Sausage Potato Kale Soup!

Tis the season for perfectly cozy nights with a hot howl of hearty soup to warm you up! Practically overnight, Boston went from a warm-ish winter to bitterly cold and awful. It’s time to buckle down for the rest of the season and there’s no doubt about it that I want this soup by my side! And if you’re cooking for one, like me, this soup is perfect for freezing! Now you can actually stick to your meal prepping for the New Year!

Let’s get to it!

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1 large pot of boiling water, 2/3rds full
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 medium russet potatoes
1 large onion
6 slices of bacon (or more, I won’t judge you)
3-4 sausage links
1 large bunch of kale
1/2 pint of heavy cream

1. Begin by boiling the pot of water with a bouillon cube.
2. Wash, peel and cut your potatoes into small cubes and place into the boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook potatoes until soft and you can pierce them with a fork.
3. In the meantime, chop and sweat the onions in one sautee pan.
4. Start cooking your sausage in another sautee pan. Ground sausage/pork/turkey would also work really well as a variation! When the sausage is fully cooked (very very small amount of pink or 165 degrees), slice and add into the onions draining off the excess fat.
5. Using the same pan as the sausage (just trying to save you an extra dish!), quickly cook your bacon without getting it too crunchy. Once cooked, cut into small pieces and also add to the sausage/onion mixture.
6. Once the potatoes are cooked, turn down the heat to a simmer and add the meat/onion mixture.
7. Slowly add heavy cream to the soup and mix just to taste.
8. De-vein the kale and cut into small pieces.Add while the soup is on low heat, stir in and cover the pot. Let simmer for another 10 minutes.
9. Serve and enjoy or save for another day!

Coming up on Tuesday is another deliciously hilarious guest blog post by my dear friend, Lexy! She last wrote about her horse girl trauma… Read up over the weekend and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday! You won’t want to miss it!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins!

The name might be a mouthful but I can promise you that these muffins are even better. Perfect for a special sweet treat in the morning or dessert at night. These are multi-functional muffins people! Get em while they’re hot!

I got this recipe from the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang. I can personally attest to this recipe after having worked for Joanne for the past year. I did change just a few little things however, to make it my own! So here you have it!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
makes about 24 muffins

1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
4 T flax seed
1/2 c packed. brown sugar
1/2 c plus 2 T sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c canola oil3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 T creme fraiche or sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 bag peanut butter/chocolate chips

**For this recipe, I added flax seed, used half brown sugar half white and added chips! Without these, you can easily make plain banana bread!

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flax seed. I used a fork to “fluff” the ingredients if you don’t have a sifter at home!

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3.Using a stand mixer, whip the sugar and eggs on medium speed until they become light and fluffy.

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4. On low speed, drizzle in the oil so it has time to incorporate itself into the egg mixture.

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5. Add the bananas, creme fraiche/sour cream and vanilla and mix until the banana is broken down into fairly small pieces. This should only take about a minute or less.

6. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture by hand.

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Right before all of the flour is completely incorporated, add 1/2 bag of chips and mix only until combined as to not overmix.

7067. Only mix just until there aren’t any flour streaks left.

8. Portion the muffins about 3/4 full and bake until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). You can also bake this full batch in a loaf pan but it will take much longer to bake in the oven!

7059. Wait until the muffins cool and VOILA! A delicious treat for any time of day.

704Let me know if you try this at home! Does anyone have any recipes they want to share or would like me to share? Have a good weekend and enjoy your muffins! Be sure to return on Tuesday for another blog post!

Caramel Corn!

HAPPY FALL, FRIENDS!

It’s officially my absolute favorite season!! It’s time for basic white girls squealing in delight over pumpkin flavored things and UGG boots. Thankfully, those are two things that I hate but EVERYTHING ELSE about fall makes me so excited. Boots, scarves, cozy sweaters, cute hats, crisp air, pretty leaves, pumpkin and apple picking,fall festivals, football games, a sense of community, etc etc etc. I could go on for days.

But the MOST exciting part revolves around food, of course. Who would I be if I didn’t relate everything to food??

I learned this caramel corn recipe from the Taj and it’s so freaking good and easy to make! Its the perfect match of sweet and crunchy for the fall and just in time for Halloween. Enjoy!!

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Yield: 5 quarts popcorn

1c butter
2 c brown sugar
1/2 c corn syrup
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract
5 quarts popped popcorn

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Begin by popping your popcorn kernals on the stove in a large pot with a couple tablespoons of canola oil. Keep the pot covered with a lid or a large piece of aluminum foil. As the oil starts to get hot, begin shifting the pan back and forth to agitate the kernals and keep them from burning.
  3. In a sauce pot, melt the butter. Stir in both sugars, corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil
  4. Stop stirring once the mixture is boiling, and let it go for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Take the mixture off the heat and quickly stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.
  6. Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and quickly fold together coating all the kernals.
  7. Spread the popcorn on parchment and oiled sheet pans and bake for 60 minutes. Check and stir the popcorn every 20 minutes.
  8. Let cool, break into pieces and eat away!

679Let me know what you guys think! I’m definitely keeping this recipe in my back pocket. On Tuesday, I’m divulging some more of my secret Boston finds! I love this city! Thanks for reading- hope you all have a great weekend!

Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Review!

So for my birthday, I asked for the ice cream maker attachment made by Kitchen Aid to accompany my mixer. At full capacity, it can make up to two quarts of any type of ice cream or sorbet or frozen treat. So being that I’m just me, myself and I, this sounded perfect. Who doesn’t want to take two quarts of ice cream to the face?!

484The ice cream maker is $99.99 at retail value but can sometimes be seen on sale at places like Kohl’s in the home-goods section. Plus, Kohl’s almost ALWAYS has some type of promotion running which is how I got my attachment for $75 instead!

So the first time I used this machine, it was a complete disaster. It basically comes in three pieces- the mixing bowl, and two pieces that make up what’s called the dasher. One piece attaches to the top of the mixer (no matter the style of mixer you have) and it has jagged teeth facing down. Those teeth then line up with the other piece kind of like gears, and then will push against each other to churn. The other plastic piece with up-ward facing teeth looks like a square version of the paddle attachment. The major problem that I have with these pieces is that they’re made of plastic. PLASTIC? I wish they came as more durable pieces given that you could’ve paid $100 bucks for the attachment.

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Here’s about how my horror story went down- I had frozen the bowl overnight in my freezer so that the liquid inside the bowl would be cold enough to help my sorbet form it’s ice crystals. When I was assembling the pieces, I was being very careful to read the directions and follow the instructions. HOWEVER, there weren’t any pictures and I suppose I didn’t understand how it worked… At last, I poured the liquid in which immediately began to freeze and flipped my mixer switch to the absolute lowest setting. However, something happened where the teeth weren’t lined up properly and the ground against each other causing the plastic to break and jam into the bowl!

So here I was, the mixer head locked and the pieces jammed below. There was no way for me to unlock the head of my mixer so I stuck my hands in the blueberry sugar juice (for blueberry sorbet) and stained my hands trying to un-jamb the pieces. After a minor panic attack and a 20 minute call to my mom, the pieces miraculously un-jambed themselves. I still have no idea how this happened but thank the lord.

So here I was, with broken plastic pieces and a dent in the mixing bowl of a present I had just gotten for my birthday and never officially used. What the fucking fuck!? Still on the phone with my mom, she told me to make sure that my mixer was also still working. So I plugged it back in and turned it on the lowest speed and IT DIDN’T FREAKING WORK. So NOT ONLY did my attachment break, but it also broke my $300 mixer!!! So I know that this sounds like a horrible equipment review, but I promise it has a happy ending.

I ended up calling customer service at Kitchen Aid and they replaced my ice cream attachment AND mixer for free. They sent me the new equipment in a pre-paid shipping box so I could send back my old mixer to be re-furbished by the company and then re-sold. They were quick, prompt and VERY polite. Probably one of the best customer service experiences I have ever had. So despite all the drama surrounding my first use of the equipment, I was ready to give it another go-around.

The first recipe I tried was their French Vanilla ice cream recipe which you can see below. YUM. It was so creamy and delicious and fatty and everything I want ice cream to be! Check it out!

Ingredients

600g milk
6 large or 7 medium large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 fresh vanilla bean, split in half and seeds removed.
300g cream

Method

1. Heat milk in a heavy based, non-stick saucepan, stirring often until very hot and without boiling or scorching milk. Transfer to a jug or bowl with a lip and set aside.

2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl.

3. Gradually add hot milk and vanilla and mix until well combined (called tempering!). Transfer mixture back to saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook for about 8-10 minutes over a very low heat until mixture thickens and lightly coats back the spatula (called nappe!). Mixture must not boil or it will curdle, however it will be quite hot and a little steamy. Be patient with this step do not rush making the custard.

4. Whisk in cream and refrigerate overnight!

5. Assemble drive assembly, freezer bowl and dasher (as per instruction book). Turn mixture to speed 1, slowly add cooled custard to freezer bowl. Churn for approximately 20 minutes or until a very firm soft serve ice cream results.

6. Immediately remove ice cream to serving dishes or transfer to an airtight, sealed container and freeze for 4 hours or until frozen.

7. Remove ice cream for about 5 minutes before scooping. Homemade ice cream is harder than commercial ice cream so remove from freezer and allow to soften slightly.

I think I would give the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Attachment 3.75 Abby stars. I’m not a fan of the plastic dasher pieces and that you cannot find their individual replacements online at sites like Amazon or Ebay in case only those pieces break or crack. I also don’t love that you have to freeze the bowl almost 24 hours in advance and if your freezer is as tightly packed as mine, you’ll have trouble making space for it. However, once I finally watched a helpful assembly video on YouTube, I had a blast making and eating my creations! I would also give Kitchen Aid Customer Service 5 stars for all of their help in this long and frustrating process. The ice cream is great to have if you want to WOW someone for dinner or if you’re just having a terrible day and need a large helping of the fruits of your labor.

What do you think? How many stars would you give the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment? Let me know what you think of the recipes! Have a great weekend- stuff your beautiful faces for me! Next Tuesday will be another blog about my vacation in Myrtle Beach! So come back and check it out!

Homemade Oreos!

Oreos are my weakness. They’re so tasty. I can open up one of those packs and just go ham with a big glass of milk. So when I figured out how to make my own Oreos that are the same, IF NOT BETTER, I’m in big trouble. Big big big trouble. Hence why I want to get you guys in trouble too so we can all eat mass amounts of Oreos together and gain oodles of weight and be happy, content, Oreo-filled people. Okay? Okay. Here’s the recipe!

Oreo Dough:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at half power in 30 second increments just until it’s fully melted with no lumps. Make sure to mix with a rubber spatula periodically to keep the chocolate from burning.
2. In a stand mixer, combine the softened butter and sugar. Cream the two together with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

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3. Add in vanilla extract and chocolate and mix until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until combined again.

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4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add into the wet ingredients and mix until just barely combined.

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5. Dust the counter with cocoa powder and begin to roll the dough into a log.

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6. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper and roll up the whole log to refrigerate for a couple hours until the log hardens.
7. Slice the log into 1/4″ slices and bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.

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Oreo Filling:

1.5 lbs confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4.75 oz Crisco
1/4 cup hot water
1 1/2 T granulated sugar

1. Place the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and Crisco into a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment.
2. Slowly add the hot water as it’s mixing and add more hot water a dribble at a time if needed based on what consistency you’re aiming for. 3. Once the desired consistency is reached, add the granulated sugar last and mix until combined.

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4. Fill your oreos with a piping bag (you can just make one out of a Ziploc bag too) or just eat the filling with a spoon! Whatever your little heart desires.

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YUMMYYYYYY. You could even just use the filling as a dip and throwback to the 90’s as if it’s Dunkaroos! Hope you enjoy your homemade oreos and have a great weekend! Check back on Tuesday for a next post on the blog! Thanks for reading!

America’s Test Kitchen!

My first job out of college was with a company called America’s Test Kitchen! ATK is an amazingly huge conglomerate of all sorts of food media- a couple magazine publications, two TV shows on PBS, TONS of published cookbooks and even an online cooking school. ATK is a test kitchen dedicated to finding recipes that work to share with the home cook and also explain WHY they work. It’s a company focused on the fun and education behind food.

I was a total PBS kid growing up since I didn’t have cable. SHOCKER I KNOW. Given that we had 8 channels to choose from, I would watch so many shows on PBS. Throwbacks to Arthur or Zoom anyone? I can even remember memorizing the address for the show Zoom- BOSTON MASS 0-21-34! Send it to Zoom! Totally ironic now that I live here now.

I would spend day and night watching PBS and would watch all the cooking shows with my mom on the weekends which is probably where my interest for food began. DAMN YOU EDUCATIONAL SHOWS! Julia Child and Jacques Pepin were my favorite people to watch and of course America’s Test Kitchen. ATK showed you not only recipes, but they talked food science, kitchen gadgets and product reviews. I LOVE knowing how things work so I was hooked.

I jumped at the chance to work for them so when I saw the internship posting, I knew I HAD to apply even though it was supposed to be a culinary internship. After phone interviews and giving my references, I was one of four interns who landed the job for the spring term.

Photo team!

Photo team!

Part of the kitchen before renovations began!

Part of the kitchen before renovations began!

I was place on the photo team and it was my job to help prep and execute all finalized recipes for the magazines, cookbooks and online cooking school. It was a super cool job! Occasionally, I’d spend a whole day outside manning the grills in sub-zero temps since we tested recipes about 6 months in advance. Other days, I would be able to stand in on the photo shoots and watch the food photographers and stylists works their magic! (Don’t be fooled, their hands touch EVERYTHING!) I occasionally got to switch teams when they needed help and mise/test recipes for Cooks Country, Cooks Country or the Books team.

My little mise station!

My little mise station!

Grill dayyyyyy

Grill dayyyyyy

The coolest part of my internship however, came in May when they filmed the 15th season of America’s Test Kitchen for PBS. They filmed right on our facilities (you’d never know the kitchen was even there from the outside) and set up camp. Our storage room turned into the tech room where the director sat watching and giving feedback during filming. Half of the kitchen was filled with camera and audio equipment as well as craft services which is a fancy way to say FREE FOOD/SNACKS. Our dry goods room turned into the runners area with a live feed tv set up in it so we’d always know what was happening.

Setting up for TV!

Setting up for TV!

The back kitchen was used for prep of the recipes! You know the magic of television, when they pull out a perfectly golden turkey out of the oven after about 3 seconds of cooking? Well, we’d be in the back pushing out these recipes so everything would be ready when they finished filming the talking segment beforehand. We’d have to prep recipes upwards of 15 times- on set, on set back-ups, back kitchen, flash forwards, flash backs, food props, half prepared foods, etc. You could only walk on and off-set when the camera’s weren’t rolling and you could NEVER look directly at the cameras. All the cooks in the background usually were testing their own recipes and actually getting real work done, but sometimes I’d get to stand in and chop some carrots to look busy while the other cooks were doing a tasting or prepping their own recipes.

Prepping for tv... I always wondered what a whole box of lemons zested looked like

Prepping for tv… I always wondered what a whole box of lemons zested looked like

Trying to look busy on set...

Trying to look busy on set…

Waiting off set but still watching the live feed!

Waiting off set but still watching the live feed!

At the end of TV filming, the whole crew gets together to do a rice krispy treat competition! We would split into teams and work together to create the best rice krispies. It was all VERY competitive. Then the filming crew would be the judges in the end. Of course, team intern bonded together (WILL WORK FOR FOOD PROPS) and made a lemon meringue RKT. Sadly, we didn’t win but it was a lot of fun!

286I really loved working there and made some pretty great friends there as well. Most of the work was culinary based so I knew I had to move towards something more in my field but it was definitely an experience I won’t forget! Check out an episode below where I might actually be seen walking around in the background and my name is in the credits! I’M FAMOUS!

ATK Family!

ATK Family!

Bon Appetit and see you all on Tuesday for another post!

Click here to see me in the background in the first couple minutes!

I am the Fudge Queen

Hello internet, Fudge Queen here.

So this past month, I have been given the opportunity at Flour to do their pastry of the month! So I went about trying to think of the perfect dessert we didn’t already have- something shelf stable, different in flavor/texture than other desserts and something that would challenge me and expand my knowledge of food a tiny bit. And TADAAAA! Fudge was born.

After searching through tons of recipes, I settled on one where I thought I’d be making it the old-timey way- no marshmallow fluff, sweetened condensed milk or just powdered sugar. I found a recipe and have been testing it a couple times at work and modifying the recipe to make it better and now I want to share it with you!

Maple Walnut Fudge:

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
6 T light corn syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 T butter
1/4 t salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, place both sugars, maple syrup, corn syrup, heavy cream and salt. Using a heat resistant rubber spatula, stir over heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Use a pastry brush to wipe down the sides of the pot with water occasionally as the sugar cooks.

2. Once the sugar is dissolved, wipe down the sides of the pot once more*. Occasionally stir the mixture until the thermometer reads 180 degrees. Let the mixture cook on medium heat until it reaches 240 degrees (this may take awhile). Don’t adjust the heat unless the sugar begins to bubble up too high.

*Wiping down the sides of the pot is really important for one reason: crystallization. Basically as the water evaporates out of the melted sugar, it starts to return to its natural crystal form. For the beginning of the cooking time, the sugar crystals can be added back into the pot and be re-melted but after a certain point, you’ll contribute to OVER-CRYSTALLIZING the sugar which will result in a super gritty fudge! Ew!

3. Once the thermometer reads 240 degrees, pull off of the heat and pour into another bowl to cool to 110 degrees. Add your butter and vanilla at this point but do not mix in! (Note that this step can take AWHILE. It takes me 45 minutes to an hour to let it cool)

4. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and scrape in the cooled fudge mixture. Begin to mix on medium high speed- this may take about ten minutes. Once the color begins to lighten and it starts to grip and form strings to the side of the mixing bowl, it’s just about ready!

207 2055. Be careful not to overmix your fudge either or else it may begin to clump up slightly since it is cooling down. Fold in your chopped walnuts.

2046. In an 8×8 greased and parchment lined pan, add your fudge mixture and spread out with an offset spatula. I’d also maybe suggest pouring it into small, greased muffin cups for individual portions! Refrigerate for 2-24 hours before serving!

203This is how my final product turned out below!

201This was the final of a couple tests that I did! In my first test, the ratio of sugar was higher which resulted in a softer fudge that kinda melted at room temperature. The fact that I crystallized the sugar too probably didn’t help… oops. The second test had a much better texture but it was so sugary-sweet. So I ended up lowering the maple syrup a little bit and added salt to help balance the flavor! After another test to be sure, the recipe was finalized. Bada bing bada BOoOoOOoOm.

I had so much fun experimenting with this recipe and exposing myself to more “candy-like” items! Let me know if anyone tries this at home! Good luck and bon appetit my friends!