January 30, 2014


In case you haven't heard, Atlanta is suffering from Snowpocalypse 2.0. Almost exactly three years ago, we received an inch or two of snow that melted and froze and melted and froze and melted and froze, so we were stuck inside for a week. This time, it started snowing (and sticking) around noon, all five million Atlantans attempted to drive home at once, and it was a huge mess. Gridlock everywhere, 12+ hour commutes, and three inches of snow and ice. It took me 2 hours to get home, including a two-mile uphill hike with all my stuff, and I'm still stuck at home. And I was lucky.

Now don't judge the south's "terrible driving" or overreacting. I'll admit Atlanta doesn't have the best drivers even in good weather, but it's not like we get to practice winter driving everyday. We don't have snow plows or salt trucks or special tires. Even if there were some skilled drivers, they had nowhere to go because there were literally millions of people on the road all at the same time. So all you can do in a situation like this is wrap yourself in a blanket and eat some good food. I myself am a carb addict, so I decided to bake some fresh bread.

Baking your own bread sounds kind of intimidating. I'm not even sure most people have enough flour in their house to make much, and your yeast may or may not be too old to function. If you aren't snowed in, it is definitely worth it to run out to the nearest supermarket and buy some. Otherwise you might just end up with crackers. Luckily, this bread uses regular all-purpose flour, so you don't have to worry about getting bread flour.

I like to top my focaccia with just a sprinkle of sea salt and a few pieces of fresh rosemary. It is flavorful but still mild, in case you want to use it for dipping (perhaps for the upcoming Superbowl).

If you want to serve the focaccia plain, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, prosciutto, or mozzarella would all be delicious toppings. I've been inhaling pieces for breakfast, but you could also slice it down the middle to make sandwiches.

It has been quite an eventful week down in Georgia, but I'm convinced warm, fresh bread can fix anything. I've been so busy consuming loaves (well, one loaf) of focaccia that I almost forgot I have to hike back down the hill to get to my car or that I may have to go back to school tomorrow or that there is probably still gridlock from two days ago. Almost.

2 1/4 tsp (1 Packet) Yeast
3/4 Cup + 2 T Warm Water
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
3 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Fleur de Sel
1-2 Sprigs Rosemary

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the yeast, water, and sugar together. Let sit for 5 minutes or until foamy. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 1/2 cups flour, and salt. Knead with a dough hook for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary.

Roll the dough into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 60-90 minutes or until doubled.

Pour the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil into an 11x7" pyrex pan. Stretch the dough to fit; cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 450F.

Dimple the dough with your fingertips. Sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel and rosemary and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Serves 18
Recipe Adapted from Devour

If you wanted proof there was actual snow in Atlanta and not just panic over one snowflake, here is my house approximately two hours after the Grand Blizzard of 2014 began.

January 24, 2014

Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeno poppers probably break all of the unspoken rules of eating healthy. There's cheese. There's bacon. There's crispy breading. My recipe is a little bit better because it's not fried (although I'm sure the addition of bacon kind of negates that), but doesn't eating spicy food boost your metabolism, too?

Well, these actually aren't that spicy. Cooking them helps a lot, and you have to remove all the seeds and the membrane to make room for the filling. Since that's where most of the heat is, the jalapenos really aren't too spicy any more. My sister disagrees, though, because she managed to find the one seed I missed and started running around the house looking for water. In case that happens to you, drink dairy instead of water since water only spreads the oils that make the peppers hot around your mouth. Dairy cools the burn and doesn't make it worse, so get a glass of milk instead of water if you find yourself dying over spicy foods.

To make the filling, I combine cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese (a Mexican blend or melting cheese works well too), crumbled bacon, and a drizzle of bacon fat. That gets scooped into the jalapenos, which are then dredged in flour, dipped in an egg wash, and rolled in Panko bread crumbs. I like Panko because they become extremely crispy even when just baked and not fried, which saves you a ton of calories. You can always use regular bread crumbs, but they just don't get quite as crisp. Make sure you serve the jalapeno poppers hot, because the gooey, melty cheese is the best part.

8 Jalapeños
4 Strips Bacon
4 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese
¼ Cup Flour
2 Eggs
3 T Milk
1 ⅓ Cups Panko Crumbs
2 tsp Season Salt
¼ tsp Cayenne

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie tray with parchment.

Cut the jalapeños in half and remove the seeds and membrane. Cook the bacon until crispy. Reserve the fat and chop the bacon.

Combine the cream cheese, Monterey Jack, bacon, and 2 tsp bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper and spoon into the jalapeños. 

Whisk the eggs and milk together. Combine the panko, season salt, and cayenne. 

Dip the jalapeños in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then the panko mixture. Place on the prepared tray and bake until golden and gooey, about 25 minutes.

Makes 16

January 20, 2014

Ginger Chili Wings

It's almost time for the Superbowl, which means you get to eat greasy, fatty foods for hours on end. If you don't have a deep fryer, making food for all your friends can be tricky. If you want to avoid breaking your resolutions, not eating all the food can be tricky. Luckily, my ginger chili wings solve both of those dilemmas. They are sticky, sweet, and spicy, and it is so easy to make a batch big enough for a huge party.

I start by trimming the wings. I usually buy whole wings because they are cheaper, but if you want to buy pre-separated wings to skip the extra prep, that is perfectly ok. If you do buy the whole wings, you have to cut them into thirds--the drummette, the 'wing', and the tip. Just get your biggest, heaviest knife (a cleaver works well), find the joint, and cut between the bones. A great knife will cut straight through the bone if you can't find the joint, but cutting through the joint won't dull your knife as much and will require less force on your part. The tips aren't that meaty, so I generally throw them away or use them to make chicken stock; I then trim the other pieces to remove any large pieces of fat.

Once your chicken wings are cut and trimmed, you can make the marinade. It's really easy--just stir a few things together, add the wings, and let sit overnight. They can definitely marinate longer, though.

To cook the wings, I use my secret weapon, a cast iron griddle or skillet. It makes the wings crispy and brown without much oil at all, which is definitely better than grease splatters and tons of calories. However, they usually brown faster than they cook, so you aren't quite done yet.

I have found that the best way to continue cooking the wings is to bake them. They are already crispy from the griddle, so you don't have to do much more. I toss them in a sweet glaze to balance out the spicy marinade, and you can let them sit in the glaze overnight before baking so that they become even more flavorful. If you want leftovers, I highly recommend making the recipe up to this point and then just throwing them in the oven to finish cooking. Whether you're eating them that day or later on, spread the wings onto a cookie tray and bake until cooked through; it should only take 15 minutes or so. The glaze will become sticky and keep the wings juicy, which makes them the perfect recipe for your Superbowl party or just a regular meal.

8 lbs Chicken Wings
2 Habaneros, Diced
1 ¼ Cups Soy Sauce
¼ Cup + 2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 T Chili Oil
¼ Cup Oyster Sauce
¼ Cup Sesame Oil
⅓ Cup Shao Xing or Dry Sherry
¼ Cup Hoisin Sauce
¾ Cup Chicken Broth
¼ Cup Chopped Garlic
⅓ lb Diced Ginger
2 tsp Minced Ginger
¼ Cup Honey

Combine the habaneros, 1 cup soy sauce, ¼ cup rice wine vinegar, chili oil, oyster sauce, 2 T sesame oil, shao xing, hoisin sauce, chicken broth, garlic, and diced ginger. Add the wings and let sit overnight.

Combine the remaining soy sauce, remaining sesame oil, honey, grated ginger, and remaining rice wine vinegar.

Sear the wings on a cast iron griddle or skillet until deep brown and cooked through. Toss in the glaze.

Heat oven to 350F and line cookie trays with foil. Spread the wings on the trays and bake until cooked through, 10-15 minutes.

Serves 8-10

January 13, 2014

Sweet Potato Chili

Eating healthy isn't that hard if you have healthy food to eat and you know that that healthy food tastes good. I'll be honest; I'd sometimes rather eat (unhealthy) food at a restaurant than take the time to cook something (slightly more healthy) at home. But every once in a while I'll find a recipe that is easy and healthy and delicious. This is one of those recipes.

Usually chili takes hours to make. Though most of that time is just simmering on the stove to develop all the flavors, it's still a pretty big time commitment. That's one of the reasons this recipe is so great: it will be ready to eat in under an hour and it tastes just fine. All you have to do is dice some vegetables, add some spices, and cook everything together for half an hour or so. It's savory and spicy, and it is full of all sorts of vegetables. If you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, it's even vegetarian/vegan! The chili is hearty enough that you won't miss the meat, but you can always stir in some ground turkey if you want some lean protein, though the sweet potatoes and beans are already filling. It's definitely going to help you stick with your resolution!

1 ½ lbs Sweet Potatoes, Peeled & Diced
1 Onion, Diced
1 Bell Pepper, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
½-1 Jalapeño, Minced
1 T Chili Powder
¼ tsp Oregano
¼ tsp Cayenne
2 14.5 oz Cans Diced Tomatoes with Chiles
2 15 oz Cans Black Beans, Drained & Rinsed
2 ½ Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth

Heat some oil in a large pot. Add the sweet potatoes, onion, and bell pepper and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne; cook until the garlic and jalapeños soften, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, black beans, and broth. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Adapted from Alida's Kitchen

January 7, 2014

Gingerbread Scones

I hope everyone has had a lovely 2014 so far and is keeping up with their new year's resolutions. Hopefully this recipe won't derail your efforts, but it is so delicious I simply had to share. These scones are the perfect winter treat, and they aren't too bad for you. It also helps to make them the size I recommend because they are small enough to not kill you or your resolutions but also big enough to satisfy you.

Now scones usually aren't good for you. They're basically mounds of lightly sweetened buttery dough drowned in a sweet, sticky glaze. These scones follow those basic rules of sconedom, but they aren't quite as awful as other recipes since they have (some) whole wheat flour! Yes, I know, that doesn't instantly transform them into the latest superfood. Nevertheless, it lets you eat one (or two) of them without feeling as if you have completely failed your goal to be healthier, eat fewer calories, etc.

You can also choose to skip the glaze if you want to reduce your sugar intake, though I do recommend making at least a few spoonfuls just to taste. This recipe isn't particularly sweet without the glaze, and the pop of orange or the sweetness of maple compliments it perfectly. You can try other flavors, too: anything that would taste good if you dunked a bite of gingerbread in it would work well here as well; maple and orange just happen to be my personal favorites.

If you have held tight to your resolutions so far, congratulations! I'll be sure to post a few more recipes to keep you on track. If not, don't worry; some sinfully delicious recipes are coming soon!

2 Cups Flour
¾ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
¼ Cup Sugar
¾ tsp Salt
1 T Baking Powder
¾ tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp Ginger
¼ tsp Cloves
1 Stick Butter, Chilled & Cubed
2 Eggs
¼ Cup Molasses
½ Cup Milk
Orange Glaze or Maple Glaze (See Below)

Combine the flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Cut in the butter. Combine the eggs, molasses, and milk, then stir into the dough.

Shape the dough into 3 rounds. Cut each round into quarters and freeze until firm.

Heat oven to 425°F and line cookie trays with parchment. Place the scones on the prepared trays and bake until golden, 12-14 minutes.

To glaze, combine 1 T orange juice or maple syrup with 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth, adding more orange juice/maple syrup or powdered sugar as necessary. Drizzle on the scones once cool.

Makes 12
Recipe Adapted from Sugar & Grace