Monthly Archives: November 2012

Lauren: Kale and Pomegranate Salad

WHO’S READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS?! Well you can’t be; not until you’ve tried this kale and pomegranate salad. You get an aril! And you get an aril! See how excited I am about this bowl o’ red and green? And it’s for good reason! Pomegranates are delicious and beautiful fruits. They are also the namesake of the picturesque Spanish town in which my brother studied abroad (and yes, he chose it because he liked the fruit), see Granada. Anyway, back to business.

The edible parts of a pomegranate are its jewel-like seeds called arils. The outside of each seed is juicy and rigidly holds its form unlike another juicy fruit like say, an orange, which will squirt you in the eye at every opportunity. Once you’ve bitten through the juice, you hit the hard seed but fear not, because it will break into bits upon chewing. Arils are completely addictive and after de-seeding my first pom of the season I proceeded to eat the entire fruit’s worth of seeds in one standing just because they’re so fun to chomp. So given how fresh this fruit is, I wanted to make either a fruit or regular salad to highlight and compliment its freshness, not diminish it or dry it out by baking into cookies or something.

Enter: daily waffle’s Kale, Asian Pear, and Pomegranate Salad. It is awesome. You know what was not awesome? My Asian pear. It was watery, had zero flavor, and was so hard it was difficult to chew. Thus, immediately after trying a piece I chucked that sucker into the trash and decided to move forward with the recipe anyway, despite how wonderful the addition of pear to a kale salad sounded. If you’re up for it, buy a bosc, comice, or other ripe pear and cut that up to use in place of the Asian pear. Unless of course your Asian-pear-picking skills are fabulous, then by all means make the recipe as it is written.

Ok, so the dressing is really easy, just whisk all the ingredients together and you’re good to go. I found the early step of massaging salt into the dry leaves completely pointless as it just falls to the bottom so just forget that. And as usual, I used curly instead of lacinato kale again due to my bug aversion. Last week I found a tiny, very-much-alive slug on the back of one of my lacinato leaves and that was the end of that. My substitution involves somewhat OCD washing* of the curly leaves, followed by roughly ripping them into smaller pieces and drying them. After the leaves are ready and the dressing is mixed, do as you did with the last kale salad and get in there with your hands to massage the dressing into the leaves and ensure an even coating. When you’re ready to serve, pretend it’s New Years Eve and liberally cover the salad greens in aril-confetti.

The salad is dressed for the season, tastes quite unique among kale salads thanks to the rice wine vinegar and ginger, lasts about two days after being dressed so it can be made ahead of the holiday madness, and provides a truly healthy and fresh counterpoint to all the heavy, baked food being shoved in your face this time of year. Now go out, buy some kale and pomegranate, and prepare for an onslaught of compliments on your tasty and holiday-color-appropriate salad-making skills.

Recipe!

*I like to wash each individual leaf, rip them off the stems/away from the tough inner-vein, then swish the leaves around in a water-filled bowl, and finish by drying the leaves in a salad spinner.

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Caro: Pumpkin Mac and Apple-Smoked Cheese

Oh. My. GOODNESS. You guys.

This is SERIOUS.

This post today… it is about my new second-favorite pasta dish… ever.

(My favorite pasta dish currently is, and I’m pretty darn sure will forever be, the gnocchi in tomato sauce at Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill in St. Louis, MO. Oddly enough, it does not appear on their online menu… I just said seven prayers hoping that this does not mean they have stopped making it. That gnocchi makes up at least 58% of the reason I am dying to go back to STL. But anyway…)

Do you have any idea how much I looove pasta? (Very, very much.)
Do you have any idea how much pasta I eat? (A lot. A lot of pasta.)
Do you have any idea how many truly amazing pasta meals I have devoured in my lifetime? (Quite a few… lucky me!)
Now. Do you understand how much love I have to have for this pumpkin mac and cheese to place it on a pedestal above almost all the pasta I have eaten in my life?! I mean… whoa. It must be good, right?!

It’s so. SO. good.

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

Please note how I have made no attempts to cover up the real-life state of my kitchen. The only difference between this photo and my current kitchen is that the bananas are gone.

Can I still call this mac and cheese if I actually used orecchiette? I think so. “Orecchiette and cheese” just does not roll off the tongue as nicely.

Lest you think I’m trying to glorify my cooking abilities and going all “I utilized my culinary expertise to craft the most delectable pasta experience imaginable” on you, let me tell you that the deliciousness of this mac and cheese is attributable not at all to me but rather entirely to the types and amounts of cheese I used.

I was at Walmart when I decided I was going to make pumpkin mac and cheese for pumpkin week—thank you, iPhone, for allowing me to Google “creative pumpkin recipes” when my computer is nowhere near me!—and so I figured I’d buy ingredients there. Naturally, I hit up the cheese section first. The original recipe uses fontina, so I was on the lookout for that… no dice. I did, however, find the absolute makers of this mac and cheese… Red Apple Cheese’s Apple Smoked cheeses!

I had never seen or tried these before, ever. They caught my eye, though, and I ended up picking up apple smoked cheddar and apple smoked Gruyère to replace the elusive fontina. I had a feeling the smokey apple flavor of the cheese would blend well with the pumpkin in the mac and cheese… and boy, was I right. The flavors were incredible together.

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

There is one thing y’all may object to about this recipe… after everything, it really doesn’t turn out like much of a mac and cheese at all. It ends up more as a dish of pasta covered in an incredibly rich, thick, cheesy, and totally spoon-able sauce (like a spiffed-up alfredo, if you will). I promise, you will not miss the traditional feel of mac and cheese once you take a bite of this pasta. I ate the entire dish in two sittings… I’m pretty sure that was actually eight servings. Whatever. No regrets. I mean… YOLO, right?!

(If you’re one of those people who is super tired of hearing everyone say YOLO every five seconds, you probably shouldn’t hang around me much. I’m totally not over it.)

pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese

Ok. This recipe has: pumpkin (seasonal!), cheese (amazing!), whipping cream (decadent!), sage (fancy!), pasta (carb-o-licious!)… I don’t really have any selling words left. If you’re not already running to make this ASAP, who are you?

Continue reading

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Caro: Old-Fashioned Butter Mints

Mints.

Last week was tiny food week. I could have made anything… tiny s’mores, tiny tarts, tiny cookies, tiny tea sandwiches… and I made mints.

Kind of a stretch, yeah?

Well, let me explain why I couldn’t not make them.

I’ve been getting out of work pretty late these past weeks. Not 10-p.m. late, but definitely 6:30- or 7-p.m. late. When this happens, I usually end up picking dinner up on the way home. There’s just too much going on for me to think about stopping at Publix for ingredients, cooking something legit, and doing dishes. I mean, sometimes I’ll make a quick pasta or something, but real talk… Chick-fil-A and I have become great friends.

So, one day, as almost usual, I stopped by my favorite fast food restaurant for dinner. Confession: I tend to go the drive thru route… (Getting out of my car and walking the ten steps to the door? Umm, too much. Please.) However! On this night, I decided to park and actually walk into Chick-fil-A for my food. Want to know why I did this? I did this exclusively so that I could steal a handful or two of the delicious individually wrapped butter mints that sit in a basket by the door (sometimes by the utensils).

Uhh, yeah. Guess what. They had NO MINTS left. I even asked at the register. As politely as possible. “Oh, hmm, I was just wondering if you had any more of those little mints left…”

“Sorry. All out.”

NO. I headed back to my car, defeated, and realized I should probably think of a tiny food week recipe and pick up ingredients for it on the way home.

Then it hit me. Mints are tiny. I wanted mints, dammit… and so, a Google search for “after-dinner mints recipe” happened. I found a yummy-looking version on Averie Cooks, and as soon as I realized the only ingredients missing from my apartment were condensed milk and powdered sugar, it was settled. Mints for dessert!

I came home and whipped up the “batter” according to the recipe using my beloved KitchenAid mixer, which someone recently named Betsy for me. I kind of like it. After mixing was complete, I took a teensy spoonful of the sweet, slightly minty pillow of goodness sitting in my mixer’s bowl. Then I took another teensy spoonful. Then I took a bigger spoonful… and another… and I said, out loud in my empty apartment, “Why does anybody ever BUY mints?!”

old-fashioned butter mints

After eating half the dough (Batter? Mixture? What do I call this?) I rolled out the rest and tried cutting it into tiny mint-like pieces. After a minute, I got hopelessly frustrated, rolled everything back into a ball, and just broke off pieces in small sizes and dropped them onto a parchment-covered pan.

Now, the problem… they never hardened. I’m not sure if they were supposed to… Averie never mentions it on her blog. But I was hoping they would, just like the Chick-fil-A mints. I saw another recipe with egg whites and one with cream of tartar, both involving different methods. Maybe those would have hardened. But these really just remained all soft and pliable. (EDIT!: If you read Averie’s comment below, you’ll see that hers did in fact harden, and she suggests adding a bit more powdered sugar than I did. She mentions it’s dry where she is, so I”m thinking the typical-even-in-“fall” Florida humidity might have affected the ability of my little minties to solidify. Oh, well… this just means I DEFINITELY have to give this another shot!)

I’ll tell you what, though… I didn’t even care that they didn’t harden. These definitely satisfied my mint craving that night. They were quick, super easy, and incredibly yummy. I’d make the dough again any day and just sit in front of my TV eating piece after piece of the melt-in-your-mouth minty deliciousness.

old-fashioned butter mints

In fact, I think I hear the remaining ones calling out to me from the fridge…

Click here for the recipe!

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An Apology. And a Promise!

Hey, world. Caro here.

I thought I’d write up this little post to tell you all I’m sorry for my total disappearance from the blog for… all of October.

The first month of work unexpectedly brought with it way too many 10- to 11-hour days, all of which left me passed out in bed immediately following dinner (which I usually didn’t even have the energy to cook… ❤ you, Chick-fil-A). And you know what? If I had a couch in my apartment, I probably wouldn’t even have made it to the bed. Who knew real life could be so draining?

Add to this the fact that my mom was visiting one weekend, a dear friend was visiting and another was in town the next weekend, and the weekend after that involved a Friday night that kicked off a two-week emotional rollercoaster that is just now slowing down… yeah.

It might not seem like much, but it’s been hard for me to adjust to Tampa living with so much going on. Laundry? Not gonna lie… it’s been a solid three weeks. Grocery trip? Hasn’t happened in at least 12.6 days. Vacuuming? Let’s not even talk about it.

I’m not going to say I’m feeling any calmer or less tired or more adjusted… but I am going to say I’m not putting this blog on the sidelines anymore!

Commitment renewed. I’ll be back every week… I promise.

And! I have been cooking/baking/making for the blog this whole time… so today through Thursday of this week, in addition to Lauren’s and my POMEGRANATE WEEK (!) posts going up, the posts for the past weeks I’ve missed will be published. Better late than never… right? That means pumpkin week, Halloween week, “make what you want” week, and tiny food week posts from me are all on their ways 🙂 . Though not in that order. Gotta keep y’all on your toes.

First one to be up by this evening! (A.k.a. when I manage to figure out what’s wrong with my camera.)

Stay tuned! I’m glad to be back.

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Lauren: Mini Baked Apples

This week we’re doing teeny, tiny things here on Cooking with Copy. Our assignment seemed easy enough. If there’s one thing Caro and I love, it’s lilliputian objects. Mini marshmallows, petite pies, teensie tacos—you name it, if it’s cute, we’re fans. I hunted down a copy of Teri Lyn Fisher’s and Jenny Park’s (of Spoon Fork Bacon) new book Tiny Food Party and prepared to make something small and delicious (like 1″-tall pop tarts).

Alas, every recipe in the book required more steps and ingredients than most regular-sized recipes! Not a fan. There is a wealth of amazing recipes in this book, but the workload required to make them is more suited to a party, where they are sure to impress, than to everyday. So I returned the book and headed to the grocery store where I discovered TINY CRIMSON GOLD APPLES!! HOW PERFECT! They were adorable little two-bite fruits and I decided I’d make them into baked apples, a recipe I’d wanted to try since high school at the suggestion of a camp friend.

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit. To prepare the apples for baking I washed them and removed the cores with my handy apple core-r. Then I peeled away any bit of skin that was brown-streaked. Next, I put them all into a square Pyrex dish mine was 9×9, but just use one large enough to hold all the apples you’re making. Then I used about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter total to top the apples. Keep in mind I had to adjust this recipe in all sorts of ways to, in theory, work for these tiny apples. I sliced the butter off the block in the thinnest sheets I could, then split each one into two halves. I placed one half over each the hole where the core once was on each apple. For the number of apples I prepared I needed a tablespoon of butter, but you might need more or less depending on the number of apples.

Then it was time to dust the apples with fragrant cinnamon. According to the original recipe which was for regular-sized apples, 1/8 teaspoon per apple was sufficient. I started measuring out 1/8 teaspoon for each apple but because that appeared to just be as much cinnamon as would cover a tiny apple, I took the lazy route and instead started sprinkling all the apples with unmeasured amounts of cinnamon. I used 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar to sprinkle over the top of all the apples, or as much as is needed to coat the tops, then I filled the pan with 1/4 inch of water.

Pop the dish into the oven and commence 25 minutes of baking. Be warned, these little apples are a crab apple hybrid and taste a little like they’re not meant for human consumption. While they are safe to eat, they are extremely dense and sour with a slightly different flavor than conventional apples. Due to their density you may want to cook them for more than 25 minutes, until they are tender when poked with a fork. During their time in the oven the recipe called for me to periodically spoon the syrup now in the bottom of the pan over the tops of the apples, but I didn’t do it. I suggest you do. At the very least spoon it over the apples as soon as you’ve taken them out of the oven.

Let them cool because they’re going to be balls of lava if you try to eat them immediately after removing them from the oven.

They’re cute, bite-sized, and special enough to serve at a dinner party. My only suggestion would be to buy a different variety of small apple because these were a little too crab-apple-y for my liking. Bon appétit!

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Lauren: Blackberry and lemon gin and tonic

Not sure if you’ve heard, but it’s election night. There really isn’t a better way to handle the anxiety of the next few hours than with a cocktail. My family ordered pizza and salad and ate it in front of the T.V. (GASP!), something we otherwise scorn, but which was totally necessary tonight. Of course though, we needed something to go with it, enter: alcohol.

I don’t care who you are or which side you’re on, but there needs to be more teamwork in Washington. The chasm between the two main parties continues to grow and that’s just not helpful. To bridge the gap I decided to make what looked (here) like a purple cocktail. Because how do you get purple? Mix blue (democrat) and red (republican). Oh you knew that? Good, that means you took kindergarten art. Don’t even get me started on the issue of parties staking claim to colors. I for one don’t want my favorite color to automatically signify allegiance to a political party, but that’s a rant for another time.

Now back to the beverage at hand. I chose a purple cocktail since the mixture of red and blue was the most diplomatic, but in the execution my cocktail only furthered the political disparity—the red and blue hardly integrated. Never fear, it can be enjoyed equally by republicans and democrats (and Green party-ers, Tea Party-ers, etc…) alike anyway.

To keep your drink purple I recommend muddling with less vigor. I kind of smashed the crap out of the blackberries despite Martha Stewart’s most fervent warnings. Alas, Ms. Stewart was correct. Err on the side of less muddled. Muddle muddle muddle. Kinda sounds like puddle. Ok sorry, I’ll stop now. Anyway, the recipe (here) is pretty straight forward, so break out the gin and highball glasses and get to drinking.

Cheers!

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