Kale Chips

My twitter food challenge throw downs with @darthgarry continue! This time, it’s kale chips. After he braved my croquembouche challenge, he gave me kale chips. Not exactly a challenge equal in difficulty, but certainly a worthy one. There are tales of failed, soggy kale chips scattered throughout the internet so I was a little concerned.

I did some research – and frankly, kale chips are deceptively simple. Some olive oil and salt and you’re basically set. The key here is to not over-saturate the kale with olive oil. For a large bundle of kale all you really need is a tablespoon, maybe less, of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt.

But, because I’m me, I couldn’t just settle with olive oil and salt. The night I made the kale chips I had been roasting asparagus and sweet potatoes in a vinaigrette of sorts.

Last summer I was perusing the aisles at Trader Joe’s and came upon the most delightful sounding vinegar – orange muscat champagne vinegar to be exact! The bottle was cheap – definitely less than $5 and as it turns out I used that stuff all summer long on my salads and in marinades. It’s light and refreshing, not overly sweet and it adds a nice zip to a vinaigrette without being as acidic as lemon juice.

Since I was baking the kale chips on the same pan I’d just roasted veggies in my made-up mix, I thought I’d do the same for the kale. As it turns out, it was a really lovely compliment to the deep, earthy flavor of the kale.

I’ve made two batches of these bad boys now and my friends and co-workers adore them! Just remember: light touch with the olive oil and diligence when it comes to watching the time (20 minutes is really all they need) and you’ll have a healthy, crunchy snack.

Recipe after the jump, enjoy!

Continue reading

Guest Post: Oreo Balls

This is a guest post from my co-worker and good friend Dave. If you remember the Cran-Orange Scones I made…it was Dave’s tried and true recipe that I used. I tweeted out that I’d had Dave’s Oreo Balls for breakfast one day last week and it was met with such enthusiasm (and some jealousy) that I asked him to guest post! Here we go:

Mmmm! Dave's Oreo Balls!


Like many of my friends, I learned a lot of my culinary skills from my mom.  While I’ve tried (and mostly succeeded) a number of her recipes, the one I’m most proud of are the Oreo Balls.

Let it be known that this is not an original from my mom (I’ve seen other recipes online), but it is easy, fun and a real crowd pleaser (just ask my office mates)

  • 1 package of Oreos
  • 1 block of cream cheese (softened)
  • 1-2 bags of semi-sweet morsels

Before the ball making begins, line either a cookie sheet, or whatever pan would fit into your freezer, with wax paper and set aside.

In a food processor (very helpful but you could use a rolling pin if that’s all you have) grind the whole package of Oreos into as fine a texture as possible (no large chunks please).

Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl and start mixing.  I’ve found this to be much easier with my stand mixer, but the hand held one worked great for years.  You’ll want a smooth, shiny texture to the mix.

Using a round teaspoon, scoop a full amount of the mixture into your hand, rolling it into a round ball.  Place onto the wax paper lined pan.  Continue this until your pan is full or you’re out of the Oreo mixture.  Freeze the balls.  Overnight is preferred but if you’re short on time, three hours will do.

After the frozen stage, melt your morsels either in a double broiler or in a glass bowl in the microwave.  You’re looking for a smooth consistency.  Get ready, ‘cause it’s time to dip your balls!

The rest of the directions are after the jump!

Continue reading

Thanksgiving #TurkeyTalk Round Up

Well, I would say the #turkeytalk chat was quite a success. At some point, enough people were on the chat long enough that we were a trending topic in DC on Twitter! Pretty exciting I say :)

Here’s the round up tips, tricks and recipes shared during the chat – but the hashtag is very much alive! Keep using it on Twitter to join in and share!

Tips, Tricks and Resources

Snacks & Apps


  • Big winner idea of the night: @MrsWheelbarrow rubs her turkey down with bacon fat. Rubs. Her turkey. Down. With. Bacon. Fat.
  • I plan on rubbing my turkey down with butter…and that’s when @ThriftyDCCook recommended Cowgirl Creamery‘s European style salted butter from Vermont.
  • Brine recipe: Salt, brown sugar, oranges, lemons, thyme, parsley. Keep in the cooler overnight w/ice. via @MrsWheelbarrow
  • Everyone raved over Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio book for a brine recipe.
  • Ever consider spatchcocking your turkey, then cooking it on the grill? @MrsWheelbarrow and @ThriftyDCCook are thinking of doing their turkey this way – but be warned – this takes muscle and a strong pair of kitchen shears.
  • There was a debate over stuff in the turkey vs. out of the turkey – some liked out of the turkey because that frees up the cavity for aromatics (lemons, oranges, onions, fresh herbs) others like it in because all the flavors and juices get to mingle. In the end, it’s a personal preference.

Vegetarian options, Sides, Desserts, Drinks and more after the jump…

Continue reading

Figs with Bleu Cheese & Honey

Sometimes the tastiest things are the simplest things.

I am really excited that figs are in season. They’re not usually high on my list of “gosh I really want to eat that” things, but Arugula Files’ post reminding us all they are finally in season reminded me of something.

My Grandmother had a fig tree in her backyard when I was growing up. I never understood the strange fruit, and I don’t remember particularly loving them but they do remind me of being young and curious and, of course, my Grandmother.

So when I saw a figs-stuffed-with-cheese recipe in my newly purchased Farmers Market Desserts book I was pretty excited. The recipe in the book is simple to begin with, but I was feeling downright lazy. It was more than enough that I’d gotten up way too early on a Sunday to hunt down figs at the Dupont Farmers Market (which can be found at the Country Pleasures Farm stand in very limited quantities).

So I stuffed them with bleu cheese and drizzled them with honey and called it a day. And ate them. I ate them all.

Think about those heavy fall dinners that are coming our way…I don’t know about you, but I still want dessert! This would be the way to go!

Enjoy :)

Continue reading

Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms Vera Cruz Style

Remember what happened the last time I bought squash blossoms? Yeah. It was sad. Poor little things just sat on my counter and wilted away! So when I saw blossoms going for 3 for $1 at the Dupont Farmers Market last Sunday, I resolved. I resolved to buy all the ingredients for the blossom recipe I’d been milling over in my head. The. Same. Day.

And buy I did! Later that day, to the tune of Loco by Jowell & Randy (don’t click on that if you have delicate sensibilities) (if you do click on that, you don’t need to tell me I have terrible taste in music sometimes…I already know) I made my Jose Andres Squash Blossom Festival-inspired recipe!

See, the past few years, Oyamel, one of my favorite work neighborhood restaurants celebrates squash blossom season by adding a few blossomy dishes to the menu. One of them, is goat cheese stuffed blossoms in a vera cruz style sauce.

In the end, mine looked nada like Jose Andres’ but tasted just as good…if I do say so myself!

The good news for you (and for me, really) was that they were really easy, and quick to make. I’d say they’re the perfect appetizer for just those reasons. The bad news for you (and for me) was that they were really easy, and quick to make. Okay, I’m not gonna say exactly how many stuffed blossoms I ended up eating…but let’s just say I made six…and there were maybe, perhaps, I think, something like two left…because I thought, “Hmmmm. I should save these for…someone…else?” Sue me!! I love goat cheese.

Enjoy, folks!

Continue reading

Roasted Corn On The Cob

This one’s easy folks. There’s no measuring, stirring, combining or mixing. It’s a lot of slathering, shaking and shmearing. It’s good stuff.

It’s an adapted Paula Deen recipe.

BOOM! Need I say more!? Oh wait…let me add that it’s fresh farmers market corn on the cob. Which, I hear is quite a steal right now. Okay, so here we go…

Clean an ear, or two, of corn – peel off the husk and make sure all the silky strings are removed. Chop off the gnarly ends of the corn. Now shmear (using your hands) a (healthy) dollop of mayo (the real thing, not that low fat stuff!) all over each ear of corn. Sprinkle a (healthy) shake of Parmesan cheese over each ear. Now sprinkle a little more on. It’s that good. Now a dash of salt and pepper and you’re done. Paula makes her’s spicy by adding some cayenne. I don’t object to that…or some Old Bay, or adobo or chili powder. I’m up for it all. I just wasn’t last night. Add what you like…add some dried herbs? Mix it up!

Now wrap it up in some aluminum foil…nice and tight! Pop it in the oven or on a grill for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. All done? Open up the foil, let it cool for a minute and…AND…EAT!!!

Enjoy! :)

Flour Tortillas – First Try

My name is Alejandra. I’m from Southern Arizona. I can eat a dozen tortillas in one sitting.

No, I don’t have a ‘problem.’ If I had any ‘problem’ it would be that I hardly ever get to eat anything that remotely gets close to looking like authentic Mexican food around these parts!!!

A girl just wants a decent tortilla sometimes. Heated up and shmeared with creamy, yellow butter…melting all over the place…rolled up.

When I was little, that was my after-school snack! How money is that! Thanks, Mom :)

Food In My Beard recently made tortillas to go along with a quesadilla type dish so tortillas were on my mind a few weekends ago. The BF was bored and when he asked me what we could do for fun, I said, “Make tortillas?” He was game so I thought, why not? We’ll give it a try.

They were ok…they reminded me a bit of Mission Tortillas. Thick and spongy. Even after I obsessively rolled them out so thin they were practically see through, they were still thick and spongy!! They tasted good. They just weren’t thin enough. Or melt-in-your-mouth enough.

Maybe lard instead of shortening? Maybe obsessively roll them out even thinner? Maybe I need a comal?

My mom used to tell me a story about how, when she was a young girl living with her Grandparents, her Grandmother tried to teach her how to make tortillas. My mom, frustrated after a few failed batches, would just ball up the dough and throw it out the kitchen window into the front yard. Needless to say, a few hours later, there was a lot of dough in the front yard. She lost her desire to ever make homemade tortillas right then and there.

I don’t blame ya’ Mom! Theses things are a betch.

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try. While you do that, I’m going to try out Pioneer Woman’s tortillas next. I’m pretty much going to keep trying recipes until I find the best one. And then I will share that with you. And then we will all never eat spongy, inadequate, decidedly un-Mexican tortillas ever again.


Continue reading

White Chocolate Bird Nests

 For awhile I’d beg my mom to make these little nests of deliciousness and send them to me. After awhile she told me it would probably just be easier to make them on my own. She was right. She’s usually right.

I don’t have kids but I’d imagine this is the sort of recipe would be perfect for their little hands to help with. These are also good to make for large groups since it makes a fairly large batch. Super bowl parties…house parties…classrooms full of kids just waiting for their afternoon sugar rush.


  Continue reading

2 Pasta Salads

I got a request (*ahem* I hope you’re reading, Tom.) for some healthy items. Well…I bake…and that’s not really the healthiest. However, I do have a New Year’s resolution to cook regular food more often this year. So into the cook books I went!

Whenever I think “healthy” I think farmer’s market…well it’s January, so scratch that. The second thing I think of is Weight Watchers. See, when I was 17, I spent a summer away from home…and having never cooked for myself, I proceeded to dine out for three months straight in ignorant bliss. My mother and father came to pick me up at the end of the summer and my poor mom was in pure shock. I had gained something in the vicinity of 20lbs. Yes. TWENTY POUNDS. So guess who ended up in Weight Watchers at the beginning of her senior year of high school? That’s right, this girl.

Continue reading

Granola Bars!

I love Ina Garten. She’s the Julia to my Julie. See, Ina has no formal training…and, like me, spent time in Washington, DC cranking it out in a government job (not like me) as a budget analyst (definitely not like me). Ina cooked because she wanted a release from the daily grind. She learned to cook from her cookbooks and, I would assume, later discovered that she could do a little something with this passion. So after years of working in a 9-5 desk job (and apparently flipping houses!?) she opened her own store, Barefoot Contessa. Then came cookbooks…then shows…and well, we all know how she’s doing now.

So after a bad day or a long week, when I bake cookies or make homemade granola bars I think about Ina. I doubt Ina ever had to cook in a galley kitchen with about three square feet of counter space BUT! She battled the daily grind with cups of packed brown sugar and ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolates and she came out on top. It’s a nice reminder that I/you/we can come out on top, too.

On to the granola bars though. I swear, every time I make something there’s always ONE ingredient I can’t find. I’ve come to expect this so I’ve also become quite good at improvisation. This time around I couldn’t find a jar of wheat germ anywhere in this stupid city…so I used flax seeds instead. Also, dates sounded lovely, but they’re expensive…and this gal’s on a budget. I had prunes laying around and used those.

Continue reading