Wednesday Whine

Here’s what I like on my deli sandwiches:  one slice of american cheese, one slice of tomato, one or two pieces of lettuce, a few bits of red onion, a few cherry peppers if you have them, a little mayo. That’s it. I’m flexible on the bread type. I’m a go-with-the-bread-flow kinda person. Easy right? Not easy. Most helpful deli sandwich makers like to give me extra. To make up for the lackluster sandwich that they’ve deemed I’m subjecting myself to.

I usually get 10 pieces of cheese. Miles of lettuce and atleast 6 slices of tomato. Or! They try and put grilled veggies on there to make up for the meat. Outrageous.

When I was younger, so much younger than today…I would let it go. Like Elsa. I would take whatever kind of sandwich they would give me and then spend my precious lunch hour dissecting all the extra goo off of it.

Not anymore! I’m over 40 and hungry! Now, like the bitch they assume I am anyway, I tell them exactly what I want. One slice of cheese. Take the other off please. One slice of tomato. You heard me. One. Yes I know the cost of the sandwich won’t be less but I don’t care. I want what I want. No cucumbers, no olives, no nothin’.

Then they slice up my little sandwich, do a tsk tsk and hand it over. And you know what, it’s delicious. It’s not too cheesy. Not too soggy from all that tomato. Not too lettuce”y”. Perfect. To me.

Hope you had exactly what you wanted for lunch today. Fight the power!

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I add the love

I make a lot of things for Thanksgiving from scratch. Scratch meaning once there was nothing and now there’s something. Just in case you needed clarification.
Know what I don’t make from scratch? Gravy.
There. Now you know.
And cornbread.
I feel better. Lighter.
A few years ago I found this…

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It’s genius. This is what I do to it to make it seem homemade and take the edge off.

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After the turkey cooks I take some of the drippings and add that too. This not making gravy while 15 hungry people watch you has added years to my life. Ok days. It’s added days to my life. I’ll never go back.
And the cornbread? I just add some…how do you say…corn to this jazzy old school staple.

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It’s 59 cents people. And perfect. What are you a superhero trying to make this from scratch? Get over yourself.
Happy Thanksgiving Eve to you all!!

Oh No You Didn’t!

I was a bit distracted today. Last night, as I was falling into a deep deep sleep at 8:45pm, my husband dropped a bomb. A major announcement. Something he knew would send me reeling, so he waited until I was only half concious. He told me my Thanksgiving stuffing “needs work”. Excuse me? I’m sorry what? I felt like someone dumped cold water on me. It needs work? The stuffing I’ve been making for almost two decades? The one that we never have leftovers for?? Really? Then he kept talking. “It’s not clumpy enough.” “The sausage bits are too big.” “Maybe try a new recipe.”

I pretended to continue falling asleep, when in reality I was really seething for almost 10 minutes before actually falling asleep. How dare you sir!!! 

This morning I woke up and decided to ignore everything he said. This is the dude that has been licking his plate clean every Thanksgiving for the past 18 years. All of a sudden he’s on Chopped judging my technique?? Well I would not let him derail me. I mean, really, what am I supposed to do? Test run the stuffing? What am I a newlywed? But I was tortured. Obsessed. Fine! You win husband! I’ll do a trial run.

So I went through my work calls, work emails, work work – and then at 5pm…or maybe 4:59…I went out and bought all the stuff to make test stuffing. AKA dinner.

Here’s how it went down…buy this

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Then grab the entire 8 oz of butter. Yes. All of it. Do it. I also add in some fresh sage.

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Then add in the pre-chopped onions and celery or chop it all yourself if you’re a better person than me.

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Take whatever bread you are using, cut it up into rough pieces while thinking of your husband smack talking your hard work when all he does to prep for major holidays is take a shower. Ahem. Then bake at 200 degrees for an hour to dry out.

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Start another pan and cook the sausage. Here’s a before and after of what it should look like.

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I forget to add an egg to the ingredient photo – but you need an egg. At this point you’ll mix about a 1/3 of the stock with the egg and set it aside. Then generously butter a dish because…well, you know. Because butter.

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By now the onion, celery, sage mix is golden brown and swimming in butter.

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Time to combine the bread, sausage, onion/celery/butter mix and add a generous dose of fresh parsley and sage.

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You’ll note that I don’t add any salt because the butter I use is salted and, although I’ve never actually tasted it, I imagine the sausage to be salty. The only thing you have to add is the egg/turkey stock mixture and about a cup of just the stock.

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Then, for shits and giggles, add more butter.

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Bake for about an hour and done.

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When your husband says,”Sorry I doubted you, you are the best stuffing maker on the planet.” Drop the oven mitt on the floor and walk out of the kitchen.

P.S. – Don’t forget that your family can’t have food until Sunday because of all the calories they’ve consumed on Friday night and you should give your husband a small aspirin because of all the butter intake.

You say tomato, I say bruschetta

We had a fun weekend out on Long Island with our Aunt Kathy. Picked up our daughter from her annual visit, went to the beach and met some furry friends (and their pink gooey toys). I wish everyone had an Aunt Kathy.
She’s smart, funny and sassy. And if that wasn’t enough, her green thumb is off the hook. She could start one of those annoying, hipster farming co-ops if she wanted to. But she wouldn’t.
She loaded us up on the way home with green bean, eggplant and tomatoes. Not sure what I’ll do with the other stuff, but I know exactly how to polish off the toMAtoes.
To be saved for another day -

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To be eaten ASAP!

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Nutty

Two years ago my sister showed up at Mother’s Day or Thanksgiving or Christmas – one of them – with a bag full of these spicy, sweet, salty nuts. They have a strange crack-like power on everyone who tries them. I decided to make a batch for our favorite aunt out in Long Island who takes our girl for a beach adventure every summer. In fact she’ll take any girls – all girls seem to be welcome. Boys too maybe. She’s good like that. She deserves some nuts.

This is the Smitten Kitchen recipe, quadrupled. Cause that’s how I roll.

4 Cups Nuts (any nut will do. Except the nut you’re married to), 1 egg white, 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, 1/2 Cup White Sugar, 2 tsp Cinnamon, 2 tsp Salt, 2 tbs Cayenne Pepper, 3 tbs water.

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Combine the sugars, cayenne pepper, salt and cinnamon. Whisk the egg white with the water until frothy. Add egg whites to the nuts and coat evenly. Add the sugar and toss. 

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Spread evenly in one layer on parchment paper and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before packaging. I made a batch of these last week to take to a picnic and found this cute candy bowl. The plan was to give the host of the picnic the nuts and bowl, but when he offered it back at the end of the night, I took it. I couldn’t help it. It’s so cute. The first batch of nuts I made were pecans, almonds, and walnuts. The clear winner taste wise in our house is the pecans – so that’s what I made today.

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Carrot Cake 101

A couple of years ago I was gifted a fantastic cookbook called “Flour”. It is based on a bakery in Boston called Flour Bakery (duh). I love this book. I’ve made many of the recipes. I even went and found the bakery in Boston. Like all pilgrimages, there was a little bit of let-down (what? you aren’t impressed that I have your cookbook and love it? I’m not the first person to come in and want to chat about it?) – but in the end I felt validated. Croissants have a way of validating me.
My two go-to recipes are the banana bread and the carrot cake.
My two biggest fails from the book are the granola bar cookies and the chocolate almond dacquoise. That’s another story.

I made the carrot cake this weekend. Try it. People will hug you for it.

As always – here’s the recipe and the visual. You know I like pictures.

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Notice I added raisins. My man likes raisins. What can I say.

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Sift the flour, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon. My “sifter” is a strainer that I warped in the dish washer. Just an fyi.
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Cream the oil, sugar and eggs. 

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Add your carrots. Please don’t use the pre-shredded ones. They are covered in some sort of nuclear coating so they don’t stick together. But that coating also make it impossible for them to soften in the cake. So go old school and shred by hand. 
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Add vanilla. This is a homemade bottle my little bitty sister gave me a while ago. I keep adding store bought vanilla and trying to extend the life. Poor me. If only SOMEONE would make me more. Anyhoo.

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Add raisins if you want to or if you’re maritally committed to.
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Combine the dry and wet ingredients.

Divide amongst your pans. If you are are suspicious of non-stick pans like I am – add some non-stick spray. Otherwise, be normal and healthy and skip this step. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes .
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I forgot to add pecans to the ingredients photo. So sorry. These very very important. Toast a cup and let cool.
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Then using a highly evolved Ziploc bag/bottom of a plastic bowl method – pound them into pieces.
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Make the frosting by creaming butter, powdered sugar, vanilla (poor poor me) and cream cheese together in an empty kitchen, better to do multiple tastings.
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Frost between layers and frost. You only have to make the top look pretty. 
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Take the pecans and use them like Spanx all around the cake. They push and tuck all the unruly bits into place. You have a tight, toned and together cake. 
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Refrigerate for an hour before serving and then sit back and accept all the love. 

Awkward.

That moment after you lay everything out to make Christmas cookies and you think to yourself… I coulda been watching a cheesy holiday movie. Sigh.

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