Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crazy Lazy Greek Salad

Google "I hate red onions" to
see this and more!
I've written about Greek Salad before, and my love for it has not wavered.  Unfortunately, my tolerance for onions - particularly red onions - has waned.  I made a big batch of Greek Salad about a month ago and picked out all the onions.  What a waste.

The recipe above is not difficult, but I was feeling particularly lazy and not at all in the mood for onions.  So here's what I did.
  1. Chopped up a tomato. I like the kind that is sold attached to the vine.
  2. Chopped up part of a cucumber.
  3. Chopped up a clove of garlic.
  4. Threw the above into a bowl.
  5. Splashed with Italian dressing, just enough to coat. 
  6. Sprinkled feta. Currently loving Athenos Garlic & Herb.
  7. Added a few pitted kalamata olives.
  8. Profit!
  • I like this make-as-you-go approach way better than making a big batch of salad at once and keeping for several days. Chopped tomatoes that have been sitting in dressing for over a day get mushy and gross.  
  • The garlic was a good onion substitute. It provided bite without, well, being an onion.  
  • The smallest garlic clove is more than enough. Anything larger and I could singlehandedly protect the Capital District from vampires.
  • Next time, I may go wild and buy a bottle of Greek dressing, but I already had Italian in the fridge and thought it tasted just fine. Plain old olive oil would probably work too.
You may be thinking, "This girl is a hack. This isn't even a recipe! It's more like 'throw random shit in a bowl and it will magically become delicious salad.'" To you I say, as long as Food Network considers Rachael Ray's Late Night Bacon a recipe, I will consider myself a salad visionary - AKA, suck it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Very Reluctant Thanksgiving, Part 3: Dessert

The best part of Thanksgiving, other than stuffing, is dessert. I went a little crazy and made four desserts for three people. What can I say? Some people have a sweet tooth, I have a sweet mouth. Sorry, I can't think of any way to make that sound less dirty.

Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

Starbucks was kind enough to inspire this dish, thanks to their (sadly) seasonal salted caramel mocha lattes.

I scoured the interwebs for a proper recipe, settling on one from the Cooking Channel. However, upon reading it more closely, I got scared. Laziness and fear of failure got the best of me, so I made some changes.
  1. I had never heard of a mandoline and didn't want to buy one. I gave up on the idea of thinly sliced apples and bought a corer instead.
  2. Making caramel sounds stressful, with high risk of burning. I bought premade caramel sauce in the produce section. Near the apples. Coincidence?
  3. I didn't pour the caramel sauce on the pie filling for fear of burning while it baked.
  4. I don't make pie crust. That's what Pillsbury (or store brand) is for.
Basically, I made a regular old apple pie and poured caramel sauce on top. Tomato, tomahto.

If you're going the premade crust route, spend the extra 50 cents and buy Pillsbury. If you look hard enough, you can find online coupons to offset the difference. The store brand crusts were dry and a real bitch to unroll.  It made my pie ugly.

Look how ugly I am!

I nuked the caramel sauce in the microwave in 30 second intervals, adding a little sea salt in between until it tasted good, then poured over the pie. I'm not an ice cream-on-pie girl, but I bought vanilla for my dad and brother.

The pie is long gone, but I have a ton of caramel sauce left. What should I do with it? Does caramel go bad?

Chocolate Truffle Pie

Thanksgivings past traditionally included chocolate cream pie, which I love, but I wanted to try something new. This recipe was incredibly easy, and so rich and delicious. I just finished the last piece yesterday.

The only hiccup was beating the heavy cream into whipped cream. I had never done it before, so I'd set the mixer to a low speed for fear of "overbeating."  Is that even possible? After the longest 10 minutes of my life, I cranked that shit up to 11 and got my whipped cream.

After combining the melted chocolate with the whipped cream.

The finished product.  You'd better believe I licked the bowl.
And the beaters.
And the spoon.

Pumpkin-Caramel Cannolis

I have a love-hate relationship with pumpkin. I love pumpkin bread and pumpkin seeds. But I hate, and I mean hate, pumpkin pie. When I tell people this, they think I'm crazy. I try it every year, thinking... no, hoping... it will be the year. No dice.  

But what is Thanksgiving without pumpkin? Betty Crocker offers a nice compromise. My local supermarket is fantastic, but it was like pulling teeth to get the premade shells. They sell prepackaged cannoli cream in handy pastry bags, but no handy packages of shells. When I asked for the shells at the bakery, they looked at me like I had three heads. Then, they wanted to charge me per shell what they would charge for a whole cannoli. That's like $2 a shell, for 12 cannolis. No way was I paying that! Such an ordeal.

Anyway, cannolis. The cream was super easy to make and super easy to pipe into the shells, thanks to Mr. Ziplock Bag. Garnish with mini chocolate chips, toffee bits, or chopped pecans, and voila. So good. Pumpkiny without being too pumpkiny. I have tons of ingredients leftover, so I'll be making them again for an upcoming Christmas party. Hopefully it'll be easier to get the shells next time.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Follow the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chips bag. Crazy, I know.

The best part?

I took care of most of the dessert prep the day before Thanksgiving! The only things I had to do the day of were fill the cannolis and warm up the apple pie/caramel sauce.

To the future!

As I will certainly be making these recipes again, I am going to try and make them a little healthier next time. I have a cute magnet from Chobani which lists ways to substitute plain Greek yogurt for butter, heavy cream, and other stuff. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to cut down on calories. Post your favorite low-cal tricks in the comments!