Food I’m Drooling Over Now

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I will update this once I get out to try, and will move some to the proper place on the Gastro Graze.

I haven’t gotten there yet, but I made my husband visit The Merry Dairy on his whirl wind visit in fall. I have this thing for frozen custard, especially in a cone, especially with rainbow sprinkles. They’re the best in England or Wales, for 99p with a chunk of flake sticking out of them. This is not an easy thing to find in the U.S. even with the omission of the flake. The Merry Dairy springs forth with soft serve in cones with toppings in rainbow colors like they’re the givers of smiles for the planet.

BFF. Burger and Fries Forever. Nothing so special here, right? I mean, Austin has its share of burger joints and they are good. It takes a powerful force to make me crave a burger, particularly one I haven’t tried before. BFF does it effortlessly with images of dripping meat, chicken that’s visibly crunchy, and fries gooey with cheese. Sold. I’m there. Take my money and shut up.

Edgar, just over the river in Gatineau, makes me want one of their perfectly poached eggs with radicchio, lardon, wild mushrooms, and anything else they want to throw on there even if it were 3am and I was being jolted awake to eat. Even if I had just finished a meal so filling, I’d have to lay down on the floor. It doesn’t matter, I’d eat their offerings. Plates that look so simple and yet intense that even if I knew they’d been sprinkled with poison, I’d be hard pressed not to gobble them up.

North & Navy. I grew up with Italian food. I’m so stereotypical Italian, my family had pizza restaurants in New York. I can make meatballs in my sleep. I have an Uncle Mario AND an Uncle Vinny. I’m generally very picky about my Italian food. The red sauce covered cheese stuffed crap we’d make in the restaurants is not the Italian we’d eat at home or after 10pm once we stopped serving. Cold, fresh slices of cantaloupe wrapped in delicate, salty prosciutto. Octopus grilled to a char and drizzled with olive oil. Flat breads topped with shaved parmesan, a million fresh greens, lemony homemade ricotta and served with slices of rare bistecca. That’s the Italian food that makes me proud, and hungry. And North & Navy serves plates that look very much like home to me.

Black Walnut Bakery. Sometimes you need a croissant the size of your head, one that you know would not only not be over kill, but each bite would be better than the last and you’d miss it when it was gone as you pressed your finger tips to every last flakey crumb trying to extend the experience.

Now, I have about a half dozen Indian places on my list. I love a good curry. When my husband and I travel to the UK we eat so much Indian food, we practically bleed saag paneer. But if there are any recommendations – for Indian or anything else for that matter – I would love to get some!

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USAToday.com Published Features on Pop Candy

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All the Below Posts were published in USAToday.com Pop Candy Blog Feature.

Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top heroic scoundrels

April 2011

These are some of the men who were mostly good, but a little bad. Or maybe they were mostly bad, but good enough. It was sometimes conflicting to cheer for them — but you did it anyway!

Pop Five Heroic Scoundrels:

1. Star Wars, Han Solo. “I love you!” “I know.” Han Solo looks out for one guy: himself. Well, OK, he’ll help you out, but Chewbacca and he are certainly going to act all tough about it before they do. Women love him and men want to be him. The perfect heroic scoundrel.

2. Pirates of the Caribbean, Capt. Jack Sparrow. Did you want him on your side? You bet. Did you want to take him home to family dinner? Probably not. Awful teeth paired with a great sense of style earned this pirate respect from the gents and blushes from the ladies. Capt. Jack had enemies whose numbers rivaled the stars in the sky, yet he was near impossible to dislike. Selfish, dirty, untrustworthy and charismatic made him awfully wonderful.

3. Torchwood, Capt. Jack Harkness. When he gave those first 12 children to the destructive alien race, he thought he was saving mankind. A few for the many. He certainly died a little inside, but he delivered the innocent to something worse than death. The second Capt. Jack on this list can be as cold as he can be hot while saving the earth, and he saves the human race on an almost daily basis. Harkness hates himself more than anyone else ever could, and it makes you love him more.

4. Dirty Harry, Harry Callahan. Sometimes a man has to take justice into his own hands. Harry Callahan was the epitome of that creed. He was taking out guys you wanted to see punished, but he wasn’t exactly abiding by the law to do it. Excessive force was his cup of tea. He showed us that the proper way to truly stop a robbery: Drive through the store front, shoot the robbers first, ask questions later.

5. Sweeney Todd, Sweeney Todd (The 1973, 1979 and 2007 versions). Though I considered giving this spot to Royal Tenenbaum, it really belonged to the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He was a delusional, psychopathic serial killer. Yet your heart strings always tugged and felt for him: He was crazy over the loss of his love and their daughter. And who didn’t want to see the Judge get his comeuppance? Todd was sent to a penal colony for 15 years on false charges just so the judge could rape Todd’s wife. His revenge puts the Demon Barber on the fine line of heroic scoundrels.

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Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top office spaces

April 2011

There’s no better way to get into what you do for a living then to enjoy your workspace. Since so few of us have a workspace we actually like looking at let alone spending most of our waking hours in, I was inspired to create the Pop Five TV Show Workspaces:

1. IT Crowd — IT Department office. Every time I watch that show it’s like a Where’s Waldo of wonderful geek stuff. Their IT basement offers desks coated in Space Invaders, multiple videogame systems, a plethora of comic and pop culture toys and posters, and Noel Fielding in a bizarre, rarely entered side closet. It’s the perfect working environment!

2. The Simpsons— Mr. Burns’ office. From the giant stuffed polar bear to the trap doors, the multiple TVs in the wall … Mr. Burns’ office is one of undeniable evil, but it sure seems like fun. Also, it comes with Smithers and you can’t beat that kind of devotion in a lackey.

3. Glee — Sue Sylvester’s office. Intimidating? Yes. Are you good enough for it? Probably not. Loaded with supplements, trophies (the Victory Case) and a treadmill, Sylvester’s office is the perfect combo of intense and winning. Also there’s a mouse pad, but no computer on her desk. What else would you expect from the Chuck Norris of gym teachers?

4. 30 Rock – Liz Lemon’s office. A mixture of toys and pathetic stereotypical woman stuff (we all know Liz used the hand weight on her desk maybe twice) Liz Lemon’s office is often where hilarity ensues. The perfect place for her to have breakdowns and Jack to belittle her. And who isn’t obsessed with that framed picture of a messy plate of food?

5. The Cosby Show – Dr. Huxtable’s basement office. It was rarely seen, but super gorgeous. Cozy, neat objects you wanted to touch, but knew you weren’t allowed to, and lots of pictures of his family members … who were right upstairs. Obviously making a good living for being able to afford such a sweet brownstone, Dr. H didn’t seem to be at work too often. The only thing he coveted more then his private workspace was his hot sweater collection.

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Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top animation/puppet voice actors

March 2011

Pop 5 Animation/Puppet Voice Actors:

5. Patrick Warburton — Whether you’ve come to love him as Brock on The Venture Brothers or as the Caboose in The Little Engine That Could, Warburton’s voice is a screen gem. Heard most recently and regularly as Joe Swanson on Family Guy, Warburton has also performed the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the television series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, the animated film The Emperor’s New Groove, and Bee Movie, among many others. He’s got a great tough-guy, yet nonthreatening way about his speech. Of course, upon hearing his voice in anything I immediately remark, “That’s Puddy!”

4. Tress MacNielle — What would The Simpsons be without their Crazy Cat Lady? Animaniacs without Dot Warner? MacNielle even lent her voice to Chip and Gadget of the Rescue Rangers! Pinky and the Brain, Princess Mononoke, The Smurfs, Tiny Toon Adventures – MacNielle has performed for all. She’s done dozens upon dozens of voices on Futurama (an instant win in my book) as well as voices for Disney and Nickelodeon television shows, video games and movies. And I’m barely scratching the surface of her voice-over career.

3. Mel Blanc — He was Bugs Bunny. He was Foghorn Leghorn. He was Pepe Le Pew, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Tweety, and even Yosemite Sam. Mel Blanc’s voice was that of a lot of well-known characters, but most importantly he was essential to any happy Saturday morning I had as a child.

2. Phil LaMarr — If you’re unsure of who Phil LaMarr is, I recommend you check out his time as Cowboy Curtis in Pee-wee Herman‘s HBO special. As far as his voice work goes, his resume is quite extensive. I first fell in love with his voice abilities from watching Samurai Jack, but it was the 56 (!) characters and counting he has voiced on Futurama that really sold me on his vocal talent. He’s been on many of my favorite shows including Harvey Birdman, Invader Zim and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, to name just a few. At a mere 44 years old, I can only hope his career will be a long and creative one.

1. Frank Oz — Easily the greatest voice in the business to me. Sure, he was Miss Piggy, but he was also Aughra and Chamberlain of The Dark Crystal. Perhaps most importantly he is Yoda. And that’s not to mention being the voice – and soul – of Bert, Cookie Monster, Grover, Fozzie, and, my personal favorite, Sam the Eagle. Sure, there are others, but there’s just not the space available here. I adore the sound of Oz’s voice, though I’m fairly certain I’ve never heard his real one.

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Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s bad product placement songs

November 2010

Pop Five Product Placement Songs That the Products Want Nothing to Do With:

1. Shout stain remover and Shout by Tears for Fears — The lyrics just don’t conjure images of Moms getting grass stains out, at least not the way Shout would want their ads to do so: “They gave you life, and in return you gave them hell. As cold as ice, I hope we live to tell the tale, I hope we live to tell the tale.”

2. Maybelline cosmetics and Maybelline by Chuck Berry — Exactly what the cosmetic creator wants to be associated with: a loose woman who’s been cheating on her man again, is skipping out on the relationship and trying to leave town. “Maybelline, why can’t you be true? Oh, Maybelline, why can’t you be true? You done started back doing the things you used to do.”

3. Cadillac automotive and Brand New Cadillac by The Clash — It’s not exactly derogatory to Cadillac, but it doesn’t really send the best message either. Good song, though. “I said, ‘Jesus Christ, where’d you get that Cadillac?’ She said, ‘Balls to you Daddy.’ She ain’t never coming back.”

4. Vaseline and Vaseline by Stone Temple Pilots — “Punch drunk and without bail. Think I’d be safer alone. Flies in the Vaseline we are …” The Flaming Lips did a song called Vaseline that’s far cuter then STP’s tune about a slightly crazy, but adorable girl and Ice Cube did a song called Out of Vaseline (something I’m sure Vaseline really doesn’t want to be associated with).

5. Orange Crush soda and Orange Crush by R.E.M. — It was hard to choose between this and the Manic Street PreachersOcean Spray, but at least the Ocean Spray in the MSP song is meant to be a drink. I know as I child I always thought of this when having a refreshing Orange Crush on a hot day: “High on the booze in a tent, paved with blood, nine-inch howl. Brave the night. Chopper comin’ in, you hope.”

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Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s bad TV babysitters

October 2010

My husband is a social worker. It’s from his work that I was inspired to write this list:

Pop Five TV Coaches/Babysitters Who Probably Shouldn’t Have Been Allowed Near Children:

1. Charles (Charles In Charge) — Why was he in charge of a household of kids, the oldest of which was just a couple years younger then he? He was supposed to be 19! And what employer would allow their nanny to have a friend over as often as Buddy was there? In reality, Charles and Jamie Powell would have … well, I mean, really.

2. Coach John McGuirk (Home Movies) — This character was responsible for such quotes as “Life sucks, Brendon. That’s your lesson. Go enjoy it.” and “… there’s nothing wrong with lying to women. Or the government. Or parents. Or God.” McGuirk would have been the perfect date for Mrs. Krabappel.

3. Tony Micelli (Who’s the Boss?) — More of a child then a caretaker, Tony rarely seemed to have things under control and never seemed too bright. His daughter Samantha had to constantly remind him how to behave. And besides, who could have possibly concentrated with Angela coming on to everything with a pulse?

4. Joey (Full House) — Yes, that was his post in the Tanner household, to take care of the kiddies. He wasn’t related to anybody, just friends with Uncle Jesse and really quite the child himself.

5. Fran Fine (The Nanny) — A character primarily made out of stereotypes and hair so big it put Peggy Bundy to shame, Fran Fine struggled to keep her own life together let alone caring for children. Almost every episode revolved around her getting caught in a lie and using sex appeal to weasel out of punishment. When summed up like that, you wonder how the series lasted six seasons.

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Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top Totally Screwed Up Sidekicks

September 2010

They weren’t helpful as much as they were just totally sick and twisted. Sometimes you just wonder why some people hung out with them in the first place.
Pop Five Completely Screwed-Up and Bizarre Sidekicks:

5. Duela Dent/Harlequin — Always freaking out — whether laughing or crying — Harlequin’s life was as messed up and convoluted as she was. Was she really the Joker’s daughter? Or the Riddler’s daughter? Was she a member of the Teen Titans or the Titans East? Was there anyone she wouldn’t betray? She didn’t even seem to know herself.

4. Edie Sedgwick — Muse my a–. Warhol needed her for one thing and one thing only: self-destruction.

3. Sir Guy of Gisbourne : The Sheriff of Nottingham’s right hand man, Gisbourne was bloodthirsty, demeaned by his boss, and deprived of love. On top of all that, he had a terrible first name, which I imagine only added to the chip on his shoulder.

2. Tim Tom and Kevin — As if midgets dressed up like moppets weren’t enough, these boys have an unhealthy obsession with knives and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. “I like huggin’ you in your new costume, mum.”

1. Walter Sobchak : I spent half this movie expecting Walter to spin around and kill The Dude — or anybody — just because he could. You could never date Walter; God forbid it didn’t end well, I don’t want to think of the ways he would most certainly take his vengeance.

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Today’s Pop Five: Kate C.’s top normal, lovable sidekicks

September 2010

The key word here is “normal.” Granted the fact that these characters are sidekicks immediately makes them better then the rest of us who are neither main characters nor sidekicks, but they are essential and ordinary. And, yes Waylon Smithers is totally extraordinary, so he’s not on the list.

Pop Five Completely Normal and Essential Sidekicks:

5. Pokey (Gumby) — Pokey showed Gumby support and gave him advice. He was dubious of situations and asked questions, counteracting Gumby’s naïveté. He was the best clay donkey a green dude could ask for.

4. Wallace (Scott Pilgrim) — Wallace got it from the beginning. He knew what had to be done and spurred Scott to do it, though cheering on a warrior is always easier then doing the fighting himself. Wallace gave it to Scott straight and babied him rarely, playing well the fine line of cold, hard honesty and sympathy.

3. Linus van Pelt (Charlie Brown) — Often the conscience and sense of Charlie’s world, Linus, though always connected to his own blanket, frequently showed more courage and thought then his balding neighborhood comrade. Similar to the friendship shared by Gumby and Pokey, Linus is the patient philosopher of the group and, while he doesn’t have his sister’s insane emotions, he does carry his heart on his sleeve.

2. Cameron (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) Perhaps no sidekick served his friend better then Cameron. In a single day he supported, taught and learned from Ferris Bueller, as well as doing a little growing himself. Tall, handsome, goofy and single Cameron was perfect in every way.

1. Paul Pfeiffer (The Wonder Years) — He didn’t get the girl, he didn’t make the team and he was never, ever picked first. Except, of course, by Kevin Arnold, who found Paul’s presence to be indispensable. And unless you count his incredible allergies to just about everything on earth, Paul had absolutely no superpowers. He was great just the way he was.

About Me

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I am in my mid-30’s, an HR professional with a masters degree in adult education, and I love chicken tenders.

I have a son, a husband, a mustachioed dog, and a very annoying cat who is a million years old.

I have been published online in USA Today’s Pop Candy blog and Salon.com.

I was a contributing editor/writer for The Daily What family of websites.

I was a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink in Austin.

And it’s my absolute dream to be an educational coordinator for a museum.

Seriously. Like, “my dream” in the way some people want to make it to the Olympics.

This is happening. Make Peace with it.

Chocolate Banana Protein Bread

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One of my friends gave me a recipe for ultra light banana bread. The thing is, I’m not one for substitutes (fake egg, chemical sugar substitutes, etc). I think there’s a trade off of biting the bullet for “real” ingredients over zero fat or zero sugar additives that may save you calories, but give you a nice serving of processed crap instead. I don’t want finding ingredients to be a bitch, I don’t want chemicals in there or for the flavor to leave a weird coating on my tongue. I want my food to be mostly clean, but I’m no die hard. That’s just me. And I’m an ass, so by no means do you have to agree. Point is, I’m eating this banana bread and without the egg substitute and with real sugar it’s good. It’s an absolutely fine banana bread. But I am trying to be very conscious of everything I put in my body. That banana bread didn’t give me anything. So how could I get it to give me more?

Well, for starters I added dark chocolate. Ya know, for the antioxidants or whatever the hell. I substituted some of the flour for organic protein powder, changed the sugar substitute to real sugar and reduced the amount, added a little fat for moisture, and now have a protein boosted Banana Bread/Muffin for a quick breakfast to go prior to work.

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Chocolate Banana Protein Bread

1 cup + 2 TBSP whole wheat flour (or all purpose or some mix of the two, doesn’t matter)

2 scoops (1 serving) Orgain Organic Chocolate Protein Powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar (Or sugar substitute. You do you.)

2 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp Vanilla

1 1/2 to 2 cups smashed over-ripe bananas

2 eggs

2 TBSP Greek Yogurt (or light sour cream or regular sour cream or 0% greek yogurt)

1/2 cup Apple Sauce (or no sugar added applesauce)

1/4 cup Ghirardelli dark chocolate bittersweet chips

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Preheat ye olde oven to 350 degrees. Take a bread pan or muffin tin (makes 8 muffins) and spray with non-stick spray. Mix everything, except the chocolate in a bowl. Seriously. Just chuck it all in at once, skip the pomp & circumstance of sifting this or blending that or creaming. Screw that. Just put everything in a bowl and mix it with a hand blender, a good spoon, or your kitchenaid mixer. Once mixed well and mostly smooth, pour the batter into your prepped bread pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes for bread (35-40 minutes for muffins) or until a tooth pick comes out mostly clean. I like my bread moist, a little dense. If you want yours dryer or more cake like, cook it longer.

Let cool for an hour at least. I took mine out of the oven and let it cool a good couple of hours, then I sliced it into 8 pieces, wrapped them individually, and stacked them in the fridge for a quick grab-&-go breakfast for during the week. Each slice has less than 200 calories, 3 grams of fat, and about 8 grams of protein. That’s a lot less sodium, less fat, and less calories than an Odwalla, Kind, or Clif Bar and more protein than the Kind. And CHOCOLATE! Boom.

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie

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Using trimmed chicken thighs and herbs de Provence with lavender kicks up the flavor of this classic for a modern twist without ramping up the calories in kind. Sure, it’s called “Chicken Pot Pie”, but in these parts it’s known as CHICKEN POT AWESOME.

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Ingredients

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed of any excess fat and cut into 1″ chunks

3/4 cup roughly chopped carrots

2/3 cup frozen peas

2/3 cup frozen corn

1 cup chopped mushrooms (“Optional,” my husband says. They’re not.)

1 cup chopped celery or fennel (I prefer the fennel)

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

4 tsp kosher salt, divided

2 tsp black pepper, divided

1 1/2 tsp herbs de Provence (if you can get it with lavender it’s better)

1/3 cup flour

1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine

2/3 cups milk

2 9″ frozen pie crusts or pie dough

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll you pie dough into a deep casserole pan, leaving enough to top the pot pie if using. If you are going with 2 pie crusts, one will be your bottom and the other will be used for the top. I used pre-made pie crust in the aluminum pans, but turned one out and pressed it into my oval casserole pan, while rolling out the other for the top and it just worked fine.

In a medium pot heat 1/2 TBSP vegetable oil and combine chicken, carrots, peas, corn, mushrooms, and celery or fennel. Sprinkle with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper, and sauté over medium heat for about 6 minutes. Carefully add enough water to cover chicken and veggies, leaning away so steam doesn’t hit you in the face. Crank heat to high, cover, and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. This step can be done as much as a day in advance if need be. Simply store in an airtight container in the fridge and take out about 30 minutes before you’re ready to assemble the pie.

In a bowl or large measuring cup, mix the wine, broth, and milk. In a saucepan over medium heat cook the onions and garlic in the butter until soft. You don’t want these to brown. Mix in the remaining salt and pepper, and herbs, toasting a little while, stirring for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the flour, followed by one fourth of the liquid mixture. Stir until incorporated. Continue mixing the liquid in batches, stirring until incorporated each time. Once the liquid is well mixed and smooth with the onions, garlic, and herbs, let slightly thicken an additional couple of minutes (should coat the back of a spoon). Remove from heat.

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Pour the chicken and veggie mixture into the bottom pie crust. Pour the liquid flour-onion mixture over the top of the chicken, letting it move down and around every thing. Cover this deliciousness with the top crust, sealing the edges with the tines of a fork or your fingers. Cut 4 or 5 vents in the top about 1 inch long to allow steam to escape while baking. If you’re feelin’ fancy (and that’s okay) you can use extra pie dough to make a design on top or whisk an egg with 2 TBSP water for an egg wash to brush on for an extra shiny golden crust.

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Bake for 34 – 38 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown and the insides are bubbling hot. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving. We didn’t bother to serve ours with a side of anything, though I suppose mashed potatoes might be the norm or sautéed spinach might be good. The fact of the matter is any other food would simply detract from the pie, and who wants that? No one, that’s who.

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Kale Chips

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This may be the hippy-est thing I’ve ever said, but I love me some Kale Chips! Take a bunch of Kale (or two) and dry them out in your oven for crispy, delicious, and addicting healthy treats. When you make this, bake as much Kale you have time for. They cook down more than anything else you will ever bake. It’s like sautéing spinach. So, if it’s a rainy afternoon with hours to kill, do a number of bunches and keep them in zip lock bags, then re-toast to eat as snacks throughout the week. This is time consuming, but EASY, and definitely worth it.

Easy peasy!

Ingredients

1 bunch Kale (1 bunch as a snack per every 2 people is a good rule of thumb)

1 TBSP fresh lemon juice, divided

1 tsp Cayenne, divided

1 TBSP olive oil, divided

Kosher or Sea salt to taste

If you’ve got a convection oven use it. Preheat oven on convection to 280. If you’re using a regular oven, preheat it to 325. Rinse kale and cut the leafy part away from the stalk as best you can. You want large pieces because these suckers are going to contract more than Shrinky Dinks. Spread out your future chips on tea towels to dry a bit (you can do this long in advance to preheating the oven if you’d prefer to make them fresh later on). This will also give you an idea of how many batches you’ll have to do based on the size of leaves, cookie sheets, and oven size. This is important; the number of batches will of course be the way you’ll need to divide the lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and olive oil. If you’re good at eyeballing or winging it, do so!

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Scoop a cookie sheet’s worth of kale leaves (about 12-20) into a bowl and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice (I would just squeeze a half of a lemon through my fingers each time), a pinch of cayenne, enough olive oil to lightly coat most without being overly greasy, and a sprinkling of kosher or sea salt. Toss with tongs or hands. Place kale in an individual layer on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Immediately rinse your hands of any cayenne residue once you’ve got your kale placed. Bake for about 12-14 minutes in convection or 23-27 minutes on a regular oven setting. Some edges may brown; that’s absolutely fine. Place crisped leaves on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Continue baking in as many batches as needed. You can store in ziploc bags for up to a week and retoast whenever needed.

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Ooey Gooey Hipster Brownies

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I hate baking. It’s a mess. It’s gotta be exact. It’s a pain in the ass. What ever the result is, I’ll probably hate myself after eating it. And, frankly, if I’m going to have steak or sushi for dinner I’d much rather have more steak or sushi for dessert.

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But for some lame reason I like to take on new challenges and the past couple of weeks that has manifested in from-scratch brownies. Though, full disclosure, these actually came about because I was PMS’ing like a mofo, didn’t have chocolate in the house, and didn’t want to have to put on pants to go out and get some.

I’m calling them “Ooey Gooey Hipster Brownies” at the behest of friends that felt I shouldn’t call them “Stupid Fucking Hipster Brownies”. So, I also caved to peer pressure. Black pepper. The black pepper makes them hipster.

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I wanted brownies that had a very dark almost bitter flavor. Like me, but good. I also wanted a texture that would end up like the boxed mixes, ya know a mix between cake, fudge, and ganache. To intensify the dark chocolate flavor I reduced the sugar, and added cinnamon, cherry juice, espresso, and yes, black pepper. “But Katie, why not add balsamic vinegar? That’s so hot right now with dark chocolate.” First of all, the ‘e’ in my name is silent. It’s Kate. Secondly, balsamic vinegar in desserts is so 14 years ago. And I want goo brownies, not dry pieces of crap, so shove your vinegar.

Everybody knows that in baked goods it’s not just fat that makes the moisture. Sugar traps the fatty, juicy globs and keeps it in place while baking, so to speak. So I had to reduce the sugar while balancing the fat retention, something  my body has actually perfected. Baking time also had to be tweaked, so keep an eye on these the last 10 minutes of baking – everyone’s oven and pans are different. So. Here we go.

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Stupid Fucking Hip Ooey Gooey Hipster Brownies

I use a glass pyrex 8 x 8 inch pan. You can double this for a 13 x 9 pan if you want to party it up or expedite heart disease or whatever, but I’d use a 1/4 cup less sugar.

4 large eggs

2 sticks (1lb) melted unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2/3 cups brown sugar

2 tsps Vanilla

1 tsps cinnamon

1 TBSP powdered espresso

1 TBSP cherry syrup (from the maraschino jar you keep in shame in the back of your liquor cabinet)

2 TBSPs vegetable oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 1/2 cups dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark and they came out almost black. It’s awesome.)

1/2 cup flour

1 cup mini dark chocolate chips or roughly chopped walnuts, If you like some texture.

Preheat your oven to 300. Spray your brownie pan with some non-stick spray. Start melting your butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. You want it to be able to cool a bit before adding to your eggs. Using a beater or mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until they’re light and a little frothy. That’s the only time you’re going to use a mixer. From here on out it’s old school by hand with a wooden spoon. Once your eggs are frothed stir in the sugars, vanilla, syrup, and oil. Add the butter a little at the time so you don’t wind up with vanilla scrambled eggs. Add the salt, espresso, cinnamon, pepper, and oil.

Then add the cocoa. As any of you who have read my site knows, I don’t sift. I think terrible things about the people who take the time to sift. Don’t sift. Be hardcore. But also add it carefully, folding it in and then incorporating, otherwise you’ll have a fine coating of cocoa dust fucking everywhere. EV. ERY. WHERE. Add your flour the same way and then add the texture bits if you’re going that route. It’s probably going to be a little lumpy; that’s fine. If anyone questions your lumps, tell them the lumps are love and then accuse those people of making it difficult to love them.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan, smooth out the top a little with a spatula, and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

After fifteen minutes, remove from oven for 15 minutes to rest. I’m not kidding.

After they’ve rested for 15 minutes, put them back in for another 30 minutes. Check with a toothpick or chopstick in the center. They should come out a little sticky, but you don’t want the tooth pick to be smoothly coated as if it’s just straight batter in the center. Cook in additional 5 minute intervals, until a toothpick placed in center comes out with little brownie chunks on it, but not completely clean.

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Let them cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Then move them to the fridge. If you want warm brownies, cut into them after 45 minutes and don’t refrigerate, fine.

If you want cake-like brownies because, I dunno, you had a bad childhood or something, omit the oil, double the flour, use a mixer on medium pretty much the entire time until the batter is almost stiff, and bake straight through without the rest period outside of the oven, 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then throw the pan of brownies into the trash, because cake-like brownies are garbage, and just make chocolate cake.

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Seriously. Gooey and moist is the way to be.