Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Lest you think I only eat dessert, worry not: sometimes I drink coffee too. And in the summer, that caffeine habit becomes EXPENSIVE. Daily $4 iced coffees are not a sustainable practice, and so I bring you homemade cold-brewed iced coffee. Don’t say I never did anything nice for you.

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All coffee-making follows the same process: water extracts flavors and chemical compounds from beans. Hot water not only speeds up that process, it also cooks the beans a bit, changing some of the flavor profiles of the coffee (h/t NYT).

A lot of iced coffee is made by brewing hot coffee and then letting it cool to room temperature. You could do this, but I find the resulting coffee to be pretty acidic (hot water extracts more acid than cold would) and pretty weak — since you’re using hot-coffee standard amounts of water to brew the coffee and then adding more water (in the form of ice) to cool it, the coffee ends up extra-diluted.

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But cold-brewing extracts flavor from the coffee bean at a slower rate and leaves the original flavors relatively intact. And since I’m already not a fan of light, acidic roasts (I like my coffee dark and bold and chocolate-y — surprise, surprise), cold brew’s purported “mild, smooth and just a tad sweet” flavors seemed right up my alley.

And now that I’ve made my own cold brew, I’m kicking myself for the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on often mediocre iced coffees in the past. This recipe is so easy a child could handle it, and the end result is a smooth, balanced brew that I want to drink all day every day. And since all it requires is standard ground coffee and water, I can actually afford that. #WIN Continue reading

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

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I know, I know … another dessert. In the past few weeks, it’s been one after the other, mostly because I haven’t been home long enough to actually cook real meals.

Not that anyone should be complaining. It is backyard barbecue season after all, and there’s no quicker way to a party host’s heart than by bringing a sweet treat. I’ve got a million ideas here (for appetizers and drinks too!), and trust me, I’ll be adding these lemon ricotta cookies to the list.

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Using ricotta makes these cookies soft and cake-like, as perfect for afternoon tea as they are for a cookout. The lemon is pretty subtle here (even though I bumped it up a bit from the original recipe), so if you’d like a ton of lemon flavor, I’d add a bit more lemon juice. They’re barely sweet, so you can add more sugar too (though I like my desserts on the less sweet side). The batter is a bit of a mess to work with, since it’s very wet, but the cookies bake up like a dream.

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Now that I’ll finally be in the city for the occasional weekend, I need to start cooking some real food. I mean, I’ve got one hell of a sugar crash coming my way … Continue reading

Chocolate Potato Chip Pie Bars

THESE ARE CRACK.

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I know, I know … hyperbole much? But seriously, these are irresistible to the point where it’s almost unconscionable.

I first discovered this recipe, labeled “PMS Pie,” while scanning the HuffPost front page for something work-related. (We do God’s work, people.) It was hard to ignore the perfectly browned potato chip crust or the gobs of melted chocolate or the drizzles of caramel on top.

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Within a week, I had sent the recipe to almost everyone I know, talked about it incessantly and decided that I needed to turn it into the infinitely more portable “chocolate potato chip pie bars” for Mili’s bachelorette. It’s fitting — these bars are the happy marriage of two of my (and her) favorite forms of junk food, and salty-sweet has proven to be a long-lasting, always satisfying union.

The recipe is insanely easy, especially if you don’t go through the extra step of making your own caramel. (But you should — homemade salted caramel is delicious.) They’re very adaptable too: I used plain rippled chips, but kettle chips could also work. Dark, milk, or even a mix of chocolates would be delicious, and if you don’t have walnuts, top the bars with chopped pecans or almonds instead.

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Your minimal effort is rewarded with the most addictive junk food a girl could imagine.. Good luck sticking to just one — we ate the entire pan in one night. Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel “Cheese Ball”

Continuing with dip week (it’s even got its own theme song!), I present this chocolate peanut butter pretzel “cheese ball.” In quotes because it’s a play on a savory cheese ball, but really this is a cross between a dessert dip and gloriously thick frosting.

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And if you think this sounds like heaven, you are right. Some cream cheese adds a tangy edge to an otherwise alwayswinning combo of peanut butter and chocolate, and I couldn’t resist throwing some pretzels in there for a bit of salty-sweet. It takes all of five minutes to make and requires no oven time, a major plus on these 90-degree days. Plus it travels well and is easy to share, which makes it a perfect picnic dessert. Except then you might have to share, and let’s just say I didn’t do too much of that …  Continue reading

Buffalo Chicken Dip

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I know, I know, it’s hot out and you don’t want to turn on your oven. Maybe it’s too stifling to think about melty cheese, spicy chicken and ooey, gooey dip. Maybe that’s “football food” in your head, perfect for crisp fall days, but not when it’s 90 degrees out.

Fine then. MORE FOR ME.

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This buffalo chicken dip is so good that I made it Sunday, finished it Monday and half-contemplated making it again on Tuesday. (Don’t worry, I’m waiting ’til the weekend.) It’s everything one wants from buffalo wings, and even eliminates two of their biggest problems: messy fingers and bones. Seriously, those are two of my biggest pet peeves in life, so you can just imagine how smitten I am with this recipe.

It’s also pretty easy. I poached the chicken breasts the night before (and if you’ve never poached before, this is a great tutorial), but if you’re really pressed for time, you could also shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Once your chicken is ready, all you need is 15 minutes on the stove and 30-40 minutes in the oven.

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And your reward? Buffalo chicken heaven. Seriously, I can’t even describe how delicious this was or how much I want it in my belly right now. You’ll just have to make it yourself to find out. (And then invite me over, kthanks.) Continue reading