Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hello Again!

Hi there!

I took a wee brake from blogging while I was getting my life together. No, I don't have all the answers to life just yet, but I have moved! Which is like kinda a big deal, right?

Back in the spring I quit my job (again) and went to South America for the greatest 30th birthday known to man. Totally awesome. Upon my return I took a local agency gig and wowed all the peeps and babies alike with my nursing skills.

I have now relocated myself to the great city of barbecue and blues. Any guesses where I am??

Memphis y'all! I swear I'm gonna start talking in a southern accent here soon. Please slap me when I do, I beg you. No really, do it!

First impressions of Memphis:
1. The streets are very wide.
2. The houses are mad crazy big. There's just so much freakin' space.
3. Dudes in trucks like to drive fast, which means they hate me because I now drive like an 80 year old 
woman 'cause I'm constantly looking around. Oh hey what's over there y'all???
4. People are insanely nice. They are just like so excited have y'all here. If they can do anything at all please let them know.

I'll keep y'all posted on my happenings here in Memphis. If you have any suggestions let me know!!!!

Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Serves 2

1 large chicken breast
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Take the chicken breast and carefully slice in half leaving you with 2 thin chicken breasts. Next, cover the chicken with plastic wrap and proceed to beat the daylights out of it. You want the chicken to be really thin like 1/4" at the most.
2. In a small saucepan heat the milk through. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic. Once the milk is barely simmering add the cheese and stir stir stir. Stir until the cheese has melted. If the sauce is very thick you can add a touch more milk.
3. Chop the broccoli into small florets. Place into a microwave proof bowl and cook for 2 minutes. The broccoli should be barely done. Stir into the cheese sauce.
4. On a cutting board take the chicken breasts and spoon a small amount of the broccoli cheese mixture onto one end. Carefully wrap the chicken around the filling.
5. In a medium pan heat some oil on low-medium. Place the filled chicken seam side down in the pan. Put the lid on and let cook for 3-5 minutes per side.
6. Once chicken is cooked through spoon any extra cheese sauce on top. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My dinner for the past week

I've been on this kick lately of trying to be really good about using all leftovers and edible things in my kitchen. I don't know about you guys, but I have a tendency to pick up a few extra things at the grocery store. Those teeny-tiny zucchini's just had to come home with me! I mean seriously, look at them. They're so cute! And now I'm stuck trying to work it into my menu that I've already planned out for the week.

Oh, don't try to act like you don't stand on the counter to take just the right picture of your veggies too! Please, just please tell you do so I don't feel like such a weirdo! And no mocking for my unpainted toes! Gahh...I need a pedicure!

I'll make something and have heaps of leftovers, because if one roasted butternut squash is good, clearly two is better! I mean duh, who doesn't need 3 million-pounds of butternut squash?

You load your cart up with goodies and get to the register and are shocked by the total amount and yet you get home and have no earthly idea what in god's-name-you-purchased? Because somehow there doesn't seem to be any food in the house? Yep, weekly occurrence here folks. Do you do this also Dear reader? Please tell me you do! This nonsense has got to stop!

So, in a effort to a better more well rounded person I've been trying to get creative with my leftovers. I came up with a real winner last week that proceeded to be my break-dinner (ie: what I ate before I went to work at 7pm) for the week.

This salad is super hardy, a complete meal, and can be done a million different ways with whatever you happen to have on hand. You can thank me later.

Leftover Salad
Serves: Me

2 cups of Kale
1/2 cup Roasted potatoes
1/2-3/4 cup of roasted butternut squash
1 Egg
1 oz Crumbled goat cheese
1 handful of Sliced almonds
1 handful of dried Cherries
Drizzle of balsamic glaze

1. In a medium sized pan heat through the potatoes. Once warmed through place on top of the kale. Set aside.

2. I attempted to form patties out of the butternut squash and failure, but no matter. It was still tasty! Heat the butternut squash in the same pan until warm through and crispy on the edges. On the other side of the pan crack an egg and quickly scramble it. No need to dirty up another bowl here.

3. Once the butternut squash is finished add on top of the potatoes. Once the egg is cooked to your desired egg-done-ness slide it on top of everything else.

4. Top with goat cheese, almonds, and cherries. No need for dressing because there should be enough oil and seasonings from the potatoes and squash. Just finish off with a drizzle of balsamic glaze!

5. This salad could literally be made with just about anything on hand. Cauliflower, broccoli, carrots. Regular potatoes, sweet potatoes. Any nut or dried fruit or cheese. Use your imagination!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pumpkin Creme Pies and Diwali

Lets take a trip down memory lane as well as get our history on, shall we?

A mere 2 years ago, which feel like a lifetime ago!, I was in India. Traipsing through magical white cities and blue cities, fort after fort, until the colorful sari's became a blur occasionally punctuated by a holy cow. One of the most memorable experiences I had during my time in India was Diwali, the Hindu New Year.

Diwali is a celebration of light, casting good over evil, washing the bright new year with joy and celebration. The memory that lingers the most were the small clay pots of oil, burning brightly everywhere. On stairs, in windows, in doorways. Everywhere you looked and turned there was light and warmth. 

The pots were often nestled around flower petals, creating more color and brightness to hail the shiny New Year. To me, it was the paradox of India. On one corner there is a brightly and colorful pot of light, flickering cheerfully. On another corner there is trash and decay. 

What does Diwali have to do with Pumpkin Creme Pies? Not a darn thing! Well, wait, hang on here. I'm sure I can come up with some type of parallel for you, Dear readers.

Ok, I got it! First, it's a sweet story to go with a sweet treat. That was lame, I know. One custom of Diwali is go give sweet treats to friends and family. Tables groaning under heaps of sticky sweet treats lined alleys and streets alike. While, Pumpkin Creme Pies are by no means a tradition Indian sweet, they are one of my favorites, which is all that matters at cskescapes. 

I hope you enjoy the creme pies as much as I enjoy Diwali!

*Disclaimer...ok, I realize that Diwali was like last week or whatever and that I'm just a touch late with this post, but we can all thank my lame work schedule for my slacker ways.

Pumpkin Creme Pies
Makes 20-24

For the Pies:
1 15oz can of pureed Pumpkin
1 cup Brown sugar
1 cup White sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs
1 cup Vegetable, Canola, or Coconut oil
3 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Pumpkin pie spices
1/2 tsp Salt

For the Filling:
1 8oz package Cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick Butter, room temperature
1lb Powdered sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1. In a large bowl mix the oil, pumpkin, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, spices, baking soda, and baking powder) until well combined. Scrap down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated. 

2. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 

3. The cookies can be made 2 ways. You can scoop a couple of teaspoons onto a baking sheet and smooth out the top. Or you can pipe out the dough into 2" pinwheels with a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with the tip cut off. I prefer the pinwheel method, I think the cookies come out more even and uniform and thinner. 

4. Scoop or pipe the dough onto a cookie sheet leaving a small amount of room in between cookies. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Do not be tempted to take them out before. The cookies may seem done before 10-11 minutes, but leaving them to bake for a few additional minutes makes them less sticky later. Trust me. I speak from many failed pumpkin creme pie experiences.

5. Carefully slide the baked cookies onto a cooling rack. Repeat until all the cookies are baked and cooled.

6. In a medium sized bowl mix the butter, cream cheese, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add 1/3 of the powdered sugar. Turning the mixer on slowly, you don't want to cover your kitchen in powdered sugar!, mix in the powdered sugar. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar. If you find the filling to be too thick add 1-2 tbsp of milk until desired consistency has been reached.

7. Once the cookies are cool set up an assembly system to fill the cookies. Scoop the filling to a pastry bag or ziplock bag with the tip cut off. Slowly pipe the filling onto one cookie, top side down. Top with another cookie, top side up. Repeat until all the cookies are completed. 

8. Keep the cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The cookies will get sticky after a day or so. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

Cheese Gougeres

Hola! Como estas? I mean, wait hang on, that's Spanish. Merci beaucoup. Ok, wait no, that's wrong too. Hi hello. I made French pastry and I wanted to sound all cool and French, but it was all wrong. What wasn't wrong, was how easy, fast, and flippin' delicious these cheese gougeres were.

Don't ask me to pronounce gougeres, because I can't. I am calling these cheesy cloud puffs of amazing airy deliciousness. So much easier than cheese gougeres, right?

I was quite intimated at first, because French pastry just sounds so so scary. I am not a baking professional, while I call myself a home cook extraordinaire I say that with as much sarcasm as I can muster, which, let's face it, is a lot of sarcasm.

While, I give off the air of kitchen prowess, more often than not it's failures, flops, and a whole lotta meh's going on in the kitchen. To have a dish, especially a baked good, turn out so right and so effortlessly was flippin' awesome.

You should try too. Like right now! Go!

Cheesy Cloud Puffs of Amazing Airy Deliciousness
Makes 20 

3 oz Cheese, finely grated (use a good quality cheese like aged cheddar or smoked gouda)
1/2 cup Whole milk
1/2 tsp Salt
Pinch of Cayenne
1/4 tsp Pepper
6 tbsp Butter
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Flour
2 Eggs

1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Get all of your ingredients ready.
2. In a small bowl mix the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne together, then set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan heat the butter and whole milk to a rolling boil. Do not let it boil for to long, because then it will evaporate. Once the butter milk mixture is boiling, add all the dry ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the cheese and allow the cheese to melt.
4. Transfer into a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment in place. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, let it sit for about 3-4 minutes. Then begin to add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next.
5. Using a pastry bag or 2 spoons make golf ball sized balls of dough. Top with a little cheese and place in oven for 20 minutes or until the puffs are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Tale of Two Desserts

I didn't mean to make two desserts from one recipe, it just kinda happened. Like kismet or something. I'll start from the beginning.

I was standing in the check-out line at Trader Joe's for the third time this week, because I am like totally an airhead when it comes to grocery shopping recently. I even bring a list and everything, but I still manage to forget one key item. Or, and this so totally frustrates me about TJ's, sometimes they just don't have random items that I like really really really needed. Like canned diced tomatoes. Who runs out of canned diced tomatoes? Um, apparently TJ's did last Tuesday. 

I was patiently waiting to purchase my goods and somehow a tin of TJ's Triple Ginger Snaps made it in my cart. I have no idea how this happened, but it did, and I was so so glad later.

I got on with making my pumpkin cheesecake brownies and wouldn't you know there was more cheesecake than I really wanted to layer on top of the brownies?!? But what's a girl to do with left over pumpkin cheesecake? Then a little light bulb went off in my head. I would use the ginger snaps as the crust in muffin tins to make mini cheesecakes. I am a genius! And my impulse purchase has totally proven itself worthy!! Woot woot.

So off I went. Layering, lining, and pouring, all with a few chocolate chips on top. What could be better? Everything is always made better with a sprinkle of chocolate chips. Except ice cream. I really don't like chocolate chips in my ice cream. I'm weird, I know. 

Into the oven everything went and bam! I made two desserts in the time it took to make one. Take that Martha Stewart!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Serves 8-10

Use whatever brownie recipe or boxed mix you prefer

1. Grease a 7x9 pan. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Make brownies to the recipe specifications and pour into the pan. Reserve 1/4 of the brownie mixture to swirl on top.

Pumpkin Cheesecake:
2 8oz bars of Cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Pumpkin puree 
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice mix
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, sugar, and pumpkin puree together until smooth. Add the spices, salt, vanillla, and yogurt. Mix until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Mix on high for 1 minute to make the mixture light and fluffy.
2. Pour the cheesecake on top of the brownies. The cheesecake should cover the brownies about 1". I ended up with 1 1/2 cup extra cheesecake, set aside any extra cheesecake. 
3. Swirl the reserved brownie mixture with the pumpkin and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
4. With the remaining cheesecake line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place a cookie, like a nilla waffer, gingersnap, whatever you have or want on the bottom of the cupcake liner. Fill with 1/3 cup of the cheesecake mixture. I ended up with 6 mini cheesecakes. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips. 
5. Bake everything at 350F. The mini cheesecake take 25 minutes and the brownies about an 1 hour. The cheesecake should be slightly jiggly in the middle and the brownies set.