About Anna Papoutsakis

Chef. Writer. Cater. Editor. Culinary Badass.

S’mores Ice Cream

I haven’t published a recipe on this blog in well over a year. Much of my content and ideas are on Instagram. With my upcoming wedding Kevin and I got some nice gifts, including a Kitchenaid stand mixer and the kitchenaid ice cream attachment. I’ve been playing around with various ice cream recipes lately. Our favorite was probably mint chocolate cookie with mint cream Oreos. I wanted to make a s’more‘s ice cream with a marshmallow base and I was not quite finding what I wanted scouring Pinterest. So I took ideas from here and there and I came up with my own.

Custard-style marshmallow ice cream with chunks of s’mores “bark” – graham crackers, chocolate, and toasted marshmallows.

FOR THE ICE CREAM BASE

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups milk

4 cups mini marshmallows

1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR THE BARK/SHEET PAN S’MORES

1 sleeve graham crackers (about 9 crackers)

3 full size Hershey milk chocolate bars (1.55 ounces each)

2 cups mini marshmallows (full recipe uses one standard 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows)

Using a double boiler or equivalent, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves fully and mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

In a large nonstick saucepan, gently heat heavy cream, milk, marshmallows and salt, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows melt and dissolve into the milk mixture. Temper the yolk mixture into the marshmallow base. Allow base to cool and transfer to quart container. Chill overnight, at least 12 hours.

Line a cookie sheet or sheet pan with foil. Layer the graham crackers in one layer. Place one piece of chocolate on each graham cracker section, and layer marshmallows on top. Set your oven to a low broiler setting. Place the sheet pan below the broiler for about 5 minutes. The marshmallows should just start to brown. Watch this process and be careful not to burn the marshmallows and chocolate. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, chop the bark into small pieces. Store in an airtight container until ready to churn the ice cream.

When ready to churn, pour the base into your ice cream machine. Churn slowly for half an hour. Depending on the volume of your machine you may either stir in the s’more bark pieces or remove the mixing paddle and fold in the bark. Transfer to quart or pint containers and freeze for six hours before serving. Recipe yields a half gallon of ice cream.

Weeknight Greek-Style Lentil Stew

Many evenings I want to talk myself out of cooking and order in. Then I realize there’s usually a bunch of food in my fridge, freezer and pantry that even if it doesn’t make sense, I’ll make it make sense. Plus to be honest, it’s a slow time of year for me real estate wise, the spring season is picking up and I have a couple of deals going, but that payday is still a way’s away. 

Lentils are one of the most versatile pantry staples you can keep on hand. They are a cheap and easy source of protein and fiber, and they can take on so many flavors and forms – soups, stews, salads, patties, etc.

This particular stew was just a weeknight meal that came together in about 45 minutes and is great leftover for lunch. Eat it on its own, or carb it up with some nice crusty bread, some grilled pita, serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, pasta, etc. 

Remember, this was a fridge clean out kind of meal. You don’t have to follow my ingredients or quantities – play around on your own.

WEEKNIGHT GREEK-STYLE LENTIL STEW

2 cups dried Lentils, rinsed 
2 links Loukaniko (Greek sausage with orange peel – I like the Old Neighborhood brand)
8 ounces Ground Pork
1 medium to large Sweet Onion
4-5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup chopped Carrots
2 cups Strained Tomatoes
2-3 Bay Leaves
2 tablespoons Greek Seasoning
1 tablespoon Oregano
Dash of Celery Salt
Salt and fresh ground Pepper, to taste 
Parsley, for garnish

1 – Boil the lentils separately in lightly salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. This process takes at least 20 minutes, so you may start next steps.
2 – While the lentils are boiling, using a food processor, pulse the onion and garlic until minced.
3 – On a medium setting, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or small stock pot and add the onion mixture, stirring occasionally.
4 – While the onions are heating, place sausages in the food processor and grind into granules. Add the sausage and pork to the onion mixture. Heat until pork is browned. Add the tomatoes, carrots, and seasonings. Be careful not to over-salt as the mixture will reduce and increase the salinity. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
5 – Add the lentils to the stew. Continue to simmer, about 30 minutes, until the carrots are softened. If the stew feels too thick, you may add a bit of water, up to one cup.
6 – You may serve immediately, or chill and serve at a later date. The stew may be stored in the fridge and re-heated up to one week, or frozen and thawed at a later date, up to 6 months. Garnish with parsley before serving.

Carnitas 3 Ways – Part 1 – Street Tacos

In pre-pandemic times I would host many dinner parties and cook for others. It’s obviously been increasingly difficult in the past year to cook for more than just myself and my boyfriend (Who isn’t even with me seven days a week to have all our meals together).


I enjoy batch cooking but I also do not enjoy eating the same thing over and over again. I like variety so one of the things I enjoy doing is reworking leftovers. One way I do this is by making a bit batch of some sort of protein, so then dinners come together quickly with this base already done.


I was in the store the other day and there was a nice price on pork butt so I decided to take advantage. Even though I got one of the smaller pieces it was still over 3 pounds. One of my favorite preparations for pork butt is Carnitas and specifically preparing it in a pressure cooker. I cannot take credit for the recipe that I use, you can find that recipe from My Lilikoi Kitchen here.


I probably made 4 to 5 different dishes this week with all the Carnitas I made. Just my luck that the boyfriend is on a diet so he is reluctantly avoiding some of my cooking. I’m sharing the three ways I enjoyed this protein dolled up most.

The meat after it was finished in the pressure cooker
The meat shredded and finished under the broiler for some crispy edges


FIRST UP – CLASSIC STREET-INSPIRED TACOS

This recipe is not really about quantity but what I like to have on hand when I making tacos. I am a huge advocate of soft corn tortillas, they are my favorite for a taco. Remember you cannot take those puppies straight out of the package and enjoy them they must be heated up. Are usually just warm mine up in a skillet. I have yet to find that Abuela who is going to give me homemade tortillas and right now I don’t have the time to make them myself.

For tonight‘s tacos:

  • Soft corn tortillas
  • Carnitas
  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Fresh Guacamole (not pictured)
  • Quick Pickled Red Onion
  • Queso fresco

The picture is pretty self-explanatory assemble with your desired ingredients. I like red or white onions on tacos but when they are completely raw I don’t like having bad breath for days. As I’m getting the rest of my dinner ready I take the diced onion and let them soak in a bit of white vinegar, orange juice, and salt. This takes the “bite” out of the onion while still maintaining crunch and enhancing flavor.

Grilled Garlic Cilantro-Lime Shrimp with Spicy Asian Black Bean Slaw

Some pictures came up on my social media feed this other day, including this beautiful shrimp dish I put together a couple of years back for a culinary class I was teaching. This meal is a quick and healthy weeknight dinner.

Grilled Garlic Cilantro-Lime Shrimp with Spicy Asian Black Bean Slaw

SHRIMP
1 Pound Shrimp (21-24 count)
Marinade
3-4 cloves minced Garlic
Juice of 1 Lime
1/4 cup Neutral oil
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro 
Salt and pepper 
SLAW
Dressing 
1/4 cup Liquid Aminos
Juice of 2 Limes
2 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup Neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, canola)
1 tbsp Korean Chili Paste
Cracked black pepper
Veggies
2 cups Cabbage, shredded 
2 cups Red cabbage, shredded
1 cup Carrots, shredded
1 bunch Scallions, chopped
1-2 Jalapeños, minced 
1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp Sesame seeds 
2 cans (14 ouce) Black Beans, drained and rinsed

Preparation

  1. Combine marinade ingredients, toss with shrimp and set aside. This can be done ahead
    of time up to 24 hours, or you may marinate as you prep the slaw
  2. Combine slaw dressing ingredients and set aside
  3. Chop veggies for slaw as directed (shredded, minced, etc). Mix all the veggies together,
    and gently fold in black beans. Toss with dressing and garnish with sesame seeds. Slaw
    can be made up to 24 hours before serving
  4. Heat a grill or grill pan. Cook shrimp about 1-2 minuets on each side, careful not to
    overcook
  5. Serve shrimp immediately

Green Beans with Garlicky Miso Sauce

As has been my pattern since the beginning with this blog, I haven’t posted in months. 2020 was quite the year. My last post was April 14, 2020. 11 days later, my father passed away, coincidentally on my mother’s birthday. We were only 6 weeks into quarantine and the pandemic and the weeks leading up to his death we were not allowed to see him at all. We didn’t know what we didn’t know back then. The grief comes in waves, especially not having the appropriate closure…

About a month after his passing, my real estate career just blew up. Like many agents around the country, my business fell into this highly competitive seller’s market. I was fortunate enough to be on the listing side for the bulk of my deals and benefited tremendously, finishing the year with nearly $6 million in volume and also achieving the coveted New Jersey Realtors Circle of Excellence award I was striving for since beginning my career.

My dad with my nephews celebrating in last birthday in June 2019 – he was 76

The good news is I’ve been cooking as always. Except for around the holidays where I was ordering takeout because I was so busy, the bulk of my meals continue to be homemade. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pandemic eats.

A couple of months back my boyfriend (still waiting #buythatring) and I were up in Beacon, NY. I had been showing some houses in the area and since we were upstate we decided to go together and make a day of it. We stopped and had lunch at a gastropub. When ordering my sandwich I wasn’t in a french fry mood, and my server raved about their green beans. She was not wrong, they had a luxurious, umami packed sauce. While I haven’t been able to replicate it fully, I do think the magic ingredient was miso paste. Since that outing I’ve been preparing green beans almost exclusively like this.

New Year’s Eve meal with my man – steak with chimichurri, grilled shrimp, and the green beans
Browning the garlic so it’s nutty but not burned in a key to this dish
Deglaze the mixture with a bit of water and you’ll get a luxurious, umami packed sauce

GREEN BEANS WITH GARLICKY MISO SAUCE

This recipe is more about technique than quantity. Taste and feel, season to your individual likes. Quantities are approximated.

In a medium stockpot or large saute pan, bring water to a boil. Add your green beans (about a pound) and cook until just about al dente. Drain and blanche. You’ll be cooking/blistering them in the sauce later, so important not to overcook.

In the same pan, heat a mixture butter and a bit of oil over medium to high heat. Add about 1/4 cup of fresh, chopped garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the garlic starts to brown. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until the beans start to brown and blister a bit. Add a heaping tablespoon of miso paste and stir into the dish. Cook for another minute or so. Finish with about 1/4 cup of water and stir the entire mixture until the miso and garlic are fully incorporated. Adjust seasoning with salt (or more miso) and pepper as needed.

The green beans are best served immediately – piping hot. If serving later or reheating leftovers, be sure to fully heat before serving.

Weeknight Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw

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By now if you have been reading any entries in this blog since March 2020, you know that like most Americans, I am quarantined at home and I am cooking a lot more than before. I made a vow not to order any takeout or delivery until the worst of this is behind us. I might make an exception for a holiday like Greek Orthodox Easter, but I’m not there yet. Also, I have been a terrible Greek Orthodox Christian, I have barely fasted at all this lent. In any case, I digress…

After nearly two weeks of not going to a grocery store, I am extremely limited on fresh produce. As explained in my post about smarter grocery shopping, I did have coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with a touch of shredded carrots) on hand.

Corn tortillas are another one of those products that I keep on hand as they have a long shelf life, especially in the fridge. Overall, I prefer street-style soft corn tortillas over crunchy or flour tortillas, particularly for tacos (flour tortillas I feel are best for quesadillas). With a few more ingredients, I was able to put together some tasty and fresh-tasting Steak Tacos.

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Steak Tacos with Citrus Slaw – makes 6 tacos

For Steak:

  • 6-8 ounces Steak (ribeye, sirloin, etc all do), seasoned with salt and pepper and wrapped in dish cloth or paper towels to dry
  • Tajin Seasoning

For Slaw

  • 1 cup Coleslaw Mix
  • 2 tablespoons Chopped Scallions
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Tajin Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Queso Fresco

For Tacos

  • 6 Corn Tortillas, heated (This can be done lightly brushing the tortillas with a very small amount of olive oil, wrapping in aluminum foil, and place in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can heat the tortillas in a skillet in a bit of oil and wrap in foil until ready to serve)
  • Salsa Verde, optional (I like the Herdez brand)
  • Lime Garnish, optional

Heat a skillet on medium to high heat for about five minutes. Unwrap the steak and sprinkle both sides generously with the Tajin. Cook in the skillet for 6-10 minutes, flipping once, to desired temperature. Remove from skillet and set on a cutting board to rest.

In a medium bowl, add coleslaw mix and scallions. You can create a dressing on the side with the remaining ingredients (minus the queso fresco), or you can add them directly into the bowl. Mix the slaw and taste, adjusting seasonings as desired. Mixed in crumbled queso fresco.

At this point you may assemble your tacos. On two plates, lay 3 tortillas flat on each plate, not overlapping. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup of the slaw mixture.  Slice steak against the grain into thin (approx. 1/4 inch) slices. Add 2-4 slices of steak, top with lime and salsa garnish, as desired. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve said it before – I live a gluten-FULL or omnivorous lifestyle. However, the last couple of weeks as I deplete what is in my fridge and freezer, as well as not restock the pantry, I’m getting creative with my baking.

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The main stars of these cookies – not pictures, the Lindt Chocolate

I had a bag of King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour. I like this, it’s a cup-for-cup or measure-for-measure product, meaning any regular recipe, you swap whatever quantity of flour that is advised with the gluten-free product. I was eager to make another batch of cookies, and I found a great recipe for Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies from this other blog, Delicious Little Bites.

I followed the recipe for the most part, but made some small substitutes as again, I was cleaning out my pantry. Instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up 1 and a half bars of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate. I like the pools of chocolate you get from chopping chocolate by hand versus using chips. Also, I used more salt than the recipe called for, particularly on top. I didn’t take the time to get the same lovely aesthetic as the recipe author, but I was pleased with the results nonetheless.

What was great about this cookie is it had a nice crinkly outside and a great chew inside, particularly enhanced by the Kraft caramels. The other thing that was nice, is it gave new life to caramels that had hardened too much to snack on or melt. Every time I play around with gluten-free flours, I am impressed. Again, check out the cookie recipe here.

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An American Classic – Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

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An American classic cannot be easier!

PANTRY TOMATO SOUP

  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 24 ounce can Tomatoes (can be crushed, whole, sauce, etc.)
  • 24 ounces water (use can to measure out while cooking)
  • 2 Bouillon Cubes (veggie, beef, and chicken all work)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Over medium heat, melt butter and add chopped onion. Sautee until onions are translucent and start to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat onions, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and water, stir in boullion and season to taste. Simmer about half an hour. Transfer mixture to blender and blend until totally smooth. You can add cream or cheese to thicken, if desired.

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Ask Anna – Baker’s Block Breakthrough – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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My good friend Danielle reached out last night. “I want to bake a treat (something sweet) but I have very minimal ingredients.” She was suffering from a bit of Baker’s Block – think Writer’s Block, but with butter and sugar.

I said, “Hit me!”

She had the following on hand:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Vanilla
  • Eggs
  • Peanut Butter
  • Two sticks of Butter
  • Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate
  • Godiva Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Crisco

She felt she did not have much, but she had enough ingredients for just about any classic drop cookie (Chocolate Chip, Sugar, Snickerdoodle (assuming she had cinnamon), etc.) She also could do classic Peanut Butter Cookies and even Peanut Butter Blossoms (the yummy ones with Hershey Kisses). One suggestion I had was Peanut Butter Blossoms, but done like thumbprints (melt baker’s chocolate and mix with vanilla, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt) and fill the thumbprint with the chocolate mixture. The other would be to take that same mixture and drizzle over classic peanut butter cookies. I also felt the hot cocoa mix blended into baker’s chocolate would be fun.

Inspired by wanting to use the hot cocoa mix, she settled on a classic peanut butter cookie with hot cocoa mix in the dough. The result was a semi-soft, slightly chewy and slightly sandy cookie – a bit sweet but balanced from the salty peanut butter – a great combo all around!

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Danielle’s delicious pantry creation 🙂

 

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

We can’t take credit for this delightful recipe! Follow this Classic Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from All Recipes, sifting one packet of Hot Cocoa Mix with the dry ingredients, and follow the rest as directed.

 

 

Poor Woman’s Wonton Soup

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Since becoming quarantined nearly a month ago I have not ordered takeout or had prepared food delivered once. One night in a moment of weakness I bought fried chicken from my local grocery store, and I broke out in hives. I think I have an underlying allergy to certain fry oils, but in our current corona-culture, it was enough to spook my very non-germophic heart.

My next few posts are going to get interesting, as I have not grocery shopped a single item since March 29. I’m craving certain foods, but I am determined to make them on my own, including Chinese takeout.

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This is by far a “semi-homemade” Wonton Soup with pantry and freezer ingredients. Store bought wontons, frozen scallions (chopped and frozen by me), frozen ginger (didn’t photograph well, so subbed powdered ginger in the pic), chicken bouillon packet, and rice vinegar.

POOR WOMAN’S WONTON SOUP

  • 1 packet Chicken Bouillon (or cube, or chicken stock or other broth)
  • 2 cups water (if not using prepared stock/broth)
  • However many wontons you want to eat
  • 1 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Scallions

Simmer all ingredients together until wontons are cooked through. I wish it was more complicated than that. For extra zing, you can saute and lightly the wontons in a bit of sesame oil before adding broth.

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Looks like takeout to me

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Served with a scallion pancake, another one of the few convenience items in my freezer