Sweets & Snacks & Spicy Nacho Doritos
Happy Super Bowl/Galentine's Day/Valentine's Day/Abbott-Elementary-Is-Back to all
Happy February, Food & Stuff Friends!
I am back with your monthly installment of recipe reviews and food thoughts, and I’m glad you’re here to read about them. For this month’s newsletter, I wanted to update you about all the cooking I’ve been doing lately, but I knew I had to talk about the obvious: a trio of very important eating days is upon us.
They are as follows:
🧀 Sunday, February 12 — The Super Bowl, AKA 5 Hours of Snacks: As I eat my spread of Super Bowl Snacks (more on that below), I’ll be rooting for the Eagles simply because I am from Pennslyvania, I like to see how chaotic Philly fans get when they win, and also I think it would make a great plot point in future episodes of Abbott Elementary (To all the Abbott Elementary fans out there…we’re BACK tonight!)
🧇 Monday, February 13 — Galentine’s Day, AKA Breakfast with Your Buds: I’m always down to celebrate the gift of female friendship over a spread of delicious breakfast food, especially because my gal pals are, to quote Leslie Knope, “More fabulous than Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Madeline Albright rolled together”. Do you know what else is fabulous?! Pioneer Woman’s Greek Yogurt Pancake recipe or this Crème Brûlée French Toast Casserole. Best eaten with your Galentines.
🍫 Tuesday, February 14 — Valentine’s Day, AKA Chocolate Appreciation Day: I think Valentine’s Day can still be a lot of fun even if you don’t have a sweetheart because there are so many tasty sweets that you can make and then eat, which is generally not advised when it comes to human sweethearts. You’ll find some of those below as well!
I’ll start with my cooking update and then get into snacks and sweets. Jump to whatever section interests you the most, or read it all! It’s up to you! No rules here! Just food AND stuff!
Help! I Can’t Stop Making Stuff from Smitten Kitchen Keepers!
I don’t actually need help: all of these recipes are incredible and I truly am smitten with Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Keepers, her latest cookbook that I received for Christmas in December. So far, I’ve made a snowpea salad with pecorino and walnuts, ginger garlic chicken noodle soup, simple black bean chili, pecorino polenta with garlicky kale, oven-braised beef with harissa, and thick molasses spice cookies. Everything, and I mean everything, has been delicious. I would make more if I needed more food, but I am simply one woman and cannot eat all that food in that quick of succession.
If you’re someone who loves to cook or someone who would love to love to cook, I recommend you go ahead and purchase this cookbook. Deb’s recipes are well-written and tested, not too fussy, and are fully in your wheelhouse of capability whether you’re experienced in the kitchen or not.
In Winter We Bake Cakes
I don’t know what it is about winter, but it always rolls around and I decide that I want to bake a cake. In 2021, I baked Smitten Kitchen’s Plush Confetti Cake (which I decorated with a package of “Congratulations” candles to spell GOATS, for no reason other than laughs), in 2022 I baked Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Buttercream, and this year I baked this lovely Homemade Strawberry Cake. Cake is really difficult to master, but I think I’d like to try one or two more layer cakes this winter to keep working on my skills!
I’m Just Here for the Snacks
I’ll be hanging out with my church small group for the Super Bowl, and I plan to bring a few snacks with me, of course!
I plan to buy a tub or two of the Midwest’s Greatest Feta Dip from Meijer, which has a copycat recipe here in case you’re into spicy, zesty, feta dip scooped up with some crunchy, crispy pita chips.
As a nod to my favorite SuperPretzel Sofistix Cheddar Cheese Filled Soft Pretzel Sticks, I am interested in this recipe for homemade cheese-stuffed pretzel bites. I haven’t tried the recipe yet, but I think it could be fun!
If I were you and you live close to a Trader Joe’s, I’d pick up a bag or twenty of their Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers, which you can serve a big batch of this queso recipe in the crockpot which I featured in December’s Food & Stuff.
I might be able to remember who played in or won last year’s Super Bowl, but I definitely remember that I made this smoky carrot dip from Bon Appétit, which is also vegan which is a great bonus!
Fancy Desserts to Impress Your Sweetheart
A sweetheart is not required to make these sweets, but I’m sure that whoever gets to enjoy the following desserts will feel thoroughly in love with you…and with chocolate.
First up, a Valentine’s Day childhood favorite of mine: Pots de Crème au Chocolat! My mom would whip up these little bowls of chocolatey-goodness when I was a kid, and I finally got around to making them for myself last week. The recipe is very easy, and the result is sort of a cross between a thick chocolate pudding and a big chocolate truffle. I served it with a dollop of whipped cream and some raspberries.
Pots de Crème au Chocolat
2/3 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli to feel fancy)
1 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
Heat oven to 350º. In a small pot, heat chocolate and half-and-half, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Cool slightly. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, and salt with a whisk or mixer until slightly frothy and thickened, then gradually stir in chocolate mixture. Pour into 4 ungreased 6-ounce ramekins or oven proof bowls.
Place ramekins/bowls in baking pan on the oven rack. Pour boiling water into pan to within 1/2 inch tops of cups. Bake 20 minutes, then cool slightly before covering and refrigerating at least 4 hours. Top with whipped cream and raspberries.
Second, we have a Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart from the hand of baking wizard Claire Saffitz, which I haven’t made in a few years but remember as being yummy and fancy and fun.
And third, an easy bundt cake that always knocks it outta the park from All Recipes: the Chocolate Lovers’ Favorite Cake. This one feeds a crowd and is also a crowd-pleaser. I’ve requested it for my own birthday, made it for friends’ birthdays, and taken it to potlucks.
It’s Never a Bad Time for Pizza
Perhaps you’re looking to make something more substantive for the Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day, so might I suggest homemade pizza?! I have a great recipe for an easy pizza dough by The Pioneer Woman (which you can make into the shape of a heart or not) and another tasty recipe for a Brussels Sprouts Pizza with Balsamic Red Onions.
If I’m Not Eating, I’m Probably Reading*
*or working at my job, or sleeping, or running, or harassing people to watch Paddington 2
Last month, I read Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl, about her appointment as the last editor of Gourmet Magazine. It was pretty interesting to read about how lavish of a position it was (a wardrobe budget, a chauffeur, extravagant trips to Paris, etc.). I have in mind to read My Life in France by Julia Childs at some point this year, but I’m curious about what other food memoirs my Food & Stuff friends have read and would recommend! And as a person who reads cookbooks before bed, I will also take cookbook recommendations as well :)
Will you be getting your sweetheart any special food items for Valentine’s Day? Nothing says romance like a bouquet of meat, cheese, and olives as offered by a boutique deli in my alma mater’s town!
And with that, I will conclude this edition of Food & Stuff with a photo of me and the love of my life and the most super of Super Bowl Snacks: Spicy Nacho Doritos. The only chip that has ever made me cry…
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Amen to cooking all the SKK recipes. Save Me the Plums and Garlic and Sapphires (also by Ruth Reichl) were both entertaining, and I also enjoyed My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. Currently enjoying Taste by Stanley Tucci, and am always on the lookout for a good food-related memoir as well. :)