29 September 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Even though it's only September 29, New England has had it's share of brisk fall days. Brisk fall days, always mean comfort food on the menu.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

adapted from (Pasta Lazio by John Barricelli from Martha Stewart)
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Boneless, skinless chicken fillets
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 8 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained, and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups of steamed brocolli
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat a medium size skillet and brush with 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper; place and place in the skillet.
  3. Cook, turning once, until cooked through.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
  5. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  6. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  7. Add garlic and cook until softened.
  8. Add tomatoes and cook until heated through.
  9. Add wine and bring to a boil.
  10. Add butter and swirl until melted and well combined.
  11. Remove chicken from grill, cut into strips and add to skillet.
  12. Drain pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  13. Pour chicken mixture and broccoli to pasta and toss to combine.
  14. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

21 September 2010

Happy 60th Birthday, Bill Murray!

Bill Murray turns 60 today. You should celebrate by making him a themed cake and eating it with your friends (and maybe even dressing up as your favorite character from a Bill Murray movie).

This is an example of a Kingpin themed cake. Bill Murray's bowling ball in the movie is amber-ish and has a rose inside. Available themes are limitless. Try doing an illustration of the inside of a body to represent Osmosis Jones, draw the Bee Keeper's Society logo from Rushmore, or perhaps just make a green confection to represent Slimer from Ghostbusters. Don't forget to mix up some ecto cooler cocktails to wash it down!

16 September 2010

From Lifehacker:

Budweiser, Balsamic Vinegar, and How Expectations Affect Our Views [Psychology]: "

Budweiser, Balsamic Vinegar, and How Expectations Affect Our Views

Would you willingly mix balsamic vinegar with your Budweiser? Actually, yes, you would, in certain conditions, explains Professor of Behavioral Economics Dan Ariely in his book Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.

Photo by seeks2dream.

The Muddy Charles is one of MIT's two pubs and the place of Ariely's experiment. Students that dropped by were offered two small free samples of beer, one labeled A and the other labeled B. Beer A was regular Budweiser whereas Beer B was a special mix called 'MIT Brew', two drops of balsamic vinegar for each once of beer. After tasting the samples, participants were offered a free large glass of the beer of their choice.

Most of the participants that knew nothing about the vinegar before tasting the beers chose Beer B, the vinegary beer. But those that were offered more information before the tasting (Beer A was a commercial brew, Beer B had a few drops of balsamic vinegar in it) would wrinkle their nose at the vinegary brew and request Beer A instead. They believed beforehand that Beer B was going to be bad and after tasting it, they actually found it bad.

Budweiser, Balsamic Vinegar, and How Expectations Affect Our Views

Now what happens if the presence of vinegar is revealed after tasting the samples instead of before? Can initial sensory perceptions be reshaped with new knowledge or is it too late to change the perceptions once they are established? Photo by jules:stonesoup.

It turned out that the participants to this new version of the experiment liked Beer B as much as those that knew nothing about the vinegar. Moveover, when asked whether they would like to make the 'MIT Brew' themselves, they were willing to add the right amount of vinegar to their beer. Like the first group, they tasted the vinegary brew blind without any pre-conceived expectations and they actually liked the taste of it so they didn't mind giving it another try.

What happens is that our brain is always refining and distorting sensory information in order to construct a simpler picture of the world. If our brain has tried to represent everything as accurately as possible, we would be completely paralysed by information. Moreover, it cannot start from scratch at every new situation. Instead, it must build on what it has seen before so we can interact with our environment more decisively and make better sense of our complicated surroundings.

So next time you make a decision, be realistic—it's 100 percent biased.

Catherine Granger is a software engineer living in northern California. She created the Manage Your Cellar online wine inventory tool for collectors, edits the Purple Liquid blog, and notes that she very rarely writes about beer.


15 September 2010

Neopolitan Cupcakes

If you know me, you know I love cupcakes. They are my favorite baked good to make. They are my favorite baked good to eat. Delicious.

Of all the cupcakes in the world, these are my favorite. The concept comes from my favorite cupcake blog, How to Eat a Cupcake. The cupcake recipe is a modified version of Magnolia's cupcakes. The frosting is all Martha Stewart. With their powers combined, this cupcake is out of this world!

Neapolitan Cupcakes

Vanilla Batter
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Batter
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tbsps cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  3. Start with the vanilla batter.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.
  8. Repeat steps 4 - 7 with the chocolate batter substituting the all-purpose flour for cocoa powder.
  9. With a batter scoop, spoon one scoop of each vanilla and chocolate batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  11. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Strawberry Frosting
  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined.
  4. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix until just blended.

08 September 2010

Porch Crawler Cocktail

Labor Day may have passed, but summer is not over until September 21, people!!!! When you are a working stiff (teachers not included), you get the luxury of working through the calendar year, so you are not affected by summer vacations.
Celebrate the last days of summer with a Porch Crawler, via The Bitten Word:

First, why are they called Porch Crawlers?

When you head home after the night is over, you have to crawl up your porch steps to get back in the house.

And what's in them?

Vodka, beer and lemonade concentrate. That's it.

Porch Crawlers for a crowd


* 1 handle of very cold Skyy Vodka
* 18-pack of light beer (Keystone Ice is recommended)
* 4 to 8 cans of lemonade concentrate

Into a large cooler, pour the vodka and beer. Add 4 cans of lemonade concentrate. Stir and taste. Continue adding lemonade concentrade until you're pleased with the taste. Serve over ice.

If you'd rather serve the drink straight, you can also pre-freeze water in freezer bags, and then drop those bags into the cooler to keep the drink cold.

Cheers to summer!

01 September 2010

Glazed Double-Cut Pork Chops

I found this recipe a few months ago. I was sitting in my mother-in-law's kitchen, randomly leafing through a Food Network Magazine, listening to family updates, when all of a sudden, wham! The recipe jumped out at me and said, "look at me, I'm awesome."

Turns out, it was right. The recipe is easy to follow, the pork chops were cooked perfectly, and the Bourbon BBQ sauce was sweet, tangy, and delicious.

Glazed Double-Cut Pork Chops

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 double-cut bone-in pork chops
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups ketchup
  • 3/4 cups apple juice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup prunes
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsps black pepper
  1. Mix 2 tablespoons salt, the black pepper, brown sugar and paprika in a bowl, then rub all over the chops. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the vinegar and brown sugar until dissolved. Add the ketchup, apple juice, syrup, bourbon, prunes, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender.
  3. Heat olive oil in a fry pan on medium heat. Place chops in the pan and cook until halfway through, about 15 minutes. Turn the chops and turn heat to low. Cover and cook, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and brush the chops on all sides with the prepared sauce, then cover and cook until glazed, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and brush with more sauce. Tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Serve with more sauce.


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