Posts Tagged ‘kitchen trials’

I have just over two months to complete my birthday list and, as usual, I seem to be letting things get down to the wire. So this past Easter weekend, in between celebrating, I checked two more things off my list.

1) I changed a tire! (Last year I learned to check the oil.)

Now, to be fair, I didn’t put the spare on – I just practiced taking off the current tire and putting it back on. That proved to be the hardest part, though, lining up the tire so I could reattach it.

BNF and my brother were coaching me along the whole way (with BNF also taking the photos), and then my parents came out to add their two cents as well. An audience of four isn’t quite the same as having to do this on the side of a busy highway, but it’s a start. And it’s more than I knew how to do before.

It’s safe to say that I was pretty proud of myself.

BNF told me to look tough. I tried, then couldn't help but laugh, resulting in the odd face in the photo.

2) I made empanadas!

When I try them again, there are a few things I’ll do differently, starting with finding (or making) a different dough. Due to lack of options I used Pillsbury, and it just wasn’t the same.

But once I got the baking time right, they were delicious!

Still not quite like my future mother-in-law’s, but I have plenty of time to practice.

I’m sure BNF won’t mind taste testing.

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This was a very busy, very fantastic Easter weekend.

On Saturday, the boyfriend tried to take advantage of some free time to show me some car stuff. He wants me to follow through on my 25 list and learn how to change a tire (maybe more than I do). But Saturday he settled for teaching me how to check the oil.

Which turned out to be nearly empty. Oops!

Changing tires will have to wait until next time, but at least now I know that there is, indeed, a full spare in my trunk.

Yesterday, the morning started off with Easter services, followed by a lesson in making matzo brei.

The boyfriend was the master chef

Which was quickly followed by devouring the dish. So simple, yet so good.

Then, yesterday afternoon, we hosted the first ever Peaster (Passover and Easter) dinner. Like Thanksgiving, it was the first time I hadn’t been home for the holiday. But we made up for it by creating our own new tradition.

We combined traditional Easter foods (namely, ham), and Passover traditions (lots of matzo and hiding the afikoman) and invited friends over to celebrate with us. And, if I do say so myself, dinner was a HUGE success.

Peaster Menu:
Deviled Eggs (from Cla’s recipe)
Spiral Cut Ham
Matzo Ball Soup
Potato Kugel (courtesy of RB and LB)
Haroset (courtesy of JVo and D)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Apple Cake (courtesy of JVo and D)
The Best Brownies You’ve Ever Had (courtesy of RB and LB)

We will, of course, be eating ham and matzo ball soup for the next week or so, but that’s a small price to pay for such a delicious meal.

And finally, even though it came before the actual Peaster meal, I enjoyed my first diet coke in 40 days.

The boyfriend warned me before I opened it that I’d probably find it disgusting. He was so very, very wrong.

Some people turn their Lenten sacrifices into lifestyles; I’ve come to the realization, however, that I am not one of those people.

Will I go back to drinking three diet cokes a day? Hopefully not.

But it is finals week, so I can’t make any promises.

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The last time I tried to make latkes I followed the recipe perfectly and yet, my pancakes fell apart. They were tasty, just not pretty.

My mother told me (in the absolute nicest way possible), that I was probably just too WASPy to be able to make good ones, but JUS assured me that that wasn’t the case. Regardless, I put my latke attempts on the back burner, so to speak, and only now, four years later, did I give it another go. But this time, I was thrilled with the results.

It’s already going better than last time, because these latkes are actually keeping their shape!

And look at that golden brown! It’s exactly how Cooking Light told me it should be!

Keeping them nice and warm, as well as letting those paper towels soak up all the excess oil. And, even seeing how much extra there was, I still think I should have used more. The latkes browned much better the more olive oil was in the pan.

When I tried to buy challah for Rosh Hashanah (to go with the matzo ball soup), it was all sold out. So of course I snatched it up this time. My next shiksa kitchen trial, though, will be to make it myself. Fingers crossed!

Final result: a delicious Hanukkah dinner of latkes, applesauce, brussels sprouts, and challah.

Score one for the WASP.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Comfort food

One of the things I’ll miss about my apartment is the monthly newsletter. (Though, I don’t know for sure that the new place doesn’t have one.) I don’t always have time to read through it, but the one section I never miss is Recipes. This month’s especially caught my eye, as I was already craving comfort food when I saw the title: Pepper Jack Cheesy Mac.

Yes, please.

I added some andouille sausage to the mix, to give it a little more oomph, and had to substitute a colby jack blend for the pepper jack, due to lack of options at Teeter, but it was exactly what I’d been craving. And I loved the crunch provided by the tortillas. Plus, the leftovers were just as good the next day. (Even if they don’t look it.)

So, if you’re ever looking for a little comfort food like I was, allow me to share.


2 cups (8 ounces) dry elbow macaroni
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 cup broken tortilla chips
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional – I didn’t use it)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2.5 quart casserole dish. Cook macaroni in saucepan, according to package; drain; return to saucepan.
  • Add cheddar cheese, 1.5 cups of pepper jack, evaporated milk, and black pepper to macaroni. (This is also where I added the sausage, since I bought it pre-cooked.) Stir until combined. Pour into casserole dish. Combine remaining 1/2 coup of pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. (I ended up baking for an additional 20 or so.)


Note: While I got this recipe from my newsletter, they got it here. Which I will now be scouring for more meal ideas.

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When I emailed the boyfriend the other day and asked if he wanted to do something “Rosh Hashanah-y” for dinner last night, he immediately suggested matzo ball soup. I was game, of course, but I’d never made the soup before. Actually, come to think of it, I’d never actually had matzo ball soup before, either. So I did a little research.

Full disclosure: I did not make this soup from scratch. I looked at a few recipes, and due to both time constraints, and a fear of ruining dinner, I opted to save the completely homemade version for another day. But I didn’t want to buy the pre-made soup, either. That felt like cheating. Enter the Matzo Ball & Soup mix. They walked me through, step by step, and I even got to roll my own balls!

But the real test was what the boyfriend, a matzo ball soup connoisseur, if you will, would think.

“Made by a shiksa? There’s no way this could be good!”

“Ah, what the hell. I’ll try anything once!”

Pleasantly surprised!

“Oh, you didn’t want yours, did you? This is all for me, yes?”

Final verdict: delicious, if only a little on the salty side. But if anything, that’s just more incentive for me to try a recipe from scratch next time. And check something else off my list.

Happy Friday!

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