Sunday, May 17, 2020

Coconut Lime Margaritas

This is the first official post!! “It’s been 84 years...” 

Name that movie? 

Titanic. C’mon. Oh God, are you too young you haven’t seen Titanic? Leo was a fox! 

I digress.

It’s been 5 years. And to be honest, at that point, the blog felt more like a chore and less like a hobby. So I stopped. It’s not to say I stopped cooking, but I stopped putting everyone on pause at the dinner table so I could snap some photos in the best light. So I took a breather.

But now: we’re in quarantine. And have been for two months. And slowly but surely, time emerged for old hobbies and old habits. So, The Messie Kitchen is back.

And if that doesn’t deserve a drink, I don’t know what does.

Coconut Lime Margaritas
3/4 Cup Coconut Tequila (I used 1800 brand)
1 (15 oz) can Cream of Coconut
1/2 cup Lime Juice
1 cup Ice
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut Flakes (optional)
Honey, for garnish
Lime, for garnish

1. If you're toasting the coconut, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Arrange coconut flakes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven until lightly toasted, 8-10 minutes. Remove each two minutes to stir and check that they are not burning. Remove immediately once toasted and put onto a paper towel to cool.
2. Add tequila, cream of coconut, lime juice, and ice to a blender. Blend until smooth.
3. If using toasted coconut, dip glass in honey and then dip into layer of shredded coconut.
4. Garnish with a lime and serve margaritas over ice. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cherry Cheesecake Crumb Bars

The holidays are totally meant for splurging. Splurging on plane tickets to visit friends and family. Splurging on gifts for your special someone. Splurging on Grandma's famous fill-in-the-blank and so on. In my family, we really go for it. We cook up a storm, drink tons of good wine, and indulge in sweets of all kind. We don't discriminate. Chocolatey. Minty. Creamy. Rich. You name it; we ate it. And it was glorious. So now, I'm trying to get back into the swing of my normal relatively healthy self. So in honor of the New Year, my favorite fruit recipe. 
You didn't think I was going to give you a healthy recipe, did you? You know better than that. I like this because you could swap out the cherry for almost any fruit: peach for the summer, apples for the fall, and so on. Essentially, if you have had it in a pie, you can swap it for the cherries in this recipe. I found it on Brown Eyed Baker - she is just a whiz! Anyway, make it, and then go eat some celery. Or run a mile. Or lay on the couch, whatever. I don't really care what you do. I'm not a trainer anymore. Happy New Year!!

Cherry Cheesecake Crumb Bars
For the Crumble:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg

For the Filling:
24 oz cream cheese, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 (21-ounce) cans cherry pie filling

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. 
2. Make the crumble (always tough for me). Make sure your butter is COLD! In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter if you are fancy to cut in the butter, and then the egg. This dough won't totally come together, it will be crumbly. Press half of dough firmly into the prepared pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool.
3. Make the cheesecake filling: In a separate large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Spread the cheesecake mixture into an even layer over the crust. Spoon the cherry pie filling in an even layer over the cheesecake mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crumble dough evenly over the cherry layer. 
4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Cool completely and serve. You can store these bad boys in your fridge until you are ready to serve as well.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

I am…how would you say, a bit of a rule follower. I don't like driving off the map. I don't like sneaking into somewhere I don't have a ticket. And I don't like to deviate from baking recipes. I really don't. And you know what? That's usually why I am a pretty good baker. And that's why I find comfort in baking. I know that with this amount of flour, this amount of butter and this amount of sugar is going to create something amazing. It's not up to chance with baking. It's a science, not an art.
Alas, when it's a cold Wednesday night and you've promised to bring dessert, and you get home late, and you forget your wallet at home, you improvise. I had no flour. I had no butter. I didn't even have milk. So, I did everything against my moral (read: baking) fiber, and I did my own thing. And I was so so happy about it. Peanut butter. Chocolate. Sugar. Perfect.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
1/2 cup peanut butter 
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups Bisquick Mix
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Vegetable Oil (in case)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In one large bowl, beat peanut butter and brown sugar with a mixer. It will not cream the same way butter does, but keep mixing until it's well combined. Add a drizzle of oil it it's stubborn.
2. Add in vanilla and eggs until well combined. Add Bisquick. Again, if necessary add a touch more oil. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. I used a 2 tbsp spoon to make perfectly rounded mounds. The dough at this point wasn't too sticky and was easy to work with. Bake 8-12 or until edges are golden and cooked through. Cool completely

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roasted Corn and Potato Chowder (Slow Cooker)

This morning, before the sun came up, before the roosters were out and before even Dunkin Donuts was open, the alarm went off and I dragged myself out of bed. I work for a race events company, and at 5 AM, I was standing on the edges of the woods on a dark street across from a cemetery unwrapping Chewy bars and fruit snacks. It was c-o-l-d. Not just chilly. It was bitter. I had at least 5 layers on, a fleece hat, boots and gloves, and despite all of that, my hands absolutely froze. It's 9:30 PM now, and my  fingertips are still sore. It was a sorry sight.
There aren't a ton of perks that come along with cold weather. People are crankier, snow ruins your commute, usually we all get fatter - full disclosure. It's just not a redeeming time of year. But soup, yes, soup. That is something I can get down on. A wise man once said that soup is the best food because it's the only thing that can encompass so many flavors in one bite (what does he know, anyway?), but I agree. And tonight, as I thaw, I ate the last little bit of this incredibly easy soup. It was a dump-and-go (new cooking style, calling it!). Literally I poured everything into the slow cooker, added some fattening agents and the very end, and voila! The beautiful thing about this was that I used frozen tatos, corn and even peppers and onions. That was one less prep step, and I can dig it. So, next time you know you're heading out for a long day in the cold, make sure this is awaiting you at home… you won't be disappointed!

Slow Cooker Corn and Potato Chowder
32 ounces frozen potatoes, chopped
1 (24-ounce) package roasted frozen corn
2 cups chopped peppers/onions
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
6-8 cups chicken stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Cooked bacon
Shredded cheese
Fresh chives, chopped

1. Place potatoes, corn and flour in a slow cooker and toss to combine. Stir in remaining ingredients up to salt and pepper. Feel free to add 3/4 of the broth here, just to make sure it's not too runny.
2. Let cook on low heat for 8 hours. Stir in butter and cream last. Top with bacon, cheese and chives, as desired.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

I am not a Boston native. Born and raised in Virginia, schooled in Pennsylvania, and up to Massachusetts after my Master's degree. I always loved Boston, so it my clear frontrunner upon graduation. 
First of all, it is fun. There are so many young people, and while it's pretty transient, I've already made some forever friends. Also, you aren't far from anything. You've got beautiful beaches on the cape, the white mountains just a few hours north, and you can easily get out of dodge. You have incredibly smart and driven people here. That makes for a super dynamic city culture. But all that said, three years into living here, and I can tell I take things for granted. What used to be a really fun part of the city to walk through just became a part of my commute. The incredibly passionate Boston sports fans became loud and sometimes obnoxious. The idea of snowy winters quickly lost it's vigor, and suddenly I longed for a change… wanting to make another big move, or perhaps return "home".
The problem was that I hadn't been in Boston, for what seemed like ages. The summer was spent on the cape, working on the weekends, or at another wedding. The fall has been jam packed with more travel, more races, more weddings, and the next thing I knew, I hadn't been in the city in m-o-n-t-h-s. Fortunately for my career, relationships, and overall stability, I spent this weekend here. And I remembered all of the wonderful things that I love about it. I went on a run near the finish line of the Boston marathon and remembered how special that was. I got brunch with some ladies I haven't seen since spring time, and by the way, it was fantastic. I grabbed cocktails with a group of friends that just makes me laugh so hard. I wandered the streets with my manfriend, watched a football game at a Penn State bar and got dinner at one of our favorite Irish bars. I fell back in love with the city in 48 hours. It felt -again- like home. 

Sometimes, all it takes is a good coffee date. Sometimes, it's the way the sun sets on the skyline. Sometimes, it's coming home to your cozy apartment or seeing a familiar face unexpectedly. For me, it's all of those things that make Boston home… so just to solidify that, I made chili.

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb ground chicken
2 (10.75 oz) cans low tomato soup
2 (15 oz) cans white kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1 can crushed canned tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch ground allspice salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add chicken to brown. Drain any liquid.
2.  Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray, and add in all ingredients. Use spices to taste (this amount just worked for me!).
3. Cover, and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Serve with sour cream, chips, etc.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls

Yesterday was a day that filled up my cup. You've heard that expression right? It's the premise that if you haven't taken care of yourself, your needs, and your wants, then you only have so much you can give, or empty, to others. It's far too often we (women, especially) are doing the things we think we should do, or feel guilted to do.

We tell our family we will be in charge or organizing something. We agree to an outing that we don't want to go to. We put others needs in front of our own. And it's time to stop doing that. Perhaps it is a coming of age thing, but every year that passes I get a little less inclined to really care what people think of me or the people I care about.  I try and say no to the things my heart isn't into, and I dive head first into the things I love. Yesterday was a rainy, snowy Boston day. I grabbed coffee and had a homemade breakfast with my boyfriend, had not one but two dates with a couple of my gal pals, and I made these little gems.

I cannot remember the last time I made cinnamon rolls. I can't remember I ate cinnamon rolls. I have vivid memories of those humungous food court Cinnabons, and these (thankfully) are nothing like that. They were a really perfect mix of the dense, doughy, airy and fluffy. They were sweet, but not over the top. A mess, yes, but perfect for a rainy day with a cup of coffee.  The next time you need to fill up (your cup that is), give these a try. You probably have most of the ingredients already, so why not spend a lazy morning making these for some of your favorite people? Or just keep them for yourself. Adapted from a  Paula Deen recipe… you know she makes good buns.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls
1/4 -ounce package yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for pan
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for pan
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon

4 tbsp butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
3 to 6 tbsps hot water

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
2. When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all over dough. Mix sugars and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.
3. Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
4. Meanwhile, mix butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and maple syrup. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency. Spread over slightly cooled rolls

Monday, October 13, 2014

Heath Bar Brownies

I do realize this is my second Heath Bar recipe in a row. And you know, I'm okay with that, and I come by it honestly. You see, apart from my dad, the rest of my family is full of fall babies. My sister and I are just 4 days apart, and mother dearest, a few weeks later. So I spend the early days of autumn birthday baking, and I will never complain about that. 
I know that people always tell you how amazing recipes are, especially bloggers, but this - this - is truly an incredible recipe, made for an incredible wife, mother and friend. If anyone deserves a big bad brownie, it's Sue Davis. And the worst part? She will eat the brownie, and perhaps a second, and still look like a string bean. (Caution, these are made with real butter. You will not lose weight eating these brownies. You will gain… happiness).  This recipe is adapted from Sugar Dish Me - homegirl knows her brownies, because these really delivered.

For the Brownies:
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (you can use all unsweetened, if you like – I ran out!)
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp instant espresso powder OR instant coffee granules
1-8 oz package Hershey's Heath English Toffee Bits

For the Ganache:
2 tbsp heavy cream
⅓ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir in chocolate. Stir until smooth and completely melted. Meanwhile in a large bowl (or standing mixer) beat the eggs and sugar until well mixed (it took a few minutes for me). Stir in the vanilla and espresso powder. Slowly add the chocolate to temper the eggs. Once fully incorporated, add in flour mixture, and fold in Heath Bar pieces.
3.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the center is mostly cooked. This recipe is tricky because the inside is still a bit gooey when finished. It’s more like a fudge.
4.  Once brownies are cool, cut into squares and set aside. Top with ganache once fully cooled, and add Heath Bar crumbles to the top, if desired.

5. To make the ganache, simmer the cream in a small saucepan. Remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it melts. Stir in the butter, and more cream if you need to thin it out. Drizzle on brownies and enjoy! Best if refrigerated.