Salsa To The Rescue

Are you ready for some football? Just two weeks before the Super Bowl is here. And this Sunday the AFC and NFC will play the deciding games to determine who will be playing against each other. It’s kind of a big deal, if you’re a sports fan.

And if you are hosting or going to a Super Bowl party, you’re probably already thinking about the food. I’m just being honest here… Or maybe that’s just me. And if you’re not into football parties, maybe you’re thinking about snack foods to sustain you during the grueling upcoming Winter Olympics. Or maybe you’re just looking for something yummy to nosh on while binge watching Netflix. No judgement here. And lucky for you, I have an answer. Chips and salsa. Doesn’t matter what the question is, just remember the answer is always chips and salsa.

This salsa recipe is inexpensive, super fast (literally less than 10 minutes start to finish), and super easy. I love it because it’s also simple to modify to your own particular tastes. You can enjoy it immediately but it seriously gets better after the ingredients have had a few hours or overnight to meld. If you can wait that long…. 😉

Restaurant Style Blender Salsa

1 – 28 oz can whole or diced tomatoes, with juice

1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1-2 green jalapeño peppers, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (remove seeds if you prefer less heat)

1 Tbsp minced garlic

2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)

2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 tsp granulated sugar ( optional or to taste, this balances heat from peppers and acidity of tomatoes)

1 large bunch of fresh cilantro, discard stems

1/4 cup lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor in the order listed. Pulse or blend on high speed until smooth or the desired consistency. Taste it at this point and tweak to your own personal preference. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Makes approximately 6 cups of salsa.

No Bother, Honeycomb Candy

“Oh bother.” Today is National Winnie the Pooh day! January 18th is also the birthday of the famed author, A.A. Milne, who gave us the delightful adventures of Pooh Bear and his friends. Thank you Mr. Milne!

I wanted to create something very Pooh Bear-like for today. And the only thing, the obvious thing, was something honey infused. My internet search brought up all kinds of recipes but I was having a hard time settling on one.

“Think. Think. Think.” I whispered in my most Winnie the Pooh voice. The character of Pooh is simple and sweet. His love for his friends and for honey pretty much define him. I don’t want to say he’s basic, but maybe uncomplicated is a better word. So I was looking for a honey based recipe that was uncomplicated but also a uniquely fun treat.

I suddenly remembered a candy I made last Christmas that totally fit the bill. Some people call it seafoam candy, sponge candy, or honeycomb candy because of its interesting texture created by a little science. The ingredients are minimal and probably in your kitchen right now. Four ingredients- honey, sugar, water, and baking soda. The only special gadget I recommend is a candy thermometer because you need to make sure the honey, sugar, and water reach 300 degrees before whisking in the baking soda. That’s when the science and candy magic happen. It foams up and expands like crazy. Quickly pour it onto a greased or lined cookie sheet, but do not try to spread it at all. That deflates the super light, porous texture. The exact recipe and directions can be found here https://frugalfamilyhome.com/food/recipes/homemade-sweet-treats-honeycomb-candy .

After you allow it to cool completely, break it into pieces and enjoy! If you want to get all fancy, you could dip the pieces in melted chocolate. It is also delicious crushed and sprinkled over ice cream. I opted to keep it simple and sweet. I think that Winnie the Pooh would have wanted it that way.

Let Them Eat Cake

Sometimes foodie inspiration is something you see that peaks the interest of your inner creativity. And sometimes foodie inspiration comes from refrigerator roulette where you look at what’s in there and think about what you can make with the contents. And sometimes the two come together and it’s magic.

A painstaking plan of tiramisu for Christmas dessert fell through (specific reasons being unimportant at this point). I think I ultimately ended up making a delicious flourless chocolate cake but I’ll come back to that in another post in the future. So this week I discovered the mascarpone I had gotten for the tiramisu buried in the back of my fridge. As I was trying to think of how to use it, I found an interesting recipe that actually called for the exact amount I had. Seriously, how often does that happen? The answer is almost never, at least in my kitchen.

This particular cake is called Chocolate Mascarpone Bundt Cake and it was everything I was hoping for in a chocolate cake. Dense. Moist. Chocolate overload. Nothing really complicated about it, but it does take about 60-70 baking time. You could glaze it, but I just went with a simple dusting of powdered sugar and served it with whipped cream. The recipe is here http://www.thebakingfairy.net/2016/02/chocolate-mascarpone-bundt-cake/.

Here are a few extra thoughts on this cake. Room temperature ingredients are a must. Make sure your bundt pan is really well prepared. This means thoroughly greased and floured. I am a fan of Bakers Secret pan spray but that’s just a personal preference. Also, I used Hershey’s special dark baking cocoa and dark chocolate chips, but regular baking cocoa and any type of chocolate chips will work just fine. Although the recipe calls for mascarpone I honestly think that regular cream cheese would work as well in a pinch. Lastly, I released the cake from the pan with only 10 minutes cooling time. I have never had a good experience with waiting longer than that for a bundt pan. Maybe it’s just me?I hope you give it a try. Sometimes things have a surprisingly wonderful way of working out! I ❤️ happy endings.

Rachel Is A Hot Mess

In case you were wondering, today is National Hot Pastrami Sandwich day! I discovered that there is an actual webpage dedicated to listing all the things nationally recognized for every day of the year. It’s amazing! Today is also National Dress Up Your Pet Day, National Ratification Day, and National Sunday Supper Day.

Ironically, pastrami sandwiches are one of my favorites so naturally it was the obvious choice for dinner. And here we are. But first a little history…..

Pastrami is a popular deli meat most often made from beef.  It was originally created as a way to preserve meat before modern refrigeration. To make traditional pastrami, the raw meat is placed in brine, then partially dried, seasoned with various herbs and spices, smoked and steamed. A wave of Romanian Jewish immigration introduced pastrami (pronounced pastróme), a Romanian specialty, in the second half of the 19th century.  Early English references had used the spelling “pastrama” before the modified “pastrami” spelling was used. New York kosher butcher, Sussman Volk is credited with creating the first pastrami sandwich in 1887, claiming to have gotten the recipe from a Romanian friend in exchange for a favor. Due to the overwhelming popularity of his sandwich, Volk converted his butcher shop into a restaurant to sell pastrami sandwiches. And the rest is, as they say, history!

The pastrami sandwich I love is a variation of a Reuben sandwich. It’s called a Rachel. Pastrami, Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and French dressing are all swaddled together between two pieces of toasted Rye bread for a sandwich extravaganza. A word to the wise- stock up on napkins with this baby. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty and tangy, but it’s also super messy. A real hot mess, but in a good way! A kosher dill pickle on the side and I feel like I’m sitting in a NYC deli. Now if I only had a picture of Jennifer Anniston…..

Super Easy, Super Fast Homemade Pretzels

Yesterday I took some cookies to one of my neighbors. I have a ridiculous over abundance right now. We were talking about baking and she sheepishly mentioned that their favorite thing I have shared with them are my homemade pretzels. It was such a sweet compliment! Her youngest son in particular asked if I could make them again soon, and how could I turn down a request like that?

As I was looking up the recipe and thinking about how late in the afternoon it was to start a lengthy project, I came across a recipe that had great reviews and was only 30 minutes start to finish. You know how you read something that seems too good to be true, but you think it’s worth a try? This was one of those times. And I’m so glad I did! Totally amazing.

The recipe I used is here https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2012/12/25/30-minute-whole-wheat-pretzels/. A couple of things to note, I didn’t use whole wheat flour. I just used plain old white all purpose flour. Also, I opted for giving the pretzels a quick dip in the baking soda bath just before baking. I just think it’s what makes pretzels taste like pretzels. Probably more of a personal opinion than anything else. So I can’t vouch for how they turn out by skipping that step and just doing a quick broil at the end of baking since I didn’t go that route.

What I can vouch for is these are easy, fast, and delicious. No worrying about activating yeast or rise times. Just mix, shape, dunk, and bake. It’s just that simple. When I took them to my neighbor about an hour later, the astonished look on her face was priceless. And the sweet thank you card they left on my door last night absolutely made my day! I ❤️ my neighbors.

Roast Beef Sandwiches And Dinner Is Served

I have never been much of a meat eater. I don’t mean I’m a vegetarian. I’m just super picky about meat, roasts in particular. I absolutely hate dry and chewy meat. It probably has to do with a generation that believed meat had to be well done and over cooked to be safe. It wasn’t until I was thirty something that I realized there were other possibilities. Medium rare steaks, pork chops tender and juicy, or chicken you could actually cut with a fork and not fear death. But I still had my doubts about roasts. I have ruined my share of these so I usually avoid them altogether.

This week a particularly good sale on bottom round roasts beckoned me to give it another try. Sometimes overcoming your fear of something is just a matter of giving yourself to permission to be less than perfect. So with that in mind I was willing to try it again. I’m so glad that I did. I read and compared several recipes beforehand and finally settled on this one http://goldilocksfindsmanhattan.com/2011/01/03/perfectly-roasted-bottom-round-roast-with-garlic-and-thyme/ I’m so pleased to say that it turned out great. This particular cut of beef will never be “melt in your mouth” velvety steak, but it will make incredible roast beef sandwiches that won’t break your grocery budget.

I made the roast in the morning and gave it plenty of time to rest in the refrigerator while I made French roll buns for the sandwiches. Is there anything better than fresh baked bread? Hmmmm….. With that being said, here is one of my favorite recipes for French roll buns https://life-in-the-lofthouse.com/french-bread-rolls/ I love that it’s minimal ingredients, minimal effort with roughly 90 minutes start to finish.

And dinner is served!

Easy Peasy Homemade Croutons

Do you ever find yourself left with half of a baguette of French bread? Maybe it was pasta night and you overestimated how much garlic bread to make. Or maybe the package of bagels was a better deal at the store than buying them individually and now two bagels remain in the bag, wistfully reminding you of fresher days. Fear not! They are perfect for using to make croutons. A million times better than anything you’ll ever buy prepackaged, croutons are a snap to make and soooo delicious. Almost any type of bread works and you can control everything that goes into them. Use them on salads, soups, or just for snacking. The base recipe I Love is http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-make-croutons/amp/.

My leftover 2 Asiago bagels ended up being right around 3 cups of cubes, but if you have more or less bread cubes just adjust the oil and whatever spices you want. It’s really that easy – 15 minutes start to finish, easy peasy! ❤️

Roll Out The Red Carpet With Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Tonight the Golden Globes are back. And this year promises to be the best so far. Words of empowerment, facing controversies, fashion statements. I think it’s going to be something we haven’t seen before. The Golden Globes have been around since 1944 honoring film and television both domestic and international.   The red carpet walk is always an exciting  kickoff for the ceremony, and in keeping with that theme, I made some red velvet chocolate chip cookies to enjoy while I watch (get the recipe here https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/12/13/red-velvet-chocolate-chip-cookies/). I hope all your favorite picks take home an award tonight!

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Today I want to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. No, I don’t mean Clint Eastwood drenched in a sombrero and poncho, as classic as it is. Sometimes you just hit a jackpot with all three in one day. And today, my friends, was that day. But here’s where I’m going to change up the order by starting with the ugly.

The east coast is getting slammed with a monster winter storm, a bomb cyclone. It’s ugly. From everything I’ve read, it’s one of the worst winter storms on the east coast for the past 100 years. All I can say is send prayers and good thoughts for the amazing people enduring it.

Next, let’s talk about the bad. Specifically a frozen food product which admittedly was an impulse buy that I deeply regret. Mac N Cheetos. Awful. Truly awful. Nothing about this remotely tastes like Cheetos and the macaroni and cheese is barely recognizable. My recommendation is make your own Mac n cheese and coat and bake it in your oven or find a friend that has an AirFryer and go crazy experimenting with it!

And last but not least, this brings us to the good. I love cookies. Cookie Monster is possibly my spirit animal. As the holiday baking frenzy came to a close this week I realized that I hadn’t made one single gingersnap. As I was getting out my go-to recipe I had a sudden moment of inspiration that led to the creation of chocolate gingersnaps. These are good. I mean really good. Chewy crispy chocolatey with the perfect amount of spice! I love sweet successes. The base recipe I used is https://www.chef-in-training.com/2014/11/gingersnaps/ . The only change I made is 2 cups all purpose flour and 1/4 cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On that note, good night to all. Stay warm. Stay safe. Stay well. ❤️

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First blog post

Welcome! Thanks for joining me on this new journey into the world of blog. I’m excited about everything 2018 has in store for me and for you. A few things I hope to share here are: my absolute love for all things food related (pics, recipes, tips, history, etc), a little random information/fun facts, and an occasional rant or rave.

Please bear with me while I get the hang of this. In the meantime, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes, as well as results from my never ending foodie bucket list.