recipes and musings from the twenty-something kitchen

Crab and Corn Chowder

crab and corn chowder 1

The Scoop:

I know I’ve been a little bit quiet around her lately, and I’ve mentioned it before, but there has just been a lot [a lot a lot] going on.  I really hate dropping the b-word [because I know we all are] but I’ve been crazy busy lately.  More to come on that, but for now let’s talk about the highlight from the last week real quick, if you don’t mind.

It’s another B-word.

B as in Boston.

For those of you who don’t know, I ran the Boston marathon this past Monday and it was an experience that I will never ever forget.  In the wake of last year’s tragedy, it was incredibly humbling, both as a runner and as a human, to be one of the 36,000 who stepped up to the starting line in Hopkinton on Patriot’s Day.  To be honest the race impacted me in such a way that I’m still struggling to find the words to talk about it.  I’m hoping to let my heart and my head get all caught up with each other over the next few days, and find a way to get all those feelings out on paper before they start to fade.

In the meantime, let’s talk about something else that Boston does well.

Chowder.

Really, seafood anything, but chowder is kind of a staple.

This crab and corn chowder is my take on one of the city’s signature dishes.  I lightened up the broth with evaporated milk instead of heavy cream since, you know, the weather’s getting nice again and we’re all suddenly thinking about bathing suits and all that fun stuff.  The sweet corn and salty bacon provide the perfect contrast and balance out the richness of the crab.  The addition of carrots, celery, and red pepper, not only give this soup a healthy component, but also a pop of color worthy of springtime.  I’ve made this chowder a couple of times over the last few months and each time it disappeared quickly.  It makes a large batch that could easily serve 6 for dinner with some crusty bread and a green salad, but I found the leftovers were perfect for lunch, so don’t be afraid of making the full recipe, even if you are just cooking for one.

crab and corn chowder 3

The Goods:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced red pepper
  • 2 cups diced potato
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika [optional]
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb crab meat
  • 1 lb frozen corn, doesn’t  have to be lump, just make sure its real crab
  • 48 oz chicken broth
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

The Deets:

Chop the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces, then fry it until crispy in a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot.  Once the bacon is crispy, remove it  with a slotted  spoon and drain off about half of the bacon grease left  in the dutch oven.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper, potato, smoked paprika, and salt to the pot and saute the veggies in the bacon grease for  about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking, then add the chicken broth.  Cover and bring to a boil, then remove the lid, turn the heat to low, and simmer until the veggies are tender.  Add the corn, crab, and evaporated  milk.  Continue cooking on low until warmed through.  Top with bacon crumbles and shredded cheddar.

The Inspiration:

The great city of Boston!

crab and corn chowder 2

I’ll eat to that.

XOXO,

MJ

Roasted Beet Salad with Honey Shallot Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad 1

The Scoop:

Hi hi!  I’m backkkkkk!  Things have been a little cray around here lately, and although I have a whole arsenal of recipes photographed and ready to go, I just haven’t gotten around to posting them.  And if I’m being totally honest, it feels pretty dang good to just… disconnect… for  a few days [said the girl who checked her instagram feed 50 times today], but it also feels really nice to be back to posting.

My friend Kate and I split a farm share and just received the last of our winter boxes.  This is the first time I participated in a farm share, but we loved it so much that we’ve already signed up for the spring/summer lot!  In my final box, I received a bunch of large beets.  You see, beets are something I’ve never been particularly fond of, and certainly not something I go out to the market and purchase on my own.  One of my favorite parts of the farm share is that it challenges me to use ingredients that I may not try otherwise.  Enter beets.

Beets are known first and foremost for their shocking red color, but after that, they mostly get a bad rap for their extremely earthy flavor.  Enter roasting.  Roasting vegetables is the best way to transform their flavor into something sweet and warm that even veggie haters can get behind.  I decided to give it a whirl with the beets, and guess what?  It worked!  The earthy flavor was softened by the roasting and I was left perfect little red jewels to top my salad.  While the beets were roasting, I slowly carmelized some mushrooms and onions and mixed up a quick vinaigrette in a jar.  I layered everything over a bed of arugula and topped it with a sprinkle of goat cheese.  The flavor combination was out of this world: a little bit peppery, a little bit tangy, a little bit sweet, and a lot a bit healthy.

Roasted Beet Salad 6

The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

Salad:

  • 6 cups arugula
  • 2 1/2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 3 beets, washed and peeled
  • 8 oz baby portobella mushrooms. sliced in half
  • 1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de provence
  • 4 Tbs goat cheese crumbles

Dressing:

  • 3 Tbs finely minced shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Roasted Beet Salad 2

The Deets:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Dice the cleaned and peeled beets into 1/2 inch cubes.  Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and drizzle them with 1 Tbs of olive oil and sprinkle them with a 1/2 tsp of kosher salt.  Place the beets in the oven and roast for 35 minutes, stirring and turning them every 10 minutes.  They should be fork tender when you remove them from the oven.

While the beets are roasting, heat 1 1/2 Tbs of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat on the stove top.  Add the sliced onions and mushrooms, along with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp herbs de provence.  Stir well to coat, then slowly carmelize the vegetables, stirring occasionally to keep them from burning or sticking.  The caramelizing process should take about a half an hour.

While the veggies are cooking, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar or other tightly sealed container.  Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  Give it another quick shake right before serving the salad.

To assemble the salads, toss the dressing with 6 cups of arugula.  Divide the greens between 4 plates for small salads or 2 plates for large salads.  Top the arugula with the warm beets, mushrooms, and onions.  Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve immediately.

The Inspiration:

My Farm Share Box!

Roasted Beet Salad 3

You can’t beet it.  [sorry.  bad joke.]

XOXO,

MJ

Grapefruit Ginger Cocktail

Ginger Grapefruit Cocktail 1

The Scoop:

Today we’re talking about bourbon.  I guess that makes sense since yesterday I told you about Nashville, a place where I definitely drank my fair share of bourbon.  I actually made this cocktail for a ladies night about a month ago, but never got around to sharing it.  I almost didn’t even photograph it, but sure was glad I did, because my girlfriends loved it and immediately asked if I would be posting it.

The flavor combo is a little out there, but is the perfect blend of 3 of my favorite ingredients: grapefruit, ginger, and bourbon.  Remember when we made that ginger syrup last month?  We’re going  to mix a whole batch of that with some freshly squeezed  grapefruit, a generous pour of your favorite bourbon [Knob Creek all the way!], and some tonic water  to round  things out.  It’s bitter, it’s spicy, it’s a little bit sweet, and of course its bourbon-y.  Bascially, its the perfect drink to transition us from winter comfort to springtime freshness.  I recommend mixing up a batch ASAP.  It’s Friday.  Happy hour, anyone?

Ginger Grapefruit Cocktail 3

The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup ginger syrup
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit  juice
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 3 cups tonic water.

The Deets:

Combine the ingredients in a large pitcher.  Stir well and serve over ice.

The Inspiration:

Original Recipe.

Ginger Grapefruit Cocktail 2

I’ll drink to that.

XOXO,

MJ

 

Nashville In 500 (errrr, a lot of) Words

I’m back from another Friendcation, this time a long weekend get-away in Nashville, TN.  As a country music aficionado and lover of all things southern, I feel like Nashville was made for me!  We hit a bunch of the touristy spots, but took some suggestions from local friends and got off the beaten path again.  Scroll down below and follow along as I try and sum up our adventures in 500ish words.  [disclaimer: I failed, its more like a thousand words]

EatEat:

  1. Whiskey Kitchen – Be sure to try the fried green tomatoes and get bourbon in your cocktail.  Or if you’re feeling brave, just order a 1 or 2 oz pour from their super extensive whiskey list.  Apparently they have one of the top lists in the country featuring some rare finds.
  2. Loveless Cafe – Biscuits and southern comfort food are calling your name at this road side stop about ten miles south of the city.  You can definitely expect a wait, but you can also expect the wait to be worth it.
  3. City House – An old factory in the up and coming Germantown neighborhood is now one of the hippest places to eat in the city.  The ingredients are all local, they cure their own meats on site, and have a wood fire oven for pizzas.  Plan on making a reservation because this place was packed.
  4. Edley’s BBQ – When asking where to get the best BBQ in town, pretty much everyone directed us to Edley’s .  Its about two miles south of downtown, but worth the trip.  The portions were huge, the meat was tender, the sides were amazing, and the price point was right on.
  5. Mike’s Ice Cream – Right on Broadway, this ice cream shop scoops up sweet treats to tourists and celebrities alike.

drink

Drink:

  1. Holland House – This rustic little spot off the tourist track in East Nashville is a total hipster paradise, but if there are two things hipsters do well, its food and cocktails.  The appetizers were incredible, but what really blew us away was their $6 classic cocktail list.  Never before in my life have I only dropped six bucks on an old fashioned, pimm’s cup, or sazerac.  You’ll definitely need a car to get out there if you’re staying downtown.
  2. The local beers – We tried a few which were available on tap all around the city.  My favorite find though was a little spot called the Filling Station in the 12 South neighborhood.  They had tons on tap to fill growlers as well as six packs to go.

Stay:

  1. The Embassy Suites at Vanderbilt – The hotel was a fantastic value offering 2 bedroom suites, a complimentary breakfast and happy hour each day, as well as free shuttles to downtown.

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Try:

  1. The Lyft Service – This ride sharing service, all run through an app on your phone is now available in Nashville and was our primary means of transportation.  Since we were new users, we were able to claim a free $25 credit on each of our accounts which means we didn’t pay for a cab ride out of pocket the entire trip.
  2. The Cigars at The Wheel Cigar Bar – In a strange vacation tradition, we have taken to splitting a cigar on the last night of our trip every year.  When Broadway got a little too crazy for us on Saturday night, we made our way to a second story cigar bar and wound down the evening splitting our once-a-year-vacation-cigar.
  3. Game Day Predators tickets for $15 bucks – The Predators offer 100 tickets [even to sold out games] via a lottery the morning of home games.  We weren’t able to snag any, but it’s definitely worth a shot if you don’t mind getting to the stadium at 10AM.  [we ended up buying ours from a scalper on the street minutes after the game started].

See

See:

  1. The Parthenon at Centennial Park – As strange as it may sound, there is a true-to-size replica of the Greek Parthenon at Centennial Park near the Vanderbilt campus.  Weird, but true, and worth checking out.
  2. The Grand Ole Opry – This is a country music fan’s dream and the back stage tour is totally worth the money.  They guide takes you behind the scenes to the artists’ entrance, the dressing rooms, and even up on stage.  Surely one of the highlights of the trip for me.
  3. Country Music Hall Of Fame – You can’t visit Nashville and not check out the hall of fame!
  4. The Bluebird Cafe – Good luck scoring tickets to a show [we didn't] but be sure to stop by and take a peak to see if Deacon or Gunnar are inside ; )
  5. Belle Meade Plantation – A short drive outside the city you’ll find a preserved horse plantation where you can explore the grounds and go on an incredible guided tour of the estate’s mansion.  They even throw in a free wine tasting at the end.

listen

Listen:

  1. Bluegrass music at the Station Inn – If you’re looking for authentic, real deal bluegrass, then you absolutely can’t miss the Station Inn.
  2. Country music at Tootsies Orchid Lounge – Legend [or truth] has it this is where all the out-laws used to play, and although the crowd  is probably tamer these days, the music sure hasn’t gone down hill.  There’s no cover, but expect to drop  twenty bucks if you want to get a request played.
  3. Live music at the honky tonks on Broadway – Tootsies is great but I  promise you’ll have fun at any of the honky tonks!

do

Do:

  1. Buy the Total Access Pass - The $60 tourist pass pays for itself  if you plan on checking out a few of the tourist attractions.  The visitors center is located at 5th and Broadway next to the Bridgestone Arena.
  2. Rent a car – The city is amazing, but so is getting out of town and checking out the surrounding areas.  We rented a car for a dirt cheap $22, and had a blast driving past the gigantic homes that rest just outside the city and visiting a few sites we would have otherwise missed.
  3. Ride the Pedal Tavern – Whatever you do, DO NOT miss the Pedal Tavern.  I mean, really… where else can you join a random bachelorette party [hi Gina from Long Island!] and ride around the city sipping beers on a huge mobile bar?

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Until we meet again, Nashville, until we meet again…

XOXO,

MJ

PS: Check out my city reviews of DC, New Orleans, and Chicago!

Oreo Sunflower Cupcakes

sunflower cupcakes 3

The Scoop:

Happy first day of spring!  And happy 27th (eek!) birthday to me!

Usually I’ve got a lot to say on my birthday as you may remember from 25 and 26.  This year what I have to say is quite simple, and has less to do with birthdays and more to do with the coming of spring.

A few years ago around this time of year at my Bible study, I recall a friend of mine praying and thanking the Lord for the change of the seasons.  She thanked Him for blessing us with four drastically different seasons each year, as a reminder that our lives too are a series of seasons.  There will be periods of summer where it seems that the sun is always shining and there will be times of autumn that are full of beauty, but also full of change.  There will be long hard winters that feel like they may never end, but in His goodness and grace, they will always be followed by the promise of spring.  No matter how long, how cold, how harsh the winter, without fail, spring comes again.  The snow melts, the trees blossom, and the birds return from their southern migration.

My 25th year was a wintery season.  Sure there were plenty of sunny days sprinkled in, but the snow storms seemed to keep coming.  My 26th year on the other hand was a summery one.  My days were as bright as the weather and things seemed to only change for the better.  I have no idea what my 27th year may hold for me, but what I am sure of, is that the seasons will continue to change and that harsh winters will always always be followed by the promises of spring.

Today I invite you to join me in celebrating, not my birthday, but the change of a literal [not metaphorical this time] season.  Let’s join together in saying farewell to what was surely the most relentless winter in my memory and welcome the arrival of long days, warm sun, short shorts, and cheerful sunflowers.  Can I get an amen?

sunflower cupcakes 2

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with a cupcake.  We haven’t made cupcakes around here in awhile, now have we?  I’ve been making these Oreo  Sunflower cupcakes for a couple of years, but have yet to share them on the blog.  They are inspired by something I saw at Brendenbeck’s Bakery on Germantown Ave  in Chestnut Hill.  I used Ali’s recipe for dark chocolate cupcakes which is one of my go-to’s.  They are rich [but not overwhelmingly so], moist, and perfectly spongy.  I definitely recommend trying these, but using a box mix would be a great short cut if you’re tight on time.  The Oreo frosting is my favorite from my Proposal Cupcakes.  Making the sunflower pedals might seem a little intimidating, but I couldn’t find my piping tips and made these with a regular old plastic bad.  I swear!  No crazy tricks here, anyone can make these!

oreo cupcakes 4

The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup water

Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Tbs heavy cream
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 20 mini oreos, crushed**
  • 12 mini oreos, whole
  • yellow food coloring

**Mini Oreos can be found in a bag near the regular Oreos in the cookie aisle of your grocery store.

oreo cupcakes 7

The Deets:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for two minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated, then mix in the vanilla.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Combine the water and buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup.  Alternate adding the dry and liquid ingredients to the mixer, then beat on medium speed for one minute until the ingredients are well combined.  Divide the batter between the paper liners and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing until incorporated each time.  Add the vanilla and cream, then crank up the speed and beat the frosting for 3 minutes or until very light.  Remove 1 cup of frosting and set aside.  Add the crushed Oreos to the frosting in the stand mixer, and beat again until they are full incorporated.  Add yellow food dye to the reserved frosting until a sunflower color is reached.

To decorate the cupcakes, spread each one with a thick layer of Oreo frosting, then place a mini Oreo in center of each cupcakes.  Fill a plastic bag with the yellow frosting and snip off a quarter inch corner.  For each pedal, squeeze two stripes of frosting tapering them together at the ends.  It may look complicated, but I promise it’s easy!

oreo cupcakes 6

The Inspiration:

The cupcakes are inspired by Brendenbeck Bakery.  The cupcakes are from Gimme Some Oven.  The frosting is from my favorite Proposal Cupcakes.

sunflower cupcakes 1

…to changing seasons and year number 27.

XOXO,

MJ

Irish Potatoes

Irish Potatoes 3

The Scoop:

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, my friends!  Erin Go Braugh and all that fun stuff!  I know I told you about this last year around this time, but six years ago I spent St. Patty’s in Dublin, so I don’t know why I ever even think about trying to recreate that.  Even though I know I’ll never top that day, it doesn’t stop me from making some treats to celebrate a little bit!

On my first Saint Patrick’s Day in Philly [four years ago!], one of my co-workers told me she was planning to bring Irish Potatoes into the office, so naturally my head went straight to savory spuds.  Kind of a strange office treat, don’t ya think?

It turns out that Irish Potatoes are anything but savory, and are a total Philly thing [see, we do way more than cheesesteaks around here!].  While these are not an original recipe, I thought they’d be fun to share as they are probably new to all the readers who are not from Eastern PA.  Irish Potatoes are suuuuuuuuuper rich, so one or two are usually enough for me, but that sweet cinnamony coconut flavor is pretty dang irresistible.  Think of these as a big ball of coconut frosting coated in a light layer of cinnamon.  And did I mention they’re no-bake?

Irish Potatoes 2

The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs heavy cream
  • 2 cups dried shredded coconut
  • 1-2 Tbs cinnamon

Irish Potatoes 5

The Deets:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and combined.  Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing on low until incorporated each time.  Add the cream and beat on high speed for 1 minute.  Add the coconut and mix on medium speed until it is evenly distributed.

Spread the cinnamon in a large shallow bowl.  Scoop 1 Tbs of the coconut mixture and roll into a ball shape with your hands, then roll it in the cinnamon until evenly coated.  Repeat with the remaining coconut cream.  Store in a cool area until ready to serve.

The Inspiration:

Here is a pretty standard Irish Potato recipe and here is the history of the candy.

Irish Potatoes 7

Luck o’ the Irish to ya!

XOXO,

MJ

Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream.

Red Velvet Waffles 1

The Scoop:

Remember last year when Super Brunch was a thing?  Some really really awesome recipes came out of Super Brunch, my favorites being the dessert-style pancakes.  Super Brunch went on a bit of a hiatus this year until Roommate decided to bring it back this past weekend.  She totally rocked it with a spinach and mushroom quiche, jalapeno and shallot home fries, and a side of crispy bacon.  I rounded it out with brunch dessert, this time in the form of waffles.

A year ago we brunched at Green Eggs in Northern Liberties and after finishing our meals, ordered a big batch of red velvet waffles for the table to share.  Holy moley were they good and holy moley did I want to recreate them at home.  Somehow they fell off my radar a bit until Roommate suggested Super Brunch this past week.  I’ve been kind of obsessed with my waffle maker lately, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity!

Red Velvet Pancakes are the perfect cross between breakfast and dessert [bressert, anyone?].  They are sweet, yet not so sweet that they drive your morning taste buds into sugar overload.  They are a little bit chocolate, a little bit vanilla, and a lot a bit red.  The texture is softer and cakier than a traditional waffle, but still boasts those crispy edges that that we all love about waffles.  The cream cheese whipped cream may be the world’s most perfect breakfast condiment.  It is light and airy, with a tangy zing and just the right amount of sweetness.  Top your waffles with a big dollop or eat it straight from the bowl, you decide.

Red Velvet Waffles 3

The Goods:

INGREDIENTS:

Waffles:

  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbs butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbs red food dye
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Whipped Cream:

  • 4 oz whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs powdered sugar

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT:

  • Waffle Iron

Red Velvet Waffles 2

The Deets:

Preheat the waffle iron until very hot.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the cooled butter, egg, red food dye, vanilla, buttermilk, and vinegar.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, and mix with a spatula just until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated.  Do not beat the batter.

Spritz the hot waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, then pour 1/4 of the batter into the center of the  iron.  Close it and cook on the medium high setting for 4-5 minutes, or until the top of the waffle is firm and the edges feel done.  Since the consistency of these waffles is a little more cakey than a traditional waffle, be very careful using a spatula to lift the waffle off the hot iron.  Stack the waffles on a plate covered with foil until ready to serve.

To make the whipped cream, combine the whipped cream cheese, heavy cream, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Mix the ingredients on low for 30 seconds, just until combined, then crank the speed for 2 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Top the waffles with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a big dollop of cream cheese whipped cream.

Tiramisu Trifle 1

The Inspiration:

This is a red velvet spin on my favorite buttermilk waffles from The Brown Eyed Baker.  The idea came from the red velvet waffles on the menu at Green Eggs.

If you are wondering why there are so few photos, its because I couldn’t wait to eat them.  If you are wondering what’s in that glass, its a mimosa.  If you are wondering if you should make these waffles ASAP, the answer is yes.

Red Velvet Waffles 4

XOXO,

MJ


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