Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Saturnalia Yall!

Hello my lovelies! My peeps! My Kittehs!

So... remember when I was all "I'm gonna do Christmas HARDCORE!"? Well... it's almost December and I've been cooking up step one. And guess what, it totally involves you!

I love old-timey stuff, in fact outside of my food adventures I'm a total vintage whore,(I'm a Capricorn, what can I say?) so I thought what better old timey Christmas thing to do then send out holiday cards?! And no these aren't all fancy and printed on super glossy paper, I'm talking good old fashioned glitter and glue slapped atop a solid layer of crayola colors.

So, here's where you come in, I want to send one to each of you!

If you're interested in getting a lovely hand made holiday card from yours truly just send an email with your mailing address to withasideofdesiree [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll shoot a little glitter straight to your mailbox.

Don't worry, I promise not to send you spam or drop by your house for Christmas dinner or anything weird. I just want to send a little holiday cheer to all my lovely readers as a thank you for visiting my little corner of the net.

 I really do appreciate you guys, (I'm talking seriouspants here) and even if you're not that into the card idea, I just want you to know that your positive energy and your lovely comments are always the highlight of my week. Seriously, cyber hugs yall.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Some Sweet Day We'll Be Together"

Dear Thanksgiving,

I wish we could be better friends. I know that you're all about friendship, family and bounty, but I work retail. Right now all you are to me are those fleeting hours of sleep I get before Black Friday.

I tried to make you a pie,( you know, to turn things around) but it didn't really turn out. And it wasn't a very pleasant process either, I sort of lost my kitchen timer and screamed at the pie crust. Yeah.

But it's okay, I have high hopes for our relationship after I graduate school and become a night baker. We will turkey it up hardcore, harass everyone into eating only our food, and eat until our pants pop. I promise.

For now though, I have big plans for your buddy Christmas (I'm off that day, high five!). He's right around the corner and just as full of recipes to try out, mess up and, savor.

So...thanks anyway,


Bacon Sweet Potato Pie
Originally From Food Network Magazine, but I'm guessing they disowned it because I can't find it anywhere

If you like the idea of this recipe, just use your favorite sweet potato pie recipe, swap out the vanilla extract for bourbon and add a few sprinkles of diced cooked bacon on the top.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"I Think That We Should Play A Game. You Be Tarzan, I'll Be Jane"

I find myself getting a wrestling urge, and to tell you the truth I've got my eye set on someone in particular. Change. Right now Change is being a total ho and I'd like nothing better than to teach her a lesson. I know, I know that I was the one that invited (begged) Change to drop by my house for a little fun, buuut... I'm kind of over it.

She makes me work too hard. She makes my days chaotic and my pictures look fuzzy, and my voicemail inbox full.

Because of Change, I spent my entire morning on the phone to everyone who's ever worked at my soon to be culinary school. The entire morning. And guess what I got squared away?! Nothing.

In between phone calls and the leaving of voice mails, I was also trying my best to squeeze out some grainy pictures in the crummy grey low-light of an autumn drizzle... having zero luck and getting pissed.

Hey, you know what else you can call autumn? CHANGE!


She's trying to make me sing for my supper. But I say NO! That is not how we play. You were supposed to drop by and make everything better, not force me to work it all out! Way to bum me out Change!


But you know what? I've got your number. I know exactly what you're trying to do. You're waiting for that big cinematic moment, when I'm all red faced and kicking and screaming. You're waiting for your cue, when the music swells and you see I'm about ready to deck you, to make that mind blowing reveal.

"Show me! WAX ON WAX OFF!" you'll scream as I'm cracking my knuckles.

And it'll hit me 'GOD, THAT is what all this was for!' then we'll laugh when I realize how far things have come. And how much better life is, blah blah blah...

But for now Change, I still think we should wrestle. Even if you are kind of my teacher, I think it would make me feel better, you know? At least... for a while...


Upside Down Pear Cakes

Adapted from Roost and Tartelette

Makes 12


4 oz butter (1 stick)
1 cup buttermilk or soured milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup almond flour
1 2/3 cups Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour mix (or regular flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
11/2 tsp cinnamon

3 pears of choice, thinly sliced 
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt and cook the butter until it starts to turn a golden brown (smell deliciously nutty) and little dark brown bits starts to form. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl or measuring cup and let cool.

2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, the sugars, and the eggs until light and fluffy. About two minutes. Add the soured milk and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add the butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and the vanilla extract. Then divide out evenly between the cups of 12 greased muffin tins. Top with pear slices, then fill to the edges with the almond batter.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before turning out of the tins (so the saucy top has a little time to firm up). Serve warm or chilled.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"The Denial Twist"

Last Monday I came upon a realization. A decision. A fork in my road. I realized that if I really wanted to do the things I dreamed of doing, I was going to have to make a change. Struggle a little bit, and be bold. And that really the only thing standing in my way was me. Me. This idea was incredibly hard to swallow. In fact it was terrifying. So what did I do? I headed straight to the grocery store.

This very same Monday I suddenly got a craving for something not so high brow, it's a yellowy orange and comes in a little blue box. I just wanted a little taste but when I bent down to check on the prices I noticed there was really only a dime or two difference between big box and little, so big box jumped in my cart and followed me home. Until the next day... when I found myself thinking about those noodles again. Just how delicious they were and how nice it would be to have another taste. You know, just a little one. About seven days and four boxes later the boyfriend and I decided to head out to see a movie then have lunch at Panera. Lunch time rolls around and I ordered, you guessed it, just a little bowl of delicious cheesy noodles (again). And you know what? They were so good that on the way home I made a quick pit stop in at Kroger you know, just for one last box. From the outside it's pretty obvious that something weird was going on. I know how to actually cook now, something without actual food in it shouldn't hold such a power over my waking hours. And yet for some reason it did.

"It's really nothing" I told myself, "Just the good old wintertime spread" I joked with my mother "I'm perfectly happy so I know it's not stress! It's just soo delicious!" I heard myself lie but I had no idea what the trouble was.

All the while deep in my mind there was processing, mulling, learning to deal. Two more boxes of Kraft Dinner came and went and I had a conversation or two with my closest of besties, and suddenly things were slowly starting to take shape.

I looked at myself, I realized that I like many ladies before me I was absolutely strangled by the idea of my own success. Panicked by the prospect of failure and desperate to find an easy way to forget all about it and just go back to the complaining I was so comfortable with.

But today instead of running back to the box, I've taken a leap, I've signed my papers, made my very last (and real this time!) batch of mac and cheese, and officially signed up to start culinary school in 2012. Provided of course that the world doesn't end ( wouldn't that suck?!).

To all you smart girls out there who are munching on noodles and waiting to make a move, this is your sign.
Today is your day. Leap.

Carpe Diem Mac and Cheese
Adapted from  Smitten Kitchen

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2  cups (about 8 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups broccoli florets
Frozen tater tots 

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 3/4 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Parmesean  set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil.  Add the broccoli florets and the macaroni and Cook  for 5 minutes, then strain (the pasta will be underdone).Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Portion out the mixture into 6 ramekins (or mini pie plates). Sprinkle the remaining cheese and top with frozen tater tots in whatever design you like. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes . Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Vanilla Stink Eye" or "I Swear I Never Touch The Stuff!"

How to make vanilla  extract

Step one, get the idea while browsing on Pinterest (in the middle of the night) head straight to the container store website and order the exact same cute little bottles.

Step two wait, wait, wait for the bottles to be mailed to you.

Step three, finally get the bottles in the mail and realize that you're totally dumb and ordered the 10 ounce bottles instead of the 1 ounce. Rail at decimals for a while but move on.

Step 4, head to the liquor store at 9am because you work nights and that's the most convenient hour. Sound like a total lying wino when you tell people that "it's just for vanilla extract" and you "don't even really drink". Make sure that you overbuy and choose the largest bottle you can find so that when the clerk rings you up and puts the giant booze bottle in a brown paper sack you'll be sure to look classy with a capital 'K'.

Alright, so I had a few problems getting started on this project, but making vanilla extract is actually really easy. All you need is high proof liquor ( I used vodka), some vanilla beans and a container that seals up tight.

Step 1, gather yo stuff. You need three vanilla beans per 8 ounces of vodka. You can make a ton if you like but I just made 2 cups worth this time.

Step 2, split your vanilla beans down the middle, leaving about a half inch of uncut bean at both ends (so it looks like a canoe)

Step 3, place 3 vanilla beans in a container ( with a tight fitting lid) large enough to hold a 8 ounces of liquid and fill 'er up. As it turned out my oops bottles from the container store were actually the size I needed after all, if I'd gotten the teeny tiny ones I would've had to wait to use them.

Step 4 put the lid on, give it a good shake to let the booze and the beans get all cozy, and set the bottle(s) in a cool dark place for at least two months. Give it a shake every week or two to keep things lookin right. After your two months are up, it should be ready to use.

It should also be a lovely shade of brown by then, but this is my first batch (so it's still a baby). I'll update you in two months (when my baby grows up).

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Sloppy Joe, Slop, Sloppy Joe"

Hello my babies! How was your Halloween? Was it deliciously skantastic, or did you stay at home and greet trick or treaters? Guess which option I chose(here's a hint, I dressed as a Tardis.).

Okay honesty time, did you eat leftover Halloween candy with/for your breakfast today? I can't lie to you, I did this. Only the candy wasn't left over, trick or treaters took all my candy so I went out early this morning and bought a whole new stash at Kroger for half price (since it's officially November). I know, not an ideal set up for the most important meal of the day.

I mad up for it though, when lunch time rolled around I made sloppy joes (from scratch!) It's totally filled with real food, and it's warm salty protein delicious.

Also, it's the perfect way to gear up for round two of Halloween candy noms. You know... if you're into that.

P.S. Am I a total weirdo for singing Lunch Lady Land the entire time I was making these?

You can find the original recipe here on A Cozy  Kitchen.