I didn’t technically finish classes until Wednesday evening, but really, it’s felt like I’ve been on break since last Thursday. I spent last weekend sleeping, eating, hanging out with friends, and basically just enjoying myself. So Sunday evening I decided to put off my homework just a bit longer and make myself a nice dinner of chicken, acorn squash, and shallots.
Fun fact: when I was a kid, I remember thinking that squash was the one food I would never ever enjoy. I don’t know why, probably just because it looked stinky and orange and had a yucky name. Then again, I also thought that I could live entirely off of pizza, pasta, and Halloween candy (yes, specifically, Halloween candy). How times have changed…
Some things to note: I would not advise using this method for cooking chicken; it cam out flavorful but extremely dry. In order to be kept moist, chicken should be baked in a covered baking dish at 350 degrees (I knew this, but for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to experiment, Wrong. Never “experiment” with poultry cooking times — you won’t like the results). Also, for some strange reason my first few pictures got deleted. Apologies. If you truly need pictorial instructions on how to cut vegetables and put them in a baking dish, I might be able to stage a dramatic reenactment.
This afternoon, some of my best friends got together to catch up over brunch. This is what we made:
1. Homemade corn tortilla crisps (to clarify: we put soft corn tortillas in the oven and made them into tortilla crisps. We did not make the tortillas. This will not deter me from calling them homemade. I mean, some genius had to decide to put them in the oven.)
2. Refried beans, heartily seasoned with adobo
3. Fried eggs, sunny side up
4. Habanero lime salsa
5. Add just a dash of cojita cheese and onions and tomatoes soaked in lime juice, and you’ve got an awesome take on huevos rancheros
But wait, we’re not done here! We also had…
6. Sliced citrus fruit
7. Canary melon
8. My new favorite snack: bananas with cinnamon and lemon juice in a bowl of Greek yogurt
9. Five mugs of Trader Joe’s Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea
Sharing this wonderful meal and talking for hours with some of my favorite people in the world, the people who always make me feel at home and who have made my college experience memorable and enjoyable, has made me feel extremely grateful. So here’s my pre-Thanksgiving giving of thanks. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful that we were all able to make time in our schedules to see each other this weekend. I am thankful that after being apart for a long while, we were still able to relate to and care deeply about the events in each others’ lives. And I’m thankful, of course, for befriending such excellent cooks and appreciators of (somewhat bastardized) Mexican food.
For my other suitemate’s birthday (which occurred the day after suitmate #1’s birthday), I decided to make red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. It was a pretty simple recipe — it probably took me less time to make the cupcakes than it took me to find someone who owned red food coloring and was willing to lend it to me. I broke my hand mixer making donuts so I had to cream the butter by hand, and even so the entire recipe probably took under an hour from prep to frosting.
This was also my first time halving a recipe, and I have to say it made the perfect amount. Turns out the recipe was halved already, but I knew my suitemate would probably be getting a ton of other birthday desserts, so five cupcakes felt just right. Some of the measurements may seem kind of wonky as a result, but I assure you, if you decide to halve this everything will turn out just fine. Even if you do spent a good five minutes trying to figure out the best way to measure 1/2 an egg or .375 of a cup of sugar.
Yeah. I’ll admit it: that looks like one sorry cake. However, what cannot be captured in mere photographic reproductions is the overpowering richness of this flourless chocolate cake (which is really more like a giant circle of ganache). Though I was initially disappointed that the cake wasn’t as thick as the one in the original recipe, in the end, that turned out to be a good thing. Just a tiny sliver of this knock-out cake was more than enough to satisfy my chocolate craving; any more would have been too much.
I chose a flourless chocolate cake for this birthday celebration because the birthday girl is gluten-free, and I wanted to bake a cake that normally would not need any gluten, instead of trying to make a xanthum flour substitute. The result was pretty delicious, mostly, I think, due to the addition of cinnamon and cayenne to round out the taste of the chocolate. And the portion size was perfect for a party of eight. Overall, this is a great, easy-to-bake (you really only need two ingredients), impressive cake that is sure to delight both gluten-free birthday girls and their glutenivorous party guests.
I have a new favorite place to hang out in New York, and unsurprisingly, tea is involved. The night before I made the trek out to Park Slope I was daydreaming about a place where I could just sit for hours in a comfy chair and read or do work and eat pastries and drink tea without feeling secret rage from the baristas due to my occupying a table for hours on end. Enter The Tea Lounge, a neighborhood coffee shop that so perfectly encapsulates my ideal cafe that I’m kind of wondering if I stumbled into a Room of Requirement type situation. As always, you can read my complete review of this magical coffee and tea shop over at INY.
So as I’m writing this post, I’m pausing to take bites of this simple stir fry. Craaazy right? Basically, this “recipe” happened because I thought I was making stir fry for dinner, but when I went to grab some from the fridge, well, we didn’t have any. And I didn’t feel like going all the way downstairs and around the corner to pick some up, so…I improvised (that’s a polite euphemism for “I was unprepared”). The sesame oil, garlic, and ginger actually add enough flavor to make up for the absence of soy sauce, but of course, if you have it, you should totally pour it all over everything at the end.
So it’s been a week since I’ve checked in here, and I only just finished the pumpkin chili last night! I literally have not had to cook anything this entire week, which has been perfect because I’ve been busy being bludgeoned by schoolwork.
But after a week of eating chili for at least one meal a day, on Saturday night I was in the mood for something different, and this recipe for spicy tofu with bok choy called out to me. Simple, filling, healthy, and spicy. And in no way reminiscent of chili. The perfect combination.
Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to a holiday dessert tasting at Magnolia’s, where I spent an hour and a half sampling their delicious treats, guzzling hot cocoa and hot apple cider, and learning more about the bakery. Check it out!
Magnolia’s was also kind enough to send me home with some of these bad boys:
From left to right: Snickerdoodle cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting sprinkled with pecans, and their classic chocolate and vanilla. Most of these went to my roommates and the other editors at INY, but I got to taste just a bite of each. My favorite was the pumpkin maple. So autumnal!