comfort food · dinner · easy · gravy · Holiday recipes · lunch · mushrooms · potatoes · quick · Sauces · sides · thanksgiving · vegetarian · Yummy

Mushroom Herb Gravy and Car Shopping

Holy fuck you guys. I bought a new car just in the nick of time. It’s a fucking winter wonderland out there, and I am fully prepared with a car that has working heat (and a fully functional engine that doesn’t threaten to stop at any given moment). Hallelujah!

I bought a purple Honda Fit, and promptly named her Vivian (“Viv” for short). She and I are in love and plan to live a long and happy life together.

Car shopping is the literal worst. I went to several used car dealerships (I mean, who the fuck is out there buying new cars, and do they also have a room full of money in which they swim?), some of which were 40+ minutes away (that’s a long drive in a car that may or may not die without warning). There was one I found online that had several cars in my price range and also had good Yelp reviews. Perfect. I’m ready and I know what I fucking want. Let’s do this.

I pull up to these two wooden shacks. There’s a small sign that says the name of the dealership, and I can see a bunch of cars parked in a huge dirt parking lot behind them. So I walk into one of the buildings and see several people working at desks. No one offers to help me. After standing around with a look of bewilderment on my face, I finally interrupt one of them, a young woman with fake nails and purple highlights, to ask if someone could help me find a car. She tells me to just walk out to the parking lot – there are salesmen out there. Fantastic. As I walk towards the cars, the wind picks up, blowing dirt and sand into my face. I power on. Once I reach what looks to be a wasteland of damaged vehicles, I scan the area. There is no one out there that looks anything like a salesman. There are two couples looking at cars, one of which is asking questions of a man in dirty jeans and a hooded sweatshirt that is driving around in a golf cart. Dirty jeans. Hooded sweatshirt. A GOLF CART.

Am I at a house party in the country? What is happening here?

Dirty jeans man is, in fact, an employee. And he’s not alone! He helps direct me to a second dirty jeans man with his very own golf cart as well. Perfect. Drive me around this piece of shit lot and find me a car that isn’t covered in hail damage. K. Thanks.

Dirty jeans man #2 proceeds to tell me (while he takes me for a golf cart ride) that all the cars on the lot are salvaged. Most of them were purchased at auction and are from floods. Wonderful. He also takes me back to the office with rude purple highlights lady and tells me that I have to look through this huge book that lists all the cars on the lot. Once I find one I like, I should then find a dirty jeans man to drive me (in the golf cart) to said car.

I did not buy a car from them.

Since I was in the area, I opted to check out another dealership. This one only had one employee that I could see. He was a gruff old man that was also poorly dressed. When I walked into the lobby, he was in an office off to the side helping someone else. As that costumer left, he yelled, “Come in,” as though I was a misbehaving child being called into the principal’s office. I tentatively sat down and stated that I was looking for a used car. He asked what I was looking for specifically. I confidently stated, “Honda Civic or Fit with under 130,000 miles for less than $5,000.” At this point I already had my eye on Viv, but wanted to shop around. He let out a chuckle and condescendingly stated, “Oh, honey. You’re not gonna find nothin’ like that. Not for that price.”

I stood up and said, “I already have! But great! Thanks!”

It was a 30 second interaction. I’m proud of myself for not murdering anyone.

The whole thing ended with me getting a very fair deal on Craigslist from an older couple that was just fucking lovely. They also wore clean jeans, which is nice.

I made this gravy for Thanksgiving and it was a hit (with me and one other person, but we have good taste). It’s cold as fuck outside, and that means it’s goddamn gravy season. Am I right?! So throw this together in 20 minutes to help warm up your insides.

 

Mushroom Herb Gravy

8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons butter or oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups veggie broth

1 sprig rosemary

1 tablespoon sage (minced fresh or dried)

Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic plus salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two. Make sure the moisture from the mushrooms has completely evaporated. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. While frequently stirring, allow mixture to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Let the flour toast slightly, turning a golden brown. Whisk in the broth, making sure to fully incorporate it with the flour (no lumps!). Throw in the rosemary (whole) and the sage. Stir well and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until desired consistency. Remove sprig of rosemary.

Pour that shit on everything. I scooped it onto some fried potatoes, wilted Swiss charge, and then topped it with an egg (see below).

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comfort food · easy · Holiday recipes · potluck food · sides · Stuffing · thanksgiving · vegetarian · Yummy

Vegetarian Stuffing

I spent my Thanksgiving watching the parade, drinking champagne, playing Sorry, drinking more champagne, cooking awesome food, eating awesome food, and oh, did I mention drinking champagne? And then we ended it with cake! Best. Day. Ever.

And I fucking cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, minus the turkey, obviously. But still! It was a success. And this recipe from Buzzfeed was shockingly easy and delicious. We were originally planning on making stuffing from a box, but fuck that shit. For some reason, I was under the impression that stuffing is complicated to make. Not the case! It’s basically savory bread pudding. Why didn’t I realize this?

I know that looks like meat, but it’s actually vegan Korean BBQ “ribs.” I was feelin’ fancy, so I picked some up at the Herbivorous Butcher for fucking $12.99/lb. FML.

I am a carb lover at heart. When I was a child, I would routinely eat an entire sleeve of Toasteds crackers and then lie about it (I especially loved them slathered in easy cheese, but try not to judge me). It comes as no surprise that stuffing is my very favorite Thanksgiving food. I usually eat it for breakfast the next day (or several days), which always appalled my sister. Since I love bread so much, and because I didn’t actually know what I was doing, I ripped the bread into somewhat large chunks for this recipe. You don’t have to do that, but you’re missing out if you don’t. The larger chunks held onto SO much flavor without becoming mushy. It was chewy and comforting, just like stuffing should be, but I ended up having to individually spear some of the bread pieces with my fork, having to bite off half of it at a time. This is not a bad problem to have, and I still highly recommend the larger chunks. Especially for dipping them into your eggs in the morning when all you want for breakfast is stuffing, but you figure you better add an egg to it to make it “real” breakfast! I also added cooked spinach and Swiss chard to it, because I figured I needed a vegetable, too. See? You can make stuffing for breakfast seem completely balanced and normal.

Side note: Turns out I hate cranberry sauce. I mean, what is it’s point? To make literally everything on the plate tart and fruity? WHY? I just want to add it to a peanut butter sandwich and move on with my life. Stop trying to taint my food, cranberry sauce. Fuck.

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Vegetarian Stuffing (originally a Buzzfeed recipe, which shocked me)

1 loaf crusty, white bread

4 stalks celery, diced

1 large onion, diced

6 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups veggie broth

Salt and pepper

Tear the bread up into smallish (bite-sized) chunks and spread out on a baking sheet. Let it sit out for at least 6 hours (or overnight) until it becomes stale (this way it won’t turn to mush when we add all the other good stuff). If it’s time to start cooking, and you realize you forgot to dry out the bread, that’s okay! Just throw it in the oven at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in the celery and onion (plus a little salt and pepper) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and continue to cook for an additional few minutes, stirring frequently. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with a big splash of the broth. We need to slowly bring the eggs up to the correct temperature, so they don’t scramble when added to the mixture. Whisk them well with a bit of broth, then add a bit more, eventually adding all of the broth little by little. If your broth is low sodium, add a little salt and pepper here. If not, just add a little black pepper. Place the dried bread into a large mixing bowl, and pour all other ingredients over the top. Mix well, making sure all the bread gets coated. Buzzfeed says to be “gentle but firm,” which is fucking perfect. Isn’t that just great advice for everything in life?

Throw all that shit into a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 30ish minutes at 425 before uncovering. Then bake for another 15 minutes until it gets golden brown. This serves about 6, but is super fucking delicious, so maybe only 4. If you didn’t share it with anyone, and made it on a random Wednesday in May, I would 100% understand.

baking · cake · comfort food · dessert · Yummy

Gingerbread Cake for Thanksgiving

 

This is my very first Thanksgiving without my mom.

She’s not dead or anything – she just opted to stay in Florida. Who the hell could blame her? Sunny beaches and no one demanding anything? Fuck yes. I totally fucking get it. But now I don’t have a Thanksgiving meal being cooked for me. That’s a fucking bummer.

I spent three Thanksgivings living in New York during my early 20’s. My mom visited every single one of those Thanksgivings and cooked me a full dinner. I’m spoiled fucking rotten, and I know it. We once had a Friendsgiving at my giant, rent controlled apartment with a group of my misfit friends from the cafe in which I worked. It involved a LOT of champagne and ridiculous behavior (my mom is cool). The photos from that night are embarrassing and hilarious. My face is all shiny and my eyes are glazed over. I think I drank something like 4 bottles of champagne. I mean, that’s normal, right? Humberto was still living there, and everything was right in the world. As much as we tried to recreate it, it never fell together that well again.

Since my mom isn’t in town for Thanksgiving, I am having a mini Friendsgiving (is it still called that when it’s only 2 people?). I asked if he would be into an apple/pumpkin pie combo (can you believe that is a thing?!). He immediately responded with, “What’s wrong with you?” Okay. So no combo pies. FINE.

That means we get gingerbread cake, which is usually my go-to Christmas dessert. This cake is dark and not all that sweet – sort of like dark chocolate. It’s lovely despite it’s plain appearance. Please serve it with fresh whipped cream. You won’t be sorry.

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Gingerbread Cake

1 stick of butter cut into cubes

1 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup unsulfured molasses

2 large eggs (room temp, lightly beaten)

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Whipped cream (homemade is best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the baking soda and watch it foam up like a little kid’s science fair project. I have no idea why this is a necessary step, but, you know, science. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before stirring in the butter until it melts. Whisk in the brown sugar and molasses. Mixture should be lukewarm at this point. If it’s too hot, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to cool down. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in eggs.

In a medium mixing bowl, throw in flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking powder. If you’re feeling fancy, you can sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. And then, per all my cake baking instructions, throw that shit in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. It stops the baking process and keeps it moist as fuck. You’re welcome.

I photographed this with reddi-whip, but don’t be like me. Serve it with fresh whipped cream. Don’t know how to make that? You literally just whisk the shit out of some heavy whipping cream, a splash of vanilla, and a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar. If you have a mixer, use that. If not, you can do it by hand – trust me.

apple · comfort food · pie · vegetarian

Apple Pie

20151125_083824I always bring the apple pie for Thanksgiving – or I have for the last 3 years. I’m the baker – it’s my job. However, I’ve been cheating. I’ve been buying frozen pie crust, because I was scared to make it from scratch. It’s not my fault – my mom repeatedly told me it was too much work to make pie crust, and often doesn’t taste as good as store bought.

She’s a liar.

It was so fucking easy. Sorry, Mom. Maybe you just didn’t have a good recipe… or maybe it was because you were using shortening instead of butter. Shortening isn’t food! I made a butter crust, and it turned out great! Well, we haven’t actually eaten it yet… but it looks great. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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I’m also a big fan of a crumble topping – because, I mean, duh. It’s literally half butter. And I get to use my hands to mush it all together. Win, win.

20151125_093256Back when I didn’t actually know how to cook or bake, I would bring stuff to share anyway. Or, even worse, I’d invite my mom and sister over for dinner. My sister often didn’t eat much. Mom was a little bit better at hiding the fact that it tasted horrible. The first time I brought apple pie to Thanksgiving a few years ago, my sister whispered, in shock, to her husband, “It’s good.” It was so validating.

So, cross your fingers for me that this pie tastes as good as it looks.

20151125_092631Pie Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick cold butter, chopped into cubes

Approx. 6 tablespoons ice water

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add butter, and mash it in with a fork until it forms coarse crumbs. You want there to be plenty of butter clumps remaining, so don’t mix it too well. Slowly mix in water, one tablespoon at a time, until it holds together. Roll it up into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for as least 2 hours (I left it overnight). When you’re ready to bake your pie, roll out the dough onto a floured surface, and press into pie pan.

20151125_103726Apple Pie with Crumb Topping

Topping:

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick cold butter, chopped into cubes

Filling:

5-7 large apples, or 8-10 small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and place oven rack on lowest position. Mix the dry filling ingredients in a small bowl. Toss apple slices with lemon juice in a large bowl, then mix in the dry ingredients. Toss everything together, and layer apples in the pie pan, mounding them more in the middle. Mix all topping ingredients together, and mash the cold butter in with your hands until it forms course crumbs. Again, you want some chunks of butter to remain, so don’t be overzealous. Pat topping evenly over apples. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes. If the top browns too quickly, loosely drape a sheet of tinfoil over the top.

Top with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, and eat the whole thing right out of the pan. I won’t judge you.