The V Life

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Spring Risotto

I looked in my fridge after work this evening and saw some leftover white wine and chicken stock. In the veggie drawer, asparagus and fennel. In the cheese drawer (yes I have a whole drawer for cheese), parm cheese. Hmm. Wheels turning I checked my pantry. Arborio rice? Check.

Fennel and Asparagus Spring RisottoA spring risotto it was, and oh my goodness was it delicious. Spring, Madison and I are ready for you!

I’m afraid I won’t ever be a good food blogger because I don’t always follow recipes and I don’t always record what I add to a recipe. I’m writing this down now so hopefully it’s still fresh in my mind:

Spring Risotto

  • bunch of asparagus
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • small white onion, chopped
  • one cup arborio rice
  • whatever white wine you have open (1/2 cup – 1 cup)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • one cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

This recipe makes about 4 servings.

  1. Chop off asparagus ends and discard. Chop the rest of the asparagus in 1/2 inch pieces. Slice fennel as well and add both veggies to a large pot (I used my Le Creuset) with some butter ( 2 tbl) and cook for 5-7 min. Set aside in a bowl and start the risotto.
  2. Add 2 tbl of butter to the same pot along with your chopped onion. Saute for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the risotto (and a little more butter if needed). Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the WHOLE time. You don’t want burned rice.
  4. Add the white wine. I had about 1/3 of a bottle of pinot grigio left, poured myself a glass and used the rest in the recipe. It was definitely closer to a cup, and gave the risotto an awesome flavor. Season with salt and pepper. Stir for 5 minutes while the wine simmers down.
  5. The rest of the recipe is up to you. Not what you wanted to hear right? :) Keep stirring and add chicken stock about 1/2 a cup at a time until you’ve used it all and then do the same with the water. It takes a good 60-90 minutes. Keep stirring.
  6. Did I mention you should keep stirring? I brought my laptop into the kitchen and got some work done in between stirs.
  7. Taste the risotto; it shouldn’t be chewy. When it’s the consistency you like (you might use more water – or less), stir in the cheese and then the veggies. Season again with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy.

 

I love how the veggies are still a tad crunchy – great contrast to the creamy risotto. Add any vegetables you like to this Spring Risotto, and leave a comment to tell me how it turned out!

 

Asparagus and Fennel Risotto

Asparagus and Fennel Risotto

Asparagus and Fennel Risotto

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie With Caramel: Why Not?

Boy have I been on a sweet kick recently. It might be the cold weather, which unfortunately seems to be sticking around through this Thursday. It also could be that I’m slightly hungover today, thanks to a wonderful night out with old friends. :)

But getting to the point, yes. I made Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie with Caramel. It didn’t need the caramel, but why not? I basically followed Pinch of Yum’s recipe, with a  few alterations. I used my favorite sundae-topper instead of melting down chewy caramels which makes me crave spring and summer days even more but definitely satisfied my sweet tooth. I also nixed the extra sea salt at the end… I’ve been trying to cook with less salt (easier than you think!) and now when I eat salty foods that’s all I taste.

Besides that, Pinch of Yum’s recipe is perfect and I love the idea of baking a giant cookie in my cast iron skillet. See the recipe below, and I hope my photos make you give in and make this perfect Sunday comfort food yourself. To the gym we go!

INGREDIENTS
  • 17 tablespoons butter (woof – I know)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Soften the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds or until partially melted.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until creamed. Add the vanilla and mix again until smooth. Add the eggs; beat slowly until incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt (sometimes it helps to add the flour in batches). Mix until a smooth dough forms. The dough should feel dry to the touch – if it sticks to your hands, add a few more tablespoons of flour. Stir in the chocolate chips. Melt the caramel sauce and heavy cream in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir well until melted and smooth.
  3. Press half of the dough mixture into a 9-inch or larger cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper. Pour the caramel over the dough and smooth with a spoon. Cover with another layer of cookie dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to rest for at least one hour* in order for the pieces to hold their shape when cut.

* if you can wait that long.

DEEP DISH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE WITH CARAMEL

DEEP DISH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE WITH CARAMEL

DEEP DISH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE WITH CARAMEL

DEEP DISH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE WITH CARAMEL - The V Life

Lucky Irish Coffee & Chocolate Stout Cake with Orange Mascarpone Frosting

Flourless Chocolate CakeI love St. Patrick’s Day (I’m Irish). And I love St. Joseph’s Day (I’m Italian). I love celebrating these “holidays” with food, and since I’ve been in DC, I haven’t found zeppoles. I know. Which means that I need to go all out for the Irish in me. All out.

Guinness Beef Stew with whipped potatoes, chocolate stout cake and Irish coffee. It was delicious. Thanks to my wonderful french oven, the stew couldn’t have been easier. I used this recipe, and added an extra cup of chicken stock and celery, no potatoes. Instead, serve the stew in a bowl over a heaping pile of steaming whipped potatoes. Next time I’m in the mood for stew, I’m without doubt using this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. Delicious.

I wasn’t planning on making dessert, but then I spent more time on Pinterest. I also randomly had mascarpone cheese in the back of my fridge. It was too perfect for St Patrick’s Day and I’m so glad I found this recipe by The Beeroness. It’s flourless, and comes out like a big brownie. Serve with Irish Coffee. Next time, I might use less frosting, but that’s just me. I prefer a lot of cake to a little frosting… sorry cupcake.

Devine Irish Coffee

  • One shot Bailey’s
  • One shot Kahula
  • One shot Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Brewed coffee or espresso

Pour the shots into your mug (you can use half a shot of whiskey if you’re not in the mood to get frisky) and fill the rest of the cup with coffee. Serve as is or with homemade whipped cream.

Irish coffee Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flourless Chocolate Stout Cake with Orange Mascarpone Frosting

For The Cake
    • ½ cup butter, chopped
    • 7 weight ounces 60% chocolate, chopped
    • 1/3 cup stout (I used Guinness)
    • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
    • 3 whole eggs plus 2 yolks
    • ¾ cup cocoa powder
    • 2 tbs cornstarch
For the Frosting
  • 3 tbs butter, softened
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange zest

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • In the top of a double boiler over a simmering water add the chocolate and the butter. Stir until the butter is almost melted, turn off heat and continue to stir until butter is melted. Remove the top of the double boiler off the heat and stir in the beer. Whisk in the sugar. Check to make sure the chocolate is room temperature or below, then whisk in the eggs and the yolks. Sprinkle the cocoa powder and the cornstarch over the chocolate, gently stir until combined.
  • Place a round of parchment paper inside a 10 inch spring form pan, rub the inside of the pan and the parchment paper with butter.
  • Pour the batter inside the prepared pan, smooth out into an even layer.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top looks dry and the top is slightly springy, don’t over bake of cake will be dry. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes. Transfer to a cake pan, refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours.
  • In a bowl, add the butter and the mascarpone, beat until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and zest, mix until well combined. Frost the cake with the frosting, chill until ready to serve.

Chocolate Stout Cake

I’m lucky to have such fine friends to celebrate with – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Super Bowl Appetizers

I searched long and hard on Pinterest for the best looking apps to make for all our friends for the Super Bowl. It’s a big decision, especially when the game is as awful as it was this year. Yikes! Below are recipes for the recipes I made, and my take on whether or not I’d make it again.

Super Bowl Spread

8 Layer Mediterranean Dip

  • 1 (8-ounce) container hummus
  • 1 cup firmly packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup plain lowfat or nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sliced pitted black olives, such as Kalamata
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Pita chips

Spread hummus evenly in the bottom of an 8-inch square dish. Scatter spinach over the top and press down lightly. Arrange peppers, then artichokes hearts over the top. Drop yogurt in dollops over the artichokes, then spread out to make an even layer. Sprinkle with olives, green onions and feta and serve with Stacey’s pita chips on the side.

Recipe is from Whole Foods Market. I would definitely make this again, it was so nice having something healthy on the table, amid all the cheese and carbs. I used black olives, arugula instead of spinach and Madison made me some garlic hummus which was delicious, and definitely better than using hummus from the grocery store.

Queso

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. fresh chorizo, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • 8 oz. mild yellow cheddar, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1/2 cup lager

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo (cut into bite size pieces) and cook, stirring, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes; set aside. Add onions to same pan and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes; remove.  Heat half-and-half and Velveeta in same pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Velveeta is melted, 6–8 minutes. Add cheddar; cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chipotle chiles, and the beer; add in chorizo and onion before serving.

I definitely wanted to serve queso, but couldn’t decide on a recipe, so I ended up combining these two recipes: Queso Fundido and Creamy Queso with Chorizo. It turned out delicious (is queso ever bad though?) and I’d definitely make it again, although maybe consider leaving out the chorizo as my vegetarian friends missed out on their cheese fix.

Buffalo Wings with Buttermilk – Blue Cheese Dip

Apparently, you can go wrong with wings. Maybe it’s because they’re messy. Maybe it’s because they were the last app to make it out from the kitchen. Whatever the reason, only one person ate the wings. Might try boneless or chicken tenders next year. I followed this recipe to bake the wings, and added Wegman’s buffalo sauce right before serving (which was tasty, I’d use it again). The best part of the buffalo chicken wings was the homemade Buttermilk -Blue Cheese Dip I made to go with the wings. Next year (I will for sure make this again if I reattempt wings, as it’s so easy to put together) I will make sure to serve the dip and the wings on the same platter. I don’t think it was clear that it was paired with the wings. Anyway, I pickled onions for this dip which was fun since I’ve never tried that before! Didn’t change a thing about the recipe, enjoy:

  • 5 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt plus more
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place onion in a small heatproof bowl. Bring vinegar, sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Pour over onion; stir to coat. Cover; let pickle in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, and chives in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in blue cheese. Drain pickled onion and stir into dip. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover dip and refrigerate.

We also put out Guacamole, Salsa and chocolate chip cookies. Way too much food, and I missed a Devine favorite – Mexican Dip. Doh! I say skip the salsa and guac (which is in the mexican dip), make the Mediterranean dip during a healthier gathering, go to town with cheesy dip, try the buffalo chicken tenders and maybe some chili or sausage peppers and onions. Boom.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Pulling this recipe out when I’m trying to impress. :) Melt in your mouth with whipped garlic potatoes.

Rd Wine Braised Short Ribs

Recipe is here, from Bon Appetit.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Moroccan Pot Roast

Moroccan Pot RoastLet me start off by saying this is a Devine favorite. When I asked my mom for the recipe last week via our family group chat on GroupMe, I was planning ahead to make the recipe in a few days. In that time-span, my parents made the stew (a Paleo version) and my sister Rachel in Atlanta also made it. It’s that good.

I have not been able to make this recipe up until now, and a big thanks to Mom and Dad who gave me a beautiful deep purple Le Creuset for Christmas. It was love at first sight, and Madison is in love as well now that I’ve made him this stew and some red wine braised short ribs. Mmm hmm.

Since I work from home, it’s really easy for me to pop my french oven in at 350° for 3 hours and slow cook meals until we’re ready to eat at the end of the day. The only problem is I’m hungry all day since I can smell the aromas filling my apartment.

I will always remember my first time cooking with my Le Creuset. It was a rare snow day in DC. I enjoyed a yummy Onion Soup for dejuener with Miss Emily, trekking out in the storm to Bistro du Coin, our favorite. After coming home, I turned on the oven and left the roast to do its magic.

Bistro du Coin

Before sitting down to dinner we decided to attend the DC Snowball Fight in Dupont Circle. It was… epic. Every man for himself. I got hit countless times, and also succeeded in hitting some “sitting ducks” by the fountain.

20140121_191600

By the time we came home we were rosy cheeked and hungry. The stew was amazing. Modest, I am not, when it comes to fine cooking. I will let you know when I could have made a dish with a little more skill or oomph. Not this one. This dish is perfect. Note that I only used one 2 lb chuck roast, but did not change the quantity of any other ingredient. It was nice having a lot of extra sauce and vegetables for leftovers. I hope you all enjoy!

Moroccan Pot Roast
Makes 10-12 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: > 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • (2) 2 lb chuck roasts
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tbl ground paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • (1) 32 oz low sodium beef broth
  • (2) 15 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh mint

Preheat oven to 325º. Heat olive oil in roasting pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle each roast with sea salt and pepper. Sear roast in pan, about 4 minutes each side. Remove from pan and place on a platter.

Add onions, carrots and garlic to pan and cook, stirring constantly about 3 minutes. Combine paprika, cumin and cinnamon in a small bowl; add to vegetables, and cook stirring constantly for about two more minutes.  Add broth and return roast to roasting pan, cover and bake 3-3 1/2 hours or until fork-tender. Remove beef from pot and place on a platter; tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add chickpeas to liquid and place over medium heat stirring occasionally until chickpeas are warm. Stir in remaining ingredients and add beef back into pot to serve.

Step 1: Searing the roast

Moroccan Stew prep

Moroccan Stew

Snow Day in DC

Crepes make any day TRÈS BIEN

On days that I am missing Paris, I turn to French food. My normal craving is onion soup, which I’ve made myself, but prefer to head over to Bistro du Coin a few blocks away.  For MLK Day brunch, I decided to switch it up and make some savory and sweet crepes. It felt SO good buying Nutella again.

Crepe Ingredients

I found this recipe online, and it was simple enough where I would use it again, but maybe add a little Vanilla extract.

Basic Crepes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar

Combine flour, sugar and salt, Set aside. Beat eggs slightly and add milk, water, melted butter . Slowly add flour mixture to the beaten egg mixture. Pulse everything together in a blender for  10 to 20 seconds. Cover with a plastic wrap and  let stand for  30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Heat a lightly oiled non stick frying pan over medium high heat. Scoop the batter onto the pan. Rotate the pan to spread the batter evenly (Batter will be thin so it will spread by its own). Cook on both sides until the crepe bubbles and the bottom is lightly browned. Serve with your favorite filling. (Mine is NUTELLA)

Making crepes took about an hour – I made the batter first, and let it sit for 30 minutes while I prepped the fillings. Urbie sat by the kitchen and watched me cook throughout the entire process.

Urbie

Le Chat Noir

Since we wanted to be semi-healthy, we made two versions – one with Nutella and strawberries and one with eggs scrambled with spinach, mushrooms, and Boursin cheese. Also, the recipe above did not specify how many crepes the batter yields – I made 10 crepes, and it did take me a few tries to get the technique down.  Don’t worry we ate ALL the “mess-ups.” I found that using a 1/3 measuring cup to pour the batter into the crepe pan worked better than the 1/4 cup that I started off using.

Prep Work

Nutella Crepe Ingredients

 

Savory Crepe Ingredients

Take 1, 2, 3 and yum.

Mastering Crepe Technique

 

Stack of Crepes… ready to eat!
Stack of Crepes

 

Crepes!

Crepes with Spinach and Mushrooms

 

Nutella and Strawberry Crepes

 

Crepes Nutella

 

Bon Appétit!

Borough Adventures

View of ManhattanThis past NYC trip we hit up Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. We started the trip off on a great note with beer, burgers and a Pats win. We hung out at Bill’s Burger Bar downtown for most of Saturday since it was pouring out, and then Kristin and Amanda met us for dinner. Loved my burger, nachos were okay, and wings were good, but ask for less sauce. All in all, they have a great beer menu and a lot of space for accommodating large groups which was convenient considering we combined about 4 different friend groups for dinner.

PATS GAME

When I wasn’t exploring Astoria or Brooklyn Heights, I was working from the hotel – a familiar spot as Madison was posted up at the downtown Marriott for a good month when at LivingSocial. We had dinner plans every night with friends, and it was so nice just relaxing and hanging out at Sarah and Pete’s for some good homemade Italian. Seriously – everything was homemade – the Gatti’s have a pasta maker which we were really excited to try out.  We decided on whole wheat bucatini while snacking on some delicious charcuterie and a spicy Chianti.

20140114_184020 (1)Sarah’s adorable Village apartment takes advantage of vertical storage space, and she whips that stool around, to reach the cooking supplies she can’t grab on her tip toes. So cute.

Charcuterie

The pasta was really easy to make, but while we waited, we snacked on tomatoes and burrata, with charcuterie from Murray’s and Faicco’s – a new favorite.

Pasta Dough

The dough, rising. Not very… appetizing looking. Keep scrolling. :)

Pasta dough

To make the pasta, you break it up into little chunks to feed it into the machine.

Pasta Maker

 

The KitchenAid extension snaps right on, and the pasta comes out continuously. When it’s the right length, you swing the slicer over and boom. Pasta!

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The fresh pasta cooks in about 5 minutes, which felt like forever as we were smelling the homemade sauce simmering next to our pasta nests.

Homemade Pasta

 

So delicious – thanks to Sarah and Pete! I think I know what purchase will follow our KitchenAid mixer. :)

Brooklyn

Great to be in NY and see so many friends! I’m sure we’ll be back soon…

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