I’m going to sound like a broken record when I tell you that, as a kid, all I wanted in the world were terrible-for-you foods. Unfortunately, the only thing fun my mama was willing to buy us were frozen pot pies. I took what I could get! I loved the flakey crust and rich filling. The overly cooked peas and carrots…not so much.
These two lil’ baby pot pies are a way better version than the mediocre pot pies that I’d devour after school while watching The Power Rangers. Here’s what makes them fancy:
1. Schmaltz. Yassss!! This crust is special. Instead of butter (you can totally use butter if you don’t have schmaltz) I used schmaltz and it resulted in a really delicious, more crumb-like, very chicken-y crust. Oh man. I like it a lot!
I’m gonna be honest with you: there isn’t anything necessarily fancy about the ingredients in this grilled cheese (minus the brioche). This isn’t one of those grilled cheeses filled with expensive cheeses, spreads or meat like prosciutto or anything like that. This is more about the actual preparation.
Here’s why: The first time Josh and I made a grilled cheese together, I was shocked at how haphazard he was with the technique. The heat was too high, burning the bread! The cheese in the center wasn’t completely melted, and instead of butter, he used olive oil. THIS IS ALL WRONG!
Like all awesome things in life, grilled cheeses are ridiculously simple to make. And like all simple things, the details matter A LOT.
Here is a fun “how-to” on making our favorite childhood sandwich. And, as always, if you have tips on this matter that you feel passionate about, please leave them in the comments below; we’ll all benefit.
My whole goal in life is to take ordinary dishes I ate as a kid and make as fancy and fresh as I possibly can. Today’s project: quesadillas. Don’t get it twisted, I’ve indulged in the classic (very American) version of a quesadilla. It usually involved me, after school, needing some sort of snack. I’d sprinkle a gigantic flour tortilla with hot sauce and fill it with a ton of pre-shredded cheese. And there was usually a glass of lemonade and Total Request Live (TRL!!). I always had a soft spot for Carson Daly–he was almost too nice.
Today’s version is different. There’s pretty kale, Alpine-style cheese, a blistered anaheim pepper, a spoonful of beans and a sprinkling of corn. It’s the fancy quesadilla of my dreams.
So they did. And I began tinkering, playing around with different recipes. I love recipe writing, developing, making. It’s maybe one of my favorite things to do ever. And the fact that I can call it a job is dreamy.
My absolute favorite recipe I made are these Rosé Roasted Olives with Blue Cheese. I’ve been wanting to make roasted olives for such a long time. And seriously, the warm blue cheese with the sweet and dry rose and the olives. Ahhh! Best appetizer ever.
There was this Bacon Potato Habanero Cheese Soup that was dreamy, too. It’s the thing you want to eat on a cold day. It’s like eating a gigantic baked potato but lighter and daintier.
And there’s more!
For more cheese-centric recipes, here is the full list:
The Strata listed above is probably tied with the roasted olives. Before trying it out, I’d never made a strata before, which is essentially a baked bread pudding but savory and less bread-heavy. It’s the dream breakfast for house guests. If you’re throwing a bunch, make that! It’s one of those dishes you can make a few hours ahead and then bake-off when people show up.
Basically, make all of these cheese recipes because cheese is the best and is my favorite cure-all.
I don’t think anyone would argue that hot chocolate is the coziest of cozy drinks. And since this is lil’ blog is called A Cozy Kitchen I think I’ve gone way too long without sharing a proper recipe for it. So, let’s talk about this Perfect Homemade Hot Chocolate.
Hot Cocoa vs. Hot Chocolate!
Let’s talk about the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Hot cocoa is exactly that – cocoa powder dissolved into milk or (God forbid) water. I have good memories of hot cocoa, actually. When I was a kid, I used to sit in my way-too-long PJ t-shirt and watch cartoons, sipping on Swiss Miss cocoa mix. I also loooved dipping whole wheat bread into my hot cocoa. (I was a weird child.)
But during the holidays, it was always hot chocolate. My mom would tell us stories about how in Peru, on Christmas Eve, right before midnight mass, a big pot of hot chocolate was made. They’d take big blocks of chocolate, melt it and then mix it into warm milk until it dissolved. Real, thick hot chocolate is a game changer.
There’s like two or three steps–this ain’t rocket science.
How to Make Hot Chocolate!
Step 1: Get your hands on some good chocolate. I had some Scharffenberger chocolate in my pantry. Other brands I love: Green & Black or Ghiradelli. I love using chopped chocolate for my hot chocolate; you could even use good quality chocolate chips. I like to use a dark chocolate (70%) or semi-sweet chocolate for my hot chocolate. I think it adds a nice depth and lends a lot of richness to this hot chocolate, but feel free to go sweeter if you like.
Step 2: Don’t be shy to add some other stuff like a cinnamon stick, 1/4 of a vanilla bean or a splash of vanilla extract, some Ancho chile powder and salt. I looove steeping the milk or almond milk with a cinnamon stick and vanilla bean–it smells like heaven.
I lived in Orange County California until I was around 10 years old. My favorite So Cal memory is going to this restaurant called Souplantaion. I remember thinking it was so 80s, even though we were totally in the 90s. The concept is cafeteria-style make-your-own salads. It’s supposed to be healthy but it’s actually the kind of place for a kid to put a bunch of bacon bits and creamy ranch dressing on a pile of bleached lettuce and call it dinner. I loved it. And I especially loved dessert, which was a killer soft serve bar. Tons of sprinkles were poured on top. Tons of crushed Oreos were added when mama wasn’t looking. I was sneaky.
Up until recently I’ve never been a big salad eater. Now–if I’m at a particularly good restaurant–I’ll always order a salad. Always. A good salad is what dreams are made of. (And this is coming from a girl who loves biscuits.) Too often than not salads are treated like an afterthought for vegetarians. They aren’t properly dressed. The lettuce isn’t dried off properly. The leaves aren’t properly seasoned. That stupid ubiquitous kale salad is always on the menu. I can literally go on and on and on about my salad gripes. I will stop. You didn’t come here to listen to me be a brat about salads. Instead, I’ll share with you a fancy-ass caesar salad. I loooove a good caesar salad. They’re so simple, but so amazing when done correctly.