Posted in Bite of Breakfast, Dining with Friends, Sneak a Snack

Breakfast of Champions: Part 2

Because last week was devoted to coffee, I figured we should get the ball rolling for the rest of our meal! Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and the only thing that makes it better is sleeping in and turning it into brunch.


Brunch is not a meal, it’s a game: and I always win.


One of the easiest ways to look like you have your $**! together is throwing together a breakfast that needs zero cooking. By that I mean, just chuck a bunch of fruits on a platter and pour some yogurt and honey in a bowl, and you look fancy AF. My queen, Ina Garten, is the best at fruit platters. But she is also the best at everything. I may be biased….

But seriously, all you have to do is get a handful of your favorite fruits and pile them all next to each other on a platter. Smaller fruits like berries are best, since you don’t have to cut of peel them. If berries aren’t in season then just buy the freshest and most flavor fruit on the market!

This spread's just for YOU. You killed it these past three days!!! Treat yourself and keep an eye out cause we'll announce the winners tomorrow! Hanks for the  @earthyandy by sambazon:

If you like fruits that sit on the exotic end of the spectrum, try something like this!

Hey guys  I wasn't having the best day, so thought I would cheer myself up…:

Voila! The easiest breakfast ever. Just put this in front of your guests along with some yogurt and honey and the perfect coffee that you now know how to make and they will be tres impressed. Happy brunching!

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Posted in Dining with Friends, Seasonal Cooking, Sneak a Snack

How to Celebrate the First Snow of the Season

Ladies and Gentlemen, the first snow of the season is here! And I am here to tell you just how you can celebrate it.

First, you have to get through all of you classes, or the entire work day. Just because it’s the first snow doesn’t mean that there won’t be plenty more. And those storms will come rolling in with big puffy flakes that drive you back under the covers. So don’t waste an absence or a sick day—save it for when you actually need it!

Once you are at home, make a list of things that you will need. In the case of me and my roommates, we immediately went back out into the cold snowy air (yay, but also, why??) to pick up milk and ingredients to make cookies. Then we went back to the dorm. Can you guess what we did next?

That’s right, we baked them! Then we ate them!

Your list should look pretty similar to that. Take off your work appropriate clothes and put on comfy sweatpants and start baking. I may or may not have the Nestle Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies memories, but you can use whatever recipe for whatever cookie you like. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl—flour, chocolate chip morsels, sugar, chocolate chip morsels, butter, chocolate chip morsels, eggs, chocolate chip morsels. Can you guess what my favorite part of the dough is?

It also needs other stuff like vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda, but who really cares about that stuff??

Once your cookies are safely in the oven, make your drink of choice. Now because I still had a lot of home work to do, I made a nice strong cup of chai tea. Sprinkle a little extra dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, add a splash of milk and a sprinkle of sugar, and you have a mug of the best holiday beverage that will ever pass your lips.

cookies

close-up

These cookies and tea are best enjoyed with a few great friends and a bit of Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. If you don’t have any work to do and just want to relax and enjoy the season, then I recommend some Spiked Spiced Cider… But that’s another post! 😉

Enjoy!

Xxo Maddie

Posted in Dining with Friends, Dinner Done Right

Cooking As A College Student

dinner

So, in case you were wondering what it’s like being a college student trying to maintain a healthy diet, let me tell you right now: more often than not it just won’t happen. I know this, because I have eaten scrambled eggs twice this week for dinner. Most days I combine breakfast and lunch. But not in a fun, “let’s all have a Sunday brunch catch-up meal” type of brunch. I’m talking, “I woke up late for my first class and spent all the time between my other classes doing homework that I never finished so I have to eat at Starbucks in the Library at 1:50 again” type of breakfast-lunch combo.

So when I get a chance to eat right, I lunge at it faster than most people when they grab for the newest iPhone. Last night my roommates and I got together to make dinner and watch the final presidential debate between Senator Clinton and The Donald. This is a run-down of how the meal went.

(P.S. I also had this meal tonight in the form of leftovers. Sorry, but I’m broke)

To start off the meal, we bought chicken strips, green beans, and pasta from the grocery store on campus. And, why yes, it was grossly underpriced, thank you for noticing!

My roommate Jean and I preheated the oven while Ally bought the food (thanks Ally!). The real question was what were we going to season the chicken with?

Well, this is a fallback meal for me, so we had the “recipe” down pretty well. First, after preheating the oven to 375 degrees, peel and mince a few cloves of garlic, and cut one lemon into wedges. If you want to get real fancy, cut an onion in half, then in quarters, and place around the chicken.

As for the herbs that go on the chicken, use whatever you want, but we used what happened to be in the pantry: dried oregano and thyme! Not terribly chicken-y, but we like it enough to use it every time. This is also because the campus grocery store doesn’t carry any other spices…

Arrange the chicken equally on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil, with the garlic, lemon wedges, and onion chunks distributed as well. Cook for 12-15 minutes until the chicken is white throughout.*

As for the green beans, steam them in a colander until they are as tender as you like. If you don’t have a colander, they you could just boil them (but know: boiling washes away most of the nutritional values from veggies!). Or if you are lucky like us, you buy the green beans that come in a microwavable bag that just needs a couple of vents and a five minute nuke session.

For the pasta: I really hope I don’t need to tell you how to make pasta. Step one: boil water (and season with oil and salt if you’re fancy like me). Step two: boil the pasta until it’s al dente, or as tender as you prefer. Step three: drain, and then add noodles back to the pot along with as much or as little of your favorite sauce.

Also, everything should have butter on it. Just a little piece of advice from one chef to another J

And there you have it! A delicious meal that is also nutritious: protein, veggies, grains, and fruits (if you include the wine and fruit punch that we drank it with)… the perfect balance for the growing college kid.

This meal is enjoyed best with a little wine, and a lot of friends!!

Comment if you watched the debate and whether you’re a “bad hombre” or a “nasty woman”

*If your chicken is extremely juicy but shows no signs of being undercooked, do not grow paranoid and put back into the oven to dry the hell out of it like a ~certain~ blogger. Otherwise you may ruin the juiciest chicken of your life.

Posted in Dining with Friends, Dinner Done Right, Grilling and Barbeque, Seasonal Cooking

A Standing Ovation for Summer

 

14-outdoor-barbeque

Summer is almost ready to take its bow, allowing for autumn to take the stage. And while fall is my favorite time of the year, I can’t quite let go of summer just yet.

Summer isn’t just a feeling; it’s a state of being. Summer is standing in the warm rays of sun that filter through the glass windows while I wait for my coffee to brew. Summer is tossing a sundress over my head and being dressed within seconds. Summer is grilling on the back deck with friends while you wait for the sun to sink below the tree line.

Grilling steak is much simpler than people think. Yes, it’s hard to gauge temperature, and no, there is no way to tell how cooked it is until you cut into it, but that is all part of the mystery. You have to throw away your fears and forget about how good or bad that it may come out. This isn’t just a meal: this is the final curtain call for summer.

The first thing to look for when cooking steak is the right cut of steak. Steak comes from cows, and cows are big, with each cut of meat serving a different purpose. The shank is a tough piece of meat, and is usually sold with the bones in and is excellent for stews; the tenderloin is the most versatile cut. You can slice it into medallions for fillet minion, or you could cut closer to the front and have a nice, thick T-bone and reenact the scene from Law Abiding Citizen.

beef-ribeye.jpgFor grilling, a good cut would be rib-eye. This comes from the rib area, and is most often served without the bone. If you had it served bone-in, then it would get the nickname “cowboy rib-eye”. Make sure that your rib-eye is about 1” thick, with lots of good marbling. Marbling refers to all the little veins of fat running through the meat. As the steak is cooked, the fat renders and provides flavor and moisture.

 

If you are cooking on a gas grill, turn the burners up to high, making sure that the racks are scraped clean of debris that may catch fire or alter the flavor of your steaks. If you are using a charcoal grill, make a small pile of about one to two quarts of hard lump charcoal, or a pile of around 100 charcoal briquettes. Yes, there is a difference, but that’s for another post! 😉

About 20 to 30 minutes before you start grilling, take your steaks out of the fridge to get room temperature. Make sure that they are dry, and pat them with a paper towel if they seem damp. Liberally season with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides of the meat, and brush some oil or butter on your grill.

Once you lay your steak down, DON’T TOUCH IT! Let it sit on the grill for at least 90 seconds so that grill marks appear and the seasoning forms a crust. After another 15 to 20 seconds, rotate the steak 90 degrees so that you will get that legendary crisscross grill mark that is only attainable at restaurants and Food Network. Not anymore, Grill Master!

 

How-To-Grill-The-Perfect-Ribeye-Steak-1.jpg
Is your mouth watering yet?

Once you do this to both sides of your steak, move it to the cool side if it needs further cooking. Any more time over the direct heat could cause overcharring and blackening, which you don’t always want.  The internal temp for medium-rare is around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, with medium-well landing at 150° or higher.

A good way to tell how far your meat is cooked is to firmly poke it. And I don’t mean jabbing at it with your tongs—which better be spring loaded stainless steel—I mean pressing your finger into the meat to gauge its firmness. The best way to learn is to check the temp of the meat once it’s to your liking, then press your finger into it once it’s cool.

The firmness of meat will correspond to the fleshy part of your hand right below your thumb. For raw meat, the easy give of when your hand is flat will give the best feel. For rare, touch your index finger to your thumb and press on the round part of where your thumb meets your palm. For each next finger, that is a further cooking step. The more cooked your meat is, the firmer to the touch it will feel.

finger-test-meat-doneness-steak-beef-cook-grill
An inforgraphic that shows what meat feels like at each stage of cooking

After taking the meat off the grill and putting it on a platter, place a pat of butter onto each steak that you cooked, no more than a tablespoon each. Then, wrap the whole platter in aluminum foil and let stand to rest. Resting allows the juices to ‘settle’ within the meat, so that when you cut into it, the juices don’t spill out onto the plate; they stay inside and keep your steak nice and moist.

backyeard-bbq

This is a pretty fool-proof way to grill meat, so now you can eat like a king (or queen!) any night of the year. Now, gather all your friends around, pour the wine and open the beers, because summer just got an encore.