On vacation you are a totally different person. I love vacation Stefanie.
She is, for the most part, a rather fun-loving and genuinely happy person. How to merge vacation Stefanie with everyday life Stefanie?
I don’t really know if Chelada is the actual bartending 101 book (if that actually exists) name for this drink. All I know is that at my brother’s super bowl party, his head chef at the place he manages, made these and called them cheladas….So I’m going with that name.
Vacation Stefanie is pretty easy-going and can be talked into most things, even when it happens to contain Clamato juice as one of the main ingredients.
At an all-inclusive resort for our honeymoon vacation Stefanie and vacation Michael were talked into having this drink when the poolside bartender said. “This one’s on me!” and handed this crazy concoction over.
Everyday life Stefanie was heard somewhere, muted in the background, saying under her breath, “You idiots. The drinks are all on you! You already pre-paid for this shit!”
Vacation Stefanie did not notice, because she was too busy fist pumping and chanting, “Free drink! Free drink! Free drink!”
So, with another weekend upon us, here is a drink your everyday life self is saying you probably won’t like, where as your vacation self is on your shoulder with a pitchfork and a Tommy Bahama shirt saying “Dooooo it!!! You deserve it. You know you’ll like it!”
Ingredients (for one cocktail)
6oz. Clamato Juice
The Juice from Half a Lime
Rim the edge of a pint glass with Tajin seasoning. (Can be found at any local Latin/Mexican market.)
Add a few ice cubes to the pint glass. Then add the tequila,Corona, and Clamato juice.
Squeeze in the juice from half of the lime and toss a few shakes of Tajin in if you are feeling so inclined. Give it a good stir.
Kick back and let your vacation self out to play for a little bit!
My husband and I met in college. We dated for seven years and have been married for about seven months. Having been around each other for such a good amount of time, we have come to have some interesting discussions/debates.
One of our favorite discussions has to do with hypothetical food and sports challenges. I will explain.
While out to dinner, I asked my husband, “If you were in the MMA ring with Chuck Lidel, how many seconds would you last? And no you can not just run around in circles trying to avoid his attack.”
My husband is scrappy, but certainly not MMA material. He replied, “Maybe five second.”
Our other favorite question is “If you were a competitive eater, what would be your specialty; hot dogs, tacos, meatballs, pizza slices…”
I swear I have a different answer every time. My husband however is fairly convinced he can out eat anybody when it comes to soft shell tacos or chicken wings. I have yet to put money on this but I do have to admit I would like to see him try.
After coming in contact with these little empanadas, I think I have found my hypothetical food of choice. They are light and flaky. You don’t technically need utensils to eat them. You don’t have to dunk them in a glass of water to eat them quicker. I am guessing I could eat twelve to twenty-four of these guys. But would I want to?
Ingredients (Makes 16 empanadas)
2 Cups of Flour
½ Teaspoon of Salt
2/3 Cup Shortening
10 Tablespoons of Water
1 Cup of Canned Black Beans
8 oz. of Goat Cheese
¼ Cup Vinegar
1 Teaspoon of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Water
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1 Egg White
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter until pieces of the shortening are about the size of peas.
Add half the water then mix with a rubber spatula. Add the remaining water and mix well. Form the dough into a ball.
Roll out the dough to about a 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the dough into four inch circles. Lightly flour both sides of the circle. Place the little circles of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Drain and rinse the black beans. Add them to a medium bowl along with the goat cheese. Using a fork, mash the two ingredients together until they form a paste.
Thinly slice the jalapenos. Leave the seeds in, otherwise the heat from the jalapeno gets lost in the beans and cheese. Add the sliced jalapenos, vinegar, sugar, and water to a small bowl. Microwave the jalapenos for two minutes. We are going to make the jalapenos slightly pickled before we add them to the mix.
Let the jalapenos cool for a minute or two. Drain the jalapenos, give them a rough chop, and then add them along with the salt, pepper, and cilantro to the bowl with the black beans and goat cheese. Mix the chopped jalapenos into the black beans and goat cheese.
Place about a tablespoon of the mixture in the center of the dough. Dab a little bit of water along the edge of the empanada circle. Fold one side over the other and press the edge sealed with a fork. Continue this process for all empanadas.
When all empanadas are properly assembled, coat the top of each with a little bit of the egg white wash. This will help them become more golden in the oven.
Place the empanadas in the oven and bake for forty five minutes until golden brown.
Top them with some hot sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream or all of the above and GO. TO. TOWN!
I only ate six…. I could have kept going, but my common sense kicked in and reminded me I am not a competitive eater.
A lot of people say they do not like lobster unless it is drenched in a lot of butter. I do love me some butter, but I am not one of those people.
I like lobster. I think it has a sweet flavor on its own and doesn’t need any butter in fact (Somewhere Paula Deen just fainted). In the Midwest, lobster is available but more costly. So, lobster is held to this high standard as being a special occasion food.
The first time I ate lobster was in the 8th grade. It was quite the momentous occasion.
You see, I was into sports in grade school. I swam, I played volleyball, and I played basketball. I was pretty athletic and kind of good at all of these sports (if I say so myself). I was on the A team for volleyball and in the advanced swimming groups. Then it was time for basketball. 6th through 8th grade, every year, I tried out and every year, the same thing—I ended up on the B team…Guess I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.
Well, I shouldn’t say that. I was good at basketball. I guess I just wasn’t “A team material.” So I settled into my role, more Jeremy Lin than LeBron James, and played my little heart out for that B team.
At the start of our little engine that could season, my fellow B-teamers and I were told by our coach that, if we made it to the playoffs, he would cook the whole team a filet mignon and lobster tail dinner.
It was our last year in grade school,l so we figured, “What did we have to lose?” That year, we ended up going all the way to the playoffs! I remember my one shining moment when, in overtime, I scored the game winning free throw to move us on to the next round. It was glorious. The coaches from the A team were there to watch. Every point I scored I felt like I was showing them what they were missing out on for all those years.
We ended up placing third in the overall season. We got a trophy and everything. There were two great things that came out of our victory. The first was that the amazing A team finished in third as well. To them though, it was a failure of a season.
The second great thing was that we all went over to our coach’s house and he really did cook us lobster tail and filet mignon! We all felt like such winners. Even though we only got third, we celebrated like we won the championship. Ever since then, I have always held lobster as a very, very special occasion food that will always remind me of that awesome basketball season.
1 lb. Whole Wheat Linguine
1/2 cup Olive Oil
4 Large Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1 Teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
4 Lobster Tails
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Cups of Chardonnay
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Basil, chopped
¼ Cup Chopped Flat-leaf Parsley
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. (Not longer than 7 minutes.) Drain well. Place off the side to cool.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat until the garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the lobster tails, season with salt and black pepper. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Place a lid on the skillet and simmer/steam the tails for eight minutes. After eight minutes, remove the lobster tails.
Simmer the wine over medium/low heat for an additional eight minutes. After eight minutes, turn the heat to warm or low because you are going to need to add the lobster back to the warm sauce.
Meanwhile, chop the parsley and the basil. During this reduction time, you are also going to shell the lobster.
Turn the lobster tail on its back, using a pair of kitchen shears, cut length-wise down the center between the legs. Crack each pair of legs back towards the shell. Start peeling off pieces of shell. Think of it like a large shrimp. Similarly to a large shrimp, the lobster tail has the intestinal tract that you will need to remove as well. To do that, cut length-wise along the back of the lobster tail. Don’t go too deep. You will see the tract and be able to pull it out in one piece. I know it’s gross, but just keep your eye on the prize!
After all the lobster has been shelled, cut it into large chunks, and add it back into the skillet along with the basil and parsley. Be sure to reserve some parsley and basil for garnish.
Add the cooled linguine and sauce to a large bowl and toss well. Season with salt and black pepper.
Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining parsley and basil and a squeeze of lemon juice, toss once more and serve.
Even if it is just an ordinary weeknight…This is a great meal to make it extraordinary!
Today is Fat Tuesday. Since I am Polish and Catholic (Gasp! Don’t mix religion and food Stef!) that olny means one thing for me today…Paczki!!!
It is pronounced poonch-key. This Polish dessert is similar to a jelly doughnut-except better, because it is Polish and has no filling. You fill up on these fried bad boys today before you start the season of Lent tomorrow.
My mom once told me a story about my Dziadzia (Polish for grandpa, pronounced jah-jah), where he tried to make a chocolate cake from a box and failed terribly. You see, my grandmother was working days and my mom forgot to tell her she needed a cake for a bake sale at school before she left for work. The next logical choice was to ask my Dziadzia to make the cake (ou would think).
My Dziadzia came from the mentality that nothing is cooked until it looks cooked. So, he baked the crap out of this cake. My mom told him she could not take this cake to school for the sale; nobody would buy it. He tried to pawn it off on her saying,”This is how a cake is supposed to look!”
My mom snuck out of the house without taking the cake. My grandmother got home from work, saw the cake, and laughed. My Dziadzia was known for many things, and boxed cakes just didn’t happen to be one of them!
Luckily, he could fry up a mean paczki. My mom told me that him and my grandmother would make the dough and fry up these little clouds of heaven together in their kitchen. My grandmother would make the dough and my Dziadzia would be in charge of frying them.
I can just imagine my mom and uncle as children, sitting at the table watching the two of them lovingly interact and cook together. They would smile at the interactions between their parents. When the paczki were done, everybody would eat them right away, when they were still warm. My mom, being the interesting person that she is, would save a little stash on the side and wait for them to get stale and crunchy and then eat them.
So, in honor of my Dziadzia and my mom, today I am sharing with you the Polish tradition of Paczki.
Note: Sorry I don’t have the usual step-by-step pictures. I stress out when dealing with yeast, because normally it never works for me. Here is a great video that will walk you through the steps.
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Butter
½ Cup Milk, heated to 110 degrees
¼ Teaspoon of Vanilla
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Yeast
2 Cups of Flour, plus additional for rolling out the dough
Vegetable oil for frying
Sugar or confectioner’s sugar for coating the Paczki
Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl. Heat 1/2 cup of milk in the microwave to about 110 degrees F., and pour it in. Add 1/4 tsp vanilla, a pinch of salt, and then 2 whole eggs.
The milk should be cool enough by now to not scramble the eggs, but if you need to let it cool a little, let it cool. Whisk those in, and add 1 teaspoon of yeast – whisk that in to dissolve, and then we’re going to add, about a 1/2 cup at a time, 2 cups of flour. This step can be done with a hand mixer or using the bread hook attachment and your stand mixer.
What you want to do is keep adding the flour until you have a really stiff dough and you can barely stir it. Then you’re going to transfer this on to the board.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. We’re going to put that back in the bowl, cover it, and let that double in size, which will take about an hour to 1 1/2 hours.
When the dough is ready, pat it down on a lightly floured board. Roll it to about 1/2-inch thick. Use a little flour if you need too. Then cut out little round paczki shapes. I used a 3 inch glass as my cookie cutter. I think I might need to invest in some actual cookie cutters…
I got 12 from this batch. You can re-roll the excess dough to cut a few more. Let those rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. In the meantime, heat your oil to 350 degrees F. I used regular vegetable oil.
Fry the paczki about 2 minutes per side, until they are a beautiful golden-brown. Fish those out with a strainer and let them cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.
I didn’t fill them, because that isn’t the way my Dziadzia used to do it. I just rolled them in some plain old sugar. Trust me, they are good enough alone where you don’t need all the frills or filling.
My best friend is having a baby!!! In fact, today is her baby shower!
I could not be happier about this little angel joining our close knit group of girls. My friend is the first of any of our clan to be pregnant.
So while this is all new and exciting, it is also the end of an era so to speak.
No more inappropriate conversations out in the open. We will have to think of the baby. No more spur of the moment outings; we will have to plan way in advance so there is somebody to watch the baby. (Unless somebody wants to volunteer to miss out and be the DD and the DB: designated babysitter.) No more crazy summer house parties…well, that needed to end some time soon, I mean we are all getting a little too old for all night flippy cup and power hour.
All of our lives have to change eventually. I know this, but I didn’t really think about how different it would all be until now.
I guess instead of being selfish and filling my BFF’s mind with sad thoughts, I started thinking about all the new things we are all going to be experiencing in the coming months. (Read that paragraph in a Carrie Bradshaw voice… “That night, I got to thinking…”)
We are going to have a new little girl in our group to watch out for, to spoil with the trendiest baby clothes, to teach about all the dumb boys in the world, to share many many giggles with, and to make sure she always feels all the BFF love that we have to give.
So, it might be the “end of an era”, but it is also the start of a new one. I know my best friend is going to be a wonderful mother and I can not wait to be right there along side her for this journey. I mean, I can just see what a cool aunt I am going to be!
So, for my sweet friend, here is a little something sweet for you on the day of your sweet baby girl’s shower.
Ingredients (Makes 16)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
3/4 pound strawberries, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Port or Red Wine
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ¼ cups fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
In a bowl, sift both flours together with the cinnamon and salt. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter, light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the honey and molasses, about 30 seconds.
Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the flour mixture at low speed, just until incorporated. Pat the dough into a disk, cover with plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick.
Using a 3 1/2-inch oval cookie cutter, stamp out 16 ovals; reroll the dough scraps if necessary. (I used a 3 inch drinking glass to cut out the tartlet shapes.) Transfer the ovals to the baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until lightly golden around the edges.
Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer the ovals to racks to cool completely.
In a bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, port, and the lemon juice. Let stand until syrupy, 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each oval.
Arrange the strawberries over the ricotta, drizzle with the syrup and serve.