Category Archives: From the Cookbook

Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole

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High on the list of things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the space/wherewithal to put together is hosting brunch. I’ve spent so much of my lifetime waiting in line for brunch that it’s shameful that I haven’t yet decided to ditch the host/hostess overlords and take brunch into my own hands.

Brunch can be daunting, since in theory, it requires one to get up early and start cooking at the crack of dawn. A lot of popular dishes are “make right now” — think poached or fried eggs, pancakes, etc. But there’s a whole world of make-ahead breakfasts that feed a crowd with minimal effort. (This baked French toast, for one, or any of these many frittatas.)

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In an effort to keep my oven from pulling double-duty (I was baking something delicious that I can’t wait to tell you about, and no it wasn’t this epic cake), I decided to lean on my roommate’s slow cooker. She’s had the thing since October, and seriously guys, I cannot stop gushing about this thing. Oatmeal, mashed potatoes, chicken, Chinese-style pork … all with the same instructions: dump ingredients in, walk away, come back a few hours later to an insanely good meal that required zero work.

Case in point — this slow cooker breakfast casserole. The only work involved is browning the chorizo in Step 1. After that, you layer the ingredients a few times, pour a mix of eggs, milk and spices over top, close the lid and let the casserole cook while you sleep. I assembled the casserole before a night out on Saturday, wrapping the top of the slow cooker insert tightly with tin foil and then refrigerating it while I hit the bars on the Lower East Side.

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I came home and set the slow cooker to cook (as it turns out, a slow cooker is so easy to use that even six drinks can’t mess you up). When I woke up the next morning, my little apartment was filled with the heavenly aroma of chorizo, melted cheese, hash browns and spicy eggs, the manna of a hungover human (or a group of hungover humans, if you’re hosting brunch).

This is my kind of brunch recipe — it’s filling, it’s flavorful and it requires less effort than putting on clothes and waiting in line at a restaurant. It allows you to enjoy hosting, rather than slaving away at the stove while your guests sip mimosas and reminisce about last night’s adventures. If hosting brunch is always this easy, I may ditch restaurant brunch for good. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Bourbon Frosting

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While a quinoa casserole can certainly lift one out of the winter blahs, we all know what really does the trick: chocolate and booze. While that could be red wine birthday cake (or red wine brownies), it also could be this chocolate stout cake with bourbon frosting. I’m sorry, I meant this epic chocolate stout cake with bourbon frosting, as The Beeroness aptly describes.

Epic is right. There’s beer in the cake batter and bourbon in the frosting, and the alcohol adds flavors that are complex, rich, heavenly … sorry, got a bit lost in my thoughts. I’ve talked about baking with stout beers before, and while they’re good in this Irish porter cake, their deeply toasted malty notes really shine when paired with chocolate. For this cake, I used Allagash Black, a Belgian-style stout with chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors. It adds a subtle bitterness to the cake, one that plays nicely with the espresso powder and super dark chocolate in the batter.

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And let’s talk about that chocolate. There’s a lot here–over a pound–and all of it is dark. I used 72% dark chocolate for the cake, and 63% for the frosting, which keeps the cake from become cloyingly sweet. The bourbon and sour cream keep the chocolate buttercream frosting interesting, and I won’t admit how much of it we ate directly from the bowl with a spoon.

I made this chocolate stout cake for my sister’s 25th birthday (apparently, 25th birthdays are a boozy affair) and it’s a great celebration cake. I mean, chocolate, beer, bourbon — how could it not be?

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Continue reading

Cheesy Southwestern Quinoa Casserole

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Ever since I got back from India, I’ve been stuck in sort of a weird funk. After three weeks of adventures in India, it’s back to the same old routine. And now that the holidays are over, I have nothing to look forward to. Besides for the bone-chilling cold, which makes it extra painful to leave my bed every morning. Have I sucked you into my dark cloud of gloom yet?

This ennui has seeped into all aspects of my life. I’m no longer excited by Friends on Netflix. There’s are no enticing classes at the gym. Even a sale at Anthropologie did little to lift me out of my doldrums. The worst has been in the kitchen: I’ve had such little recipe inspiration and a limited desire to cook, and now have ordered dinner so frequently that I’m bored of Seamless as well.

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Thankfully, I have friends who are as into food as I am and send me recipes all the time. This one comes courtesy of Abby, who raved about it last week. The original casserole, from Good Housekeeping, plays off the always-winning combo of broccoli and cheese, tossing in quinoa and spinach for a hearty vegetarian skillet that’s quite healthy to boot. Given my new interest in food that’s sneakily good for you but 100% delicious, I was hooked.

But of course I had to change a few things. There was a sale on pretty rainbow-colored peppers at the grocery store, so I went with those over broccoli. And I forgot to buy spinach, so … oops. I also threw in some ground turkey, though in retrospect, I think a can of black beans would be just as delicious and preserve the whole “vegetarian” premise of the dish. And of course I swapped Greek yogurt for sour cream, since I always have one and never have the other.

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But the real beauty of this quinoa casserole is that it can be changed up in a million ways. I’ve already envisioned a version similar to my beloved mushroom “risotto”, as well as one that involves Brussels sprouts. The possibilities are actually kind of exciting … could this casserole cure me of my winter blahs? Continue reading

Winter Lentil Salad with Tahini-Ginger Dressing

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Greetings from 2015! Sorry for my abrupt disappearing act — my last week before leaving for India was a blur of holiday parties and Seamless dinners, which left zero time for cooking (or packing, which eventually proved problematic).

But I’m back! And before I get into my India adventures, let’s talk resolutions. This year, I decided to forego the “lose 10 pounds” mandate that, in previous years, has driven me to weird detox programs and complicated diets and crazy workout schedules at the gym.

Instead, I’m focusing on eating well. That means fruits and vegetables when they’re at their freshest and most delicious (ie. during their growing season). It means eating only the best-quality meat and fish — the wild-caught or pasture-raised or grass-fed good stuff — though it will also mean eating meat or fish less often because hello, limited budget. It also means when I’m craving a burger, going out and getting a really well-made burger, rather than denying myself for days and then binging on lame fast food.

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But mostly it means cooking at home, making meals that happen to be healthy and filling but are mostly just delicious. This winter lentil salad fits that bill. On its own, lentils + roasted butternut squash + chickpeas is a pretty solid foundation for success. But the tahini-ginger dressing really makes the whole thing, the creamy tahini balancing the sharp trio of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and fresh ginger. It’s reminiscent of one of my favorite cold-weather salads, this warm butternut squash number, but the lentils add a bit of bulk, much needed during these cold, cold times. Continue reading

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

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More cookies today. There are 100 million chocolate chip cookie recipes out there. Some have walnuts (or pecans or pistachios), some have oats, some have a mixture of milk and dark chips, some age the dough for 12, 24 or even 36 hours, some have condensed milk, and some have everything under the sun.

But everyone needs a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe. One that can be whipped up in minutes, so that you’re eaten warm, golden, toffee-like cookies less than 30 minutes after the craving strikes. One that requires only one bowl, and the most basic of ingredients. One that focuses solely on the deliciousness of chocolate chips in a simple sugar cookie dough, made ever so slightly toffee-like with the addition of dark brown sugar.

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My recipe comes from the box of McCormick’s vanilla extract, because that’s what we made growing up. (No Nestle Toulouse here!) I could tell you that the extra vanilla highlights the caramel undertones of the brown sugar, or that I modified the steps slightly to make the recipe a one-bowl affair, or that they are equally delicious as small puffy rounds (how I like them) or giant face-sized discs. But all you need to know is that they’re perfect with a cold glass of milk, and Santa would appreciate them very much.

Let’s talk cookies. I’ve got a bunch over here, and all would be perfect for your Christmas cookie baking spree. (Is that a thing for anyone else? Or just me?) Continue reading