In the Kitchen

In the Kitchen: The Vanilla Bean Baking Book Chocolate Chip Cookies (Kind Of..)

One of my favorite deserts is a classic chocolate chip cookie. If it’s warm even better. I think I’ve made every recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I have the Toll House recipe memorized. I’ve tried what the New York Times claims is the best recipe of all time. I’ve learned nearly every tip and trick to making the best cookies ever. I’ve even made up my own recipes. I guess I’m a little…obsessed; so naturally when the cookies from the Vanilla Bean Baking Book kept popping up on my Instagram feed I knew I had to give them a try.

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In the Kitchen: Shake Shack @ Home

Fourth of July is just a few days away. A time where everything to make a great American burger is on sale, so why not make the best at home burger possible? A few weeks back I received Shake Shack: Recipes & Stories as a gift (or bribe to make cheese sauce..either way). Pretty much everyone knows how much I love the Shack or just burgers in general so I was really excited to try to make one of my favorite burgers at home. Truth be told, I wasn’t that great at making burgers at home…until now.Β 

As a cookbook Recipes & Stories is great. It gives homemade versions to so many of Shake Shack’s offerings including the chicken sandwich, fried pickles, hot dogs, and, of course, the iconic burger. Along with the classics there are recipes for meals created through collaborations with famous chefs some that were offered in regional areas of the country. Anything you could possibly want to make from Shake Shack is here including the shakes and custard. Another really cool thing about Recipes & Stories are the stories themselves. There’s the history of Shake Shack, their ingredients, their suppliers, employees, and loyal fans across the world. My favorite is the History of the American Burger because duh. There are tips and tricks for everything from grinding your own meat to making crinkle fries and evenΒ cripsing bacon!

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In the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies

A few weeks back I decided to revisit (and use) my old Tumblr account. I decided to give it a whole new look and tagging system so I could find things much easier. I use it as kind of visual collection of things that inspire me, things I want to try, and just funny things. I have had this Tumblr since 2009 and it has thousands of posts. While tagging I realized there were SO many images of m&m chocolate chip cookies. Like…..maybe too many?Β 

Since taking on that incredibly type-A task, I’ve been thinking about these cookies for days. One afternoon I took a break and thought why not make some? Using my handy tagging system I began looking at recipes, but then it dawned on me: I’m just going to add M&Ms to the regular Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe. Cause with chocolate chip cookies, if ain’t broke don’t fix it. Plus I have the recipe memorized and my favorite adjustments on lock already. Easy enough…

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In the Kitchen: Spinato’s Litaliana Pizza

I haven’t made homemade pizza since I was a kid. It was a twice a year family tradition that took an army to make. I made an attempt a couple of years ago during the summer, but it just turned out to be a time-consuming mess. Wow, I’m really selling this idea aren’t I?

When my best friend mentioned she wanted homemade pizza (by mention I mean asked nearly every day), I decided to give it another go. One of my favorite pizzas is from a local pizzeria, Spinato’s, so I tried to make it at home. I went, got a pizza pan, and gave it my best shot.

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Homemade pizza is relatively easy especially when you embrace “lazy” girl hacks (like I did). Here are my tips and tricks followed by the recipe.

  • Use the easiest dough recipe you can, but don’t use premade pizza crusts from the grocery (the only exception is Trader Joe’s). Use just-add-water packets if you have to, but avoid the premade.
  • Using canned tomatoes in the sauce will make it thinner than a pizzeria style sauce. Use tomato sauce or add more tomatoes to achieve the desired thickness.
  • Add your desired amount of parmesan cheese to the sauce as you like. Cheese is always a good idea.
  • Speaking of cheese, use Galbani mozzarella, and shred it yourself. It melts the best.
  • Preheat the oven at least 15 minutes before cooking the pizza to allow the heat to fill the oven completely.
  • Par-bake the crust before applying toppings if you plan to use “wet” toppings. “Wet” toppings are things that create excess liquid while they cook such as vegetables or meat (which produces grease). Par-baking the crust will make it stronger and able to withstand the extra weight of numerous toppings or “wet” toppings.

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In the Kitchen: Antipasto Pasta Salad

Making pasta salad has become one of my Fourth of July traditions. There’s something delicious about cold pasta, cheese, and vegetables on a warm day. Plus there’s a million different kinds to make and nothing is really off-limits. It’s a kind of everything but the kitchen sink kinda meal.

For this year’s pasta salad I wanted to try something different, but ended up with something pretty Italian. Antipasto is one of my family’s favorite things so I grabbed a bunch of my favorite ingredients and tossed them together in this dish. I chilled it all afternoon, but even just an hour works just fine.

There really are no rules so use whatever pasta you have handy and add any Italian meats or cheeses you enjoy. There are no exact measurements for the mix ins just personal preference (below is one ball of mozzarella, one small log of salami, and one container of cherry tomatoes). Word to the wise, when using prosciutto, cut back on the salt in the vinaigrette because of the natural salt content of the meat it will be overly salted.

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Antipasto-Pasta-Salad

In the Kitchen: Cravings (Chili + Guacamole)

A few weeks back I picked up Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings. I may have mentioned it here. As part of my attempt to explore things more I decided to make a list of the recipes I knew I wanted conquer (or best attempt to). Feeling bored of my typical kitchen options yesterday I grabbed the cookbook, chose some options, and put it to my taste testers for a vote. They chose the Frito Pie Bar.

The Frito Pie Bar contains two important recipes: John Legend’s Chili and Chrissy’s Cheesy Guacamole. I have made chili countless times (even perfecting my own couple recipes), but never once have I made guacamole on my own. If you read this blog, you know I use Whole Foods guac on the regular. But I did it! I made guacamole on my own and it was actually pretty darn good. Rave reviews on that.

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Next the chili. Rachael, my best friend and main In the Kitchen tester, raved it was better than any of mine. And well…I just let this screenshot sum it up. Yes, Chrissy liked my tweet and it was awesome.

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The chili was so popular I don’t think there is any left. Highly recommend.

A couple of notes before I get to the recipes.

  • I made the guacamole sans cilantro and it still tasted spectacular. I know my audience and they do not like cilantro. So its optional in my book.
  • I did not use individual Frito bags for the Frito Pie Bar. I figured it would be too messy so rather I just used shallow bowls and regular bags of Fritos giving the person the option to have as many chips as they like.

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Recipes:

CheeseGuacamole

John-Legends-Chili

 

In the Kitchen: Fajita Night

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to have a fajita night. Basically because I owed my best friend Rachael a dinner and it was a really great excuse to have taco dip. Fajita night essentially consisted of wine, a lot of food, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High on television (bless you VH1).

When it comes to fajitas I typically take the lazy girl route. Pre-cut sliced meat, pre-made seasoning..the works. I mean it’s good but not good for you. Because I had most of the day free I decided to be adventurous and try a recipe from a New York Times article I read questioning why we don’t make fajitas at home more often. (Serious journalism asking the tough questions) Now they provided a lot of recipes but this one seemed the most achievable (with a few alterations), and I wasn’t about to cook something called Fajitas (Meat-filled tortillas with hot sauce). Yes..that was the actual title.

Now, the recipe seems complicated (it’s the NY Times after all), but in reality it was pretty simple and definitely delicious. The whole goal of In the Kitchen is to try new things, but I will surely be making these again….after I try the ones in Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook (I just got it!)

I’ve included both the taco dip and fajita recipes below. The taco seasoning in the taco dip is just a generic one I found on the Food Network website, but a store bought packet would work just as well.

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7-Layer-Dip

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Forgive this photo. Everyone ate too quickly to get a good image of the final product.

Steak-Fajitas---New-York-Times