Friday, November 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies


Do you see that cross-section of peanut butter goodness? I am drooling as I type this.

Our supremely sweet-toothed "baby" brother's birthday was last weekend, and we decided there was no better way to send him back to school than armed with a disgusting amount of sweet treats.

College-aged metabolisms can handle the madness :)



I fear that I have set the bar pretty high for myself with the Slutty Brownies, so just any old cookie wouldn't do.

So I took the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe, the Nestle Tollhouse classic, but only used half of the chocolate chips it called for. Then I squished a little Reeses baking square down into each spoonful and covered it with a smidge more dough.

The cookies were much bigger than usual to accommodate the Reeses so they took longer to bake, but it was worth the wait.


Without question, one of the best things I've ever made!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

"I was going to conquer the world, but got distracted by somethingsparkly..."

Quote by unknown :)

I saw this photo of Scarlett Johanssen the other day and while I can't find the source of it for the life of me, I am officially obsessed with the look. I'm thinking a beaded skirt needs to make its way into my closet this holiday season.

Choices, choices...

1 2 3 4 5 6

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recipe: Baked Ham and Egg Cups

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great-- as predicted, lots of games and too much food. In other words, perfect.

As we mentioned, we were really looking forward to making Thanksgiving brunch to our family. Our choice needed to fit two main criteria: fairly light (Thanksgiving dinner later!) and easy enough to assemble for 7 people.

After seeing a few variations floating around Pinterest, we made egg cups for brunch earlier this year and decided that they'd fit the bill nicely for  our Thanksgiving morning brunch. We made two variations and were happy with both results, so we thought we'd share! They are so cute and really, really easy... plus, the world is your oyster when it comes to the toppings -- you can really add any combination of ingredients your little heart desires.

Laura went the traditional route and made Denver-esque cups by adding diced peppers and onions with cheddar cheese to each cup. Ali got creative and made the clear winner of the day - she blanched asparagus and added two spears to each cup with a tiny bit of cheddar in the base, then served them with a Hollandaise sauce.

We left the crispy edges but you could trim them or get really crazy and cover them with foil while baking.

In our opinion, this is a handy staple to have in our back pockets for brunch with the girls, for family, or after a particularly long night out. Cheers! (with our ham and egg cups.)

Ham and Egg Cups -

  1. Preheat oven to 375.

  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray or lightly oil. (We used popover cups this time because we wanted more room for add-ins, but have previously used muffin tins and it works just as well!)

  3. Line each cup with two slices of ham, pressing into the bottom of each cup.

  4. Add desired toppings, then carefully crack one egg into each cup.

  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until egg is cooked through. Each cup should easily lift from the tin.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chicago Restaurant Review - RPM!

(I wanted to name this post RP-YUM but I'm pretty sure Ali would disown me.)

As Ali mentioned, we had one of the most incredible dinners last week and I have been seriously lagging in sharing the delicious details.

After reading the menu online basically all day, we were pretty excited come Friday night. We often text each other just to make the other one want whatever food we're craving and it was a bit out of control before our visit. Proof:

I'd heard great things about RPM, of course, but I have to admit -- despite the drool-worthy photos on the website, I was a bit of a skeptic. I thought that at least a part of the rave reviews HAD to be just Chicago celebrity hype. Let's be clear, though, as an ardent fan of Team Rancic, this in no way deterred my desire to check it out. I'd suffer through some mediocre pasta for a Giuliana sighting at a beautiful restaurant with a fun scene, no problem.

Wellllll, I'm happy to report that I was totally and completely wrong.

As I suspected, we found the restaurant was beautifully decorated and the people watching killer, but the food stole the show.

House-made ricotta, so simple but definitely my personal favorite. Like a happy fluffy cheese cloud from heaven.

Prime beef meatballs... Smothered in Parmesan and served in the skillet they baked in, these tasted like Giulianas cute little Italian mother was firmly planted in just around the corner in the kitchen rolling these little balls of love by hand.

We chose the tuna carpaccio to break up all of the rich foods with something a bit lighter and were awfully happy with that decision. The freshest, smoothest tuna, so deeply colored it almost looked like salmon with little sprinkles of black garlic for the most interesting hint of flavor.

This might surprise you, but I can count the number of times Ali and I have ordered dessert in the last 5 years on one hand, and that's because the number is one. We're not mad at it, we'd just rather have another glass of wine or more fried olives. The Affogato float came highly recommended by a trusted source, however, so we went for it. A grown up float with an intense bottled coffee poured over creamy vanilla gelato, this was the absolute perfect ending to a fantastic dinner.

Unpictured but amazing -

  • Fried olives

  • Chicken liver on toast

  • Lobster caprese

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Pork chop as big as my head for the manly man at the table

  • Spaghetti carbonara

RPM, we will be back! Sneaking in early on a weekday to the bar area to try a few small plates without the months-long wait for reservations may be our new tactic, but I'd honestly sit on the curb in the  alley outside the kitchen if someone would just be so kind as to hand me a cup of that ricotta and a spoon.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

London: Borough Market and The World's Best Grilled Cheese

I found it extremely difficult to choose where to spend my precious free time while in London. How do you see the highlights of one incredible city between 6:30-10pm on weeknights and in just one single weekend? The obvious answer is that you can’t. I could have spent months in London and still not have even scratched the surface.

For me, though, there was one no-brainer. I did some of my own research in the few days before my trip and read about Borough Market, and then it was hammered home when pretty much everyone I met told me it was a must-see for anyone with the slightest interest in food. Safe to say, I have a SLIGHT interest in food. Lucky for me, it was right up the road from my flat in the London Bridge area, so I was up and at ‘em bright and early Saturday morning to beat the crowds.

Borough Market lived up to the hype,  and then some. It was opened in 1851 (dates like this are pretty rare stateside!) and sits off of Borough High street just south of the river at London Bridge, twisting its way through multiple buildings and open areas. Vendors sell flowers, fresh produce, meats and poultry, fish and seafood, cheese, baked goods, more cheese, and then more baked goods amidst restaurants hawking their best of the best – chorizo burgers, fish and chips, English sausage rolls.

If I hadn’t done my research, I most likely would have been paralyzed by indecision on the food front and possibly have ended up in bed all day with a fish and chips induced stomach ache. And in all transparency, when I say “research,” I mean noticing this interesting little Google nugget when looking it up:

Grilled cheese, you say?

So THEN I did some research and found rave reviews by foodies all over the world, touting the toasted cheese at Borough Market “the world’s best grilled cheese.” I was armed with a plan, a latte from Monmouth Coffee Co., and prepared to wait in any length line.

I found my way to the Kappacasein stall after a few loops through the market both by the identifying the long line and the smell of cheese from about 50 feet away. I paid my 5 pounds, was handed a ticket, then spent about 5 minutes considered changing my order to the raclette, a melted cheese that they were burning and shaving off into big gooey piles of it onto roasted potatoes.

I managed to hold strong only after noticing the sign stating that they add grilled leeks and garlic to their grilled cheese, and then noticed the case of “raw” sandwiches, waiting to be grilled – shredded sharp white cheddar on sourdough with tiny hints of purple peeking out from the leeks.

Like the market, the grilled cheese met every single ounce of my expectations… buttery, crunchy, salty, gooey… and I’m pretty sure I’ll never again want a grilled cheese without the added punch of leeks and garlic. I will find SOME way in this lifetime to return to the Borough Market to experience this glory again.