Wednesday, November 28, 2012

sweet potato doughnuts

When I saw the pictures of these sweet potato doughnuts on Fifteen Spatulas, I had to make them.  Hers looked so fluffy and gorgeous -- just like this fluffy orange kitchen sponge that I love.

When it comes to doughnuts, health isn't really a selling point.  If I want healthy for breakfast, I'd rather grab some Greek yogurt or egg whites rather than some cardboard-like healthy imposter of a doughnut.

But these taste amazing, like fluffy, sweet, doughy orange clouds and just happen to be way healthier than your average doughnut. Sweet potatoes just happen to be full of beta carotene and other antioxidants.  These just happen to be delicious with just a few tablespoons of butter in the batter, and just happen to be baked, not fried.  They also just happen to be dunked in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar.  So we have nothing to worry about.

My dad's a total traditionalist and I was worried he wouldn't be too keen on a doughnut with a vegetable in it.  I was pleasantly surprised, he loved them, and ate two right out of the oven before I could photograph them!  The sweet potato flavor adds a subtle sweetness and a pretty orange color. This makes the perfect winter treat alongside a big mug of warm apple cider.


With love,
Erica

 
 Ingredients

One 12-ounce sweet potato
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 envelope instant dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling

topping:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
 
  1. Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and cook it in a microwave at high power for 10 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then peel and puree the sweet potato; you should have about 1 cup.
  2. In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until nutty and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the browned butter and solids into a small bowl and let cool.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the milk until just warm, about 105°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently mix in the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla seeds, nutmeg and rum. Add the sweet potato puree, browned butter and solids, egg and egg yolks and beat until combined. Add the 3 1/4 cups of bread flour and beat at medium speed until the dough is evenly moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to moderately high and beat until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a buttered bowl. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.
  4. Punch down the dough and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible. Using a smaller round cutter (1 inch), stamp out the centers. Transfer the doughnuts and holes to 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the doughnuts and holes rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake the holes for 10 minutes and the doughnuts for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
  6. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Put half of the hot doughnuts in a large bowl and drizzle with some of the melted butter; toss and turn to coat. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar and toss and turn until evenly coated. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, butter and cinnamon sugar. Transfer the doughnuts to a platter; serve.

compost cookies

I recently made white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (recipe soon!), and the recipe called for 2 cups of chocolate chips.  I carefully measured 2 cups of white chocolate chips... and was left with a sad little quarter cup left in the bag. 
My pantry is overflowing with similar crumbled bags with just a smidgen of their contents left. 
  1. Just under a 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips (a.k.a. not enough to make butterscotch bars)
  2. A rolled up bag of potato chips from my dad's lunch at Subway. 
  3. The bottom half of a roll of Ritz crackers (no longer crunchy).
  4. A handful of craisins leftover from my cranberry bliss bars.
  5. A half eaten box of animal crackers
The list goes on and on... and my kitchen cabinet seems to get smaller and smaller.  There's nothing I hate more than wasting perfectly good ingredients... but I've also never experienced frustration quite like having no room to put the sugar away when my hands are covered in butter. Behold the compost cookie. 


Throw all of your potato chips, corn chips, cereals, candies, crackers, and all other snack scraps  into this cookie.   Sounds gross perhaps... but trust me on this one, these are delicious!  The serendipitously sweet and salty combination is both sophisticated and snacky.  My friend Emelia and I happily munched on these before a concert a few weeks ago -- it sure beat Chex-Mix. (and that's saying a lot, because I adore Chex-Mix...)


Plus the word "compost" makes me feel so good about myself, like I'm saving the world, one cookie at a time. So raid your kitchen cabinet and save the world today!

With love,
Erica


Ingredients
 

Ingredients:
1 cup butter (that’s two sticks, unsalted)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups your favorite baking ingredients (options: chocolate chips, Raisenettes, Rollos, Cocoa Krispies)
1 1/2 cups your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc.)


In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the honey and mix to combine. Add in the egg and vanilla, mix and scrape down the bowl as necessary just until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add dry ingredients mix to the butter mix. Mix in the sweet and salty add-ins of your choice.
DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.  Pop in the fridge for at least an hour.  Heat the oven to 400 F. Roll cookies into large, tablespoon-sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread. At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don’t match up and your cookies still seem pale and doughy on the surface.
 Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, they’ll keep five days

Sunday, November 25, 2012

everyday vita: thanksgiving

 This year, my family and I spent Thanksgiving in Newport, Rhode Island, my dad's hometown. 
the feast.
The journey got off to a great start.  We were an hour early for our flight (unlike last time where we literally ran through the gate).  Even better, there was a brand new Pinkberry in the terminal. I'm not the biggest fan of Arby's and Panda Express (airport staples), so this frosty, coconut-mango goodness put me in a great mood!


I was carrying two pumpkin chocolate chip loaves, a loaf of orange cranberry bread (recipe coming soon!), a huge Ziploc of cornbread cubes (for my apple cornbread stuffing), and a big panettone (also for my stuffing.  Just for the record, panettone works wonders in stuffing -- those sweet, citrus-y notes of panettone along with apples, cranberries and heavy cream are to die for.

Thank you TSA for not taking my baked goods from me.

Soon after we landed in Newport and said our hellos, the cooking commenced.

I made Julia Child's simple cranberry sauce. (even though my dad insisted on buying the canned stuff as well).  In my opinion, freshly popped cranberries with citrus zest will always win over the stuff that still has can rings on it... but to each his own ;).

Instead of mashed potatoes, I whipped up some rosemary roasted potatoes.  With crunchy, oven-fried edges and smooth insides, these were addictive.


I made white cheddar biscuits in my grandma's cast iron skillet.  I felt like a strong independent pioneer woman making her own skillet biscuits on the old frontier.  Except not, because I was in my grandmother's kitchen with a space heater wearing my fuzzy Christmas socks and listening to Macklemore. Oh well, we can pretend...


My dad made the turkey, isn't it festive? Look at that shiny glaze! Looks like it jumped out of Martha Stewart to me-- nice job daddy!


But these sweet potatoes stole the show.  I made Ruth Chris' sweet potato casserole, and it was an all around hit.  Make this for your next holiday gathering... or dinner tonight. You'll thank me. 


Then I whipped up some fresh whipped cream to go with the pies.  Pies don't Instagram very well... so no pictures. I made my crunchy, custardy tart with apples, and the simplest pumpkin pie in the world.  I had the leftover whipped cream with coffee the next morning.  Not coffee with whipped cream, whipped cream with coffee. Oh yeah. ;)


I did take some breaks from the kitchen to walk around Newport.  The silhouette of St. Georges (my dad's high school) looked so gorgeous and purple at sunset.


I walked past Rosecliff mansion. Funny because we are reading the Great Gatsby in school at the moment. Party at Gatsbys?


When I woke up on the next morning, this little guy was perched outside my window.  He literally sat there staring at me for an entire 20 minutes. (don't judge me for staring back the entire time... no wonder I almost didn't finish packing).


Hope you all had wonderful, cozy Thanksgivings!
Get psyched for Christmas cookie season!

With love,
Erica



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

recipe showdown: sweet potato casserole

I thought it would be a good idea to try four very different recipes for this showdown. However, each of these recipes were very good in its own way.  I'm not saying that to be diplomatic.  Just like their is a perfect outfit for every occasion, there is a perfect sweet potato casserole for every occasion. Here's the lowdown.
Martha Stewart's Sweet Potato Casserole:
Perfect for kids, with a beautiful presentation that adults will enjoy as well!
Martha's sweet potato casserole has a very simple base (just sweet potatoes, milk, and a dash of salt and pepper). But it's topped with a big, bubbly layer of toasted marshmallows.  It is by far the prettiest of the four casseroles -- the toasted marshmallows look so enticing and beautiful on the table!

Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole:
Oh. My. God. This sweet potato casserole is knock-your-socks-off tasty.  The buttery, brown sugar topping gets all crispy and delightful.  My mom said she is still thinking about this casserole to this day!  Sure there's a lot of buttery and brown sugar-y goodness in there, but in the taste department this casserole was the clear winner.

Oh She Glow's Not Your Grandmother's Sweet Potato Casserole:
This casserole held its own extremely well against its buttery and sugary counterparts. Sweetened with maple syrup and topped with coconut oil and whole wheat flour, this casserole is not only healthy, but delicious too! Trust me!

Kraft's Oat Topped Sweet Potato Crisp:
This one was the only one that wasn't a huge hit, the oats were a bit mushy, and the cream cheese added a strange tang to the sweet potatoes. :(

Hope this quick showdown helps you choose which sweet potato casserole to make for your Thanksgiving feast!

With love,
Erica

Sunday, November 18, 2012

thanksgiving menu

Sides:
The perfect side, with an irresistible balance of sweet and savory

This take cornbread to a whole new level!

 Desserts:
Instead of a traditional apple pie, I plan on making my crunchy custardy tart with apples instead of peaches.


Need I say more?


I am going to sprinkle this with Pumpkin seeds. We can have this for breakfast the following morning.
 

apple cornbread stuffing

 Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I've been busy planning my menu for a while now.  I've already found the perfect cornbread, we've ordered a turkey, I have six pie crusts in my fridge... the only thing left is the stuffing! Stuffing has always been my favorite Thanksgiving dish, so this year, it better be good.  We usually make stuffing from a mix, but  I want to make homemade stuffing this year.  I was getting frustrated finding a recipe that measured up to Kraft's Stove Top Stuffing Mix.  The recipes that I tried all have either too much chicken broth, are to mushy, or are too oily.


Luckily, this one is different.  It's not a traditional stuffing (i.e. you can't actually stuff a turkey with it), but boy is it good. It's technically a bread pudding, but when served in a casserole dish, it can totally pass for stuffing. It is a wonderful medley of sweet and savory flavors.  Apples, fluffy bread, and whipping cream complement sage, cornbread and onions.


This recipe is from the restaurant Ris in Washington D.C.. The Washingtonian has a series called "recipe sleuth" where they track down awesome recipes from famous restaurants in Washington D.C.. I love knowing that I can save time and money making real, restaurant food at home.  It makes me feel like I'm beating the system.



When I tested the recipe, I used a loaf of brioche from Whole Foods. However, there was a sale on panettone at the grocery store this weekend, so I am planning on replacing the brioche with panettone for our Thanksgiving feast.  I use homemade cornbread in this recipe (bake up a double batch, use half in this recipe, and serve half as a side dish); however, store bought cornbread would work just fine as well.

With love,
Erica

NOTE: The panettone makes this recipe absolutely delicious! Brioche and challah are good, but panettone makes this casserole absolutely legendary. If you can get your hands on one, by all means use panettone.


Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing ramekins
1 cup peeled, ¾-inch diced Honeycrisp or Braeburn apples
1 cup finely julienned onions
2 cups ¾-inch diced cornbread, from a favorite recipe or storebought
2 cups ¾-inch diced brioche or challah (I use Panettone which is DELICIOUS)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage (blanch the leaves before chopping)
4 tablespoons fresh thyme
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4 ounces apple butter (see recipe below)
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 cups heavy cream


Butter the bottom and sides of eight 8-ounce ramekins and set aside. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees for a convection oven or 325 for a conventional oven.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the cut apples, letting them sit briefly to gain color. Stir and allow them to cook a few minutes more until they’re lightly brown but still firm. Remove from pan and set aside.

Melt the other tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stirring occasionally until they’re soft and lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread, brioche, herbs, salt, white pepper, apple butter, and the caramelized apples and onions once they’ve cooled. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, Tabasco, and cream. Add the egg mixture to the cornbread mixture and let soak for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Divide the mixture into each of the buttered ramekins, filling each to ¼ inch from the top. Place the ramekins in a water bath and bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (This recipe can be prepared in a larger casserole form, which bakes for a longer time, roughly 45 minutes. Again, test the doneness with a toothpick.)


Apple Butter


2 Honeycrisp or Braeburn apples, peeled and sliced (roughly ¼-inch thick)
1 tablespoon butter

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the sliced apples, letting them rest a minute or two to get color. Stir and cook a few minutes longer so the apples are lightly brown and soft. Purée in a blender, and let cool before mixing with other ingredients.

From the Washingtonian

Friday, November 16, 2012

twix fudge swirl ice cream


I asked you all on Twitter what I should do with all of my leftover Halloween candy.  While I was dreaming up wacky recipes that would most likely end up in the garbage disposal (crunch bar souffle anyone?), SLC Foodie recommended I chop them into brownies or fold them into ice cream.  I stopped calculating how I could brulee Almond Joys and remembered that sometimes, the simplest things are best.  As a self-proclaimed foodie, I am always yearning to try the newest, craziest, most labor-intensive recipe.  But often times a simple slice of avocado toast is better than avocado-bread-pudding-supreme (ew...), and a grilled cheese from a frying pan is always better than a "gastronomically engineered" one.  Another word of wisdom before you go off and make this ice cream:

Almost everything tastes better when swaddled in whipped cream and condensed milk.

Now let's get churnin'.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
12 mini twix bars, crushed
1/3 cup hot fudge ice cream topping
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl. Whisk sweetened condensed milk and butter. Stir in Twix pieces. Fold in whipped cream. Add ice cream toppings and swirl. Put in a plastic container and freeze for about four hours. Stir. Enjoy!


chicken tortilla soup

Who said comfort food can't be healthy?
Yeah, I know I kicked off my series of "comfort" recipes with the quintessential butter-and-cheese-laden maceroni and cheese casserole
But I think you all deserve a little bit of comfort everyday, not just on mac-and-cheesy days.
So I came up with this soup.


It's full of nutrients, vitamins, lean protein, light chicken broth, warming spices.
Oh yeah, and it tastes like a fiesta!
This soup is so hearty and satisfying, it could be a meal on its own. But tonight, I decided to make some fun sides to accompany it.
fry me!
ohh... you look so golden brown and pretty

smashed! heh heh
I fried some plantains in coconut oil.  I also tossed some extra tortillas into the oil to make homemade tortilla chips.  I cannot emphasize how much I love cooking with coconut oil, it adds such a rich, subtle sweetness to everything it touches.  I served it all with my favorite Peach Mango Salsa and some fresh guacamole from the store.
golden coins of deliciousness

A healthy, delicious dinner that warms the soul. What more could a girl want?

With love,
Erica
tostitos have nothing on these!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes 10 cups or 5 main-course servings (2 cups each)

Ingredients:
 

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2½ cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 (6-inch) corn tortillas, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons chili powder
dash of salt and pepper
6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked chopped chicken (I usually use a rotisserie chicken for this)
Juice of 1 lime

Ingredients for Topping:

1¼ cups tortilla chips, crushed
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
cheese (optional)

In a large nonstick pot, add olive oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute.
Add chopped tortillas, tomato paste, chili powder, salt and pepper.
Stir in chicken broth and tomatoes.  Bring up to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add beans, chicken and fresh squeezed lime juice.  Mix well.  Cook 10 minutes more.
Top with desired toppings. Serve



Double Fried, Smashed Plantains

2 large plantains
1 cup of coconut oil
salt/sugar to taste

Put coconut oil in a small saucepan, and bring to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Peel and slice your plantains into 1" long pieces. Fry the slices in coconut oil for about 1-2 minutes until golden and drain on paper towels.
Smash each plantain with a cup (be careful not to smash too hard). Fry once more in the hot oil (you can let the temperature rise to 375 degrees now). Fry for about one more minute. Serve hot.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

panettone

I love preparing breakfast the night before.  There is nothing better than going to bed knowing that there is a super delicious breakfast waiting for me in the fridge... especially when that breakfast is this Italian panettone.

Panettone originated in Milan, and is traditionally eaten around Christmastime. Many traditional panettone recipes are very labor intensive, but this one is quite simple, and just takes a little bit of planning ahead.  I throw in whatever dried fruit happens to be in my pantry -- this time I had cherries, cranberries and some golden raisins.

This is going to be my go-to breakfast when we have guests over this holiday season.  I can make the dough the night before, and everyone can wake up to the sweet smell of freshly baked bread (and I won't have to wake up early to knead anything!).   I may even make it in double batches so that I can have leftovers. This would make some delicious french toast.  I even found some very cool recipes for panettone stuffing and panettone eggnog bread pudding!

I made mine in a standard 9-inch cake pan, but if you have one of those beautiful, slender panettone pans, by all means use it! (I'm quite jealous if you do!).

With love, Erica


Ingredients
2 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 Tbs. white sugar
2 eggs
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt (I used 0% Greek yogurt)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dried fruit (cherries, raisins, cranberries etc.)
1 vanilla bean, scraped  (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup brown sugar

Combine yeast, water, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand until foamy.  Add eggs, yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla bean and salt. Mix well. Stir in flour ½ cup at a time, scraping sides of bowl down, until dough starts to form (after adding ~3 cups).  Throw in dried fruits Switch to the dough hook and continue adding flour (about 1 more cup) until dough forms a manageable mass.  Continue kneading for 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
Form dough into a large ball and coat all sides with vegetable oil.  Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Form dough into a ball and place in a greased 9-10 inch round pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and cool rise in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, remove pan from refrigerator and let come to room temperature (about 1 hour before baking).  Brush with milk and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 F  for 45 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (If bread browns too quickly on top, cover with a piece of foil.) 

From Apricosa

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

recipe showdown: baked mac and cheese


Most of the trees in my neighborhood have lost their leaves.  I have to wear a coat to school everyday.  I've swapped my iced chai teas with pumpkin spice lattes.
What does this all mean?  It's time to whip out comfort food recipes!
Nothing hugs the soul on a chilly day like buttery, cheesy goodness.


I can't think of anything more "comforting" than a bowl of buttery noodles, swaddled in gooey cheese and topped with toasty bread crumbs.
I have a bunch of comfort recipes up my sleeve (mainly because they all look oh-so enticing when they pop up on my Pinterest board).  However, mac-and-cheese is the ULTIMATE comfort food, so I had to get this recipe out to you before Thanksgiving rolls around!

I tried recipes from some of my favorite blogs: The Cooking Actress, Martha Stewart, Brown Eyed Baker, and A Cup of Jo.
The winner of this Showdown was the Cooking Actress' Brown Butter Mac and Cheese. It won me over with that lovely, nutty aroma of brown butter.  I got nervous when my dad said that it was "interesting" (he is quite the traditionalist, and "interesting" isn't always great); however, he said that it was diffrerent in a good way.  The only change that I made to the Cooking Actress' recipe was I used Honey Wheat Ritz crackers as opposed to regular Ritz.  The Honey Wheat crackers added a nice sweetness to the dish, which complemented the sharp cheddar and parmesan.


If you've got a family full of kids (or adults), this will be much appreciated at your Thanksgiving table.  As always, feel free to challenge my recipe!
What is your favorite comfort food?
With love,
Erica

oh-so cheesy



Description
It bakes up thick, cheesy and bubbly with a Ritz cracker crust. Completely irresistible, I tell you.
A baked mac and cheese with a Panko bread crumb crust.  (I omitted the pancetta for consistency)
Famously comforting with real bread crumbs and a dash of nutmeg.
Traditional, baked macaroni and cheese with nutty brown butter and a Ritz cracker crust.
Tasters’ notes
Too much pepper!

Funny taste
Good

Crunchy

Too many bread crumbs
Enjoyable

More traditional

Love the nutmeg!

Cheesy crust
Less cheese

Interesting

Different

Brown butter = yum!

Love that you used honey wheat Ritz, it adds sweetness!
Rating (best = 1)
4
3
2
1
I'm ready for my close-up
Ingredients:
  • 12 oz. pasta (I used a combination of elbow macaroni and egg noodles)
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • heaping 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • heaping 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup buttery crackers, crushed (I used Honey Wheat Ritz)
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain.
In a medium saucepan, melt 6 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Whisk constantly as it foams and then small brown flecks form. Immediately whisk in flour.
Add milk and continue to whisk over medium heat until smooth and thickened.
Whisk in cheeses until smooth and not clumpy.
Turn off heat. Pour cheese over cooked macaroni.
Prepare a large casserole/baking dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Pour macaroni and cheese in.
Stir 2 tbsp. butter with the crackers. Sprinkle over the top of the mac'n'cheese.
Bake on middle rack of your oven on broil for 5-8 minutes (watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn!).


From the Cooking Actress

Monday, November 12, 2012

everyday vita: the eternal weekend

We had parent teacher conferences last Thursday and Friday, and I had the best, most leisurely 4-day weekend ever.
It was chilly on Wednesday.  I wandered over to Whole Foods with a huge, chunky scarf wrapped tightly around my head.  Honestly, I think that I could spend the rest of my life at Whole Foods and never get bored.  I would spend my days contemplating different types of frozen veggie burgers and perusing the seemingly endless varieties of granola.

I unearthed a gem in the dairy section: Vermont cultured butter with sea salt and maple.  This butter is so good, I ate you could just eat it plain in little slivers.  The maple and the sea salt provide the perfect balance between sweet and salty.  Bliss.

Thursday morning my parents were at parent teacher conferences.  I woke up around 10 o'clock and fixed myself a nice breakfast.  The fact that I was eating alone didn't stop me from making something a little bit fancy! I made an egg white omelet with Parmesan and spinach and a slice of three grain bread (smeared with that heavenly butter of course!).


Since Thursday was inevitably going to be a lazy day at home, I decided to tidy up my room.  I discovered that there is a marvelous blue light during the daytime that I never knew about (since I am usually only in my room at night).


For dinner, I figured we needed some warm, soul-hugging food.  I made Roasted Red Pepper Tomato soup.  My mom said that it reminded her of the famous soup from The Cottage in La Jolla, CA.  I also made a loaf of honey beer bread on the side.  If you ever need a super quick substitute for bread, make honey beer bread.  It uses very basic ingredients and takes seconds to stir together -- plus it's super buttery and delicious.


I cozied up with my chocolate chip cookie candle and called it a day.


Sunday was absolutely gorgeous -- nothing like the chilly week that we had.  It got up to 75 degrees!  I quickly got out of hibernation mode and went for a nice 5-mile run... in shorts! To take full advantage of this delicious weather, I pretended it was summer and whipped up my favorite sunny summer salad with chickpeas, grapefruits, and avocado.



With love,
Erica