Recipes

A recipe even I can’t mess up

A recipe even I can’t mess up 1

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While I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent cook, from time to time I certainly have my…umm…moments.

(Let me clarify that by “moments” I mean “disasters”.)

Breakfast a few weekends ago is a prime example. Our good friends from college were visiting, and Scott and I had planned a decadent breakfast for them: banana and macadamia nut pancakes topped with the organic coconut syrup we had purchased at this farm in Maui, paired with a heaping serving of Midwestern bacon.

Scott kept busy prepping his from-scratch pancake batter, while I piled strip after strip of organic, nitrate free bacon onto parchment paper. My husband insisted I cook the bacon in the oven as it “heats more evenly”. {Eye roll.}

Scott had cooked the first few pancakes, but was burning the outside of them on our scalding stove top griddle. And then there was the brisket he had been smoking outside for the past fifteen hours that kept distracting him. Yep. The man insisted on making homemade pastrami for our guests.

{Second eye roll.}

“You worry about the brisket,” I told him, “I can take over flipping the pancakes.”

He hesitated briefly before nodding in agreement and darting outside to tend to the smoker.

I reduced the heat on the griddle, and started manning the pancake situation. I must admit that flipping hotcakes doesn’t come naturally to me. Still, while my finished products were far from symmetrical — a few could even be described as grossly misshapen — they were perfectly fluffy and golden.

It wasn’t until I set the giant platter of banana pancakes on our dining table that I remembered there was $36 worth of Whole Foods bacon cooking away in the oven. I rushed to retrieve the pan from the heat, but it was too late. The strips were so burnt, even Jolie turned her nose up at them.

Still…I placed them on the table. (Throwing $36 of burnt designer bacon in the compost without even trying to choke some of it down goes against every single one of my principles.)

At least the Hawaiian pancakes will be good, I thought to myself.

Thirty seconds later, I learned the hard way that you should never judge a book flapjack by its cover. Despite their buttery gold exterior that appeared grilled to perfection, my hotcakes were completely raw in the middle.

But at least the coconut syrup was good…?

*******

You can see why I’m often hesitant to try new recipes. Yet when Scott requested brownies, I couldn’t help but feel obligated to redeem myself from the breakfast disaster.

“Fine,” I conceded, “But I’ll have to run to the store to pick up brownie mix.”

“No you won’t.” he informed me. “You can just make them from scratch. We need to use up all that cocoa powder you bought in South America, anyway.”

Brownies that aren’t from a box? Surely, Scott jests!

“C’mon, Katrina,” he encouraged me, “Just follow the instructions this time.”

I knew he was right. The hour of culinary redemption was upon me, and I simply could not fail. I took a deep breath, dug my Ecuadorian cocoa powder out of the pantry, and pulled this recipe from Inspired Taste up on my iPad.

Fudgy Brownies that even Katrina can’t mess up:

  • 10 tablespoons (145 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar (I used a 1 1/2 cups, as a few commenters noted these brownies weren’t super sweet.)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (65 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 rounded teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) all-purpose flour (we use Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • 2/3 cup (75 g) chopped walnuts or pecans (optional — I didn’t use any.)
Directions
  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees F (163 C). Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. (This helps when removing the baked brownies from the pan, once cooled).
  2. Add enough water to a medium saucepan so that it is 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat water until barely simmering. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and the salt in a medium heat-safe bowl. Rest bowl over simmering water (if the bottom of the bowl touches the water, remove a little water).
  3. Stir mixture occasionally until the butter has melted and mixture is quite warm. Don’t worry if it looks gritty, it will become smooth once you add the eggs and flour.
  4. Remove the bowl from heat and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes until it is only warm, not hot.
  5. Stir in vanilla with a wooden spoon or spatula. Then, add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
  6. When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until fully incorporated, then beat with the wooden spoon or spatula for 40 to 50 strokes. (The batter will be quite thick). Stir in nuts, if using. Spread evenly in lined pan.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and come out almost clean (you want it to be a little moist with batter). Note: Some have found they need to bake an extra 10 minutes, so keep an eye on the doneness of the brownies and use the toothpick test as your guide.
  8. Cool completely then remove from pan. For the cleanest lines when cutting, place into freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up. Cut into 16 squares.

******

Holy cocoa powder, these brownies were good! Baking them was so much simpler than I had anticipated, and the finished product was more than enough to get me out of the doghouse for ruining all that pricey bacon. I can honestly say I will never make brownies from the box ever again.

Now if only it was appropriate to serve these for breakfast.

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Biscuits & Gravy

Biscuits & Gravy 4

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This weekend, I hosted a lazy Sunday brunch at the house for some of my girlfriends. The get-together was a great success, aside from the part where I drank way too many mimosas and ended up falling over in the garage after everyone left.

(Happens to the best of us, right?)

Biscuits with sausage gravy is quite possibly my all-time favorite breakfast food. This home-cooked comfort food has become a go-to entertaining recipe in my house over the past year, and I’m crazy excited to share my super-simple recipe that is guaranteed to induce an early afternoon food coma. (In the best possible way.)

Drop Biscuits

Rolling out biscuit dough and punching perfectly circular discs with a cookie cutter is way too much effort for this girl. These drop biscuits taste just as good (if not better!) than their high-maintenance siblings, and are a fraction of the work. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick salted butter (chilled)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Cut the chilled butter into tiny cubes. (Just like you would when making pie crust.)
  2. Combine flour, cubed butter, baking powder in salt in a food processor or stand-up mixer. Mix ingredients until pea-sized clumps form. (This doesn’t take long, so don’t overmix!)
  3. Stir in milk by hand until all the ingredients are combined and the dough it moist and sticky. (Again, beware of overmixing.)
  4. Use a large spoon to drop clumps of dough (about 1/2 cup worth for each biscuit) onto a pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Simple, right? I get tons of compliments each time I whip these up. Just don’t feed them to your dogs.

(Unless you don’t have a problem cleaning canine vomit out of your shag carpet the next morning.)

These biscuits are wonderful with butter and honey, a dollop of jam, or just on their own. But if you really want to achieve that food coma (and why wouldn’t you??), I highly suggest this gravy.

Sausage Gravy

  • 1 16 oz tube of Jimmy Dean pork sausage. (The “hot” flavor is definitely the best.)
  • All purpose flour (not sure how much…I just kinda wing it)
  • Milk (again with the winging it)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Brown the sausage in a pan (a cast-iron skillet is ideal). Don’t drain the fat.
  2. Once the meat is browned, reduce heat to low and sprinkle flour over the sausage. (Maybe about 1/4 cup-ish? The more flour you use, the thicker your gravy will be.) Stir the sausage/flour mixture until meat is coated.
  3. Repeat step 2
  4. Gradually add milk, stirring continuously. Keep (slowly) adding until gravy reaches desired consistency.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Boom. See how simple that was? It’s the only recipe in the world I’ve ever been able to memorize…a true sign that it’s nearly impossible to screw up.

Oh…and I completely forgot to take photos of the food (curse you, mimosas!) but the biscuits look just like the image I stole borrowed and used at the top of this post. As for the gravy…I’ll let you use your imagination. I’ve never seen gravy that looked all that appealing to begin with, so posting a gravy pic seems counter intuitive, and just kind of gross.

*******

What’s your go-to recipe for brunch? I made these maple-bacon skewers yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised with how delicious and easy they were.

(Alright…maybe I wasn’t that surprised. I’ve never met a stick of bacon I didn’t like.)

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HOT Wings

HOT Wings 11

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Last night, the Taylor house was full of excitement.

And not because my beloved hometown football team won the Super Bowl.

I’d invited two of my girlfriends over to watch the game with Scott and I. “We’re going to keep things simple,” Chef Scott instructed, “Chili, hot wings and guacamole.”

I nodded my head in agreement. Scott and I have been known to overdo the food aspect of hosting from time to time, and sticking with the basics sounded like a solid plan. Yet when we hit up the supermarket for supplies, Scott insisted on making the guacamole and bleu cheese dressing for the wings completely from scratch. “What happened to keeping it simple?” I challenged. Eventually I gave in, allowing him to peruse the aisles for homemade mayonnaise accoutrements while I picked up ingredients for my famous chili. It’s one of the few dishes I hit out of the park every single time.

*****

Yesterday afternoon, I came downstairs to the sound of sizzling meat. Low and behold, there stood Scott, browning the spicy italian sausage that was reserved for my chili.

“What are you doing?!” I screeched. “That’s for the chili!”

“I know,” Scott responded calmly, “I have a new chili recipe I wanted to try out.”

Excuse me?

Scott does ninety percent of the cooking in our house, which I truly appreciate. He has some serious culinary skills, and I’m often treated to gourmet meals without having to lift a finger. (Until cleanup time rolls around, that is.)

Unfortunately, he’s also been known to hijack my recipes.

“Scott…this was my thing! I was really looking forward to making it today.”

“No,” he insisted, “You use the store-bought chili mix. That’s unacceptable. I’m making the entire pot from scratch. Here…watch this YouTube video about it.”

“NOT EVERYTHING HA S TO BE MADE FROM SCRATCH ALL THE TIME!!!” I screamed.

I spent about ten minutes trying to kick Scott out of the kitchen so I might reclaim my chili. Eventually, I realized my attempts were futile. He had seized control of my one-pot wonder, and there was no getting it back. I let out a sigh of frustration, grabbed my purse, and did what I always do when I’m angry.

Drove to Target and bought a ridiculous amount of throw pillows.

pillows

Told you.

I returned home just in time to help Scott put the finishing touches on all of the food. As my friends arrived we turned the chili to simmer, set out the chips and guacamole, and poured ourselves some red beers.

“I just have to fry up the chicken wings.” Scott informed us.

And that’s when it happened.

Scott dropped four frozen wings into the fryer, immediately creating a louder than normal bubbling sound that continued to crescendo to a sickening hiss. Just when I didn’t think it could get any louder, the fryer burst into flames. Six-foot tall flames that hit the top of our kitchen ceiling and quickly began to spread.

One of our guests screamed while running to the other room. The other grabbed her cellphone, prepared to dart out the backdoor and call 911 if necessary. Penny let out a terrified screech, bolting upstairs to the safety of her crate. Jolie, sound asleep under all those new throw pillows, was completely unaware of the drama unfolding below her.

Scott had the presence of mind to dash over to the utility room and grab the fire extinguisher we’d purchased for such a catastrophe as this. All the while, the flames grew brighter, hotter and larger.

And then there was me. I calmly took a few steps back from the stove top, and just stood in the corner laughing hysterically at the entire thing. I briefly remember thinking, “These $%(@* chicken wings better not burn my house down”, but mostly it was just laughing.

(Apparently I’m not the most helpful in moments of crisis.)

Just as Scott was prepared to spray the extinguisher, the flames disappeared. In what can only be described as an act of God, the grease fire had subsided on its own.

While relieved Scott hadn’t turned our house to ashes, the after math was still disheartening. Hot grease was everywhere. Our new jute kitchen rug was totally ruined, and every single surface in a five-foot radius was saturated with peanut oil.

And then there was the ceiling.

Whoops.

Whoops.

“I’m just glad you did this instead of me,” I remarked wryly, “You would never let me live something like this down.”

Scott quietly agreed, instructing us to go into the other room and watch the game. “Kickoff is in two minutes.” he urged. While I felt bad not helping with cleanup, a giant bowl of guacamole was far more appealing than the aftermath of a grease fire. Over the next three hours my friends and I ate, drank and pretended to know a few things about football. All the while, Scott cleaned. He even managed to salvage those godforsaken chicken wings.

“You sure you don’t want to watch the game?” I kept calling over from the TV room.

“Not as badly as I want to clean this up!” he yelled back. I felt guilty that Scott was missing the broadcast…but when he gets into cleaning mode, it’s best to just keep your distance and let him do his thing.

cleaning

Four hours, and one completely deconstructed oven later, the kitchen looked like new. (Aside from a ceiling that appears to have been tie-dyed with charcoal, but that’s a project for another weekend.)

“Wow…I can’t even tell there was a fire in here.” I commented.

“I’m never cooking chicken wings again.” Scott muttered.

“Sorry you missed the game. If it makes you feel any better it wasn’t very exciting.”

“It’s okay,” he shrugged, “I can watch the highlights. I’m just glad I didn’t burn the house down.”

You and me both, I thought, trying to hide my smirk.

While I felt sorry Scott had spent the better part of Super Bowl Sunday soaking up grease with paper towels, I couldn’t help but think that this is the sort of thing fate throws at you when you insist on commandeering  your wife’s chili.

Just saying.

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Katrina crack corn, and she don’t care

Katrina crack corn, and she don’t care 5

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Happy New Year! I hope you all had a blast ringing in 2014 with family, friends, fireworks…and of course…a little bit of bubbly!

I’m currently sitting in the far corner of the SeaTac airport “A” gates, my body still swollen and uncomfortably full from last night’s New Year’s Eve indulgences. Let’s just say there was a moment where I was legitimately afraid my stomach would rupture in my sleep and kill me as a result of being so full. Luckily, being that stuffed means it’s easy to fall asleep really quickly, despite worrying about expiring overnight due to too much crack corn.

That’s right, crack corn. (Named for it’s highly addictive properties.)

While I know today is all about juice cleanses, gym memberships and swearing you’ll never secretly eat an entire fruitcake ever again, I’ve decided to set myself apart from the pack of  “new year, new you!” bloggers by sharing a terrifically unhealthy holiday recipe.  I’d also like to publicly thank my friend Kaitlin for sharing this oh so simple concoction with me–my life has been forever changed for the better, Kaitlin. (My pants also no longer fit…but it was totally worth it.)

Crack corn requires just two ingredients: Almond bark or vanilla candy coating, and a few bags of puff corn.

puff-corn

 

How I’ve existed for nearly 30 years without being aware of puff corn is both a mystery and a tragedy. What is puff corn, you ask? Butter flavored Cheet-ohs that taste like greasy, delicious styrofoam. Admittedly, that might not be the most convincing description…but don’t let my words deter you. You should definitely give puff corn a chance.

So how does puff corn become crack corn? Prepare to be inspired….

Step One:

almond-bark

Melt 24 ounces of almond bark or candy coating in a large pan. The bigger, the better. (If you’ve never melted this stuff before, the key is to do it on super low heat and stir continuously.)

 

Step 2:

mix

Dump two bags of puff corn–not sure how many ounces they are…but use the medium ones marked ‘$2 only!’–into the pot of melted almond bark and stir until coated. You’ll definitely want to remove the pot from the heat before doing this. (Yup. Learned that one the hard way.)

 

Step 3:

cooling

Once the crack corn is fully coated, pour the contents of the pot onto a large sheet of wax paper to cool and harden. You’ll probably eat half of your yield before it cools, which is completely acceptable. It’s part of the process.

 

Step 4:

After 20-30 minutes of cooling, transfer the crack corn into a large bowl. You will most likely have to break some large clusters apart while doing so. Or you could just eat the large clusters, even if you have a difficult time fitting them in your mouth as they are so large. Smacking and chewing with your mouth open is encouraged and scientifically proven to enhance the crack corn’s flavor profile.

(This step is not pictured for what I hope to be obvious reasons.)

*******

I hope you enjoy this simply addictive recipe as much as I have over the past two weeks. Whipping up a batch guarantees your taste buds will love you…and your thighs will hate you. And really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

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