Friday, April 27, 2012

loaded peanut butter cookies. the best.

hello peoples!

i have a new goal in life. and that is to figure out a way to live at a radiohead show.

i don't think i've ever been happier in my life than i was on saturday night. stars in the sky, lights and palm trees, thousands of people who feel just as happy as you..
and music, sweet beautiful crazy thom yorke music.

coachella 2012, so sweet.  so cheery and musical.

 i know it will be one of those memories that i will look back on forever until i am old and grey and cannot remember any more.

spotlight: peanut butter cookie revival.

i think that mr yorke would be more excited by a peanut butter cookie more than chocolate chip.
of course, it'd be vegan.

these are not vegan peanut butter cookies. i'm sorry radiohead! i love you. please let me still live at one of your shows?

peanut butter cookies. loaded with goods.
goods are peanut butter chips, toasty pecans, white chocolate and dark chocolate.

not vegan. and the very best peanut butter cookies ever, i do believe.

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from smitten kitchen via magnolia bakery

*recipe includes my personal favorite amount/ratio of add-ins. change it up however you like it!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate, cut into chunks (good white choc!)
2 tbsp dark chocolate chunks
 1 tbsp sugar, for sprinkling

preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. set aside. 
in a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. add the sugars and beat until smooth. add the egg and mix well. add the milk and vanilla extract. add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. stir in the peanut butter chips, pecans, white and dark chocolate chunks. place the tbsp sugar in a small bowl. drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, and roll to coat. arrange on ungreased cookie sheets leaving several inches between. using a fork, lightly indent with a criss-cross pattern, but do not overly flatten. bake for 10-12 minutes. do not overbake! the cookies may appear to be underdone, but they aren't!
cool cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

crispy brussels sprout + black bean tacos with avocado crema

who wants to dress up like a zombie with me at coachella? we can stumble into groups of sweaty urban outfitter dorks and swipe at the air and act gross and pretend to try to eat them and completely invade their major coolness?


i'm off to a land of neon and krAzy. and thom yorke. and hologram tupac.

but before i go i need you to take a look at these tacos. these tacos are doing something here, besides being tasty.

these tacos here are acting normal, like they're just regular tacos.

they've got the tortillas, the cumin-spiced beans, the limeyness...classic suspects in the taco species, right?

but hold up.
...this taco is doing what i do.

when i meet people, i act super normal. i feel myself doing it all the time, acting quite nice and normal.

brussels sprouts and parmesan. hey, you guys are weird to find in a taco... weirdness hiding in the normalness. like!

topped with some avocado crema, these half normal half wacky tacos are so. so. awesome.

i should learn a thing or two from this shouldn't i? i should try to be my weirder, less sickeningly nice self when dealing with brussels sprouts.

? nevermind. that's not the lesson at all.
it appears that my brain has already checked out.

Crispy Brussels Sprout and Black Bean Tacos 
and Avocado Crema
makes 5-6 tacos

1 lb brussels sprouts
olive oil
kosher or sea salt
handful of grated parmesan, about 1/4 cup
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
small tortillas, flour or corn
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 green onion, sliced
small handful cilanto
hot sauce

1 ripe avocado
juice from 1 lime
1/4 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 400. wash the brussels sprouts, peel the outer leaves and halve. toss them with olive oil, a generous sprinkle of coarse salt, pepper, and handful of parmesan. spread on a baking sheet and roast until crispy and a bit browned, about 25-30 minutes. let cool a bit, then chop them up a bit. 

place beans in a bowl and mix with cumin, salt and pepper. slightly mash. 
to make avocado crema, mash the flesh of the avocado well with the lime juice, sour cream, salt and pepper. 

heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil over med-high heat in a large skillet. place 1 or 2 tortillas in the pan and place two generous spoonfuls of black beans into the center. fry for a minute. then with metal tongs, fold over and fry on each side until browned and crisp, about 30 seconds on each side. repeat with the rest of the tortillas. 
stuff each taco with the chopped brussels sprouts and top with the avocado crema, sprinkle of green onion and cilantro and hot sauce. feast!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

bran muffins + sunday scenes

it's spring. and it's nice.
i've been trying to admire all these pretty things around me. like magenta blurs and green beach houses.

i've been embracing spring's finicky weather, with fireplaces when it's cold and open doors when it's hot.

and i've been loving all up on sunday, bigtime.

if there was any day built for taking it easy, for loving the simple things, it's sunday.
stay in pajamas longer, sit on the floor. wear love socks.

sundays are for homely romance, and walks with my two favorite boys.

sundays are for trying not to think of all the crap you need to do.

for drinking bouzy coffee out of giant mugs.

how about appreciating people you don't know. whoever's gate this is here, sir or ma'am, i appreciate you. i took a picture of your gate and now it is on my blog. we're connected.

sundays are definitely about food too... there is certainly no better day to bake muffins. shall i smell up the house with some sweet muffin smells?

yes. always yes.

bran muffins.

bran muffins are homely and perfect like a sunday. i'm not talking about the god awful dry health-food bran muffins. those make me angry.

i'm talking about these ones, these ones that make me grin. and stuff my cheeks like a squirrel.

they are light and a little chewy, punched up with some orange, and softened with buttermilk.
they are homely and perfectly sweet like a sunday.

the leftovers were breakfast this morning, as i longed for more frangelico and another weekend.

Bran Muffins
adapted from Nancy Silverton via David Leibovitz

2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/2 cup prunes, pitted
1 cup + 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
zest of half an orange
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour ( i used graham flour )
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

preheat oven to 350. grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with papers. 
spread the wheat bran on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6-8 minutes, stirring a couple times so it cooks evenly. let cool. 
while the bran is toasting, heat the dates and prunes with 1/2 cup water. simmer for 10 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. puree the softened dates and prunes in a food processor until smooth. 
in a large bowl, mix together the toasted bran, buttermilk, 1 cup water. then mix in the fruit puree, orange zest, and brown sugar. 
stir in the oil, egg, and egg white. 
mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and add to the wet ingredients. stir until the ingredients are just combined. spoon the batter into the muffin tins, mounding the tops. bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the muffins feel set in the center. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

vanilla berry semifreddo

ello people. ello blog. it's truly been a week.

yesterday, i went to the gym.

at this gym, i got on a treadmill and decided to race the guy running next to me.

rules of the competition: do not stop running until the guy next to me stops running and then i win.

sure enough, the guy i selected to race against turned out to be quite the runner.

no, i cannot stop. the only rule is that i need to win. i must ignore these side cramps and the urge to lay down on a floofy cushion.

and SO, i ran harder than i have since my athletic high school years and theN he stopped.
mission complete and I WIN.

after i won, i poured the rest of my water on my head and tried to avoid all 90 mirrors in the gym...
because, damn...human faces should not ever be so red.

but i was so proud that i awarded myself with another one of my made up games. this one is much better. i call it pillowfest.

rules of pillowfest: get into bed well before you plan on going to sleep. gather all the pillows and blankets you have access to. arrange them in the comfiest coziest way.

make sure you have your loosest fitting pants on. pull them way up.

then do some major self-indulgent multi-tasking. this tends to include:
1. my computer on top of a pillow on top of my lap.

2. a couple cookbooks, notebooks, and markers to my left.

3. a hot beverage and a snack. probably a sweet one.

4. remote swallowed up in the bed somewhere, and whatever bravo rerun on in the background.

good. great. everyone deserves pillowfest after a long week.

and even more if they've just won a big race against a stranger who didn't know about the race.

i also want some damn ice cream.

but this is not ice cream. this is a semifreddo. it's cold and frozen and creamy like ice cream.

but it's lighter. and more whippy.
and you don't need an ice cream maker! if you have eggs and cream and hands, you can make this right now. right on broheim!

have you ever put a tub of cool whip in the freezer and then got a spoon and attacked it?
this is just like that but better times 633784930.

Vanilla Berry Semifreddo
adapted from a cozy kitchen via donna hay

*use whatever berries or fruits you'd like, and add as much or as little as 
you prefer, the measurements are super adaptable!

3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pint blackberries
salt and sugar, for purees

line a 2 quart loaf pan with parchment and pre-chill pan in the freezer. 

make the berry purees: place the raspberries in a food processor with a pinch of salt and a few pinches of sugar. process until smooth. spoon into a small bowl and set aside. then add blackberries to the food processor with another pinch of salt and sugar. process til smooth, scrape into another small bowl, and set aside. 

place eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and sugar into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or a double boiler). attach a thermometer and beat either by hand or with a hand-held electric mixer, for 6-8 minutes, until thick and pale and 160 degrees F. remove from heat and beat for an additional 6-8 minutes or until cool. 
in a separate bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream until stiff peaks form. gently fold cream into the egg mixture until well-combined. pour into the chilled loaf pan. 

spoon over about 1/4 cup of raspberry puree and 1/4 cup blackberry puree and use a spatula or knife to swirl it through the cream mixture. freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. 
slice to serve! can serve with the leftover fruit puree or plain. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

classic banana cake with brown butter frosting

idealistic me makes banana bread every week. it fills the house with good smells and i feed it to people i love and bring it to neighbors while wearing clean frilly oven mitts and life is full of banana bread love.

idealistic me uses the same perfected banana bread recipe that i have clearly memorized, and i don't use run on sentences.

bringing it back to real life...

i don't make banana bread every week. i don't have one memorized recipe that i always use.

and my oven mitts are not frilly. they're actually disgusting.

the other morning, i faced the ugly facts.
there must be at least 20 black, mangled, barely-even-bananas-anymore bananas piled up in my freezer.

that's too many.
i must accept that i am not a banana bread machine of a housewife and start to tackle this freezer space problem.

bread? no.. cake.
bundt? yesyes.
frosting? unnecessary
brown butter frosting? severely recommended.

i'm gonna go bring this to my neighbor now. i'll be wearing different colored socks, but i'll pretend that i'm wearing lipstick and have my hair in the perfect updo.

yes, an updo.

Classic Banana Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
from Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar (i used 1 cup white, 1 cup brown)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
about 4 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups)
1 cup sour cream

center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350. generously butter a 12-cup bundt pan. 
whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. 
working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas. finally, mix in half the dry ingredients (the batter will curdle), all the sour cream, and then the rest of the flour mixture. scrape the batter into the pan, rap the pan on the counter to get the bubbles out and smooth the top. 
bake for 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. check the cake after 30 minutes or so, if the top is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool to room temperature. 
the cake is even better on the second day, so if possible, wrap the cooled cake with plastic and allow it to sit on the counter overnight. 

Brown Butter Frosting

8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1 1/2-2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch or two of sea salt
2-3 tbsp milk

cut the stick of butter in half. in a small saucepan, melt 4 tbsp (one half) butter over medium heat until it browns, and browned bits form at the bottom of the pan. remove from heat and pour into a bowl, leaving any burned bits behind. let cool a bit. 
place the remaining 4 tbsp softened butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat. add 1 cup confectioners sugar, browned butter, vanilla, salt, and beat. add milk, a little at a time, and more confectioners sugar until desired consistency and taste is reached. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

meyer lemon pistachio rice pudding



this is a calm space today.

i'm meditating.

and i'm sorry for shushing you.

some people lay on the floor, or revert into child's pose. i make rice pudding.

making rice pudding is therapeutic.

there's no vigorous whisking. the stirring is calm. i'm totally calm.

everything is quiet and romantic.

ah tranquility, it can be hard to come by.

meyer lemon pistachio rice pudding is so perfect for spring i can't stand it.

except that i can. i really really can.

wait, i'm getting worked up. i'm supposed to be relaxed.

40 minutes of gentle stirring, watching rice and milk slowly transform.

into pudding, beautiful pudding!

thick and creamy, comforting and calm.

i'll be hyper and freakish tomorrow. but today, eat and shush.

Lemon Pistachio Rice Pudding
adapted from smitten kitchen

1/2 cup arborio rice
4 cups milk
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
zest of a lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup pistachio nuts

in a large saucepan, place all the ingredients except the lemon juice and pistachios. bring it to a gentle boil and then turn it down to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan, about 30-40 minutes. taste to check for doneness, the rice should be very soft and plump. 
take the pudding off the heat and stir in lemon juice. stir in some chopped pistachio nuts and sprinkle the rest on top. can serve warm immediately or chilled. i like this one chilled. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

roasted cauliflower & fingerlings with lemon tahini dressing

hey. you there!
welcome to another week.

how was your weekend? what kind of weekend food have you been eating?

mexican food? bratwurst? hard cider?

umm. check check and check.

it's nice to treat monday as a recharge day. on mondays, i tend to drink more than 2 cups of coffee and want vegetables more than i normally do.

so. dinner with cauliflower and potatoes. it's gonna be way better than you think it's gonna be.

this dinner snuck up and said "WHATUP JULIA, I'm tonight's dinner and you best be treatin me with a little respect. i was never a cheeseburger or the popular kid in the crisper, but YO, look at me now. I look dayum good."

word for word.
..i used to watch maury when i was home sick in 7th grade.

have you run out of things to say on your blog when you turn meals into characters on the maury show?
maybe so.

but this dinner, this delightful medley of cauliflower, fingerlings, and chickpeas...definitely NOT the father.

(oooooooooooooooh) (Booooooo) (cauliflower skips around the room clapping and nodding)

i'm sorry. i have absolutely no idea how any of this came up.

i'm ruining everything.

now. awkward transition into talking about the food.

fingerling potatoes are sliced and roasted til crispy like big french fries.
cauliflower and chickpeas get sprinkled with cumin and roasted til caramelized.

while all this roasting is going on, mix up the easiest tastiest dressing with tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil. drink wine if you feel like it.

to make a medley, toss everything together. add red onion, arugula, and golden raisins for bonus flavors and textures.
pile it all onto a mound of brown rice.

eat it. and don't think about maury ever again.

Roasted Cauliflower & Fingerling Medley with Lemon Tahini Dressing
serves 5-7

   2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
1 - 1 1/2 lb bag fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
few handfuls of arugula
1/3 cup golden raisins
olive oil
sea salt
cooked brown rice

for dressing:
1 garlic clove, minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp well-stirred tahini
2-3 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil

preheat oven to 350. toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and a few large pinches of cumin. spread onto 1 or 2 baking sheets. spread potatoes on a separate baking sheet, drizzle and toss with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. roast for 20-25 minutes. turn the oven temperature up to 425. roast for 10 more minutes until caramelized and crisp. remove from oven. spread chickpeas onto one of the baking sheets with the cauliflower. roast for 5 more minutes, until the chickpeas crisp slightly. remove from oven. 
to make dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together garlic and lemon juice. add the tahini, and whisk to blend. add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. add more water to thin to desired consistency. 

toss the cauliflower and chickpeas with the potatoes, onion, arugula, and golden raisins. mound on top of rice and spoon dressing on top.