For some reason, I get the feeling it’s a “guilty pleasure” or embarrassing to like Olive Garden. I guess because it’s corporate and not a mom ‘n’ pop restaurant, which I understand (support your local businesses!), but when I get a craving for those breadsticks and salad? Every rational part of my brain goes out the door. And Olive Garden’s pasta fagioli soup? It’s so good. Which brings us to the topic of this blog post.
I’m pregnant. We’ve established that. If you’re just now learning about this exciting fact, you can catch up a little bit here. During the second trimester, I’ve learned that I can’t stay full. It’s impossible. I can eat something, then 10 minutes later something else sounds good. And not just little bites here and there. I want to eat three large pizzas a day (and a lot of salad and grapefruit). It’s a rough life.
This unrelenting inability to stay full led me to try this soup recipe. It’s full of beans and protein, which I was hoping would help me stay fuller longer. And I’m happy to report that it kind of helped! I, uh, did eat the whole pot, but not in one sitting. That’s a feat. Believe me.
Skip Olive Garden and make your own Pasta Fagioli after the jump
Once upon a time, last year to be exact, my place of employment received a holiday gift from a bakery in Los Angeles. In the gift were various cookies and brownies, and the one I chose was a ginger spice cookie. After one bite of that thing, I was in heaven. To this day, it’s the most memorable cookie I’ve had in my life. And I have had a lot of cookies. I visited the bakery’s website the other day to see how much it would set me back to order a few of these seasonal delicacies, and it wasn’t cheap. I wanted one so bad, though, that I was willing to shell out the money. Until Chris talked some sense into me.
“Why don’t you just try to make your own?”
I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to me. I guess because I didn’t think I was capable of replicating the best cookie I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Well, folks, I’m here to tell ya. I think I did it. Holy crapoly. I think I did it.
This creation is buttery, spicy, melt-in-your-mouth good. There are not even words to properly convey how good this cookie is, and I’m not just tootin’ my own horn. I challenge you to make a batch, then tell me you can stop eating them. I don’t know what I’ll do then.
Actually, I do. I’ll cry for you. Because your taste buds are broken, and that is no good, especially because I’m not sure if there’s even a cure for that. If you’re experiencing this terrible affliction…gimme all your cookies, please.
Bite into a chewy, soft ginger molasses cookie after the quick jump
Dip them in yellow mustard. Make the easy dip recipe (provided below) and bathe them in the melted, cheddar-y mess. Slice them, and stack some corned beef and sauerkraut in the center.
What’s “them,” exactly?
I was pining for the ballpark and warm weather the other day. I was also craving mustard. So I decided to try my hand at making these delicious treats, not expecting much because baking scares me a little. They turned out perfectly. The batch made eight, and by the end of the day there were only two left—and those were saved for photography purposes.
I’m not quite sure why I thought making these would be hard. Like I said, sometimes baking intimidates me, since it involves science and all that jazz. I also remember once watching a show that featured soft pretzels, and there was extensive information about the lye solution that professional pretzel makers use to make the pretzels—that maybe scared me off a little. Basically, they dip the dough in a sodium hydroxide solution before baking, and that’s what makes the pretzels brown and chewy. Well, lye is pretty harsh stuff that requires gloves and safety goggles, none of which I have in my kitchen, so I found that most recipes opt for baking soda. It works, but it’s pretty weak. I did some research, and Cooks Illustrated, of course being the sly cooking ninjas they are, came up with a more scientific solution. Bake the baking soda in the oven for two hours to dehydrate it. That brings its pH from a mere eight to 11. Lye’s pH is typically 14.
If you don’t have two-plus hours to spend on these soft pretzels, don’t fret. They will taste just as good if you dip them in regular baking soda and water (instructions included). They’ll just be a little less brown, which honestly is not that big of a deal.
Bake your own soft pretzels after the jump!
I know what you might be thinking. Cauliflower? Pancakes? Together in one recipe title?
Put away the syrup and butter, my friends. There’s a new pancake in town. And it’s made of cauliflower. And cheese.
Cauliflower pancakes are cheesy, soft, creamy and slightly crispy around the edges. They’re similar to potato pancakes except they have less carbs and are easier to make, in my opinion. And I’m willing to bet that even if you’re not too enthusiastic about cauliflower, you might still like these golden, savory patties. Serve them as a main course with a side salad, or as a side dish with eggs and bacon. I had a lot of leftovers, so I refrigerated them and reheated them in the microwave. They were just as delicious the next day.
You’re still reading? You should be in your kitchen compiling everything you need to make these, stat!
Smash some cauliflower after the jump
Chris and I had an exciting weekend! Last night, we attended the Alton Brown Edible Inevitable Tour at the Aronoff Center in downtown Cincinnati. We’ve been big fans of his for years now, so this opportunity was a no-brainer. Also a no-brainer? Paying a little extra to meet him before the show.
We arrived about an hour and a half before the show, checked in, got the cool keepsake badge above (that he signed later!) and waited patiently in line holding the cover from one of my favorite Alton Brown books, “Good Eats: Volume 1, The Early Years” so he could sign it. We also had another little plan up our sleeve.
When we got to the front of the line, I got kind of nervous, but he was really nice, introduced himself, signed our items (including Chris’s T-shirt) and agreed to pose for a photo holding a sign that we made earlier in the day.
See what the sign said after the jump
Are you carving a pumpkin right now? If so, you’re pretty talented because you’re surfing the Internet and reading a blog at the same time you’re wielding a dangerous carving knife.
PUT THE KNIFE DOWN AND CONCENTRATE. AND LOOK AT THE PUMPKINS WE CARVED.
Okay, back to business. So, you know the icky pulp inside that round, orange cavern? Within that pulp there are little gems called pumpkin seeds. Put the trashcan away, and resist all urges to throw them away. RIGHT NOW!
Shoo-wee! Glad I caught you before you made a catastrophic mistake. You’re going to want to rinse those seeds, toss them with a few seasonings, then roast them in the oven. Once cooled, you’ll have yourself a nice little fall snack that probably won’t last 10 minutes.
Roast your punkin seeds after the jump