S’more Truffles {Wild}

{Wild}

Reese Witherspoon has been one of my favorite actresses ever since she fiercely rocked the bend and snap in Legally Blonde. That being said, the poor girl has been stuck in rom com land for years. “Wild” is Reese Witherspoon like you’ve never seen here before, and that’s a great thing. Witherspoon plays a woman named Cheryl who, after the death of her mother and collapse of her marriage, embarks on a 1,000+ mile hike along the Pacific Coast Trail completely alone in an effort to regain what she has lost. The audience learns more about Cheryl through flashbacks as she hikes north, and invites the viewer to reflect too on their own life struggles, choices, and dreams.

While this film has not been nominated for best picture, I wanted to include a tribute to Witherspoon’s Best Actress nomination. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of this film, and I urge you all to carve out some time to enjoy it.

{S’mores Truffles}

Makes about 3 dozen truffles.

While Reese is roughing it on the trail, her meal options are slim. I mean, really slim. When she mistakenly purchases the wrong type of gas to light her stove, she’s forced to eat cold mush for days on end until she makes it to the next stop. Instead of trying to recreate one of her dismal camping meals, I opted for the cliche camping dessert option: s’mores. S’mores are probably the only way you will ever convince me to go camping, and even then it’s a stretch.

Ingredients:

  • 25 graham cracker sheets {about 3 packages}
  • 1 {7 oz.} container marshmallow fluff
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 16 oz. melting chocolate

Instructions:

  • Blend the graham crackers in a food processor until crumbs are formed.
  • Leaving about 1/4 cup aside, combine the crumbs, marshmallow fluff, and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl and mix until well combined. It takes a few minutes for it all to come together.
  • Form the crumb mixture into 1 inch balls and place on wax paper.
  • Melt the chocolate according to package directions.
  • Dip the graham cracker balls into the chocolate and place back on wax paper. Sprinkle with the remaining graham cracker crumbs and let sit until chocolate has hardened.

I promise this delicious dessert will impress your friends, and with minimal effort! And they’re great in case you feel like experiencing anything remotely related to camping without all the dirt and sweat and sore feet and stuff. Enjoy — and go see “Wild”! Happy eating.

 

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup {Foxcatcher}

{Foxcatcher}

Words can’t express how excited I am that “Foxcatcher” has been getting Oscar attention this year. It was one of the many films that I saw when I went to the Cannes Film Festival this summer, and it was one of my favorites. Based on true events, “Foxcatcher” tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. That being said, “Foxcatcher” is anything but a wrestling drama.  “Foxcatcher” expands well beyond the wrestling ring into the minds of two men longing to find greatness. This story provides the perfect stage for the main actors of the film (Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo) to give some of their best performances to date. Director Bennett Miller won the Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and is also nominated for this year’s Academy Award in Directing. His previous filmography includes Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011).

I hesitate to share more about this film, as I believe it is best enjoyed when you know very little about it, but I’ll leave you with this review:

“Foxcatcher” is terrifying, disturbing, and utterly engaging. A slowly unraveled piece that is risky but pays off immensely. It’s cautious yet strictly well-defined as a character study. Like all great films with great performances, its element of truth is plainly apparent. On the gray-skied farm, we will get to know three interesting men, some of which, we’ll never truly understand.”

{Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup}

Serves 6

I knew very little about the world of wrestling when I went to see this film, and one of the scenes that struck me the most was when they were weighing in for the competition. I never thought much about a wrestler’s diet and how much that plays a part in their sport. I talked to a friend who wrestled in high school, and he said that baked potatoes were a staple in his training routine. I didn’t ask ask for too many details, after all, I figured he probably had the super healthy version and not the ones loaded up with bacon and sour cream. And where’s the fun in that?

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces (about 7 medium potatoes, 8 – 9 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz)
  • 9 oz bacon, cooked and diced or crumbled
  • 4 green onions, diced

Instructions:

  • To a 6 or 7-quart slow cooker, add potatoes, onion, chicken broth, evaporated milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH heat for 4 hours or LOW heat for 8 hours (poke potatoes with a fork to check make sure they’re soft).
  • Ladle out 2 cups liquid from soup mixture in crock pot into a liquid measuring cup, set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes.
  • While whisking, slowly pour 2 cups liquid in measuring cup into butter mixture (it will thicken quickly).
  • Pour butter mixture into slow cooker and stir to blend. If desired, mash potatoes with a potato masher to break down into smaller pieces or use an emulsion blender to puree.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  • Turn heat off (or to warm), stir in sour cream.
  • Serve warm topped with cheddar, bacon and green onions (you can just mix in those three remaining ingredients into slow cooker or top individual servings)

This soup was so easy to make, and so delicious and fulfilling. It kept for a good couple days in the fridge too, and I actually froze half of it for a later date! So with that, keep a look out for “Foxcatcher” at the Oscars this year, and enjoy!

Risotto with Crispy Duck and White Balsamic Vinegar {Birdman}

Hey everyone! I’m excited to present you with the NEW direction of my blog — dinner and a movie! I used to do these posts every once and awhile, but I’m finding now that I’m not actively studying film any more I truly miss it: Writing about it, talking about it, and sharing it. From this point forth, each delicious recipe will be paired with a movie recommendation. And yes, some of these pairings will make you sigh (the puns are corny, but some I just couldn’t resist), but each recipe was paired with a movie for a reason! So don’t worry! The delicious recipes aren’t going far — they are just going to the movies!

The first installment will be in honor of the upcoming Academy Awards. I’m going to share a little bit about each Best Picture Nominee, and of course, their foodie accompaniment.

{Birdman}

Birdman is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor named Riggan (played by Michael Keaton) – who was famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. The audience follows Keaton in the days leading up to opening night, watching him battle his ego and attempt to pull off the performance of his career while still maintaining the love and respect of his daughter, colleagues, and himself.I loved how modern and relevant this film felt, packed with references to the exploding superhero franchise in today’s Hollywood and its current actors. The parallel between Keaton’s own acting history as Tim Burton’s Batman in the 1990s is also evident, and even referenced, as a journalist tells Riggan in an press conference the “last time he was relevant was when he played Birdman in 1992,” which was the last year Keaton played put on the infamous Batman suit.

The film is shot in a way to appear as if it is one continuous take. The camera moves seamlessly between characters and places, giving the audience a feeling of being engulfed in the story. And it isn’t just the camerawork that pulls you in. This film is a powerhouse of acting talent: Keaton and his supporting actors, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, all put forth the performance of their careers — as evident by all three being nominated for an Academy Award in their respective categories. Actors had to memorize up to 15 pages of dialogue and hit rigorous choreographed marks in order to make the shooting style of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu even possible.

Needless to say, their work paid off. Birdman has been nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture. One critic put it best in saying, “Many films claim to be different. Birdman actually is.”

{Risotto with Crispy Duck Breast and White Balsamic}
Serves 4

The biggest takeaway from this film for me was how much attention the cast and crew had to pay attention during the filmmaking process. This shooting style lead itself to many errors, since they shot so many long takes, requiring everyone involved to bring their “A” game to set each day.And what recipe requires constant care and attention? Risotto. I love making risotto because it forces me to focus on cooking and very little else, as you are constantly stirring and adding more liquid to the rice until it gets to that rich, creamy texture. It seemed like the perfect dish to pair with this meticulously planned film, and of course, I had to go with some type of bird (remember, I warned you about the puns).

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 cup arborio rice or other short-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups beef broth, divided 
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 5- to 6-ounce duck breasts

Instructions:

  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add wine; stir until almost all liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cupful at a time, stirring often and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding next, until mixture is creamy, about 18 minutes longer. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon butter. Season risotto with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck breasts with salt and pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet; cook until skin is brown, about 8 minutes. Turn duck over and cook to desired doneness, about 5 minutes longer for medium-rare. Transfer duck to work surface; pour off fat (do not clean skillet). Let duck rest while preparing sauce. Add remaining 1 cup broth to same skillet and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Slice duck diagonally.
  • Spoon risotto into shallow bowls. Fan sliced duck atop risotto; drizzle pan sauce around duck and serve.

I encourage y’all to give this recipe a try, as well as to check Birdman out in theaters! It’s sure to be a frontrunner in this year’s Academy Awards. Enjoy, and happy eating!

Homemade Gnocchi with Italian Sausage

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you are probably asking why the hell I’m attempting any type of homemade pasta again. It defeats me every time, and yet I keep coming back for more.

Not this time my friends, not this time.

Thanks to the wonderful Gordon Ramsay cookbook my aunt and uncle got me for Christmas, I’m thrilled to announce that the curse has been lifted: I have successfully made homemade pasta! And y’all, it was good.

It was fun to make, even though there was a definite moment when Parker and I looked at this mush we had created and considering abandoning ship and ordering Chinese food. But I’m proud to stay we stuck with it, and I encourage those who have a love/hate relationship with homemade pasta to give this one a try.

Homemade Gnocchi with Italian Sausage: Serves 4

Ingredients for Gnocchi:

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly grated pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 thyme sprig, leaves only
  • Grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 2 sausage links, casings removed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup peas
  • Butter
  • 1 thyme spring, leaves only
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake potatoes in their skins for 1-1 1/2 hours until tender all the way through (or microwave for 8-10 minutes).
  • Remove flesh from the skins (ideally while still warm) and mash until smooth.
  • Mix in the ricotta, a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and the flour.
  • Make a well in the middle of the mixture, and add the beaten egg.
  • Begin to combine the mixture with floured hands.
  • Work in the thyme leaves and continue until smooth dough has formed.
  • Cut a small hole into the corner of a plastic bag. Squeeze out the dough into a long cigar shape, about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut the dough into 3/4 inch long pieces.
  • Gently press each one in the center using a floured finger (the dent will hold more sauce and allow the gnocchi to take on more flavor)
  • Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, tilting the pan from side to side briefly to keep them from sticking together
  • Bring to simmer once the gnocchi are in the pan for about 1 1/2-2 minutes, or until they start to float.
  • Drain the gnocchi and leave them to dry for 1-2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile start to make the sauce. Remove the sausage from the casing and cook it in a pan, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks. Mix in the butter, peas, lemon zest, and thyme leaves. Mix together and set to low heat.
  • To finish the gnocchi, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the gnocchi to the hot pan with a pinch of salt and black pepper and sauté for 1-2 minutes on each side until nicely colored.
  • Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and toss to heat through. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! And get excited — Eating My Feelings is about to go through a bit of a makeover! New layout, new logo, new concept — but don’t worry, the food isn’t going anywhere. Just wanting to spice it up a little bit after running this bad boy for the past year and a half. So stay tuned!

Copycat Cheesecake Factory Avocado Egg Rolls

301331_10150911777410192_754096934_nI can happily say that I spent roughly 75% of my nights out my junior year at the Cheesecake Factory outside of North Park Mall  here in Dallas. Eating all the bread and cheesecake we could stomach became a tradition amongst my phenomenal friend group. From birthday celebrations, to secret Santas, to “Good Cause Cake,” the Cheesecake Factory holds some of my fondest undergraduate memories. And I know I’m not the only one — The passion for the Cheesecake Factory amongst this group of friends runs deep. For instance, I once went to just to nom upon cheesecake with my friend Elise (honestly, do you really need anything else?), and when a certain friend of ours found out we had gotten cheesecake without her, she threw her cell phone down on the ground and shattered it. While that may sound extreme to some, I think it demonstrates how seriously we did (and still do) take our cheesecake.

To this day, I can’t walk into that restaurant without thinking of the good times I had there my junior year. It makes me smile. It makes me happy. And so I wanted to try and harness that feeling by trying some Cheesecake Factory recipes at home. So, I present for your dining pleasure, a copycat recipe for their delishhh Avocado Egg Rolls. It has everything my Asian-and-avocado obsessed brain could ever ask for, and they more than lived up to my expectations.

In fact, mine were better.

Cheesecake Factory’s Avocado Egg Rolls: Serves 1-2

Ingredients for the Egg Rolls

  • 1 large avocado, chopped into bite sized pieces (not too small, or else you might end up mashing them when you mix it with the tomatoes and onions)
  • 2 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes (bottled in oil)
  • 1 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 egg roll wrappers
  • Water, or beaten egg for brushing
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients for Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4cup cashews
  • ⅔ cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp (can be found in Asian stores)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Pinch ground saffron (it’s ok to leave it out if you have too much trouble finding it)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions for the Dipping Sauce:

  • Combine the cashews, cilantro, garlic, green onions, sugar, black pepper, and cumin in a food processor or blender and blend till mixture is well blended and paste like.
  • Combine the vinegars, honey, tamarind and saffron in a small microwaveable bowl and heat for a minute in the microwave, then stir till the tamarind pulp is completely dissolved.
  • Pour tamarind mixture into the blender and blend till well mixed.
  • Pour blended sauce into serving bowl and add oil. Stir by hand to combine. Refrigerate sauce for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Instructions for the Egg Rolls:

  • Combine the avocado, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and salt.
  • Do not smash the avocados.
  • Prepare egg rolls by spooning ⅓ of the filling into egg roll wrapper and roll it up as shown in the photograph above, brushing the corners and edges of the wrapper with the water or beaten egg. Keep them covered with a wet paper towel while you make the rest.
  • Heat oil in a deep fryer or thick bottomed pan, over medium high heat.
  • When the oil is hot enough, fry the egg rolls for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels
  • When slightly cooler, slice each roll diagonally and serve with the dipping sauce.

I couldn’t tell you why this recipe seemed better than the original, but I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it was because I was able to enjoy the nostalgia and good memories I associate with the Cheesecake Factory in my very own home.

To my wonderful friends — I hope that 2015 brings you even more happiness and joy than Good Cause Cake and an extra boat of raspberry sauce.

Happy eating, everyone!

French Toast Bake

I know the beginning of a new year is filled with people pledging to eat better, stay fit, and stay away from tasty treats. Well… sorry, y’all. This recipe isn’t going to make that “lose 10 lbs” New Years’ resolution any easier.

A wonderful tradition in my house is on Christmas morning when my mom makes breakfast for all of us — and while that may sound like any other day, this breakfast is different. This is when she busts out the big guns and treats us all to something typically flooded by maple syrup, bacon, or both. And this year was no exception! Ladies and gentlemen, you’re welcome.

This recipe is a lazy person’s dream. Why? You assemble it the night before, and then bake it in the morning. As it sits in the fridge over night, the bread continues to soak up all the butter and sugar and ahhhhhhh it’s amazing.

French Toast Bake: Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 loaf of thickly sliced bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling

Instructions:

  • Melt butter in microwave & add brown sugar….stir till mixed.
  • Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9 x 13 pan….spread around.
  • Beat eggs, milk, & vanilla
  • Lay single slices of bread in pan
  • Spoon 1/2 of egg mixture on bread layer
  • Sprinkle some cinnamon over bread/eggs
  • Add 2nd layer of sliced bread
  • Spoon on remaining egg mixture
  • Cover & chill in fridge overnight
  • Bake at 350 for 45 minutes (covered for the first 30 minutes)
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar & cinnamon
  • Serve with warm maple syrup

Hey, maybe going on a run will balance out this delicious breakfast treat, and your New Years resolutions will be safe! I pinky promise that it’s worth it. Happy eating!

Santa’s Favorite: Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

In case you wanted to do some last-minute holiday baking to ensure that jolly Saint Nick finds his way to your house this year, these cookies are the answer. My family is hosting Christmas Eve today, so naturally our kitchen has been a hot spot these past few days preparing all sorts of goodies. My mom is quite the cook, and this year is no exception! To help out, my job was to help bake all the sinful treats (don’t worry, I’ll be posting those recipes later too!)

But these cookie recipe simply could not wait to be shared until after Christmas. Why? I’m not very good at math, but I believe the numbers speak for themselves…

One batch makes 24 cookies.
There are 4 people living in my house.
We made the first batch of these cookies 3 days before Christmas.
The day before Christmas Eve, there were 6 cookies left.
The day before Christmas Eve, we made 2 more batches, resulting in 54 cookies remaining (in theory — pretty sure at least 6 from the new batches have been eaten since then…)

Moral of the story? These bad boys almost didn’t make it to Christmas Eve! They’re probably the best cookies I’ve ever made from scratch, and you absolutely have to try them.

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles: Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, sliced
  • 1¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup caramel squares, cut into ¼’s
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Coarse Sea salt for sprinkling on completed cookies

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, cinnamon, and set aside.
  • To brown the butter, heat a medium saucepan to medium high heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently. You will notice the butter starting to become frothy on the top and brown specks will start to form along the bottom. You have to watch it closely because the turn happens quickly and you don’t want it to burn. You will start to smell a nutty aroma and once it turns to a brown color, remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  • While the butter is cooling, cut the carmel squares into ¼’s.
  • In a stand mixer, combine the brown butter and brown sugar, and ½ cup granulated sugar. (The ¼ cup sugar will be used for rolling in the cookies). Mix until blended and smooth.
  • Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla and yogurt and mix until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients until combined.
  • Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  • Once you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball and place 1-2 caramel squares inside, wrap the cookie dough over the caramel and roll back into a ball. Make sure it is completely covered so that the caramel won’t stick to the pan.
  • Mix ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and roll each cookie in the mixture. Place on a cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. (I used course sea salt)
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges turn lightly brown. The centers will be soft. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Please note! You need to add both one egg AND one egg yolk… I retyped the instructions, but when I made the first batch I misread the instructions and didn’t add both. Spoiler alert, it won’t work without both an egg and egg yolk! Also, try putting them in the microwave 10-15 seconds before eating them! It’ll cause the caramel on the inside to melt taking these cookies to a whole new level.

Give these a try. If they’re good enough for my Dad, they’re good enough for Santa. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and happy new year! Happy eating!!