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Oatmeal Cream Pies and Easter Feasts

8 Apr

Happy Easter all!  When I was a kid, we would always get dressed up and go over to my grandparent’s house for an egg hunt, and afterwards eat deli ham, deviled eggs, and drink fizzy green punch (it’s a McG family thing-don’t ask).  Then my Mom took over, and turned Easter into one of my favorite feast days.  Now I can look forward to fresh seafood, tomato and burrata salads, spinakopita, Maryland deviled-eggs (Old Bay of course)!

I’m convinced my Mom can cook anything, and man can she create a table-scape.  She’s just not that into baking, which is where I come in.  This year, I wanted to find a recipe that would appeal to kids and grown up kids alike.  Something sweet, portable, and to appease the non-chocoholics in my life.  I bring you my take on Oatmeal Cream Pies just in time for Easter!

Oatmeal Cream Pies (makes about 40 cookies, 20 sandwiches)

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 12 oz Betty Crocker Whipped Fluffy White Frosting

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together with a spoon.

In a large bowl, mix the softened butter and brown sugar with a hand-held mixer for about 2 mins.  Add your eggs and vanilla to the wet mixture, and mix on medium speed until all of the ingredients are combined.  Slowly incorporate the flour and oat dry mixture into the wet ingredients, I added a quarter of the mixture at a time.  Combine dry and wet ingredients with your mixer on low until completely blended.  Stir in your raisins with the spoon.

Ok decision time!  Large or small cream pies?  I say go big or don’t eat, so went with the large size.  If so, put heaping tablespoons of the batter onto a silpat (can also use parchment paper) on top of your baking sheet.  If you want the smaller hand-held variety cookies, use a regular cereal spoon to dole out your batter.  Make sure to leave at least an inch to 1 1/2 inch between batter.  It will spread out while cooking.  Cook in a 350 degree oven for 14-16 minutes, rotating your cookie sheet half way through to ensure evenly-browned goodness.

Let your cookies cool on a wire rack for 5-10 mins.  Once they are cooled, use a spoon to spread about a tbs of the frosting between two cookies.  You guys will love these!  They have a melt in your mouth brown-sugary goodness quality and are easy to transport today’s Easter feast.

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Volt Review

16 Jan

Are you all enjoying this lovely three-day weekend?  I know I am!  It’s been so nice to have an extra day to relax after several days of events and errands.  It also gave me time to catch up on my blogging for Imperfectly Delicious and Pamela’s PunchAnd boys and girls, I have a rave review for you! 

First let me preface this review by saying I grew up in a family of foodies.  My parents always used fresh ingredients in the kitchen and on the grill.  Which makes me appreciate restaurants like Volt, who really focus on using seasonal produce and local farmers.  That might make me sound snobby (my nose is in the air as I type), but I think you’ll all agree that at least 90% of the time fresh food just tastes better.  All of this is to say that my family was pre-disposed to like Volt for this reason, oh and because of the unbelievably positive press surrounding the restaurant. 

My family arrived about 30 minutes early to the restaurant, shocking given DC traffic on a holiday weekend.  The friendly hostess team took our coats and seated us immediately in a simple and chic dining room.  The dining room had cream-colored artistic lights, bright white table cloths, and vivid orange menus.  The multiple servers brought us drink and wine menus and enthusiastically described the artisanal cocktails.    I was freezing, so ordered a Hot Buttered Rum and my parents both settled on the EnclaveBoth drinks packed a punch and warmed us up quickly!

We stalled and snacked on house-made bread sticks dusted with fennel pollen, as we waited for my sister to arrive.  The servers were pleasantly patient and didn’t rush us in the slightest.  Once she arrived one of our servers (we had many) described the menu ordering options in detail.  At Volt you can either order a seven course protein-based tasting menu, a seven course produce-based tasting menu, or a four course menu that combines the two.  Our table opted for the four course tasting menu.

My first dish was the Oyster, Smoked Potato, Truffle and Bacon chowder.  This deconstructed soup was creatively displayed, and once combined, all of the ingredients formed the best chowder you ever ate.  Light and creamy with pleasant bite from the potatoes.

My second course was a recommendation from a friend.  I ordered the tangy Goat Cheese Ravioli with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Parsley Root Ash, and Sage Foam The pasta was spectacular!  I would have probably left the restaurant happy just by ordering this one dish.  The goat cheese was tart and creamy, and the mushrooms and sage gave the dish a deliciously woodsy flavor.  If you go to Volt this dish is a must-order item.

At this point the restaurant sent over their Wine Director to assist us with the expansive list.  Jill enthusiastically guided us through the menu, and helped us to select the perfect bottle for our tastes.  I loved talking to her and listening to all of the stories behind the different wines. 

For my third course I went against the table and ordered the Pork Shoulder, Sunchoke, Onion, and Cabbage.  As you can see from the image above, this dish way exceeded my expectations in terms of types of pork on the plate.  I not only had a nice portion of the pork shoulder, but also some pork belly and a sparerib.  The onions were the perfect complement and added a bit of sweetness to the dish.  The rest of the table ordered the Lobster, which was also outstanding.  I sampled a bite because it looked so pretty!  The lobster was perfectly cooked with just a touch of sweetness

My fourth course was dessert (yay), and I selected the Chocolate Marshmallow with Caramel and Peanut Ice Cream.  Oh heavens, my mouth is watering just thinking of it now.  I loved the rustic look of the dish and the playful touch with the gourmet marshmallow fluff.  I wanted to lick the plate. 

I would have too if I wasn’t so busy staring at the gorgeous plates around me.  Check out my dad’s striking dessert of the Peppermint White Chocolate and Eggnog Gingerbread.  How clever to take traditional flavors from the Holidays and reinterpret the presentation to invoke thoughts of Spring.

Oh but we weren’t finished yet!  Our four-course meal also included Volt’s complimentary tray of sweet bites to round out the meal.  These included chocolate and coffee macarons, house-made gelee, a fennel marshmallow, and hazelnut espresso truffles.  Two trays were delivered for our table of four!

This meal was absolutely divine.  In fact, it doesn’t even seem fair to call it a meal, it was more of a dining experience.  This dinner ranked up with the top five meals of my life.  The food was superb, and Chef Bryan Voltaggio elevated classic flavors with his witty, artistic presentation.  I would also like to say the entire staff at Volt were knowledgeable and welcoming.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been rushed through a dinner, but they let us truly enjoy our meal at a relaxed pace.  Hands down the best service I’ve ever experienced at a restaurant.  Finally, I know that $80 can seem like a lot to spend on a four-course dinner.  Our dinner was actually more like a seven-course dinner, and included the four courses described above with the bread course (bacon brioche!), complimentary dessert bites, and house-made granola togo delivered with our check. 

My overall rating is an A+ for Volt. Truly inventive and delightful food and worth every bit of traffic.   Thanks to my fabulous family for the reservation, meal and company!

Charming Charleston Part Deux

6 Jan

A belated Happy New Year!  As some of you may recall, I celebrated the New Year in style in Charleston with my best friends.  It was an impulse trip, because to me, it’s perfectly acceptable to buy a plane ticket on my friend’s iPhone.  Let’s just say I’m very susceptible to peer-pressure, and had too much fun last time I was in town to turn down a repeat trip.  Here’s a look at my meals last weekend. 

Saturday morning at Lost Dog Cafe:  Biscuits & Sausage Gravy, Cheese Grits , a Cinnamon Roll and a Pimosa.

I’m linking you back to my last post of the creamy sausage gravy and gritsThe pimosa was a pomegranate mimosa and perfectly tart.  The cinnamon roll, which we split, was awesome.  Not your traditional ooey gooey cinnamon syrup but still sweet and with lick the plate good frosting.

Great motto, great food, lots of cute puppies.  Solid winner in my book!

Most of Saturday was spent driving around and hanging out in the gorgeous 73 degree weather.  I was beat for my early morning flight and squeezed in a nap right before dinner and our New Year’s festivities.

Saturday dinner:  NY Style Pepperoni and Supreme Pizza from Andolini’s Pizza.  

Ohhhh yeah!  Think jumbo slice sizes but with the good greasy taste you’d expect from a NYC joint.  I put away a piece-and-a-half, and managed to stay full all night while we played at Roost.  I was also very glad to have my half piece leftover when we got home.  First bite of 2012!

Sunday brunch:  Fleet Landing with Peel & Eat Shrimp, Fried Green Tomato & Crab Salad Appetizer, and Poached Eggs with a Crab Cake over Grits and topped with Red Pepper Hollandaise.

Brunch was a delight!  Great food, good company and beautiful scenery.  My friends really talked to me, I swear. 

After brunch we spent the day at Red’s and then back for another nap!  We’re not old, we just really enjoyed ourselves on New Year’s Eve. 😉

Dinner:  Triangle with Avocado Spring Rolls and a Pork Belly topped Cheese Burger with Sweet Potato Fries and Apple Butter.

Mmm delicious fried and gloriously greasy food!  If you think my burger looks insane, check out my friend Mike’s meal.  He ordered a burger sandwiched between two grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches.

Another successful culinary journey through Charleston!  I think my friends and I did a great job of making the most of our meals (read over-indulging) considering the trip was just two days.

I’ll finally be back this week with some recipes.   Also here’s your reminder to book your reservations for Restaurant Week Jan. 9-15th.  I’ll be checking out the new Italian place Elisir.  Check out my post at http://www.pamelaspunch.com/elisir-ristorante-cocktail-primary/ for more info on their specialty cocktails and creative menu!

Thanksgiving Recap

26 Nov

Happy belated Thanksgiving!  Did you stuff yourself like crazy too?  Of course you did, after all, we’re American.  Once again, my mother outdid herself and created an epic dinner for the sixteen of us! 

Upon arriving at my parents house Wednesday, I was greeted with a glass of wine.  My first thought was to check out the fridge.  Please note that my cheese addiction is hereditary, and take a look at my parents’ cheese drawer.  🙂  Below please find our Thanksgiving menu and pictures of the feast!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and I’ll be sharing my Mashed Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onions recipe tomorrow!

Chocolate and Orange Frosting

20 Nov

I know I was supposed to pepper you this past week with a gazillion posts on all things turkey, instead I write you about birthday cake.  No it’s not MY birthday!  I accept my gifts in mid January.  It was my co-worker’s birthday this weekend, so I brought her a celebratory cake on Friday. 

To be honest, the cake itself wasn’t that memorable.  She requested vanilla, so I complied.  What WAS memorable was my new recipe for the most lusciously whipped Chocolate and Orange Frosting.

Wow, I mean, wow.  I’m so pleased with the way this turned out, I’m thinking of making another cake just to serve as an excuse to make more of this.  As with most of my recipes, it’s really easy and doesn’t take too many ingredients.

Chocolate and Orange Frosting

  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs orange juice with pulp
  • 1 tbs orange zest
  • 1 tbs shaved orange chocolate flakes

First melt your chocolate and butter in a medium-sized pot over low heat.  Stir until melted and shiny.  While you are waiting for the chocolate to melt, whip your cream and powdered sugar in a bowl with a mixer.  It should only take a few minutes to whip up, and form a smooth, creamy texture.  Pour your chocolate and orange juice into the bowl with whipped cream, and slowly fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.  Folding the two mixtures will keep the frosting light and fluffy.  Once combined, spread over a cooled cake, cupcakes or pour into a cereal bowl and pick up a spoon.  Spread orange zest and orange-flavored chocolate shavings over top.

Wishing it was your birthday? 😉  I’ll be back tomorrow with more holiday-themed and Thanksgivingy items.

Foodie Fun at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show

10 Nov

Hi friends!  I went to the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at the Convention Center this past weekend and had a fab time.  Here are a few pictures from the event. 

 The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show
Caviart

Apron Options from Two Lumps of Sugar

Candy Apples from The Sweet Shoppe

Gourmet Assorted Sea Salts from The Spice Lab

Michele's Granola

Guy Fieri 3

Enjoi Cupcake Tower

 National Beef Cook-Off Stage

Dr. Jill Biden Introducing Guy Fieri

For more info on the show and to find out what Guy Fieri cooked, please check out my post on Pamela’s Punch at http://www.pamelaspunch.com/foodie-fun-at-the-metropolitan-cooking-and-entertaining-show/.

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

9 Nov

I love Indian food.  Love it!  The combination of thick comforting stews and curries with rich flavors and a little heat.  Sign me up! 

I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs and had to try it out.  Let’s just say it was WAY more labor-intensive than most crock pot meals.  Let the record also show this was absolutely incredible, and had the depth of flavor you would expect from a fancy Indian restaurant.   Make this, now.

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala from Eatliverun.com

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tbs Ground Coriander
  • 1 tbs Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Yogurt
  • 4 tbs Butter
  • 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, pierced a few times with a knife

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 4 tbs Butter
  • 1 whole large Onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbs Kosher Salt
  • 3 tbs Garam Masala
  • 1 piece Fresh Ginger, about 2-3 inches, peeled and grated
  • 4 cups crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 tbs Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1-½ cup Heavy Cream

Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighsinto 1 and a half inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken, then stir in the yogurt until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover lightly and let sit for 10 mins before proceeding.

Melt 1 tbs of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/4 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the crock pot as it is finished, using 1 tbs of butter per batch, and repeat until the chicken is all in the slow-cooker. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.

Prepare the sauce. Return the pan to the heat and melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the onions, garlic, and kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown around the edges.
 
Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 min) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and sugarStir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a boil.  Pour over the chicken in the crock pot.
 

Cover and cook on Low for 5 hrs, or until the chicken is very tender.

Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch into the heavy cream until smooth. Pour into the crock pot and stir gently until the color is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 mins or until bubbly around the edges.

The traditional way to serve this would be over rice and with some naan.  I laugh in the face of tradition and served it of a curried carrot fettuccine I got recently from Pasta Valente.  Either way, I promise this dish will not disappoint!