Homemade Potato Chips

I am a chip girl. I am such a chip girl it’s not even funny. Ranch Wavy Lays, Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips, Cheetos Puffs (Do they count as chips? I don’t even care), and my absolute all-time favorite: Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles.

Oh, but, wait. Remember those Doritos 3D creations a few years back? Also the fact that the Doritos flavors used to be Cooler Ranch and Nacho Cheesier? Way more awesome than just Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese. Clearly I know a little too much about chips.

Including the fact that it’s apparently bad to eat right out of the chip bag…something about portion control? Surprise, I’m not really too good at that.

So, in order to keep eating chips without feeling guilty (something I’m much better at than actually restraining myself), I went on the hunt for a healthier chip recipe.

As it turns out, you probably own the instant potato chip gratification tool: a microwave. Indeed, using only trace amounts of olive oil, you can actually microwave slim slices of potato into lovely crispy chips. And they’re healthy!

Okay, well, healthier than other fried chip options. Plus, you can season them however you want! In one batch of chips, you can have salt & vinegar, barbecue, AND sea salt and black pepper.

Or, if you’re like me, you can have all that, plus a bonus flavor: chicken chili thyme basil. Yeah, that’s what’s up (Major props to this site for the idea). Continue reading

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(Easy As) Pumpkin Pie Latte

Everyday is a lesson day. Young or old, in or out of school, we can all learn something new each day. Today, for instance, I learned that:

  1. Milk will not froth on the stovetop if significant amounts of pumpkin puree and cinnamon are added to it. Even if you try very, very hard. Multiple times.
  2. Milk will froth on the stovetop if, in great frustration, you slosh it into a saucepan all by itself and watch very skeptically for signs of bubbling.
  3. There are actually some pros to the electoral college system. Random, I know. It’s all part of a recent goal of mine to read the news and educate myself on diverse topics. And I refuse to be embarrassed for making progress. Even though I probably had to learn this in elementary school (pshhh it’s been a long time since then).

But anyway, back to pumpkin.

Oh YES, ‘tis the season. Glorious, glorious fall: Sweaters, leaves changing colors, apple cider(!), and, in Dallas, 94 degree weather and people tanning by the pool. But hey, when did the weatherman ever dictate what I make? And, by the way, I am an annoying, peppy, absolute LOVER of fall and the holidays, so expect more seasonal gushing to come.

Since it is, technically, fall, I’ve had pumpkin on the mind for quite a while. However, I couldn’t quite think of what pastry or (gasp!) savory item food to tackle. Luckily for me, my sister loves food nearly as much as I do, and raved about a pumpkin latte she recently drank at Peet’s Coffee.

I made you two different kinds!…And then I drank both. Whoops.

She found this recipe online to try out. Upon hearing the word pumpkin, though, I immediately snatched the recipe away to experiment on for my blog. I know, I’m such a joy to live with.

As stated above, I originally tried to froth the pumpkin milk on the stove. My fancy ambitions were quickly quashed. However, I did learn that it is possible to successfully froth milk on the stove. I decided to combine coffee with my version of pumpkin milk, then top it all off with foamy goodness.

And then. I could not stop thinking about pumpkin pie. All that sweet pumpkin in a flaky pie crust, finished off with a swirl of whipped cream! Gahhhhh. My salivary glands went into overdrive, my imagination ran wild, and thus!

The ultimate pumpkin pie latte was born: Coffee mixed with pumpkin milk, topped with foam, then, pumpkin pie whipped cream, and finally – a sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs. Perhaps this is why I love fall?

Welcome to your afternoon.

Continue reading

S’mores Truffles

Let’s play two truths and a lie:

  1. Once, to combat the Monday-morning work blues, I ate s’mores for breakfast.
  2. When I’m craving campfire marshmallows, I roast marshmallows on a chopstick over my stove.
  3. Last summer, in desperate s’mores withdrawal, I microwaved two chocolate chips and one mini marshmallow onto a wheat thin.

So maybe I’m not very good at lying…because all of these are true. I may also be a freak. A crazy lover of marshmallows that are crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. A strong believer that rectangles of Hershey’s chocolate are the only acceptable choice for authentic campfire s’mores. The very type of girl who might make you…these:

What are these, you ask? Guess, guess! …no guessing? Fine. These, my friends, are little scoops of dark chocolate ganache, covered in homemade marshmallow fluff, and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. Oh man.

A lot of things about that sentence excite me, but probably none as much as the concept of homemade marshmallow fluff!

This cloudy pillow of goodness is so easy to make. So marshmallow-y. Thus, oh so dangerous. And, okay, I’m calling it marshmallow fluff, but it’s actually based on a recipe for 7-minute frosting – that miracle of light, whipped, shiny frosting that takes only 7 minutes to make (with most of that time spent in the stand mixer). Seriously wicked (good) stuff. Continue reading

Crème Brûlée: A Tutorial

Crème brûlée has a reputation that frankly, I think, is undeserved.

I would compare it to Cady Heron in Mean Girls. Crème brûlée started out as a nice, simple dessert, wanting only to please people and make friends. Somewhere along the way, though, its reputation became twisted, and it turned into an evil, conniving custard ready to torch home cooks with its difficulty (did you get that?).

The whole “this is a super smooth custard/where do I buy vanilla beans/omg how can I make a perfectly crackable sugary shell without a kitchen torch” setup is quite deceptive. But this is all a scam.

Crème brûlée requires only 4 ingredients: Heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla.

Certain recipes use vanilla beans, which honestly look very pretty in the custard and lend an intense vanilla flavor to the dessert. However, you can use vanilla extract to replace the beans – and I promise, the end product will still taste amazing. (Just by the by, if you do want to use real vanilla beans, I found mine at the ever lovely Costco!)

Without further ado, let’s make some crème brûlée!

Step 1: Preheat your oven. Just do it. 325 degrees F.

Step 2: Put heavy whipping cream in a pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cream boils pretty fast so keep an eye on it! Then, remove from heat, cover, and allow it to sit while you’re whisking the egg yolks.

Step 3: Whisk the sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks until the egg yolks turn pale yellow.

Like this!

Step 4: Pour hot cream a little at a time into the yolk mixture. Be sure to whisk while pouring or you will have some lovely scrambled eggs. This process (called tempering) brings the temperature of the eggs up slowly while making sure that they do not cook.

Step 5: Pour the mixture into ramekins. Place ramekins into a baking pan, then pour enough hot water in to meet the level of custard inside the ramekins. The water creates a more stable cooking temperature for the custard and allows it to cook slowly.

Tip: If you don’t have ramekins, don’t panic. You can simply use a shallow oven-safe pan in place of the ramekins.

Step 6: Cover loosely with aluminum foil (I forgot to do this and the tops were a little browned whoops)! Bake until the custard is just set, but still jiggles in the center (about 40 minutes). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Step 7: Caramelizing the sugar.

*Warning! I’ve found this to be the hardest part of making the crème brûlée. *

Torch Method: If you have a kitchen torch, you are a lucky duck. Simply sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of sugar on top of the custard, hold the torch about 4 inches from the top, and melt the sugar until a crispy top is formed. The sugar will continue to cook a bit after you stop torching, so stop just short of your desired crispiness.

Sometimes, I get so excited about kitchen torching that I set my crème brûlée on fire. Not that that occurred here.

Broiler Method: If you don’t have a torch, you can use your oven broiler. However, there are certain important rules to follow here so you don’t end up with crème brûlée soup.

  • Sprinkle only enough sugar to cover the top of the custard. If you sprinkle too much, it’ll take longer to caramelize, increasing the chances that the custard underneath will melt.

  • Ice bath! Pour water into a pan with the ramekins (just like before), but this time, add ice! This will stop the custard from melting in the heat of the oven. I know this may seem like an annoying step, but please please please do it. I still have nightmares of two Thanksgivings ago, when a fabulous crème brûlée dessert just minutes from caramelized sugar heaven turned into…liquid. I can’t even type about it without being sad. Also, I melted three more crème brûlées while making this for you. Agony.

We haven’t yet figured out our ice machine Our ice machine is broken, so I froze a bag of ice! I must really love you guys.

  • Place the pan on the top rack of the oven. This ensures maximum broiling power and minimizes time in the oven.

  • Make sure the oven is as cool as it can be before placing the pan in the oven. Turn the broiler on only after the pan goes in, so the entire oven doesn’t become too hot for the custard.

Ok, now you can broil them! It’ll take about 3 minutes for the sugar to melt and start caramelizing. Keep a close eye on them. Also, the sugar will continue cooking for a little while after removal from heat, so take it out just before they’re done. The top may not be completely crispy upon removal, but it should continue to caramelize.

Tip: If the custard underneath melted, refrigerate until solid and then serve. It’ll still be good, I promise. I just tend to get weepy/frustrated if it melts because I am an impatient, hungry person. Always.

Crack! (so satisfying) the top with a spoon and eat! Mmmm.

Yes, these are two different crème brûlées. I ate made a lot in my quest for perfection. Sometimes blogging life is hard.

P.S. Today (Saturday) is the last day to enter the drawing for cookie mail!

Crème brûlée (adapted from Creme Brulee ii)

Yield: 6 four ounce ramekins

Ingredients

  1. 2 cups heavy cream
  2. 1/4 cup & 6 teaspoons granulated sugar (for initial custard recipe, then melting)
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (To replace with vanilla beans, put half of the bean scrapings in the pot with the cream)
  4. 3 egg yolks
  5. 1 pot hot water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Set cream over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to sit while whisking sugar.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup white sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks until egg yolks turn pale yellow.
  4. Pour cream a little at a time into the yolk mixture, whisking all the while so the yolks don’t scramble (a technique called tempering).
  5. Pour liquid into ramekins (if you don’t have ramekins, any shallow oven-safe pan will work just fine). Place ramekins into baking pan, then pour enough hot water in to meet the level of the custard inside the ramekins. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  6. Bake until custard is just set, but still jiggles in the center (about 40 minutes). Remove ramekins and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  7. Before serving, sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons sugar over each custard. Use a kitchen torch or oven broiler to melt the sugar until the top is crispy and slightly brown.

To Broil:

  1. Sprinkle just enough sugar to cover the top of the custard.
  2. Place ramekins in pan, then pour enough water and ice to meet the level of the custard.
  3. Place the pan on the top rack of the oven.
  4. Turn oven to broil (after placing pan in oven – no preheating!).
  5. Broil until sugar starts to caramelize (about 3 minutes, and keep a close eye on it!).

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Fridays at TJ’s

Today, I went to the grocery store…and it. was. AMAZING. Clearly my life is very exciting.

No, but seriously. Seriously. Ever since I saw this post from my main food blog crush, I have longed for, nay, salivated over, a chance to visit Trader Joe’s.

To me, it was a distant mythical land, an oasis filled with never-before-seen snacks (healthy ones!), exotic frozen meals, and chocolate covered everythings in clear square plastic containers. I LIVE for snacks in those clear stackable containers. Don’t they just make everything look 10x more delish?

Last night, while surfing the internet researching law schools, I realized that there stood, exactly 15 miles away from me, my very own Trader Joe’s.

I went. I saw. I purchased:

“Gorgeous” – my cashier’s description of this Mandarin Orange Chicken. Good enough for me. Oh, and the Chicken Tikka Masala gets rave reviews as well. Not that I spent a good chunk of last night researching what to buy at TJ’s or anything. Who, me?

The Organic Creamy Tomato Soup was one of my sister’s picks! She spotted it in someone else’s cart and ran to find it. By the time she got back, I had added 3 more items to the cart. I am nothing if not stealthy.*

*She totally called me on it

I love hummus. I LOVE basil. What could go wrong?

Gotta get some fruitstuffs in there too.

My main food group – check out the clear plastic container! So fetch.

Also, can we discuss this?

Do I know what speculoos cookie spread is? Do I care? There is something cookie related actually stuffed into a dark chocolate bar this is all mineee hands off I am so excited. Ok.

And this:

Another product of my intense law school research. And if you can’t tell, I totally love that site.

So…two hours after getting home from my new favorite grocery store, I may already have some initial reviews:

  1. Fiberful – Healthy nomming. Touted as “natural dried fruit, veggie and fiber,” these taste like fruit leather and contain lots of fiber. Beware of eating too many.
  2. White Bean & Basil Hummus – Mmmm alkeraosdifasdpoiuwer…oh sorry, my mouth was too full of this insanely delicious dip. Think pesto + a lovely mild white bean taste. The carrots are cool too.
  3. Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee – Ehhh I really wanted to like this (the container! the decadent dark chocolate covered candy! and the name, seriously, right up my alley), but there is something about the pistachios that I am just not loving. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy pistachios. They just taste a little…old? Ugh. I don’t know. Don’t hate me. I’m still going to admire them from afar.

I think the only question now is…can I go back tomorrow??

P.S. Cookie giveaway contest is still open! Comment here by Saturday the 22nd (tomorrow) at 11:59pm for a chance to receive cookie mail!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Apologies (with a Giveaway!)

Oh, hi there! Hello…? Yeah, it’s me – the girl who ate a lot of pastries for a month, promised she’d write you twice a week, and then fell off the face of the planet? Whoops. About that. I could blame my absence on the busyness of moving and unpacking…which may seem like a total copout until you I show you this:

(This is only half of my shoe collection aka I am a hoarder.) Continue reading