Hey guys! Good to see you again! I’ve been a little MIA around here lately, but I’ve just been gone. Like, A LOT. Out livin’ life and seein’ the sights and not really cooking too much because dinner has mostly been consisting of me eating Wawa hoagies standing up at my kitchen counter at 10PM. True story. [Sorry, that was a serious run on sentence]
My most recent adventure was a “ski” weekend in the Poconos with a big group of friends from my neighborhood. I put the word ski in quotes because I didn’t actually go skiing. I don’t ski. I love trying new things but if there are two things I’ve learned about myself over the past almost 27 years its that I definitely don’t like cold weather and I’m definitely not coordinated. Skiing just ain’t for me.
What I am coordinated enough to master though, is a long weekend of lounging around at a mountain house. It was actually the perfect weekend in my books. We got up early on Saturday morning and I made a big breakfast for the skiers before they went out to hit the slopes. The next few glorious hours consisted of me stretching out in a window seat, simultaneously sipping a coffee and a mimosa, while reading the book I’ve been neglecting due to busyness [ugh, such a terrible excuse] and enjoying the view of the snow drifted forest that flanked the property. I followed that up with a run on the back country roads and a trip into town with Roommate. After grabbing a drink at one of the local establishments, we headed back to the house to prepare dinner for the hungry boys [and girl!].
While cooking can be something of a chore to most people, I actually find it to be a complete and therapeutic joy. There are few things I love as much as taking to the kitchen and creating something out of virtually nothing. There are probably even fewer things I adore as much as serving a meal to a crowd. It doesn’t even have to be a crowd, really just serving a meal to anyone. Food is most definitely my love language and my absolute favorite way to show someone that I care. Roommate and I had a blast putting together an Italian feast [and splitting a bottle of red] for our friends while they were out on the mountain all day.
For appetizers we served a spread of cured meats and cheeses, olives, pickled veggies, and whipped ricotta with grilled bread. The main course was pasta with meat sauce, sweet sausage with peppers and onions, and tons of grilled vegetables. And for dessert? Now this is what I’m really excited to tell you about! I made my own twist on tiramisu. Instead of the typical combination of lady fingers and boozey glaze, I turned my tiramisu into a trifle layering a sweet cinnamony cake with espresso mousse, chocolate chips, and marscapone whipped cream. Total creamy decadence. This is definitely a make-ahead dessert, but it keeps beautifully in the refrigerator for a few days, so feel free to break the process up to keep it from turning intimidating.
- 1 boxed yellow cake mix, made to package instructions
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 2 Tbs espresso powder*
- 4 oz mini chocolate chips
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese**
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- Large trifle dish
*Use espresso powder, not instant coffee. I buy my espresso powder at William and Sonoma.
**If you can’t find mascarpone cheese, use 8 oz whipped cream cheese [that's what I did here!]
Prepare the yellow cake in a 9×13 pan according to the package instructions, adding 1 tsp of cinnamon to the batter. Let the cake cool completely and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
To make the mousse, fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar on high speed for 3 minutes or until light in color and very thick. In a saucepan heat 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 Tbs of espresso powder over low heat until very hot, but not quite simmering. Stirring vigurously the whole time to keep to keep the eggs from scrambling, slowly pour the hot cream into the eggs in the mixer. Transfer the whole mixture back to the saucepan and heat, stirring the whole time, over low heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Transfer it to a bowl, and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, whip 1 1/2 cups of cream in a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Remove the espresso custard from the refrigerator and gently fold the whipped cream into it until it is evenly distributed. Be sure not to mix aggressively so as not to let the air out of the cream. Return the mousse to the refrigerator to chill for another 2 hours [or overnight]. It will thicken considerably, but don’t worry if it is still a little bit runny.
To make the mascarpone whipped cream, combine an 8 oz package of mascarpone cheese or whipped cream cheese with 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high until stiff peaks form.
To assemble the trifle, layer 1/3 of the cake cubes in the bottle of the dish. Top the cake with 1/3 of the espresso mousse, 1/3 of the chocolate chips, and 1/3 of the whipped cream. Continue the layering two more times, ending with the whipped cream on top. Garnish with additional chocolate chips, chocolate shavings [like I did!], or whole espresso beans.
I like this trifle best when it has been chilled in the refrigerator over night, but it’s totally fine to serve it immediately!
The recipe is an original but I used my favorite Betty Crocker mousse as a starter.
Let food be your love language!
Signs I might be getting old. Part 2. [Read part 1 here].
As you know I’ve been non stop blah blah blahing about how frickin’ cold its been this winter so let me set the stage of our next story for you. We’re in the middle of one of the polar vortexes and its a Thursday night. I met my friends at a local bar for our weekly game of pub quiz. We’re as bundled up as you can get. Hoodies, scarves, boots, hats, gloves, coats, layers upon layers. Pub quiz typically wraps up a little after 10:00 and I immediately head home to go to bed since I have work the next day. Its standard practice.
At 10:00 on the dot, as I was pulling on my coat for the frigid walk home, I felt the door open with a gust of wind. In walked a group of girls, presumably seniors at nearby St Joe’s University. And do you know what they were wearing? Tank tops. No coats. Just tank tops. It was 7 degrees outside. I started laughing. But then I remembered. 5 short years ago I was wearing my tank tops the bar in the middle of winter.
Is it just me, or does body temperature plummet the day you graduate college?
Moving on… I remember being 14 years old and baby sitting for my pastor’s kids. As he drove me home [because I didn't have my license yet], he played talk radio in the car. ”I remember that my dad used to listen to talk radio,” he said. ”I could never understand why he liked it, but now its all I listen to. I guess that makes me old,” he laughed.
Guess who listens to talk radio now?
Guilty as charged.
Not so much talk radio, but I’ve taken to listening to podcast, Ted Talks, and NPR at my desk at work. Who knew there were so many fascinating topics to be discovered in the world!
[By the way, if you know a podcast I should be listening to, leave it in the comments below!]
Now let’s talk about I’m-getting-old-cocktails. Made with a spirit that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle and definitely has more than two ingredients. They pack a punch, are meant for sipping, and are sometimes even served hot instead of cold.
This ginger hot toddy is all of the above and then some. The spiciness of the ginger, the tartness of the lemon, the gentle burn of the bourbon, I feel little bit more grown up just thinking about it. The Ginger Hot Toddy has gotten me through more than my fair share of snow days this winter and will definitely be a staple in my house for years to come.
- 1 1/2 oz bourbon
- 1 1/2 oz ginger syrup <link>
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 6 oz hot water
Combine the bourbon, ginger, and fresh lemon juice in a mug. Stir the ingredients to combine and top with hot water. Garnish with a lemon slice and enjoy!
My spin on a traditional hot toddy.
Cheers to drinking like a grown up!
I have a massive case of the Monday Blues. Monday Blues that were only trumped by the gut wrenching Sunday Blues I was experiencing last night.
I’m pretty sure it was the sunshine that triggered it all. Sunshine is something we haven’t seen a whole lot of over the last few months, so once I got my first taste, I wasn’t ready to let it go.
Or maybe it was triggered by the lacrosse game, or the hub cap margarita, or the sunset on the roof deck, or the breeze from the harbor, or the crab on my eggs benedict in the morning.
Maybe it was just a combination of all of the above. But the moral of the story is I’m Monday Bluesin’ in a bad way.
Monday blues so bad I’m not even sure that Juan Pablo can cure them.
Did you have a good weekend? The kind of weekend that leaves you Monday Bluesin’ like me? If so, I do have one maybe cure for you. This homemade ginger syrup. Not syrup like you dump on your pancakes, syrup that’s used as the base for cocktails, pops [I say pop, not soda], and other home remedies. It’s extra spicy, and not too sweet, which is just how I like it. You may want to play around with the ginger-to-sugar ratios to find what tickles your taste buds, but this is an excellent place to start.
You may find yourself asking, what exactly does one do with ginger syrup? Good question! Top with with some club soda for instant ginger ale. Mix it with some vodka, lime juice, and tonic water for a moscow mule. Take a shot of it to cure a hangover [haven't tried this one personally, but I hear it works]. Or check back later this week for the recipe for my very favorite winter cocktail. Whatever you do, just make a batch of ginger syrup ASAP.
- 8 oz fresh ginger root, washed but not peeled
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
Slice the fresh ginger with a sharp knife, then give it a rough chop. I leave the skin on for some extra color [and less work], but if that bothers you, feel free to remove it. Combine the water, sugar, and ginger in a saucepan. Heat it over medium heat on the stove top and stir until the sugar has been dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low, and simmer it, uncovered, for 1 hour. Using a mesh strainer, strain the syrup into a bowl, leaving the ginger bits behind. Let the syrup cool to room temp, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
A slight adaptation of David Lebovitz Fresh Ginger Syrup.
Is it just me, or is Monday starting to look a whole lot better?
In case you haven’t figured this out yet, despite the heavy man-friend references I’ve been dropping, I’ve found myself a Spatular. I met him 9 months ago [in one of those annoyingly cute story kind of ways] and have been cooking for him since about the middle of summer. I put figs on his pizza, which is a rather bold move the first time you feed a man, but he loved it and has been coming over to my house for dinner ever since.
Despite the fact that I was [and still am] very happy, the news of my no-longer-single-status initially came as a bit of a disappointment to those around me. You see, the one thing I could always be counted on for [hopefully more than just this] was a good bad date story. Let’s face it, we all love a good bad date story [he did what?]. I’ve shared a few of them on here, but that’s just a taste of the insanity. It really is. My girlfriends at work used to anxiously await our Monday lunchtime walks, knowing that I’d have some new single-lady tale with which to regale them. But now, as gag-worthy as this sounds, I’m just going on good dates, all with the same person, and it has been pretty darn great.
Now that all that is out in the open, I can make the following confession:
I actually googled “what should I buy my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day?”
Do you know who else googles that?
Google actually recommended the search: “what should I buy my highschool boyfriend for valentine’s day?”
All the search results were for things like seventeen magazine and a website called gurl.com
Ugh, major fail.
I did finally settle on a gift, but since it was tickets for something that’s still a few months away, I decided to round it out with some food. Of course I did.
You see, the spatular in question was born in the south and has been telling me about this mysterious country ham since we first met. He swore it made the perfect breakfast sandwich [like last meal on Earth good], so I decided to give it a try for myself, and I have to agree. It is a super salty cured meat that totally becomes the star of the sandwich. I like to top mine with a lightly scrambled egg and a piece of melty american cheese, and shove it all into the flaky buttery layers of a homemade biscuit. Country ham is pretty hard to come by in Pennsylvania so, depending where you live, you may need to check online or a a specialty market. If you can’t get your hands on any, substitute your favorite breakfast meat.
**makes 2 sandwiches
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 Tbs cold butter
- 6 Tbs buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 2 slices [about 2 oz each] of country ham
- 2 slices American cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For two breakfast sandwiches, start by making a double batch of my favorite Buttermilk Biscuits For Two. After you’ve kneaded the dough, split it into two balls, pat each one into a 1/2 inch thick round and cut them out with a large cookie cutter. Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking pan before slicing it in half and assembling the sandwich.
While the biscuits are baking, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat on the stove top. When hot, add the country ham and cook for two minutes per side. Remove the ham and set aside.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork. Put a small pat of butter into the hot skillet. Pour half of the egg mixture in and give the pan a swirl to spread the eggs evenly. Cook for about two minutes, gently flipping and folding them a couple of times to cook them evenly without totally scrambling them. Top the eggs with 1 slice of American cheese and allow them to cook in the pan for one more minute to melt the cheese a bit. Remove the eggs and repeat with the other half of the egg mixture and final slice of cheese.
To assemble the sandwich, slice the biscuit in half with a serrated knife. This recipe make very flaky biscuits so they should pull apart easily. Top the bottom half of the biscuit with the eggs, cheese, and country ham and sandwich it with the top half of the biscuit.
Serve immediately with a side of grits for a true southern-style breakfast.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!!
Let’s talk about Monday.
Let’s talk about driving to work on a Monday when the roads are super slippy slidey only to walk into your office and realize that you forgot your computer at home.
Let’s talk about traffic so terrible that it takes an hour and and a half to drive the 15 miles round trip to go home retrieve the aforementioned computer.
Let’s talk about first world problems.
Actually, let’s not talk about those things. Those things aren’t fun. Not even in the tiniest bit.
Let’s instead talk about Valentine’s Day. And Chocolate Covered Pretzel Bark.
I told you about it last year, but I’m a total sucker for Valentine’s Day. I seriously love it. Dating, single, it don’t matter. I just totally dig the concept of a holiday dedicated to love and chocolate.
Every February when the Valentine’s Day rolls around again, I take to the kitchen and make totally over the top sweets trays and boxes for my friends and coworkers. I have a few standby recipes that I bake every year like my Proposal Cupcakes and favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I also like to throw some new guys into the mix. My favorite additions this year were Red Velvet Cookies [so soft and amazing!], Chocolate Caramel Dipped Brownie Bites, and Chocolate Covered Pretzel Bark.
Every Christmas Roommate and her sister make these seriously beautiful chocolate dipped pretzels. I’m absolutely crazy about the sweet and salty flavor combo, but just don’t seem to have the patience or the talent to make edible works of art like they do. Instead of dipping my pretzels, I decided to sandwich them between layers of white and dark chocolate as a fun twist on a more traditional bark. I scattered the top with red and pink candies and sprinkles to make them Valentine’s festive, but you can switch up the toppings any way you like to make this bark appropriate for just about any occasion!
- 12 oz semi sweet chocolate
- 16 oz white chocolate
- 2 1/2 cups broken pretzels [I used a mid sized sourdough]
- festive sprinkles
- holiday M&M’s
Line a 10×15 inch pan [also known as a jelly roll pan] with foil and lightly grease it.
Melt the semi sweet chocolate until smooth. I typically melt mine on the stove top in a non-stick saucepan. I keep the heat on low and stir constantly to avoid burning. Professionals would recommend using a double boiler or the microwave method.
Pour the melted chocolate into the prepared pan and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Scatter the pretzels over the chocolate and use your hands to gently press them into the chocolate. Immediately transfer the pan to the refrigerator for a half hour to let the chocolate solidify.
Melt the white chocolate until smooth and pour it over the pretzels. Working quickly, use a spatula to spread the white chocolate in an even layer, being sure to get it into all of the pretzel crevices. Be sure to work quickly so as not to melt the dark chocolate below. Sprinkle the white chocolate layer with festive sprinkles and candies before transferring it back to the refrigerator to cool for one hour.
Use your hands or a sharp knife to break the bark into serving sized pieces.
This is how I say LOVE.
The Olympics have started!! Is everyone as psyched about this as I am? I was watching the first few rounds of figure skating last night and have already certified myself an expert in all things winter sports related, talking about leg extensions, tenths of points, and soft landings, as if I actually know. [I don't]
What about Bob Costas? Does everyone love him as much as I do? I seriously wish that he could narrate my life. And I don’t mean that someday I hope to be famous enough to have Bob Costas narrate my biography, I mean that I wish he could narrate my actual life. Like that when I wake up in the morning, Bob’s voice will be there:
It’s 5:30 AM and Meghan is ready to start her day. Actually, it looks like she is going to hit her snooze button a few more times. But this, this my friends, is what champions are made of.
Seriously. Bob Costas. Come be my life narrator.
Also, did everyone notice that there is something going on with Bob’s left eye? Do we think it’s pink eye? Do we think its from the sub-par sleeping conditions in Sochi that the athletes and journalists have been tweeting about?
These are the things I think about.
Also, I’m not sure how it happened, but this post about biscuits just turned into a post about Bob Costas. Weird.
That being said, there really isn’t a whole lot for me to tell you about biscuits. I made a Biscuits For 2 recipe a couple weeks ago and these are their buttermilk counterpart. Buttermilk biscuits are my absolute favorite. So fluffy and flaky and buttery!
This is the recipe where we make exactly two of them, because like I mentioned here, sometimes single folk just don’t need an entire batch of biscuits sitting around there house.
Buttermilk biscuits are the ideal vehicle for the perfect breakfast sandwich that I will be bringing to you next week, but for today we’re just serving them with honey and jam. All you need is twenty minutes and this breakfast is yours!
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3/8 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbs cold butter
- 3 Tbs buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Cut the butter into small cubes, then work it into the flour mixture with your hands until the smallest bits of butter are the size of peas. Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula until incorporated and a loose dough has formed. Dump the dough and any floury bits onto a clean counter. Knead with your hands about 10 times until the dough is smooth. Pat it into a 1/2 inch thick round, and use a cookie cutter or small drinking glass to cut two biscuits.
Transfer the dough to an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot with butter, jam, honey, or your favorite breakfast condiments.
These are a spin on my Biscuits For 2 recipe, which is the perfect alternative if you don’t have any buttermilk on hand.
Do you think buttermilk biscuits will heal Bob’s pink eye?