Meatballs and Dogs!

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I promise there are no dogs in these meatballs! That would be absolutely terrible I hope everyone’s having a wonderful fall! I can’t believe it’s already October. The reason why I mentioned dogs in the title is because I’m officially a volunteer at Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue and I’ve already volunteered at 2 adoption events. Last saturday, we sold meatballs during the event and it made me want meatballs so much I just made them at home. The dogs at Badass Brooklyn are adorable and I’m currently doing an anthropological study on how these badass dogs mediate between human relationships (aka how they help build a community) and so far I’ve gotten great field notes!

Here's Patrick, Pierce and me. Pierce was adopted by a family two weeks ago and we couldn't be happier :)

Here’s Patrick, Pierce and me. Pierce was adopted by a family two weeks ago and we couldn’t be happier 🙂

But honestly, enough of the dogs and let’s make meatballs!

Ingredients:

-1 lb beef (preferably 80% lean, 20% fat, you can also use pork)
-1 tsp oregano
-1 tsp paprika
-1 tbsp garlic salt and pepper, plus some to season the onions
-mozzarella cheese (we used slices, but it’s better to use shredded)
-1 jar tomato sauce
-1 onion
 
You can definitely add more spices and make your own tomato sauce if you want, we were just so hungry we wanted to make them as soon as possible 

Directions:

  1. Mix the beef and the spices together until thoroughly incorporated. Roll the beef into balls so they fit comfortably in the palm of your cupped hands. DSC_8230 Set aside
  2. Cut the onions into wedges and quickly sauté them in a large pot until they’re translucent. Take them out of the pot and set aside.
  3. Cook the meatballs until they’re browned on all sides in the pot. This should take about 1 to 2 minutes on each side (surface?). DSC_8246
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  5. Prep a baking dish by spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Pour half the jar of tomato sauce into the dish. Add in the onions and the place the meatballs on top. DSC_8269Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top of the meatballs and top with shredded mozzarella.DSC_8279
  6. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the center of the meatballs are no longer pink. To keep them from drying out, I suggest adding another baking dish full of water or to cover the baking dish.

If you want, toast some rolls and pile the meatballs on top for a meatball sub or make some pasta for spaghetti and meatballs! Store leftovers in a airtight container. I can’t say how long they’ll last because we ate them all the next day. Enjoy!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

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I think everyone needs to have this in their repertoire. Anyone who loves chocolate and has a microwave. But most importantly, all college students. It’s fast, it’s easy and it doesn’t even require an oven. Like it says in the title, it takes only 5 minutes and it can be easily customizable to your own tastes. This recipe comes in really handy during midterms or finals week (during which I add instant espresso powder) or if you just need a break and a sugar-y, sweet pick-me-up. To make this vegan-friendly, simply replace the egg with half a mashed banana and the milk for soy or almond milk. If chocolate’s not your favorite flavor, than just take out the cocoa powder. So grab a mug or two, the ingredients and head on over to the microwave!

Ingredients:

4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
 

Directions:

1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl

2. Add in the wet ingredients, mix to combine. Make sure there are no lumps of flour.

3. If you’re using chocolate chips, fold them into the batter

4. Pour into a large mug or two medium sized mugs

5. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes. The center should still look a little wet, otherwise you’ll overcook it and it’ll be rubbery.

Additionally, you can pour some batter into the mug, add a dollop of Nutella and pour in the rest of the batter to make a lava cake-like mug cake and dust with powdered sugar or berries or marshmallows to give it a little extra oomph! I like to make some whipped cream (maybe spike it with some honey liquor or rum) and take the cake out of the mug and make a mini layer cake.

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Chocolate Layer Cake

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Again, apologies for terrible photos. I really really need to save up for a DSLR camera…

So it was my mom’s birthday on thursday and because she was in NYC, I decided to bake her a cake. Now she’s a total chocoholic like me, so I decided it was best to try my hand at a chocolate layer cake. Frosting’s not her thing, it’s too sweet for her, so instead of sandwiching the layers with frosting, I whipped some chocolate ganache into frosting and used that instead. I got the recipe for the cake at Ming makes Cupcakes, and tweaked it from there. After I frosted the whole cake, I covered the sides of the cake with some cake crumbs (courtesy of cake leveling) and then garnished with raspberries (my mom likes raspberries too). It came out delicious and it fed all 13 people at the dinner. We went to Wolfgang’s steakhouse for dinner and let me tell you, it has, hands down, the best steak I have ever eaten in NYC. A bit pricey, but definitely worth it!

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But you’re here to see my cake recipe, so let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-2 cups flour
-1 cup unsweeted cocoa powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup butter
-1 1/4 cups sugar (I reduced the sugar and used 1 cup granulated and 1/4 cup brown sugar. The brown sugar keeps the cake more moist and I’m not too huge a fan of overly sweet cakes so…)
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cup milk
-2 eggs
 
Frosting:
-1 cup heavy cream
-1 bag of chocolate chips 
Optional:
-Raspberries

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to about 300 degrees (If you have a cake leveler and don’t mind leveling it, bake it at 350, I just found out that if you bake a cake at a lower temperature and for longer, the cake comes out without a domed top)
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined. Add in the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.
  3. Add in the milk and the dry ingredients alternately and in small batches. I find that it works to add in about 1/3 cup of the dry mixture, mix it a little and then pour in some milk and then mix until well combined and then repeat until it’s all incorporated.
  4. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper (I had one so I just reused the cake pan). Pour in half the batter into each of the cake pans and gently tap it on the counter or table to get rid of bubbles and to evenly distribute the batter.
  5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean (you can also use a tooth pick). If you’re baking at 350 degrees, bake for about 40 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, make the ganache frosting.
  7. Heat the heavy cream until it starts to boil and pour the chocolate chips into a glass mixing bowl (or any other heatproof mixing bowl).
  8. Pour the hot cream into the bowl over the chocolate and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Gently stir the chocolate with a whisk until the heavy cream and the chocolate are well combines and let cool.
  9. Once the cakes are done baking, gently flip them out of the cake pan and set on a wire cooling rack to cool. I also found out that it’s easier to cut into if you place them in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes. They firm up and they aren’t so crumbly.
  10. Once the cakes and ganache are cooled, whip the ganache into a frosting (I suggest using a electric mixer). Dab a mixture of vanilla and water all over the cake layers so that they don’t dry out.
  11. Use some of the chocolate ganache frosting to sandwich the layers together and after adding a crumb coat to the sides and top, add the final layer of frosting and garnish the cake as you wish. I garnished mine with raspberries and leftover cake crumbs

It takes a bit of time, but this cake is definitely worth it. My mom loved it and my roomie requested that I make this for her birthday (which is in december). It’s pretty chocolate-y as all cakes go, but if you love chocolate than I think this cake is perfect for you!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Cronuts: What’s all the fuss about?

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If any of you find yourselves walking down Thompson street early in the morning (say about 6 am on weekdays or 7 am on weekends), you’ll be baffled to see a long line snaking around the corner of Vesuvio park and onto spring street. Believe it or not, these people are waiting to get into Dominique Ansel Bakery, which will open at 8 am on weekdays and 9 am on weekends. So why are are these people waiting in line to get into a bakery you ask? Simple. They’re just waiting in line for Cronuts. The Cronut, for those of you who don’t know, is a pastry hybrid of half croissant and half doughnut, by Chef Dominique Ansel. Each month, there is a new and different Cronut flavor and this month’s cronut was Fig Mascarpone. There is only one flavor of cronut and unless you preorder your cronuts (there’s a 2 week waitlist!?) or e-mail the shop for a large order you can only buy 2 per person. Each Cronut is $5 and they only make a few batches per day, numbers vary because each Cronut is handmade and there are baking casualties.

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This morning, I finally decided that it was time to see what the fuss was all about when it came to the Cronut, and why people were waiting 2.5 hours in line for one. It also helped that my friend from home, Cat, was visiting and she wanted to try a Cronut. So we woke up, albeit a little groggily, at 6 AM, grabbed the 6 train down to spring street and wandered over to the bakery where a a large line of at least 50 people were already waiting. By this time it was only about 7:15 AM. Luckily, Cat and I came prepared with books that we bought at Strand. I had Cooking for Mr. Latte and I started reading and finished it before I even got into the store.

Finally got my Cronut!

Finally got my Cronut!

We finally got to order at around 10:30 AM, making our quest for Cronuts a total of at least 3 hours long. And to tell you the truth, while I’m very glad that I got to try it, it wasn’t really worth the 3+ hour wait. I think though, this is because I’m not a huge fan of figs…The fig jam was altogether too sweet for my taste, but he mascarpone cream filling was divine. It really toned down the sweetness of the Cronut and balanced really well with the fig jam, but the ratio of mascarpone cream to fig jam was a little off and there was more jam than I’d like. My Cronut did fall apart, the bottom half fell off in my hand (the layers just fell off). However it was still just as delicious. In other words, it got pretty messy.

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However Dominique Ansel Bakery isn’t just a Cronut bakery, they have other lovely tasting things. I didn’t get to try to frozen s’mores or the DKA, but I assume I don’t have to wait in line for that. In that case, I’ll let you know once I check it out. I personally enjoyed the Magic Soufflé better. This was a beautiful concoction of orange blossom brioche (wonderfully fluffy and light due to the fact that it was made to order) and in the center is a mousse-like chocolate center. Now I may be biased because it does have chocolate, but this one was fluffy, light and perfectly sweet. I honestly think it was much better than the Cronut.

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Overall I’m a little disappointed with the Cronut, but maybe it was just the flavor of the month that threw me off. I think I would have been satisfied with a plain Cronut, just the sugar coating and the glaze on top or maybe the chocolate one. The Cronut was scrumptious and I’d definitely try them again, I just don’t think it’s worth waiting hours in line for. If you get a chance to try to Cronut (pre-order/large order/the popularity of the Cronut lulling) without having to wait in line for 2+ hours, than by all means, I think you should definitely try it. I’d love to see what kind of flavors Dominique Ansel will come up with next, you just won’t find me in line at 6 AM for the Cronuts though.

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Ps sorry the photos aren’t too great, I had to use my phone again. Pat was at home sleeping 🙂

Nutella Crepes

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Happy Tuesday! Today is the first day of my senior year. In other words, it’s my last first day of school. Wow. Where did the time go? I swear I was a freshman just last May. It’s kind of bittersweet for me. I love school (in a sense) and I love the vacations. I was a little mopey because yesterday was technically my “last” day of summer vacation and it’s still hard to comprehend that I will never have summer vacation again. Well at least not to the extent of college/school summers. Oh 3 month vacation breaks I will miss you so much. But wait, I’m totally off track. So to sweeten up my sadness, I made crepes. Nutella crepes and boy were they yummy!

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-1 cup AP flour (we used self-rising, in that case, increase the amount of milk by 2 or 3 tbsp)
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup water
-3/4 cup milk
-3 tbsp melted butter
-2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
-1 tbsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients (make sure the butter is cool) and stir until there are no more lumps. Now you can let the batter rest for an hour so that the bubbles are gone, but I personally don’t find anything wrong with using the batter right away.
  2. Heat a non stick pan and coat with butter (if you have a really good non-stick pan, you won’t need the butter). Pour in enough batter to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. I usually pour until the circle of batter almost covers the pan and then swirl the batter around. Cook for a minute or until the edges are a nice golden brown. Use a rubber spatula to check the browning of the crepe and then flip. Cook for another 30 seconds or until the other side has browned as well. Note when I say brown I don’t mean the entire crepe, the browning should occur in a spider-y lines.
  3. Lay them out on a plate or cutting board and top with your favorite toppings. I would go with nutella and bananas or butter and sugar. Fold the sides into the center and dust with powdered sugar.

Any leftover crepes should be carefully stacked in resealable plastic bags (think ziploc) and placed in the freezer. To reheat, let them thaw in a stack a bit before attempting to peel them apart. If you want, you can also make a cake out of them by making a custard and sandwiching thin layers of it between the crepes (I’ll have to make a post about that soon!) And that’s it! A guaranteed awesome breakfast! Don’t forget to add fruits if you want. For savory crepes remove the sugar, add salt and pepper and other spices to taste!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Shrimp Boil

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So a few weeks ago, Patrick, Jon (a friend of ours) and I were out for drinks and we decided that we were a little hungry. Jon is a fellow foodie friend and he suggested that we go to The Boil for shrimp boil (he decided that this was our next destination after he heard that I’d never had a shrimp boil). So we walked to The Boil and had the most amazing shrimp I had ever tasted. For those of you who don’t know, a shrimp boil is the messiest, tastiest, and the funnest way to eat shrimp or any kind of seafood. They boil the shrimp with a mixture of seasonings, mix it with a buttery-garlicky, heavenly sauce and then toss it into a plastic bag with some corn and potatoes. Meanwhile, you are given a bib and maybe some gloves (I recommend the globes if you have any cuts on your hands) and then you dig in. Anyway, so today we tried making our own and it was, in my opinion, a huge success. I just wish we had some veggies (aka corn and potatoes) to go with it.

So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-2 lb shrimp, shelled and preferably with the head
-1 lemon
Seasoning (you can use old bay seasoning if you have it):
-2 1/2 tsp paprika
-1/4 tsp allspice
-2 tsp garlic salt
-1 tsp lemon pepper
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-1 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp cayenne pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp because I’m not too huge a fan of the spicy)
-1 1/4 tsp dried thyme
-1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
-2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I did about 1/4)
Butter Sauce:
-1 stick of butter
-8-9 cloves of garlic
-The seasonings from above (so you should have two bowls of seasoning)
Optional:
-small potatoes or a few potatoes that have been quartered
-corn, snapped into smaller pieces

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain the shrimp. Bring a big pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, mix together the seasonings in two different bowls. Dice the garlic cloves and set aside. Cut the lemon into quarters and set aside.
  2. In a smaller pot, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in the seasonings and let the butter simmer.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add in seasonings, lemon wedges and vegetables. Cook the vegetables until they’re fork tender and set aside. Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes and drain. Combine the vegetables and the shrimp in a large mixing bowl, add in the butter sauce and mix.

I suggest, if you have one, pour the shrimp and vegetables in the large plastic bag. This way the butter-garlic sauce is better spread over the shrimp and vegetables. The seasonings can be changed in accordance to your taste! I’ll definitely be making shrimp boil again and I think it’s definitely worth it! It literally takes less than 30 minutes!

Hugs and puppies!
Mimi