Friday, February 12, 2010


Dear Friends,

Apparently I underestimated the brute force of Mother Nature in my Chicken Soup posting. Do you think she read my posting, sniveled at my witty scoffing of the weather reports and decided that punishment was in order? I'm sorry! I take it back! Extra toilet paper was INDEED in order!

It could be that my musings caused the latest storm. And though I conceed that is a rediculous self-centered remark, I STILL maintain that the Buffalo Sabres lose EVERY TIME I WATCH THEM. Regardless of the storm's cause, I still cooked my way to redemption. I baked. I chopped. I experimented and I relied on time-tested recipes. I trekked blocks in the snow to deliver my baking penance to the neighbors.

There was one flop (peanut butter coconut bars), two repeat performances of major successes (wild mushroom risotto and saag paneer) and one totally awesome new success: raspberry coconut bars.

Kudos to my mama on this one: instead of store-bought jam, I sacrificed half a jar of her raspberry-pomegranite jam for this and think it made all the difference in the world. But I think you can change up this recipe in several ways. For instance: use strawberry or grape jam. Add slivered almonds or chopped pecans. Add chocolate chips on top. They come out like a naughty granola bar, so make them with your favorite flavors!

Toasted Coconut Raspberry Bars- adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (i used 1/2 cup to reduce the sugar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

preheat oven to 375°F.
Spread 3/4 cup coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast in middle of oven, stirring once, until golden, about 8 minutes, then cool.

Blend together flour, sugars, and salt in a food processor, then add butter and blend until a dough begins to form. Transfer to a bowl and knead in oats and toasted coconut until combined well.

Reserve 3/4 cup dough, then press remainder evenly into bottom of a buttered 9- by 9-inch baking pan and spread jam over it. Crumble reserved dough evenly over jam, then sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup (untoasted) coconut.

Bake in middle of oven until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack. Loosen from sides of pan with a sharp knife, then lift out in 1 piece and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars.

Note: the recipe actually calls for you to use a 13x9 pan. Mine was dirty from the peanut butter flop, so I used a square pan that must have been 8x8. They came out perfectly and would probably be too thin in a 9x13.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When you need spice...

Well, one of the few chicken dishes that our young gentlemen will eat is fajitas. As far as I can tell, this is one of those dishes that you don't really ever use a recipe for. Probably people who are more compelled to go authentic wouldn't do this, but the key to fajita taste success among the Brackenbury-Parysek Tribe is Fajita Spice from Penzeys. Well, we buy all our spices from Penzeys and anyone who don't know about them should, because they have everything, it's all high quality and the prices are reasonable. So check it out: Penzeys.

As to the fajitas, we add water, corn oil, and lime juice to the Fajita Spice, marinate the chicken strips, fry 'em up, add 'em into flour tortillas, add some rice, some slow-sauteed pepper and onion, some salsa, and some shredded lettuce and just chow it down. Life is good. If you start with 3 pounds of skinless boneless, you might even have some for leftovers!

Flying Spaghetti Monster by Eric

This is a quick video that coinsides with the Chicken Noodle Sour recipie that Jill posted. Obviously, homemade noodles are far better than any store bought brand; although, these turned out with an amazingly silky consistancy that was easy for even the biggest carb-hater to indulge in. Don't be hatin..get down with your noodle lovin self. *

*Disclaimer...I don't agree with this so much, but since she's sitting next to me I have to comply with her wishes. "Jill is unshowered and still in pj's- beware." Her quote in third person.

Also, this video was only meant to serve as a visual for our noodle excursion and is only meant for entertainment purposes. However, I encourage you all to make these for yourselves.

One last note, I prefer Jill's natural state of beauty and think she looks marvelous!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chicken Soup for your Snowpocalypse

Everyone in DC is running to the grocery store for fear that they will be stuck in their apartment for weeks upon end, hemmed in by snow drifts, cut off from civilization, rabid and starving.

What could be better than chicken soup to comfort your snow-fear? I mean, as long as you are going to the grocery store anyways, grab a chicken rather than a second dozen rolls of toilet paper. Seriously people: how many dozen do you need? It's 2010. You'll be able to leave your house in two days, maximum. Plus, you will impress people with your domesticity.

Chicken Soup- recipe by my grandma.

Equipment: a 7-9 quart stock pot. A fine mesh strainer.

1 Chicken about 3-4.5 pounds

3 carrots

4 stalks celery

salt (to taste, depends on how much water you use and how big your chicken is)

1 bunch fresh parsley

1 small onion

Celery salt for serving

Wash your chicken and remove any giblets. Put him in a stock pot and cover with water (probably about 6 quarts). Peel the onion and cut it in half. Put both halves in along with a big bunch of fresh parsley and 1 whole stalk of celery. Cover and simmer for at least 2 hours. 3 hours is better! The chicken should be extremely tender when its done.

Remove from heat and let cool completely. If you are able to put it in a fridge and get it very cool, the fat and scum will congeal at the top and make it much easier for you to skim it off. I can never fit it in the fridge so I get a second large pot and stick it in the sink and place a fine mesh strainer on top. Then I pour the contents of the original pot over the strainer so I'm left with pure gold chicken stock below and the whole chicken and veggies in the strainer.

Discard the parsley, onion, celery and any skin and bones. Pick the chicken clean and put the meat back in with the broth. Further skim the surface to remove excess fat or crud and bring it back up to a simmer.

Slice your celery and carrots thinly and place them in simmering soup. Add salt and celery salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Let the veggies cook for about 40 minutes. Add two big handfuls of freshly chopped parsely and call it a day. Your soup is done!

The noodles in the photos are homemade (and damn, they look nothing like my grandmas). Eric shot a video of the noodle-making-process. And a process it was! I'll try to get him to upload it....

Stay warm, don't freak out people. Snow does melt! In the meantime, snuggle up with your loved ones and eat soup.