 0.2 g fiber, 23.5 g protein


These are just gorgeous.  And adorable.  And I'm already planning a Dr. Seuss themed party where my eggs are green with basil or pesto perhaps, and I think you know where I'm going. Vegetable oil cooking spray 
4 slices prosciutto, fat trimmed, halved 
2 egg whites 
1 whole egg 
3 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
1 tablespoon chopped black olives 
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
27 calories per serving, 1.1 g fat (0.3 g saturated), 0.4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 3.6 g protein

Heat oven to 400°. Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Press 1 piece prosciutto into each of 8 cups. Whisk egg whites and whole egg until smooth. Whisk in yogurt, olives, rosemary, salt and pepper. Divide mixture among cups. Bake, uncovered, until quiches are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Garnish with rosemary.

I love crispy potatoes, and I love sweet potatoes, so hooray  
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled 
2 1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup) 
2 egg whites 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary 
3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper 
Parchment paper




Heat oven to 425˚. Finely grate sweet potatoes into a bowl. Squeeze grated sweet potatoes in batches to release as much moisture as possible and place in another bowl; fluff with a fork. Stir in cheese, egg whites, rosemary and pepper. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spoon 1 rounded tbsp batter onto cookie sheet and flatten into a thin, 2- to 2 1/2-inch round. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving 1 inch between rounds. Bake until edges and underside are crisp and browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and remove from parchment. Serve warm with Rosemary-Balsamic Cream.

It's not all food my friends - no no, it's also drinks!  And this one sounds delightful, while being equally at home in the winter, or in warmer weather.  I think I might simplify it a bit though (do I really want five spice powder on the rim of my glass?).  
Make a ginger simple syrup with equal parts of sugar and water, plus 1/2 cup of chopped fresh ginger.
Then, easy enough - one star anise, a piece of candied ginger, and a tablespoon or so of syrup, all topped with your favorite sparkler.  Gorgeous, gingery, fizzy and sweet.  Perfect for your next celebratory sushi dinner.
150 calories per cocktail, 0 g fat, 23 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein


Surely you knew I wouldn't ignore their stab at summertime sangria, which uses white wine, pulpless oj, triple sec, apricot brandy, sprite, apples and grapes (and CUCUMBER?!  erm. . .)

285 calories per serving, 0.2 g fat (0.1 g saturated), 35 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 1 g protein


Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Once upon a time, a guy I was seeing and I went down to Bittersweet Cafe on Fillmore and it was love at first sight.  The moment he saw "peanut butter hot chocolate" on the menu he knew he had to have it.  Of course, it took much longer before he professed his love to me, but in all fairness I'm not the delightfully sweet and salty combo of chocolate and peanut butter.  Well, I might be sweet sometimes, and salty at others, but, oh you get it.  I'll stop.
But now, tragedy of tragedies - Bittersweet has CLOSED and we are left peanut butter hot chocolateless.
Well this simply won't do.  Where will my darling get his annual dose of 80,000 calories in 8 ounces of thick, salty-sweet liquid bliss?  I'm tempted to rewrite that given how awful it sounds, but it's true, and funny in that sexual innuendo way that I enjoy so much, so it gets to stay.
A quick tour of the interwebs brings up plenty of "well, duh" type recipes for just such a concoction, so never fear.  We are saved!!!!
We are also saved from my wondering if I were to combine some milk with some peanut butter cups and stick it to my immersion blender, whether or not it would work.

Wasabimon features her own (gluten free!) labor of love here.
This shandy cat snagged a recipe from a cookbook and posted it for the world to see (much to the dismay of the cookbook author one would imagine) for a frozen version.
And the good folks over at food.com were kind enough to publish EXACTLY what I would've tried, without requiring the trial and error process of not enough/too much/just right amounts of peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
1 or 2 packets of your favorite hot chocolate mix (back when I was a lifeguard a coworker taught me to use twice the powder with the same amount of liquid and I have never looked back)
some nice hot milk - you pick the fat level - me, I'm going low in order to make up for all those other calories
1 tbsp of creamy peanut butter

Empty the packets into a mug, pour in milk and stir well.  Add peanut butter and stir some more until the peanut butter is melted.
Top with whipped cream and maybe even little pb cup crumbles if you're feeling skinny.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Snuggler Season!!!

So what if The Spir.It calls it a Peppermint Kiss.  I'll forgive them - I mean, tis the season afterall.  Some festive Peppermint Schnapps cocktails for your tree trimming festivities.  The Peppermint Stick looks awfully close to the drink I made for my birthday one year, dubbed the Candy Cane.
Maybe I will make that batch of homemade Peppermint Schnapps after all, and not just stick to Kahlua. 


Peppermint Twist
1 oz Peppermint schnapps
1 oz Coffee liqueur (Kahlua)
1/2 oz Dark creme de cacao

Combine in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Peppermint Stick
1 oz peppermint schnapps
1 1/2 oz white creme de cacao
1 oz light cream

In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, combine and shake the schnapps, creme de cacao, and cream. Strain into a champagne flute, garnish with a candy cane.

Peppermint Kiss
3/4 oz Peppermint schnapps
5 oz Hot cocoa
whipped cream

Combine cocoa and schnapps in an irish coffee cup or mug, garnish with whipped cream.

DIY Peppermint Schnapps
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups water
2 1/12 cups brandy
3 drops peppermint oil

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the peppermint oil. Cool until luke warm, stir in brandy. Seal in a bottle or airtight container. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Parmesan Popovers

I had some leftover canned pumpkin the other day (after making my pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting) and I didn't want to waste it.  I somehow knew that I must be able to make a popover or something with the pumpkin - even though I have never made a popover in my life, and may have only ever eaten one.  I checked out a few different recipes, and eventually came up with one that I thought might work.  For a dinner party.  Yes - I am one of those people who makes things they have never made before for guests and prays that they turn out.  Yes - I am a mediocre baker who probably shouldn't risk baked goods given the number of flops I have brought to family dinners.  None of these facts are enough to deter me, so off I went, and you know what?  Even though I forgot about them for a minute and let them get just a * little * bit too brown, they were damn near perfect - just a bit crisp and browned on the outside, but soft and a bit wet in the middle.   They were delicious and four of us polished off 12 of them.  Win!

Pumpkin Parmesan Popovers
4 eggs
1 c milk (I used fat free)
1/2 c pumpkin (canned is fine)
3 tbsp butter - melted
1 c flour
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper
Parmesan cheese (oh go on - you know how much you like; just keep in mind that the Parm keeps the popovers from, well, popping over, so you might want to go easy on it.  I probably used a pinch per popover.)

Preheat your oven to 375 and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (I used butter flavored).  Whisk together the wets: eggs, milk, butter and pumpkin.  Combine the drys (flour, salt, chili powder) and whisk those into the wets.
Pour into the muffin tin; filling each no more than 2/3 full - this was just enough batter for 12 popovers for me.
Sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan on top of each.
Bake for 30 minutes or so; slit tops to allow steam to escape and bake 10 minutes more.

And yes, you can do these in advance and reheat them - I'd say a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes or so should do it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Poached Pears

I finally did it.  I poached pears.  Thanks to Chow for helping me to come up with a recipe using stuff I had on hand.

2 cups of port wine and 2 of cab
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp or so of whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 firm Bosc or Anjou pears (about 1 pound)
Combine all ingredients except pears in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Meanwhile, peel pears, leaving the stems intact. Slice off the bottom 1/8 inch of each pear to create a flat, stable base.
Reduce heat to keep poaching liquid at a bare simmer and add pears, laying them on their sides so that they are almost completely submerged. Cook, turning pears occasionally so that they become saturated on all sides, until they are just tender when pierced with a fork, about 7 minutes.  Be careful when turning - if the pears are ripe, or once they start to cook they get very delicate and you can end up gouging them with your spoon as you try to turn them.
Allow pears to cool completely in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer pears and liquid to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To serve, I broke up half of a bar of dark chocolate into a small bowl, added 1/4 cup of milk and nuked for a minute.  I stirred, added more milk (another tbsp or two) until I had the consistency I wanted, then spooned the chocolate onto the plate and spread it around a bit, and nestled the pears on top.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cult Classics via Poor Taste

With all the travel I do for work, I should be able to work my way through this list from Poor Taste Magazine . . . plenty are even in my own back yard (some I've even been to!), and others I keep meaning to go to but never quite make it (I'm looking at you Hot Doug's. . . ).  I have a new goal, and goals are good.
* thanks to the folks at Poor Taste for not forming a pitchforked mob for my shoddy cut and paste without proper copyrighting job *
100. Chino Bandido (Phoenix, AZ) 
99. Soowon Galbi Korean BBQ (Los Angeles, CA) 
98. Congee Village (New York, NY)
97. S’Mac (New York, NY)

96. Georgetown Cupcake (Washington, D.C.)
95. El Pinto (Albuquerque, NM)
94. Tango Sur (Chicago, IL)
93. Slows Bar-B-Q (Detroit, MI)
92. Fat Matt’s Rib Shack (Atlanta, GA) 
91.  Bunk Sandwiches (Portland, OR)
90.  Mi Nidito (Tucson, AZ)
89. Hillbilly Hot Dogs (LeSage, WV) 
88. Jestine’s Kitchen (Charleston, SC) 
87. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen (San Francisco, CA)

86. Loveless Cafe (Nashville, TN)
85. Boss Oyster (Apalachicola, FL) 
84. Busboys & Poets (Washington, D.C.)
83. A Salt & Battery (New York, NY)
82. Ann’s Snack Bar (Atlanta, GA)
81. Matt’s Bar (Minneapolis, MN)
80. Salt Lick Bar-B-Que (Driftwood, TX)
79. El Rey Taqueria (Houston, TX) 
78. Solly’s Grille (Milwaukee, WI)
77. Redbones Barbecue (Somerville, MA)
76. Taco Matamores (Brooklyn, NY)
75. Melt Bar & Grilled (Cleveland, OH)
74. Jacques-Imo’s Café (New Orleans, LA)

73. Pappy’s Smokehouse (St. Louis, MO)
72. Crif Dogs (New York, NY)
71. Back A Yard Caribbean American Grill (Menlo Park, CA)
70. Dinosaur BBQ (Syracuse, NY)
69. Anchor Bar (Buffalo, NY) 
68. Pike Place Chowder (Seattle, WA) 
67. The Oinkster (Eagle Rock, CA) 
66. Zeitgeist (San Francisco, CA) 
I go for the vibe more than I go for the food, but the food certainly doesn't hurt.
65. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (New Haven, CT)
64. Dottie’s True Blue Cafe (San Francisco, CA)

63. Red’s Eats (Wicasset, ME)
62. White House Sub Shop (Atlantic City, NJ)
61. Café Du Monde (New Orleans) 
On one of my earliest "grown up" type - Yes, Let's Travel Across the Country Like Adults Even Though We Are Still Quite Young and Have the Hangovers To Prove It (I was 23; it was a couple of months after 9-11) vacations was to New Orleans and we practically bee lined for this place.  We KNEW we had to have their beignets and chicory coffee.  The coffee didn't blow me away but I wasn't much of a coffee drinker at the time, and it didn't stop me from bringing a tin home for my parents (and requesting another be brought back for me last year - I have yet to touch it btw).  The beignets were everything everyone had said they'd be - light, fluffy, sweet, fried perfection.  I must admit though - I really like the addition of a nice dark chocolate dipping sauce as I had with my first ever beignet dessert at the restaurant where I worked.  Yum.
60. Pine State Biscuits (Portland, OR) 
59. Piroshky Piroshky Bakery (Seattle, WA) 
58. Primanti Bros. (Pittsburgh, PA) 
57. Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue (Kansas City, KS)
56. Rainbow Drive-In (Honolulu, HI)

55. Crisp (Chicago, IL) 
54. Voodoo Doughnut (Portland, OR) 
53. Domilise Sandwich Shop & Bar (New Orleans, LA)
52. Frank’s Diner (Kenosha, WI)  
51. Momofuku Noodle Bar (New York, NY)
50. Billy Goat Tavern (Chicago, IL) 
49. Yuca’s (Los Angeles, CA) 
48.  Café Habana (New York, NY)
47. Triple XXX Family Restaurant (West Lafayette, IN)
46. Memphis Minnie’s (San Francisco, CA) 
http://www.yelp.com/biz/memphis-minnies-san-francisco#hrid:_7ZwVLQlovxbedw98zbKIA/src:self

45. Joe’s Shanghai (Flushing, NY)
44. Hodad’s Burgers (Ocean Beach, CA)
43. Central Grocery Co. (New Orleans, LA) 
42. Taqueria Cancun (San Francisco, CA) 
41. Scoops (Los Angeles, CA)
40. Katz’s Delicatessen (New York, NY)
39. Daikokuya (Los Angeles, CA)
38. Saigon Sandwich (San Francisco, CA)
37. Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (Memphis, TN)

36. Pat’s King of Steaks (Philadelphia, PA)
35. Porto’s Bakery & Cafe (Glendale, CA) 
34. Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco, CA) 
33. Ramen House Ryowa (Mountain View, CA) 
32. Papalote Mexican Grill (San Francisco, CA)
31. Hash House A Go Go (Las Vegas, NV)
30. Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs (Denver, CO)
29. Rosamunde Sausage Grill (San Francisco, CA)  
28. Phil’s BBQ Restaurant (San Diego, CA)
27. Cafe Iberico (Chicago, IL)
26. Smitty’s Market (Lockhart, TX)

25. Falafel’s Drive In (San Jose, CA) 
24. Dan’s Super Subs (Woodland Hills, CA) 
23. Sultan’s Market (Chicago, IL)
22. Pho Xe Tang Tank Noodle (Chicago, IL) 
21. Pommes Frites (New York, NY)
20. Umami Burger (Los Angeles, CA) 

19. The Cheeseboard Pizza Collective (Berkeley, CA) 
18. Ray’s Hell Burgers (Arlington, VA)
17. Wurstküche (Los Angeles, CA) 
16. Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix, AZ) 
15. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria (Brooklyn, NY)
14. Father’s Office (Santa Monica, CA)
13. El Farolito Taqueria (San Francisco, CA)  
My dad has been taking me here since I was a kid - I'm guessing this is where my idea of Mexican food was born (hence why I don't think Southern California or Texas can hold a candle to SF).
12. Mamoun’s Falafel (New York, NY)
11. Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles (Los Angeles, CA) 
10. Din Tai Fung Dumpling House (Arcadia, CA) 

9. Ben’s Chili Bowl (Washington, D.C.)
8. Shake Shack (New York, NY) 
7. Philippe The Original (Los Angeles, CA) 
6. Burma Superstar (San Francisco, CA) 
5. Kuma’s Corner (Chicago, IL) 
4. Ippudo NY (New York, NY
3. Pink’s Hot Dogs (Los Angeles, CA) 
2. Tartine Bakery & Cafe (San Francisco, CA) 

1. Hot Doug’s (Chicago, IL) 

Apple Cider

I knew I wouldn't have to stay relegated to buying it by the jug forever. . .
And while I doubt that anything will come anywhere CLOSE to the most amazing cider I have ever had in my entire life (I seriously dream about this stuff), it's worth a shot, yes?

Goodfellow’s Apple Cider

1 jug freshly pressed apple juice
2 sticks cinnamon
10 whole cloves
5 pods star anise
Juice of one orange
Combine in a pot and place on the burner. Allow to come to a slight simmer — but do not boil.