Snake Bites

jalapenos

Snake Bites

My parents and their friends decided to have a party for the Superbowl a few years back, and I, being less than interested in sports, decided to stick around where all the snacks were. Some snacks were better than others– the spinach dip outmatched the guacamole by far– however, most of the food consisted of chips or vegetables thrown on to a plate with some ranch dip. Then my mom’s Cajun friends arrived. Like all good Cajuns, they brought a snack with a little bit of heat to it; they had a wonderful name for it, too: snake bites. This was my favorite dish by far. I must have eaten over half the snake bites on the party plate. Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: 24 Snake Bites
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 12 jalapeno peppers
  • 12 slices bacon

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  2. Halve the jalapenos lengthwise. Remove the seeds and membrane
  3. Mix cream cheese and Cheddar cheese together in a bowl until evenly blended
  4. Fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture. Wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon.
  5. Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy, about 30 minutes

If you want to have some fun, seed the jalapenos rather carelessly. This will result in some snake bites being spicier than others. Snake bite roulette!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite type of cookie, aside from gingerbread. From what I recall reading, they were also the result of a failure to make chocolate cookies. If only all cooking failures were so delicious! Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen cookies
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
  4. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
  5. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted.
  7. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

I like to add a tiny pinch of extra salt. For me, it helps highlight the sweetness. Also, it really doesn’t matter how much vanilla you put in; vanilla is very forgiving, so you don’t have to measure it.

 

Gazpacho

gazpacho

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold, usually with a tomato base. This makes it a really great dish to serve during the summer when the sun is blazing overhead. Anyhow, when I noticed that Alton Brown made gazpacho on an episode of Good Eats, I thought I’d steal the recipe and post it on here. It has a lot of ingredients, but here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 45 mins
Inactive time: 2 hrs
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Tomato juice
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Preparation:

  1. Fill a 6-quart pot halfway full of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Make an X with a paring knife on the bottom of the tomatoes.
  3. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds, remove and transfer to an ice bath and allow to cool until able to handle, approximately 1 minute.
  4. Remove and pat dry. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes. When seeding the tomatoes, place the seeds and pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl in order to catch the juice. Press as much of the juice through as possible and then add enough bottled tomato juice to bring the total to 1 cup.
  5. Place the tomatoes and juice into a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  6. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.
  7. Cover and chill for anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. Serve with chiffonade of basil.

 

2 Ingredient Ice Cream

ice cream

Cookies n’ Cream

I love ice cream, but it is not a common item on my mom’s grocery list. As a result, we usually never have any around the house when I’m craving some. We do, however, usually have the ingredients to make a simple batch of 2 Ingredient Ice Cream. This recipe is one of my favorites, because not only is 2 Ingredient Ice Cream simple; it’s also wonderfully creamy. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this recipe- you’ll have to try it yourself:

Yield: About a quart of ice cream
Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream

Preparation:

  1. Pour whipping cream and condensed milk into bowl of electronic mixer
  2. Whip the milk and cream together for about 15 min. pausing to scrape sides of bowl occasionally
  3. Once the mixture has a consistency similar to whipped cream, remove from mixer and pour into a Tupperware container
  4. Place container in freezer and chill overnight

This recipe is for simple vanilla ice cream; you can add all sorts of things to it to make other flavors. I, personally, like to mix in Hershey’s chocolate or strawberry syrup. My brother favors mixing in crushed Oreos. You can really just mix in about whatever you want.

Bread

bread

White Bread

I will admit- I am very spoiled and snobbish when it comes to bread. I am also a strong contender that once you’ve tried fresh bread it is very difficult to go back to store-bought brands. Anyways, with that cautioning, I’d say that it’s usually just best to throw the dough in a bread machine and let bake overnight, as bread-making tend to be rather time consuming. If you don’t have the luxury of owning a wonderful bread machine, however, this recipe should work fine:

Prep time: 2 hrs
Cook time: 30 mins
Yield: 2 Loaves White Bread
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 cups bread flour

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
  2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time.
  3. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
  4. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth.
  5. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour (works better if the dough is in a warm spot)
  6. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half.
  7. Shape dough halves into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  8. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

This bread is great with butter and jam, and after a few days, it’s perfect for making french toast with. It doesn’t keep for nearly as long as store-bought bread, though.

Macaroni and Cheese

mac and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

While Kraft is, indeed, the cheesiest, you should still seriously consider making fresh mac and cheese if you ever have the time. Fun fact: there is a legend that mac and cheese was invented by Thomas Jefferson! Anyways, here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Yield: 4 Servings
Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 pinch paprika

Preparation:

  1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make a roux.
  3. Add milk to roux slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick. Put macaroni in large casserole dish, and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well.
  4. Melt butter or margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and brown.
  5. Spread over the macaroni and cheese to cover. Sprinkle with a little paprika.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Serve.

Arroz con Leche

rice with milk

Arroz con Leche

Arroz con Leche is a Mexican rice pudding. It name translates to ‘rice with milk’; an apt description the dish. It favorite dessert of my dad’s and mine, and we always like to prepare a large batch of it in spirit of the very American celebration, Cinco de Mayo. Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 38 min
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:

  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • Ground cinnamon, for dusting
  • A splash of vanilla
  • A pinch of lemon zest

Preparation:

  1. Put the water, rice, and cinnamon stick in a medium-size heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Strain out the liquid, discard the cinnamon and reserve the rice. Return the rice to the saucepan.
  4. Stir in the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk.
  5. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes.
  7. Add the raisins, vanilla, and lemon zest, and stir well.
  8. Transfer the pudding to a serving bowl. Dust the top of the pudding with ground cinnamon and serve.