Cookie Stacking and Other Things...


Hello Internet People.  I'm sorry I've been a little absent, but this has been a busy and emotional week.  Therefore, I present to you this scatterbrained post of odds and ends...

Many of you have been curious about the infamous "cookie stacking" Instagram post (infamous, really Siri?).  The origin of this layered dough can be found in this recipe for Peanut Butter Honey Cookies.  I was instantly intrigued to see if by stacking two blobs of dough on top of each other, the result would be a cookie that spread less, as suggested.  Well, perhaps I did something wrong, but my cookies just ended up looking like butts, so... delicious recipe, however.  Honey?  Peanut Butter?  Yes.

Last Thursday I was all set to appear on the Today Show, and you may have caught a glimpse of me even, however, breaking news about the Pope's whereabouts interrupted my segment.  Of course, I didn't mind in the slightest, and it was actually very exciting to witness... yet another reminder of how surreal it is to be a small part of a news institution like Today.  If you're interested in the recipes I was planning on preparing, you may click here: Buffalo Chicken Dip and Ultimate Queso Dip

Last night, I was very honored to be a part of the launch of Keurig Kold, a revolutionary new drinkmaker that brews perfectly chilled beverages like Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and so, SO much more.  It is available for purchase today on their website... check it out!

And finally, I wanted to repost this recipe in honor of a great woman, Lucy.  If you've been following my blog for awhile then you probably know this sandwich, but to have known the woman behind it was something else.  The heavens above gained a beautiful soul.  Team Lucy forever!

Brown Butter Caramelized Banana Bread


I am a zombie.  Yesterday morning, Carson and I woke up, flew to LA, attended the Emmy's, and then flew home on a red-eye last night.  Essentially, we spent 12 hours in Los Angeles and another 12 hours on a plane in a 24-hour timespan.  I am a zombie.  BUT, it was allll worth it because The Voice won an Emmy!!!!  I was so proud of Carson and everyone that works so hard on the show, and it was very exciting to be there in person to cheer them on.  Tonight starts a new season, so tune in!!

Moving on to this ridiculously delicious banana bread that I made on Saturday morning in guilty preparation for leaving my children.  I think it worked, because they barely missed us and made us pretty cute "welcome home" signs.  Go, banana bread, go!  I tried out a couple of new techniques after seeing this recipe.  First, I caramelized the bananas by roasting them in the oven with a little honey and cinnamon.  Then, I browned the butter and let it cool slightly before adding it to the batter.    

By doing these two things, the banana bread tasted sinful.  Almost as if I had added rum or peanut butter.  It has a caramely, slightly nutty flavor, and it's perfectly moist and plain old delicious.  No need to bake this out of guilt, just bake this!  And watch The Voice tonight!  Ok, I'll take a nap now...

Brown Butter Caramelized Banana Bread
(Makes 1 loaf)

4 ripe bananas
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 T unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel bananas, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Place in oven, and cook for 20 minutes, until bananas begin to caramelize.  Remove, and set aside to let cool.  Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

While bananas are roasting, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, until it begins to brown and let off a nutty aroma.  Remove from heat, and set aside to let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg). In a larger bowl, add the bananas and mash.  Stir in the butter, vanilla, sour cream, brown sugar and eggs, and combine until just smooth.  Add the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.  Pour batter into a greased bread pan, and bake for one hour.  

Turkey, Cheese & Cauliflower Meatballs


I make a lot with cauliflower, because it's a vegetable that my children will actually eat, but chopping it up is one of my least favorite things to do.  It's messy, tedious and time consuming.  But yesterday I was at Target, and I came across these Cauliflower Crumbles (did you know if you're a mom and you find yourself with a few free hours you car will actually DRIVE YOU TO TARGET all by itself??? so weird).  Yes, these crumbles are a major short cut BUT WHO CARES!?  Short cuts at dinnertime make for a happy household.  So last night, I made a version of these meatballs with cauliflower crumbles instead of the other vegetables it called for.  They were so yummy!!  They even went to the party, the party in our tummies, because sometimes we have to sing that song while we eat...

Thank you for the recipe, Audra!

Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup


Do you know why I love Thanksgiving?  Yes, because we gather family around and give thanks and blah blah blah, but what I love most is constructing the ideal bite on my fork.  Flavors and textures that perfectly compliment each other, all at once.  I think this is why I love bowls.  Salad bowls, rice bowls, noodle bowls... you can eat a delicious bite with each spoonful (forkful, chopstick-ful?).  Does anyone else think about their food this much?  Should I seek help??

Anyway, my friend recently sent me the following recipe, and I shortened the title but it's really called "Crockpot Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash" - a mouthful, right?  A PERFECT MOUTHFUL.  But before you click on the link and say... "wait, this takes 9 hours to make and calls for one thousand ingredients?!" let me calm you down right now.  Your crock pot will do most of the work... just throw that pork butt in there with as many ingredients as you have (I omitted the red curry paste and the Chinese five-spice because I didn't want to go out and get them) and let it slooooowly cook.  You don't HAVE to crisp up the pork at the end if you're low on time, but I would HIGHLY recommend it, as it really transforms the meat into something special.  For the acorn squash, I only roasted it in olive oil, salt, pepper and a little brown sugar because, again, I didn't have any of the rest of the ingredients.  But I still thought it was superb. 

Raw carrots offer the perfect crunch, and the egg's creamy yolk adds a wonderful richness... 
(Click here for a tutorial on soft-boiling eggs.)

Also, Sriracha on everything, always.  Forever.

Shrimp Saganaki


Fifteen years ago, my knowledge of Greek food consisted of hummus and gyros (which I only ate when the bars closed).  Thank god it has expanded since then, because it might be one of my favorite cuisines.  One day, mark my words, I will go to Greece and eat my way through the country.  Until then, I will continue to explore the wonderful Greek restaurants this country has to offer, like Petros in California and Avra and Limani in New York.  My favorite things to order are Grilled Octopus, Moussaka, lamb anything and always, ALWAYS, Shrimp Saganaki, which is a simple, flavorful dish consisting of shrimp cooked in a tomato feta sauce.    

I've been dying to try it at home and I finally did.  It was extremely easy to make and I loved it.  Make sure you buy some crusty bread or soft pita to sop up this sauce.  I followed the recipe here (and ditched the greek liquor because I didn't feel like buying an entire bottle).  This is a wonderful transitional meal for the change of seasons... comforting but not TOO heavy.  Make it.  Opa!  

Cheeseburger Stuffed Shells


You read that right, Cheeseburger Stuffed Shells.  If classic Italian stuffed shells and good ol' American cheeseburgers made sweet love and had a baby, it would be this dish.  A perfect, family friendly, crowd pleaser.  Make it ahead, pop it in the oven, freeze the leftovers.  I apologize for not writing in full sentences but I'm so tired.  The second week of school is WAY more intense than the first.  But, my delirious state of mind aside, it was so much fun cooking with Hoda and Carson this morning on Today!  If you missed the segment, you can check it out here.  Enjoy the weekend!

(Photo credit: the lovely Director of Culinary Production at the Today Show, Bianca Borges)

Veggie Pizza Balls


By now, if you're a parent, your children are probably back to school (if not, I offer you my deepest condolences).  You're probably also in major "fall schedule" mode.  Back-to-school shopping and haircuts and soccer and dance (and figure out those carpools!) and school open houses (with so many forms to fill out) and easing back into homework.  It's a lot!  It's so much!  And on top of it all, you probably keep forgetting you need to feed your children breakfast and pack their snacks and lunches and figure out something (what!?) to make for dinner.  Which is why I love finding things you can make the night before, or in the 20 spare minutes you find during the day, and can pop in the oven that night.  Weelicious to the rescue!  If you're not familiar with her site, check it out.  She offers a slew of easy, healthy, kid-friendly recipes.  Like these Pizza Balls you can stuff with anything!  Cheese, marinara and then, if you think your kids will eat it... veggies.  I added some finely chopped cooked cauliflower to mine.  My kids loved them (oh, and I ate 10).  Check out the recipe here.


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