Black Bean Soup

Topic: Food

Dude, here in Tennessee it is cold, dreary and no one has their tax return yet. So, now is a good time to stay in and make some yummy black bean soup! It will warm you up, keep you healthy and it’s cheap and easy to make. Also, it can easily be made vegan by omitting the sour cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4- 6 cloves of garlic, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dry. Remember dry herbs are concentrated.)
  • 3 regular sized cans of black beans (45 oz total) – Save ½ C liquid
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (I like Texas Pete)
  • Sour cream

Directions

  1. In large sauce pan, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, lower heat and sauté 5 minutes more.
  2. Add Beans, liquid, stock, tomatoes w/ juice, Cumin and hot sauce.
  3. Bring to boil and lower to simmer 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool a bit.
  4. Use immersion blender** to puree about half of batch, or to your preference.
  5. Serve with Sour Cream

You can have this ready in 30 minutes and it is so flipping good! I like serving it with tortilla chips.

(And this post, the first post in 1 year 1 month and 16 days is in honor of MarQuis, who got me excited to talk about food again today. Thank you love. xo

 

**This is the immersion blender I use. I’m not associated with Amazon but in case you don’t know what it is here you go. They’re great for all sorts of things, so although I’m not normally a fan of special gadgets, this one I approve of.

 

Easy and Quick Cheesy Bread

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I made this last night to go with my orgasmic vegetable soup. Yes, I just used orgasmic and vegetable soup in the same sentence. It’s really effing good, so back off! Anyway, this bread was the perfect compliment to the soup. Salty, cheesy and crunchy. Yum!

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  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 Tablespoon white sugar
  •  2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, or a mix of Cheddar and Parmesan
  •  1 egg
  •  1 cup milk
  •  1/3 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400, grease pan with butter or cooking spray
  2. In a medium bowl mix all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cheese)
  3. In large bowl mix together egg, milk and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix just until all batter is wet.
  4. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven.

I was so hungry that I immediately tore into the bread and turned it into a crumbly (although delicious) mess. I’d recommend taking it out of the pan and letting it cool for about 15 minutes if you care about presentation. It’s amazing the next day if you crisp it under the broiler with some butter. Enjoy!

Tiramisu Cupcakes

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So, a few months ago my boss asked me for a suggestion for a dessert that would pair well with limoncello for a wine dinner. I vaguely remember doing some research and thinking the flavors of pear and tiramisu would be good. Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, as I drive out of town for the day. He calls me to remind me the wine dinner is tomorrow, and also, he hasn’t done anything with the dessert course and would I be able to put something together. Something that matched what was on the pre-printed menu that said  “Vanilla Pear tiramisu.”

The pear part was easy. I decided to poach the pear in a vanilla/white wine concoction. The tiramisu not so much. I have never made tiramisu but I know it’s supposed to chill for about 24 hours and I was making it 6 hours before the event. Even if I chilled it for less time, there was no way in hell I was going to use store bought lady fingers, and I simply didn’t have time to make it happen. I began to panic. I considered going for the “deconstructed” version of tiramisu. It’s a great way to make it look like you know what you’re doing when you don’t. (Especially for people that like to think they’re eating something fancy.) Even that wouldn’t work.

It was then that I had a brilliant idea. Cupcakes. Everyone loves a cupcake. Everyone loves booze and coffee. Therefore it going to reason that people would like a cupcake soaked with coffee and booze. I gave up the idea of trying to make legit tiramisu and have fun with the course. Then it was just a matter of finding a recipe, tweaking it, and making it. The cupcakes were super easy, came out great and everyone loved them. I will leave real tiramisu to the lovely Italians, but I will be making this recipe again for sure.

For the cupcakes I used a souped up box cake recipe out of desperation,  and it actually worked really well for the dessert. It had a denser consistency that soaked up the liquid well. (Don’t judge me for using a box cake. Desperate times call for desperate measures.) Any vanilla/white cake will work, so I didn’t include a recipe for the cake. Below is the recipe for the frosting and syrup.


Mascarpone Frosting

(Yield Makes about 2 cups)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

Directions

  1. With mixer, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. (Keep a close eye on it. It goes from liquid to done quick.)
  2. In another bowl, mix mascarpone and powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely combined. Use as soon as possible, although it will keep for a few hours in the fridge if necessary.

 

Boozy/Caffeinated Syrup

Yield Makes enough for 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup espresso, warm
  • 2 ounce Kahlua. (You can use Marsala, but it’s expensive and not as common.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Mix all together until sugar is melted. Let cool

 

How to put it all together:

After cupcakes have cooled, use a pastry brush to put syrup on cupcakes. Eventually i started pouring it on each one, because I wanted them good and soaked. Just make sure it doesn’t over saturate or the cake will fall apart. Once it’s good and drenched, top with mascarpone. If you need to do this a bit ahead of time that is fine, just keep cool.

It’s really good, even if it’s a bit of a detour from your traditional dessert. Sometimes restraint is the best way to create something cool.

xoxo

 

Hedonist Lovers Chocolate Frosting

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This frosting is so good you’re going to want to… I don’t even know… Kiss a stranger, giggle, have a food-gasm. This is my most requested frosting, and it’s so easy it’s ridiculous. People compare it to ganache because of the smooth texture and richness, but it’s just a good old fashioned chocolate frosting. Enjoy, my chocolate fiends.

Makes 32 servings.

(I normally half this recipe when I’m making one cake. For a big batch of cupcakes I would use the whole recipe, as I pile on the frosting.)

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Butter, softened (If you are planning on substituting something for the butter then you are on the wrong website. We don’t do that here.)
  • 9 Cups powered sugar
  • 2.5 Cups cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Seriously, spend the extra $3 for real vanilla. It really makes a difference.)
  • 1 Cup Milk

Directions

  1. In a large bowl beat butter until it is creamy.
  2. Add cocoa and beat until smooth. Slowly add in powered sugar alternating with some milk and the teaspoon of vanilla.
  3. Cover your bowl and mixer with a big kitchen towel. This stuff will go everywhere. I promise, it’s not that you’re a crappy baker. Every bakery and restaurant I’ve ever worked I have to do this. Powdered sugar is a bitch to work with.
  4. Grab whatever you’re going to frost and get crazy. I suggest the chocolate cake recipe here.

I love ya’ll more than butter. Happy baking!!

 

Milk Chocolate Frosting

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This is my Mom’s recipe for Chocolate frosting, and I love it! Being a milk chocolate frosting, it isn’t quite as rich as my other recipe, which is so silky and rich it is like a ganache. That being said, i think that’s a good thing on a rich chocolate cupcake. Also, it uses less than half of the butter my other recipe calls for, which is nice if you’re low on cash.

Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Cup cocoa
  • .5 teaspoon salt (if you use salted butter omit this)
  • 2/3 Cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 7 Cups powdered sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in large bowl.
  2. Mix in cocoa and salt, beat until really smooth. (If you don’t melt the butter all the way it will be lumpy and gross, so do it.)
  3. Add milk and vanilla and mix some more. It should be kinda wet at this point, that’s good.
  4. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few cups at a time. (If you have a large dish towel, throw it over the mixer and bowl. This will really help with the powder sugar explosion that can happen.)
  5. Beat frosting until it is light and fluffy. Lick the beaters, spoon, spatula and maybe frost some cupcakes.

And finally, if you have a dog who likes to be underfoot while you cook, attempt to clean the powder sugar from his face before he looks like he has a drug problem.

Ganache – Definition

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[gahn-AHSH] – A rich icing/filling made of semi-sweet chocolate and whipping cream, heated and stirred together until the chocolate has melted. The mixture is cooled until lukewarm and poured over a cake or torte.

Super Easy Chocolate Cake

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I’m not kidding, this is the easiest recipe for a cake ever, and everyone loves it. I should keep it to myself, but I won’t because you are wonderful and deserve to be able to make great chocolate cake for those you love.

You’ll notice this calls for vegetable oil and not butter. You know I love me some butter, but for cakes I’m a fan of oil. I find cakes made with butter tend to be crumbly with a stale texture.  (Of course, my frosting is always and forever made with all butter. )

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 Cup flour (all purpose)
  • 3/4 Cup cocoa, whatever brand you prefer
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1.5 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 Cup boiling water

 

Directions

  1. Prep your ingredients! Measure, make sure you have enough cocoa etc…
  2. Pull out the butter you’ll need for the frosting, it takes awhile to soften
  3. Pre-heat oven to 350
  4. Grease and flour your pan*
  5. Mix all dry ingredients into large bowl
  6. Add all wet ingredients EXCEPT boiling water (I told you it’s easy, you only need one bowl!!)
  7. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stop at 30 seconds and scrape bowl (Start 1 C water boiling at this point)
  8. Gently and slowly pour in water, mix. It will be really runny, don’t worry, it’s supposed to be.
  9. Pour into pan(s) and bake for 35 minutes. It is done when toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.
  10. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from pan(s) and cool on rack.
  11. Frost and get ready to be loved and adored.

* Pan info:   Two 9″ pans: 35 minutes     One 13″x9″x2″: 35 minutes     Cupcakes: 22-26 minutes

Super easy chocolate Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking tips, aka, How to not screw up a recipe

Topic: Food

I was talking to my dear friend Julia today and she was telling me about making scones. She commented that it wasn’t difficult to make, she just thought it would be because she doesn’t bake often. I hear a lot of people say things like, “It seems overwhelming when I look at a recipe. I’m afraid I won’t know how to do something.” Now, there are some recipes out there that make no flipping sense, but for the most part a recipe is nothing more than assembly instructions. And we all know from putting together IKEA furniture, that there is a right and wrong way to assemble something. Here are some tips that will make your cooking experinece so much easier, and hopefully get you spending more time in the kitchen.

Read the recipe from start to finish.

I can’t tell you how many times I have screwed up a recipe because I didn’t read it through. It’s not enough to read the ingredients, sometimes important things are hidden in those awful long-winded instructions. For example, you may get half way through something and realize you need a blender and it’s 2am and you don’t have one. You’re screwed and hungry. Boo.

Rewrite the recipe in a simplified way that makes sense to you.

Recipes tend to be big on instructions. A lot of that stuff will only confuse you and make it harder to remember where you are in a recipe. If you’re brand new you may need most of the info, but as you get more confident you can change: “Now, taking the ground beef, put it in the pot at medium high temp, break up with a spoon and brown for 12-15 minutes” and shorten it to “beef, med-high, brown 15 minutes.” Easier, right?

Prep your ingredients!!

If you look at my videos, all my ingredients are in their own cute little bowls. There are so many reasons to do this. First, if you focus on each item, you’re less likely to mess up the amount. Any professional cook or baker will tell you that this is an indespenisble step. You gotta do it. Secondly, when you begin cooking you’re not going to burn the onions because you forgot to chop the garlic that needs to go in next. Nor will you discover half way through that you don’t have something necessary for the recipe. Finally, it keeps your kitchen so much cleaner! By the time I start cooking my kitchen is clean and I can focus on making the dish correctly, and I can enjoy myself more, which is really the point.

Take notes

I’ve said it before, but if you want to make something good, you need to do it a few times. I have a handful of recipes that I’ve made enough times that I know they are going to be good. It’s nice to build up a collection this way, but if you don’t take notes on what worked or didn’t, you’ll have to start from scratch every time. I like to write notes on the recipe that I rewrote from the original (see above.) Sounds a little time consuming, but you have to do something while the onions brown, so jot things down. It helps, promise.

Become friends with Google

If you get to some part in a recipe and you don’t know what they’re talking about, google that sh*t! No matter what it is, someone has made a video, written an article or has a blog that explains how to do it. You can search on the top right of my website for something, but if it’s not there look it up! (This is another reason reading the entire recipe helps.)

There’s a million more things, but I promise you that these four, simple things will make a huge difference in your next kitchen adventure. Now go have fun! xoxo

A recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Bisque… Yum!

Topic: Food

My wonderful cousin Lisa asked for a recipe that she can use with her butternut squash. Smart girl bought hers pre-cut, which is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard of! I personally hate cutting squash because I’m sure I’m going to cut off a finger. Then after all that work of trying to preserve your digits you get, like, one cup worth.

I found a recipe that although I haven’t tried, I feel pretty confident is gonna be delicious. In fact, I’ll be making it myself soon to be sure. Either way, I know we can count on Lisa to give us an update on what she thought of it, if she makes it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups roasted squash
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple, cored, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (This is the brand I use. You should be able to find it at any grocery store in the Asian section.
  • 3 ½ cup chicken (or veggie) stock (if using canned, it’s 2 cans and use low sodium)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Optional:
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream, stirred to loosen
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush squash pieces with oil. Roast on cookie sheet until tender, about 30 minutes. Squash is done when it is “fork tender.” (Fork Tender is a fancy name for cooking something until you can easily stab through it with a fork. Now you know some useless cooking jargon!)
  2. Saute onion, carrots, apple and butter in large pot for about 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
    Add curry paste; stir 2 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, and squash. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 1 hour. Discard bay leaves.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. (Or, use an immersion blender if you have one, they’re so helpful for making soup.) Return to pot. Stir in cream and honey. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Rewarm over medium-high heat. Serve with Sour cream and parsley if you’d like.

Best way to cook bacon. Mmmm…. Bacon.

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Bacon rules. But, burned up bacon with raw fat sucks. So does a stove covered in grease. So, what can you do, because you gotta eat bacon! Well, the answer is this: you cook it in the stove! Simple.

All you need is a cookie pan, and if you don’t have one of these, well, maybe you’re not ready to cook bacon. If you have a cooling rack that helps, but you don’t have to have it.

Here you go:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Put bacon on rack or straight on cookie sheet.
  3. Cook in oven 8-15 minutes depending on how thick the bacon is.
  4. When it’s done, set on paper towels if you don’t have a rack or let cool on rack.

See, pretty simple. Don’t worry if there’s some smoke when you open the door, it’s normal. Also, don’t dump grease in sink!! Pour it in a soda can if don’t want to keep it to cook with it later. But really, why the hell would you not keep bacon fat!? It’s a gift from god, really.

So that’s it. If you’re in east Tennessee I strongly encourage you to try out Bentons bacon lt costs almost as much as illegal substances, but will make you feel better without the risk of jail time.

Xoxo