Brunch So Hard

A year has past since Team Vicious and Delicious suffered a surprising upset and to say the brunch stakes were raised would be an understatement.  With a new judging scheme and hosting at our house, the stage was set for a second helping… of redemption.  This year we invited friends and neighbors to be impartial judges (and to eat all of the extra food).  And while we were at it, we opted to rebrand to Team I’m So Tired, because who’s sleeping these days anyway?

Team I'm So Tired

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Under Pressure: Hot Sauce

I got a shiny new pressure cooker for my birthday and wanted to take it for a spin with something new and different.  Google piqued my interest with a red hot looking hot sauce recipe.

As the first order of business I raided the produce section for ALL THE PEPPERS!  More accurately I bagged ½ pound of fresno peppers and another ¼ pound of serranos.  Those serranos are small, so a quarter pound is a lot.  I picked out all red peppers to make sure the sauce didn’t come out a weird red-green brown color.

peppers for days

Apple cider vinegar acts as the backbone and a little fancy smoked sea salt rounds out the simple ingredient list.  All that’s left is to (carefully) slice up all the peppers and toss everything into the pressure cooker.

In the cooker

Turn up the heat and lock on the lid to let the pressure work its magic.  It took about 10 minutes to get up to temperature and then you only need to wait another minute before removing from heat and allowing it to cool down for about 10 minutes to naturally release the pressure.  Once it’s safe to open, a quick buzz with the immersion blender is all it takes to achieve spicy nirvana.

funnel hot sauce

And now we have fresh, 3-ingredient hot sauce!  It’s actually impressively delicious and considering how easy it is, makes a strong case for not buying hot sauce again.  Next up will be playing with other flavor additions and colors.

hot sauce


What Does The Buffalo Say?

I’m a sucker for sales at the grocery store, and even moreso when it’s at the meat counter.  Remember that time I got a bunch of Prime NY Strips just to save a few bucks?  Well it happened again, but this time with Buffalo!  So I picked up a few Buffalo NY Strips from Whole Foods and got excited about the sous vide prospects.

Taking a page out of the Food Lab’s playbook I laid out the steaks the night before and salted them heavily before placing them in the fridge to chill overnight.  The next morning they were noticeably darker and most delicious looking.

Just after lunch the bagged steaks made their way to the waiting water bath, set at 132.8°F (converted from 56°C) and left there for 4.5 hours.  During that time they were getting all tasty and tender and gray.  So to combat that grayness I turned to the trusty cast iron skillet, cranked up to “Screaming Hot” and coated with a bit of oil.  The trick here is to get the gray steaks as dry as possible before putting the fsear of god in them.  A minute per side is all it takes to finish these off.

I eagerly sliced into mine to see what it might look like, but truth be told, there was no doubt.  Perfectly medium-rare, end-to-end.

The difference we noticed with the Buffalo is it’s quite a bit leaner than Beef, so the steak was a little less juicy than a “normal” steak, but no less tender.  As for next time, I’d do it exactly the same way.  Maybe served with a compound butter on top to make up for the missing fat in the meat.

Pasteis de Nata

I’ve been on a bit of a kick cooking challenging and/or time-consuming recipes that typically have much simpler alternatives.  I made burgers from scratch, Bolognese sauce for hours, countless tortillas, dozens of pancakes, and now beautiful egg custards.  Ev and I first tasted these “Pasteis de Nata” 8 years ago on our first vacation abroad together to Portugal and Spain.  Just outside of Lisbon, Portugal, the town of Belém stakes its claim as the creator of these little treats, which is why they can also go by the name Pasteis de Belém.  That’s where we had them and we haven’t been able to find anything like them since.  Enter: the kitchen.

And serve for a beautiful breakfast the next morning.

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Water and Fire

Our grocery store ran a special on USDA Prime New York Strip steaks.  Never one to miss out on a deal, I bought four.  And for no other reason than “why not?” I picked up a grass-fed New York Strip to compare.  With five steaks and some new toys to play with, we invited some friends over for dinner and got cooking.  But seriously, just look at these steaks!


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Happy Anniversary To Us!

In the blink of an eye, Ev and I have been married 4 years, and I can honestly say each day is better than the last.  And while the past 6 months have certainly been a little different with Wes’ arrival, they are still each getting better and better, perhaps even more so.  But that means we’ve had to change up how we celebrate special occasions, just like for our recent birthdays.  So for our 4th anniversary we decided rather than going out to a fancy, expensive dinner, we’d make a fancy, expensive dinner.

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Bake Attack!

I got into a baking kick recently, which is to say I acted on a series of sugar-filled impulses and ended up with a lot of warm, delicious goodies.  Lucky for coworkers, there is a limit to the amount of homemade baked goods one household can consume.

Whoopie Pies

First up, after my delightful reintroduction to whoopie pies, as well as owning a cookbook devoted entirely to whoopie pies AND a whoopie pie pan, I felt it was my duty to try my own.  The endless possible flavor combinations made it overwhelming at first until I realized there was really only one option: chocolate and peanut butter.

These whoopie pies were fantastic!  The chocolate cakes epitomized everything you’d want in a chocolate cake.  The peanut butter filling is mindblowing.  Combined, damn.  I can’t wait to make other flavors.  With that said, I probably won’t use the whoopie pie pan again.  The cakes came out with a weird, football shape that I ended up having to cut off.  But just look at how cute and delicious this is!

whoopie pies complete

Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a strange completely normal urge to make chocolate chip cookies, I pulled up the definitive chocolate chip recipe from Serious Eats, including the 5,300+ word picture-full experiment/analysis/thesis on what makes them the best.  I’ll let you read all about it, but let it be known that browned butter, overnight chilled dough, and sea salt are all in play.

These were devoured.  There’s some serious baking skills on my team at work and few things have been snatched up as quickly as these cookies.  They’re perfectly chewy, full of chocolate chips, deep with browned butter flavor, and exciting with crunchy sea salt.  They don’t joke around.

DSC02568 (Large)

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

And finally, as Evelyn’s company does every year, it was time to come up with an entry for the pumpkin bake-off.  One year she entered pumpkin Twinkies.  This year we were sure she’d dominate with Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes!  The recipe is straightforward but the results are downright impressive.  I didn’t document any of the prep, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.

The two keys to success here are making your own whipped cream and getting those authentic green straws.  As for the cupcakes themselves, they weren’t really pumpkin-y enough.  Maybe increasing the pumpkin puree in place of some of the oil would do the trick.  As for the bake-off, these still weren’t enough!  We’ll have to dig real deep for next year’s competition.

pumpkin spice latte cupcakes

On Turning 30

Well yesterday I was 29 and today I’m 30.  It’s not a big deal really.  More than anything it provides a good milestone to use for reflection as, many friends have said, it’s time to enter the best decade yet.  If that’s true, it’s going to have a lot to live up to.  In my 20s I…

::big breath::

…graduated from college, moved to DC, got engaged to my best friend, moved to Austin, got married to said best friend, bought a house, had a baby — and those are just the major things.  I also…

::big breath::

…ran 13 marathons, qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon, completed an Ironmanand read all five Game of Thrones books.  So my 30s have some big shoes to fill.  But based on how amazing the last 12 weeks of Wesley’s life have been, I’m pretty sure my 30s won’t have any trouble taking the title of top decade.

Turning 30 is also a great excuse to make an extravagant dinner to celebrate our birthdays!  After a great brunch in the morning, we reasoned that we only turn 30 once and had to go big.

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Sous Vide Short Ribs

Sometimes I get overly appropriately excited and take on a big culinary project, like homemade English muffins or home-ground burgers.  Ev is a great sport and doesn’t even roll her eyes (in front of me).  Recently I came across an amazing website called Chef Steps, which puts together extremely high quality videos and guides for some seriously impressive recipes.   I decided to leverage my recent fascination with sous vide cooking and one of their fantastic videos for sous vide beef short ribs, and an idea was born.

Short Rib on board

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