Nightmare Before Christmas Chili

From my friends’ Facebook statuses, you’d think New Yorkers had never seen snow before. But I’ll admit, seeing enormous, fluffy puffs of snow floating down in October was pretty exciting. So I decided to take some time off from studying for midterms and make myself a hearty dinner to fight off the bone-chilling cold.

It was snowing. I wanted chili. It was Halloween. I wanted pumpkin. I wanted pumpkin turkey chili. Once I had the idea, it took hold of me, and I ended up walking 12 blocks (the grocery store near my apartment is useless) through the nasty, slushy weather to buy canned pumpkin just so I could make this one, specific recipe. Crazy? Perhaps. But I will say, there is nothing like sitting down to a meal and eating exactly what you’ve been craving.

And there’s nothing like this chili, at least, not that I’ve tasted. The addition of pumpkin adds some unexpected sweetness to this chili, and because it’s made with turkey, it’s pleasantly filling rather than, well…whatever you want to call that feeling when you have to roll over to the couch and just lie there for an hour digesting. Post-Thanksgivingish, maybe. But that’s another holiday, entirely.

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Fall Care Package: Chewy Maple Cookies

Alex Heyison ’15 was phenomenal both vocally and dramatically in the role of Charles Guiteau, performing with a manic, off-kilter energy that sent shivers down our spines.

— From the Wesleyan Argus‘s review of Assassins

One month, one play, one regatta, several midterms, and waaay too many streakers after Alex’s departure for college, I started to get this niggling feeling that his cookie supplies had dwindled. And it was fall and I was in a baking mood and my mom had given me socks to mail him, so I baked some cookies, made a CD, and sent Alex a care package!

Or, at least, attempted to. Because these cookies did not make it out of our kitchen. There’s a subtle genius to this recipe, one that you don’t see coming until you’ve dipped a fingertip into the batter and suddenly find you’ve devoured half of it. There are only a few ingredients, which, to my mind, meant the cookies would be pretty basic. But in this case, the toning down of any other spices allows the full flavor of the maple syrup and the perfectly chewy texture of the cookies to really stand out.

So as I said, batch one never made it out of our kitchen. Batch two, however, arrived safely (though a little smushed) this afternoon.

As a result of the recipe’s minimalist nature, the outcome of these cookies depends entirely on the quality of the maple syrup you use. So it’s worth investing in the good stuff — don’t even consider using Aunt Jemima’s. I used Brad’s Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B. Grade B has a much stronger flavor than Grade A, and it can be a bit much for pancakes, but you have to use Grade B syrup for baking or all the flavor will be lost. And while I initially felt funny about spending that much money on syrup, the results were absolutely worth the splurge.

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One Ingredient Dinner: Spaghetti Squash

As much as I’d love to treat myself to four course feasts every night, most nights I’m lucky to eat dinner that isn’t frozen or out of a bag. Which is why during the week, spaghetti squash is my kind of meal: you only need one ingredient. It takes like five minutes to prep. You make it in the microwave. It’s filling enough that you feel satisfied after eating half the squash. And then you have leftovers ready for lunch the next day! Also, squash is just yummy and tastes like fall.

The one kind of annoying part is cutting the raw squash. Raw squash does not like to be cut. It’s apparently a cinch if you have a heavy-duty super-legit chef’s knife, which I, of course, do not own (yet). So there was some frenzied sawing involved… but in the end everything came out just fine and the doctors managed to successfully reattach my left pinky finger. (Kidding!)

Ingredients:

-1 spaghetti squash

-Parmesan cheese (optional)

You will also need:

-A large, sharpened kitchen knife. Think Psycho.

-A large, microwave-safe dish (I used a glass pie dish)

-Saran wrap

Step 1: Hack open your squash, aiming for a vertical cut down the center. Scoop out seeds and stringy bits until you end up with a sort of squash canoe.

Step 2: Place half of the squash face-down in a microwaveable container. Cover with saran wrap, leaving a small section open for ventilation.

Step 3: Microwave for 7-8 minutes. The squash is done when a butter knife can slide easily into the vegetable.

Step 4:  Take a moment to savor the irony and curse the universe. Of course. Now it’s easy to cut it with a #$%@ butter knife

Step 5: Using two forks, scrape out the inside of the squash. It should come out in spaghetti-like ribbons, but if it doesn’t then shredding it a little with the forks should get it to the right consistency.

You’ll be left with something like this:

And something like this:

Sprinkle with parmesan, and enjoy!

Tea Review: Revolution Orange Chocolate Green Tea

All good things must come to an end, and after a glorious two weeks of caffeinated bliss, my supply of Tazo Focus was no more. Which was doubly annoying, because 1) no more Tazo Focus and 2) Tazo focus is only sold at Target, which doesn’t exist near enough to Barnard to make it worth the trip. So really, no more Tazo Focus. I mentioned this to my mom, and, in true mom fashion, she promised to find me a replacement. And in true-true mom fashion, she found something even better.

At first, I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of disappointed. I loved Tazo Focus for the caffeine, not necessarily for the taste. And in terms of caffeine, this new green tea was certainly a did not measure up to the black tea/yerba mate/chocolate concoction I was used to.

But seriously, forget the caffeine — this tea tastes amazing. I wish you could smell things through the internet, because a cup of this stuff really does smell exactly like orange chocolate. I drink it for dessert sometimes, and it really is perfect because the small amount of caffeine means you can drink it at night and not get jittery.

It also comes in these fancy little teabags, which have their own pouch to help the tea stay fresh.

In conclusion, Revolution’s Orange Chocolate Green Tea is certainly no replacement for Tazo Focus. But I will definitely be just as devastated when I run out. Luckily, Revolution is also a lot easier to find.

Happy sipping!

Sarabeth’s Review at InsideNewYork.com

Hey guys! I just wrote a review of a meal I had at New York City brunch establishment, Sarabeth’s. You can read about it over here.

UPDATE: I’ve emailed the Sarabeth’s office and they agreed to send me some of their Blueberry Cherry spreadable fruit for culinary experimentation purposes! Stay tuned for lots of jam-based recipes.

Spicy Snacks: Curry-Cayenne Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

– Zucchini

-Curry powder

-Cayenne

-Salt

-Olive oil

Step 1: Slice your zucchini suuuper thin.

Step 2: Arrange on a greased baking sheet. Keep in mind — they will shrink! So no need to worry about crowding. Brush with a thin coat of olive oil and just a sprinkle of salt.

Step 3: Smother with spices. But don’t use too much — even the most die hard spicy fan won’t want to inhale large quantities of plain curry powder. Yuck.


(I should mention that I… perhaps used to much curry powder, so I’m speaking from experience)

Step 4: Bake in an oven heated to 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. At around 20 minutes, take the chips out and flip them.

Step 5: Nosh! These guys are addictive.

 

 

 

Recipe comes from here.

Kitchen Window: Showing Compassion Through the Gift of Food

Cinnamon rolls aren’t traditional condolence fare — you know, like a casserole or a bundt cake — but I somehow knew they were right, that their sweet spice would soothe my friend, would make her house feel like a warm blanket in the days after her dad died.

As we walked up the street to deliver them, my daughter, then 6, asked why we were bringing our friend food. Because she’s sad, I explained. And when you make people food with your hands, it can help them feel better.

She thought about it for a minute. “Because when they eat it, it goes inside them,” she said, “and then they know you love them, right?”

I’m pretty sure that entire teams of gastronomes, food scientists and culinary arts professionals couldn’t have come up with anything closer to the truth.

You can read the rest of the article, and get recipes for cinnamon rolls and more, over here.

Rosh Hashana Feast Finale: Brown Rice Pudding with Ginger and Raisins

This is a typical Rosh Hashana dessert. And a delicious one, too. Unfortunately it’s not a gluten-free dessert. Hence, rice pudding, which, though not traditional, was yummy and able to be enjoyed by all.

Ingredients:

-1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice

-1/3 cup raisins

-2 tbsp unsalted butter

-2 cups milk (or Lactaid. Which is what we used)

-3/4 cup sugar

-1 tbsp grated ginger

-1/4 tsp cinnamon

-1/8 tsp salt

-2 eggs, lightly beaten

Step 1: COOK THE RICE. We forgot to do this at first and were very confused.

Step 2: Butter a 4-6 cup baking dish (or corningware). Spread cooked rice evenly in baking dish. Cover with raisins.

Step 3: In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add milk, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt and let simmer, stirring frequently, for two minutes. Take off heat and let cool. Whisk egg into cooled milk mixture.

Step 4: Pour the milk mixture over the rice.

Step 5: Bake until pudding has set, about 45 minutes.

(FYI: this pudding also did not survive until the next morning. Nor did the honey cake, which was brought to the suite courtesy of my friend, Emma L)