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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Strawberry Not-So-Shortcake

Every birthday needs to be celebrated with a MASSIVE, **emphasis on the massive** and delectable birthday cake. Its just not a birthday without one. Theres just something about cutting into a thick layer cake smothered with fluffy frosting that makes the day 10 times sweeter. Well, tomorrow is Cole's birthday, and Kelsey, also a major proponent of the massive birthday cake, and I decided to make him one that he would never forget. While in the grocery store we were inspired by the giant fresh strawberries and decided to highlight the luscious summer fruit by making a cake that acts as an ode to them. *Its also Kelsey's favorite, so remember that!* This tribute resulted in my version of a Strawberry Not-So-Shortcake. Its not short because, well, its three layers high and HUGE. Light layers of vanilla cake are filled with a strawberry compote sauce and creamy whipped cream. This cake is the definition of summer. It's light, a killer flavor combination, and is SO BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, its stunning. Also, I didn't have the time/patience to make the cake base from scratch, so I played Cake Doctor on this one, using a boxed cake and turning it into something that definitely qualifies as homemade. Nothing beats cutting into this tall and elegant cake and getting a look at the triple layers and different colors. It's magical. Think strawberries and cream. Well, Cole loved it, duh. I also had an extra layer and made a mini version which was demolished in record time thanks to some very hungree individuals. So, make this now and people will fall in love with not only you, but this cake too. HAPPY BIRTHDAY COLE

Strawberry Not-So-Shortcake

2 boxes vanilla cake mix
6 eggs
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon

Strawberry Compote
2 bags frozen strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbs light corn syrup

Whipped Cream
4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Fresh sliced strawberries

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl with the electric mixer, combine the cake mix, eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until well combined. Mix for about 3 minutes ensuring that there are no clumps! We like smooth cake in this house. Evenly pour the mix into 3 greased round cake pans and bake them in the oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. Cool completely before using.

Once the cake is in the oven start on the compote. Thinly slice the frozen strawberries, leaving a few whole for good measure. Put these in a skillet along with the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat for about an hour and a half. The mixture should thicken and reduce and should turn into a beautiful vibrant color. Cool this in the fridge before assembling.

For the frosting, put the whipping cream and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue whipping on high until stiff peaks form and you get the desired consistency.

Assembly: On a cake board or cake plate or pan, lay down one cake layer. Spoon the cooled compote on top, juice included, spreading it evenly around the top of the layer. Take a big dollop of whipped cream and put it on top of the compote, spreading gently so you do NOT mix them together and keep them in two distinct layers. Gently lay the next cake layer on top, and continue until you finish with a layer of whipped cream on top. Decorate the top with fresh strawberries!

 And now 4 some pIX
 Just me decorating
 Strawberry Compote on layer #3
 Some fresh sliced berries for the top
 Frost it up
 Now make a pretty pattern
 TADA. Yummiest 19 years of your life Cole.
 Such a happy birthday boy
 And this is why he's so would be too if this was your cake.
 LOOK at dem layers

strawberry fields 4ever

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

LOS Burgers Truck

LOS stands for Lucky Old Souls. I may not be old, but today I certainly feel like a lucky soul. Why? Well, because today was the day I had my first taste of the LOS Burgers Truck. Great a new food truck, no big deal, right? WRONG. SO wrong. Let me explain. Firstly, I've been stalking LOS Burgers Truck on twitter for about 2 months now. Yes, its a little ridiculous, borderline obsessive maybe, but i love how they use social media to connect with their hungree followers and while I was one of their hungree-est followers of all, I had never even tasted their food. Well, that all changed today when Bree and I ventured to their tweeted location to check them out.

Their menu featured delicious sounding burgers, shakes, fries, and sauces all made from locally sourced ingredients. I'm a sucker for locavore status so I was already on board. First you pick among grass-fed beef burgers, veggie burgers, or turkey burgers #iloveoptions. Then you pick your toppings from a variety of cheeses to pickled tomatoes, sautéed onions, and bacon. Then your sauce, ranging from roasted garlic mayo and bacon mayo to today's special scallion mayo. But it doesn't stop after this. You have to pick your dipping sauce for your fries and your flavor of milkshake too. Well, we wanted to to get a good sampling so that is my justification for order a lot. I went with a veggie burger topped with pickles, lettuce, tomato, sautéed onions, and the roasted garlic mayo, while Bree went with a beef burger topped with sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato and ketchup. We got fries with the scallion mayo dipping sauce and a salted caramel black pepper milkshake. It was a little bit of a wait, but all good things take time, and I knew they were making mine to order which I totally appreciated. My veggie burger was flavor packed, had a great texture, and was juicy. A veggie burger juicy? I don't know how, but it was. It tasted fresh and wasn't heavy or greasy and the pickles and garlic mayo gave it a sour note that married nicely with the richness of the patty.

 All good things are messy.

 Bree's burger was BOMB.COM. A simple classic done right. Nicely charred on the outside and gushing moist and luscious flavors with every bite. This did NOT taste like food truck food. This is quality ish.
My beautiful Bree with her burger. Bree went with cheddar, not her namesake, LOL.

 Then the milkshake. It was creamy and refreshing and unique in flavor, but wasn't the best I ever had. I wish it was a little thicker but it was a nice treat on a hot day.

Then we got to the star of the meal, the special scallion mayo. I actually could have eaten this by the bucket load. I know it sounds kind of gross to think about bucket loads of mayo, but this isn't regular mayo. Its tangy, tasty, and bursting with flavor and while the french fries were crispy little morsels that were delicious on their own, I couldn't bare to take a bite of one without completely dunking it in the sauce. Would I like some french fries with my mayo is the new question.

 Overall, I am a BIG fan and will continue to stalk/follow and now eat everything LOS Burger Truck has to offer. Its worth the walk and the stalk so follow them on twitter and join the cult that I am proudly naming myself head of.

proud 2 be a Lucky Soul

Lil Pop Shop

Lil Pop Shop
265 S. 44th Street,
Philadelphia, PA

You know when you walk outside and you can feel the air sticking to you? Ya, that was today. It was actually gross today and almost impossible to breathe. Its an internal struggle on one of these days. Its SO nice and sunny out and looks like a beautiful time, but as soon as you spend more then five minutes outside you need an immediate shower. Ew. On days like these we need little refreshments and pick-me-ups just to keep us from laying by the air conditioner like panting dogs.Today's pick-me-up came in the form of a pop. A lil pop, from Lil Pop Shop to be exact.

Sydney and I ventured over to find some relief from the heat and were greeted by unique and innovative flavor combinations. Mango Sriracha, Avocado Coconut, Blueberry Buttermilk; our palettes were curious and intrigued. Yes, they seemed like unusual combinations for popsicle flavors, but their colors were vibrant and their cool promise was enticing enough on their own.

Sydney went with the Cherry Lambic, a fruity beer combination, which was tart and bold and had a little bit of a fizzy after taste.

 I obviously couldn't decide so I got two, Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade and Spicy Mayan Chocolate. The Strawberry tasted exactly like my favorite pie, with a strong and sweet rhubarb flavor that showed through.

The Chocolate, however, really stole the show. It was hot and spicy and gave your mouth a crazy sensation as it deceived with every lick, claiming to be cold and refreshing yet delivering a chile after taste. It was awesome. I luv lil Pop Shop and I gotta catch em all! Pokemon reference, keep up. At $3 a pop, they're the perfect treat, so don't miss out and check it oUT.

keeping it kool 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Outta This Galaxy Brownies

To infinity and BEYOND! No joke, these brownies are not only out of this world, but out of this galaxy. Completely chocolatey and fudgy with a gooey caramel layer of Milky Ways in between, you will find yourself being transported into a whole new dimension after just one bite. They're richer THAN *thank you grammar police* anything you've ever tasted and may temporarily put you in a gravity defying coma. SO, whip em up, take a bite, and blast da eff off.

*If you need confirmation on these being "outta this galaxy" ask Eric Dober.

Outta This Galaxy Brownies (Milky Way Brownies)

2 sticks butter
12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
3/4 cups flour
16 mini milky way bars

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan melt the butter. Once completely melted, add in both chocolate chips. Stir until soft and completely incorporated and totally melted. Remove from heat once melted. Pour the sugar into a bowl fitted with an electric mixer. Turn the mixer on low and gradually add the chocolate mixture. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla. One at a time add the eggs, beating for about 15 seconds after each addition. Using a rubber spatula scrape the sides to get all the little bits incorporated. Add the flour and mix on medium high for 3 minutes until thick and well mixed. Butter a 9X9 casserole dish and pour in half of the batter. Evenly space the milky way bars in rows onto the batter.

Then, pour the rest of the batter on top, covering the milky ways completely.

Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour until a fork is stuck through and total mush doesn't come out. I like mine super gooey and fudgy so it depends on your own preference. EAT. LOVE. THANK ME.

May the force be with you

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mexican Grilled Corn

Ever since summer has sprung, my lil bro JJ has been requesting that I make corn, and since I'm home for one night I decided to appease him. This is not just any corn that he is requesting, however, but is "the corn from that Mexican place I like"-JJ.  Well, considering that they have some rendition of grilled corn at every Mexican restaurant we go to and I couldn't figure out which one he was talking about, I took inspiration from all of them in creating a simple recipe that I knew would make his taste buds feel like they were at a fiesta. Classic Mexcian grilled corn gets sprinkled with Cotija cheese, lime, chile powder, and a mayonnaisey type rub. For some reason we were out of mayonnaise (this is what happens when I'm not home on a regular basis) so I made a rendition with melted butter, and it was just as good and a little lighter in taste. Its summery, flavorful, and totally delicious. JJ happily munched on three ears of corn and said it made the cut. This actually takes less then 15 minutes start to finish, so you really have no excuse, so, COMIENZA LA PARRANDA Y LA PARRILLA! (Start the party and the grill)

Grilled Mexican Corn a la MOI

6 ears of corn
1 stick of butter
2 limes
chile powder
2 handuls of fresh cilantro
1/2 cup freshly grated Cotija cheese

Recipe: Heat up your grill to medium high and brush it with olive oil. Grill the corn for about 10 minutes, rotating it every so often so the sides are lightly charred. Remove from grill. In a bowl, melt the butter. Add the juice from one lime into the butter, along with 1 handful of cilantro. Brush the corn with this mixture. Squeeze the juice of the other lime directly on the corn. Sprinkle with a generous amount of chile powder and salt. Next, top with cheese and the rest of the cilantro. EAT and be in heaven.

 Yea....JJ liked.

hungree? mi casa es su casa

Friday, May 25, 2012

My New Obsession: Soft Serve Fruit Co.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend YA'LLl! I am kicking it with my pal DGross in the Hamptons and dining wise, I'm in heaven. Today I made a big discovery. I discovered the Soft Serve Fruit Company, a fruit based frozen soft serve that is both gluten and dairy free. It contains only 3 ingredients: the fruit, water, and some cane sugar, and it is unbelievable. D and I were in the mood for a light snack so headed over to try it out. Today they were featuring four flavors: banana, strawberry, tangerine, and dark chocolate. Well, we had to taste test all of them, so obviously we did and they were all unreal. It was the creamiest soft serve I've ever had yet wasn't heavy or milky. It was light and silky, and literally tasted exactly like the fruit. It was the perfect snack and at 85 calories for 3 oz, it was ACTUALLY healthy, not like all those other fro-yos claim to be. I went with strawberry and banana topped with fresh strawberries, bananas, and raspberries.  The banana was literally like eating frozen bananas. AH.

D got the dark chocolate banana swirl with fresh bananas and it was also divine. The soft serve was so rich it was hard to believe that it didn't contain anything but those three ingredients.
She's serious about her soft serve. DONT MESS.

Then we went home for the afternoon, hung out for about an hour, and then some friends came over. And then those friends told us they were what did we do? Well, we went back. Ya I'm serious. We actually went back. D and I were praying it was a different shift of people working the counter, but obviously it wasn't, and they welcomed us back with confused smiles. This time, Kelsey and I tried the "banana split": banana soft serve with fresh strawberries, bananas, walnuts, maple syrup, and whipped cream. OMG. So good, so yummy, and still so light.
Kels doing it the right way.

Ya, I guess we're addicted. SUE US. I will be hitting this place up at least 4 more times this weekend, and will be then trying to figure out how to get it at home. TRY and you will see.

more pleeze

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

The other night I had a dream, and while I don't remember exactly what the dream was about, I remember that it involved cinnamon buns. Ever since the dream, they've been on my mind. I thought back to all the cinnamon buns I've had: a few great, many good, and TONS bad. Now that they were stuck in my head, I wanted a GREAT one and I wanted to make it myself. I was craving that sticky cinnamon sugar ooey gooey-ness tucked in layers of sweet doughy bread and I wanted my fix. These were the breakfast pastries of my childhood. The giant doughy mounds bigger then my head that I'd reach for and treasure and in turn become a sticky monster. Ah, so yum. So, after scouring for the perfect recipe, I used a dough base from the Pioneer Woman, and created my own inside filling and glaze. Honestly, they were perfection. The smell was actually perfume and my whole house still smells like cinnamon sugar heaven. I made 3 pans of the enormous fluffy monsters, and I invited my boys over to oh-so-happily devour them, which they did. From this experience, many are starting to learn a crucial lesson: If you're on a diet, do not live with me unless you'd like to suffer. Sorry?

Homemade Cinnamon Sticky Buns with Raisins *dough recipe from The Pioneer Woman

4 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, .25 Oz. packets
8 cups (plus 1 cup separated) All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbs Salt

1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 tbs Cinnamon
2 cups Raisins
2 sticks Melted Butter

4 cups powdered sugar
3 tbs Light Corn Syrup
1/2 cup Milk
1 stick Melted Butter
2 tbs Maple Syrup

Recipe: In a saucepan bring the milk, oil, and sugar to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, remove it from heat and let it cool until lukewarm. Add the yeast and let sit about 3 minutes to activate. Slowly add the 8 cups of flour and mix until just combined with the wet ingredients. Cover with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour. After an hour, add the remaining cup of flour, the baking soda, the baking powder and the salt. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half into a long rectangle about 30 X 10 on a floured surface.

In a bowl, combine both sugars and 2 tbs cinnamon. Pour the melted butter over the dough and spread evenly all over the surface. Sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mixture on top, making sure to cover every inch! The more the merrier. Sprinkle the raisins on top of the sugar mixture. Drizzle with honey.

Now starting from the end farther from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you.

Cut 1 inch slices with a sharp knife and put these into buttered baking dishes.

 Let rise for 20-30 minutes before baking. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

While they bake, make the glaze. In a bowl whisk the milk, powdered sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, and melted butter together. Once the buns come out of the oven, pour this over them as the warm buns will sop up the glaze and absorb it.
Now, enjoy!

Pre Glaze...ya a bite is missing sorry
Glaze me up BAbYyyy
Now das what i'm talking about...

sorry I'm not sorry

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The First Dinner

Like I said in my previous post, I'm back at school in Philly. BUT this time things are different because I'm living in a house and am no longer deprived of a kitchen. All I can say is, finally. Tonight, my bff Cole, **aka Chef Stern** and I decided to break in the kitchen and cook for some friends. We shopped all day, slaved all night, and then actually feasted. Cole and I have actually been planning to cook together after the first conversation we had, so after two semesters of talk, this occasion was monumental. We outlined a menu: a gorgonzola salad, mac and cheese (obvi), balsamic roasted vegetables, "pacific rim glazed" steak a la cole (basically teriyaki-esque), and a plum, raspberry, blueberry crisp for dessert. The results? Ask our 8 empty plates and our 8 very full guests. Chef Stern and I will be going into business very shortly. Below are all the recipes from the dinner minus Cole's steak.
Chefs @ work
 Chefs showing off
 family feasting
 Chef Stern REALLY excited about his steaks
"Pacific Rim Glazed Steak" a la Cole
 some hungree people

The Gorgonzola Salad: A simple mix of romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and gorgonzola cheese, this salad is a classic. I make a homemade vinaigrette (recipe below) that is tangy, light, and will definitely be your new staple dressing.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh pepper
juice of 1 lemon

Recipe: Whisk all to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

The Balsamic Roasted Vegetables: Honestly these were my favorite part of the meal. They were slow roasted and had caramelized and the natural sugars and flavors of the vegetables had been drawn out to the point of perfection. Super easy, just throw em in the oven and be patient.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

2 red onions
7 large carrots
3 cups brussel sprouts
1 large head broccoli
2 tbs honey
1/2 cup balsamic
1/4 cup olive oil
garlic powder

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the vegetables into large, rustic chunks and lay out on a baking sheet in one layer, no overlaps. In a bowl whisk the honey, balsamic, and olive oil. Drizzle this over the vegetables, then use your hands to coat them and toss them so every vegetable gets a light coating. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and toss again. Roast on a low rack in the oven for about 3 hours. After an hour, take out the vegetables and add a drizzle of olive oil and honey. The carrots take the longest to tenderize, so be patient.

The Mac n CheeZe: Apparently its the new dish I make at every single meal. Every one is all over dis. But then again, its pasta, cheese, and melted gooy-ness so who wouldn't be?

1 box of pasta, your choice
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 tbs flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbs heavy cream
1 package shredded mozzarella
1 package shredded cheddar
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Recipe: In a saucepan melt 1 stick of the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour. Next, add the milk and the cream. Once the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat down and stir in the cheeses. Once the sauce is thick and well combined, pour over the freshly made pasta and add salt and paper to taste. Mix well so every piece is coated and pour into a casserole dish. In a bowl, melt the remaining 1/2 stick butter, then pour this over the bread crumbs. Sprinkle this on top of the mac and cheese and put in the oven to broil for about 5 minutes to crisp up. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn!

Plum Raspberry Blueberry Crisp: The best summer dessert. It utilizes the fresh fruit summer has to offer us and brings out their natural sweetness. Add a crispy oat topping and you're good to go. ALSO, ice cream as a side is a must.

10 plums, ripe
2 packages raspberries
1 package blueberries
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter softened
3 cups oats
1/4 cup flour

Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Quarter the plums. In a large bowl toss all of the fruit together with the lemon, honey, and granulated sugar. Spread in a casserole dish. In a separate bowl mix the butter, brown sugar, oats and flour until well combined into a doughy crumble. Pat this down in an even layer on top of the fruit. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling.

I lYkEEee

i LOVE hungree people