Where have I been?

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I knew it had been awhile since I have posted anything. The blog has taken a back burner to retail, working crazy hours during the holidays, working crazy hours post holidays, being in school again, and of course, GrubHub. However, having just popped on the site, I did not realize it’s been three months!

To prove I’m still cooking, but doing more eating than writing, some highlights from my Instagram account and my phone in general. You can follow me at @greekgrl927 and/or search #accidentalchef

  
Bucatini with Sausage and Ricotta

  
Salted Pretzel Toffee Bark

  
Omelet I made at work testing out new products

  
Risotto I made at with that is making me itch for a pressure cooker, if only for risotto…

  
Carb overload. Cod with a lemon butter cracker crust and Greek lemon potatoes

  
Deep Dish Pizza love continues 

  
Beer and Cheese Soup with a Pretzel Bun

  
S’mores Mix

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Next Experiment – Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

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I think the inspiration came from some Buzzfeed quiz, where there were a bunch of pictures of pizza and you were supposed to pick one you relate to. Not that I can relate to Chicago Deep Dish, but at that moment it looked the most appealing of all the slices. I have made homemade pizza, but I have never attempted that style.

One of my best friends is a Native Chicagoan and upon asking him if he has made it, he said he did once, but messed up the crust. This was disconcerting, as the crust is the aspect I am most concerned about executing right. Another friend who loves to cook said he loved eating it when he lived in Chicago, but never made it. Gee, that helps!

So I do not have enough Chicagoans in my life, nor has anyone in the NYC area that I am close with made it. Probably because we already have awesome pizza around here and do not need to. Oh what a culinary conundrum I am now faced with.

In scouring the web (ok, Pinterest), I think I found a recipe I liked from a blog called Sally’s Baking Addiction. Instead of doing two 9-inch pies, I’m going to do a 14-inch pie. I liked the crust recipe, especially the incorporation of butter. As for the sauce and filling, it’s pretty basic, but I do appreciate the tip about shredding a block of mozzarella yourself as opposed to pre-shredded. We will see what happens….

Boiling Rice Like Pasta Has Just Changed My Life

IMG_5132With all my cooking experience, I still cannot master rice. I mean, I do well when it’s a fried rice or rice balls or something that should have a sticky/mushy consistency. But when it comes to fluffy, individual grains that can stand up on their own, I suck.

A few years back I even thought I had discovered the secret. Alas, my rice usually came out crunchy, especially brown rice.

Now I read somewhere to boil your rice al dente like pasta. And…after trying it…I’m a believer!!! If you’re down to seasoning the rice after it boils, this method can work for you, too!

Another thing that is great about this method is you can throw measuring out the window. The best things to do is soak the rice to take away excess starch, rinse like crazy, and add the rice to your pot, using enough water to cover the rice by a couple of inches. Boil, and taste periodically to your desired consistency. Drain, season with oil, butter, spices, etc, and you’re good to go!

  

Make Ahead Strawberry Lassi

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It has to be my Greek upbringing and the fact I only drank milk from birth to four years old, but I love yogurt. Fage was a household staple long before it helped launch a national Greek yogurt obsession.

Aside from straight up yogurt, I love tangy yogurt based beverages, like kefir and lassis. I have previously talked about how I also love smoothies, and a good lassi is essentially that. With summer coming near an end I have been stocking up on berries at the local farmers market. I usually freeze them but I decided to try something new with some of the fresh.

  
I prepped everything for the lassi, so I just have to dump it in the blender with some ice. Some recipes I have seen call for buttermilk, so I decided to try adding some apple cider vinegar, both for health benefits and some added tang.

In a jar, I placed about 3/4 cup of fresh halved strawberries, about 1-2 teaspoons of maple sugar, a dash of vanilla extract, 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, and about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. I loosely mixed it and let time do its thing, breaking down the strawberries and adding more zing to that yogurt.

  
When ready to blend I emptied out the contents of the jar into my vitamix, added about 5 large ice cubes and blended away.

  
The lassi was cool and refreshing after a gym workout. The maple sugar added a hint of sweetness and the apple cider vinegar gave the drink a nearly effervescent feel.

Cake Mix Brownies…an experiment

  
I’m prepping for Sunday’s dinner party. Menu is set (don’t want to share it all as it’s a surprise for my guests), groceries have been purchased, and I decided to start on the dessert tonight. I want to make ice cream cake because not only is it summer, I probably haven’t made one in about 2 years. Looking back on my own recipe, I swore it was Oreo-bottomed, but turns out it is brownie-bottomed. 

Thinking I had all the ingredients for brownies, I sought out to make it, but alas, I’m out of sugar. Since I don’t feel like bugging any of my neighbors (I don’t really know them), I figured surely I have a mix somewhere in my pantry. I was stoked when I saw a box of No Pudge!, but alas, it was open as I was making a serving at a time.

I saw a box of chocolate cake mix and looked to see if there was a recipe for brownies. Alas, there was not. So I googled….I prefer chewy brownies so I did a search and settled on a recipe that sounded super easy – just an egg, some oil, and water.

I put the mix together and the texture was super thick and gooey – almost like peanut or almond butter. It also tasted a bit off, so I added a tinge more oil, some salt, and some vanilla extract.

  
I had some trouble spreading it in my springform pan. It is baking as I write this….wish me luck! 

Update – it came out looking right, but rose more than regular brownies. I hope it shrinks down a bit because I want a thinner base. Worst case, I’ll saw some off the top.

  

Dinner Party Menu Planning

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I hit a pretty big milestone at work. Big for me, at least, and it warrants celebration. I had told my team if we reach our goal, I would make them dinner. The time has come, and I am ready to show off my culinary skills. However, I am at a loss of what I feel like making. I know for sure what I want for dessert, some version of my Ice Cream Cake.

Appetizers is also not hard – I figure Focaccia, cheese/charcuterie/crudite, maybe some Greek tyropita or spanakopita.

Where I am struggling is with my main course. My favorite things to make for a dinner party are a bit more “wintry.” Lately I have also been cooking a lot of fish, but one of my guests is not a fan of seafood, so why torture the celebration?

Some of my faves for a crowd:

Maybe I’ll revisit the Chicken Roulade with a different stuffing. Or maybe I’ll do a steak and feature my mashed potatoes. So many decisions!

Any thoughts out there?