Kitchen Tools to Make You Look Like A Pro When You’re Not.

We all love a good shortcut. Or helpful hint to take our food to the next level. Well I have a lot of hints. But lets start with tools.

1. Metal rings (small): Plating something pureed? Potatoes, parsnips, celery root, what have you. Put it into a small metal ring for Instant height and clean plating. Obviously lift the ring off before serving.

2. Metal Rings (large): if you’re making a mousse cake, or want to line the outside with Bavarian cream or have strawberries lining the outside of your cake, you’re gonna need a bottomless metal ring. (ugh cake).

3. Squeeze bottle: Want to drizzle herb oil on that tomato soup you just made for contrast and flavor or drizzle sauce over a lovely plated dessert? Throw it in a squeeze bottle.

4. Silpat: These are life savers when working with sugar. Make some caramel decorations and they’ll peel right off. You can bake anything else you want on them as well.
Blowtorch: Aww yeah, lets get dangerous. Have guests over and want to flambee because you’re the fanciest? Also great for creme brulee, smores with no camp fire, softening butter (seriously) or adding color to anything that contains milk or sugar.

Cheese cloth: not only good for making cheese but for straining things that you want to be ultra smooth. Ice cream base, if you’ve made your own nut milk, etc. Also use to make purées thicker. At the restaurant where I he’d to work we would purée winter squash -for a maple squash pastry cream- and then hang it in cheese cloth to drain excess moisture. The flavor intensifies because there’s not as much water to dilute it.

Thermometer: You can’t guess medium rare. Or firm ball stage of boiling sugar. Invest in a thermometer you won’t regret it, and your dry chicken will thank you.

Brush: baste, brush excess flour off of doughs, swipe sauces on plates. Instant fancy.
Piping bags: Pipe whipped cheeses, frostings, macarons, chocolate. Instant clean presentation.

SHARP knife: A chefs knife is an extension of his or her hand. It’s a very personal choice. My favorite is my Global Sai 7.5 chefs knife. We’re in love. And keep it sharp! Your knife is an investment. Take good care of her.

With these tools you’ll basically be a pro. Or at least appear that way when you invite your friends over for dinner next time.


What’s your favorite secret weapon in the kitchen?


Things That I Prefer to Cook Without.

At home there are a few things that I prefer to cook without. This is personal preference. Most of the things I’m about to list are highly processed and have natural substitutions that have better and more flavor. So why not just use the simple one? Its common sense.
1. Soybean oil and Canola oil: Why use these when you could use BUTTER. It has more flavor and lets be real guys.. There is no way that those two highly process oils are healthier than good old butter. I also routinely use olive oil and bacon fat as cooking fat.

–One exception to this is frying foods. I fry foods in canola solely for its high smoke point.
2. Corn syrup: I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Corn syrup is in recipes for one of two reasons. 1. For chewiness and moisture. 2. To keep sugars from crystallizing when cooking it to high temps (sugar work). So what you need to replace it is ANY invert sugar. Whats a invert sugar? Sugars that are naturally liquid. So uh…

Agave, maple syrup and honey. Bonus? Flavor. Duh.
Sub 1:1
Also, if crystallization is your concern, add a pinch of cream of tartar or a couple drops of citric acid solution.
3. TEFLON: Why is this a thing? Lets be real, its sketchy as shit and personally I don’t think its safe. You got a scratch on your teflon coated pan? Guess what? You’re eating teflon now. Yum. Use a regular old pan.

“But Megan, things stick to that pan”
Allow me to solve your problem:

Nailed it.
4. Margarine, or any “buttery” spread: For the love of pastries, use butter. It’s flavor is unmatched by any “buttery spread”. Plus hydrogenated oils. Need I say more?

I know that to some of you I sound like Paula Dean. Let’s get real, she over did it. But I do think butter has been villainized because of the moms of the 50s cooking like Paula Dean. Lets let loose a little and have some saturated fats along with our monounsaturated fats and our polyunsaturated fats. They all have their place in our diets and in our cooking.

Are there foods/equipment that you prefer to cook without?


Chewy Seedy Granola Bars

So being nut-free puts limitations on a few things. What’s a sister supposed to eat for a snack on the go? Fruit of the fresh and dried variety gets boring quickly. All I want is a granola bar in my life. Is that too much to ask?

Apparently, It is a little too much to ask for. Luckily, these granola bars taste better than any granola bars I’ve ever had.. ever. Seriously. Even my nut eating boyfriend thought these were amazing. There will be variations in the near future.
The recipe is adapted from a granola bar recipe I found on the Smitten Kitchen.

For the seed mixture I used:
1/4 C hemp seeds
1/4 C sesame seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 C pumpkin seeds
*ALL raw and unsalted
Dump all of these into a dry skillet over medium heat.

Toasting took be about 10 minutes, just make sure to stir regularly. No one wants burnt seeds. Ew
You could also do this in the oven since we will be utilizing it soon.
Either way, they’re done when they look like this:

Set aside to cool.

Chewy Seedy Granola Bars
1 2/3 cup quick oats
1/3 cup oat flour- see note
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Seed mixture– 1/4 cup reserved–see note
2 oz chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, (or more)
6 cardamom pods, crushed (or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom or desired spice)
6 Tblspn unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1/3 C maple syrup
1/3 cup sunflower seed butter (my favorites are Sunbutter or Trader Joes brand)
1Tblspn Water

Preheat oven to 350*F.
Grease an 8×8 pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment creating a sling for easy removal.
In a 2 C measuring cup, combine your cardamom pods or powder with your butter. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir. It may need 10 more seconds. We are doing a kind of mini steep here maximizing that cardamom flavor. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine oats, oat flour, sugar, salt, all but 1/4 C of the nuts and the chocolate.
Into the butter add vanilla, maple syrup and water.
Pour the butter mixture through a sieve into the dry ingredients to catch the cardamom bits.
Before stiring add your sunflower seed butter.
Stir to combine and press into your greased pan using wet hands or a spatula.
Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
*** Let cool COMPLETELY before trying to remove them from the pan to cut. Seriously.. I know its hard but ya gotta wait. They will crumble otherwise.

Notes: I didn’t use all of my seed mixture because… I snacked on it as I was working. Oops. I’m sure you could use all of it if you wanted to but these were plenty seedy. Also, for the oat flour I just buzzed some oats in my food processor for about 30 seconds.

I know that these have butter in them and you’re all “Megan this is basically a cookie in bar form because of all of the butter” but trust me. You need to make these with butter. You will not regret it. If you must, sub half (not all) out for extra sunbutter or oil.

What add-ins to you prefer in granola bars?
Soft and chewy or crunchy?
I prefer chewy. And chocolate..


Ginger and Honey Broiled Grapefruit

Remember that time I bought way too many grapefruits?
I do.
Ive been eating them at all times of the day. And drinking them.. but more on that later.
Today I made a twist on the old classic, broiled grapefruit. But I added more flavor by way of a spice and a different sweetener than the old classic calls for.

Broiled Grapefruit with Fresh Ginger and Honey
1 Grapefruit, any variety
.5 teaspoon of freshly ground ginger
2 T honey

First things first, turn your broiler onto 500* F.
To prepare your grapefruit for broiling, cut it in half. Then, using a small sharp paring knife, cut the entire way around the out side of the fruit between the flesh and the pith like so:

Then cut between each membrane.

I know, I know, its miserable and tedious. BUT extremely necessary if you want a pleasurable eating experience. Trust me.
Then grate your fresh ginger with a microplane. It will all stick to the underside of the microplane. Thats cool.
Scrape about 1/4 tsp out with a knife and spread if on one half of the grapefruit. Repeat.
Then drizzle each side with about a tablespoon of honey.

Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and broil on 500* F for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, grab a spoon and eat.
Excellent snack or eat as part of a breakfast. OR top with ginger ice cream and you have dessert!! <– kicking myself for not thinking of this before I ate it all.. Good thing I have 5 more grapefruits.


Dinner With an Identity Crisis

I recently came into a lot of..

20140220-185920.jpgAnd I’ve been eating them in all ways. Get prepared for many grapefruit recipes coming your way. They’re just so damn delicious.
Today I wanted to use a grapefruit in my dinner. To tone down grapefruits bitterness and tartness, you gotta add some fat, salt and spice. I threw some things together and came up with this:

Grapefruit avocado salsa? Grapefruit avocado salad? It can be used as a condiment on top of fish, chicken or tofu OR tossed together with some quinoa or bulgar and BAM. You have a salad.
Or you can be a barbarian like me and use it as a condiment and then just eat the rest out of the bowl.
Haters gonna hate.

Grapefruit Avocado Salsa or Salad
1 ruby red grapefruit, segmented and chopped
3 inches of a seedless cucumber, small dice
1/3 of a bell pepper, I used red, small dice
1/2 of a small avocado, diced
2 Tblspn chopped cilantro
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Hot sauce to taste, I used about 1 T of cholula
Combine all ingredients above and use as a condiment or put directly into your mouth.
Note: I used cholula because it’s not actually that spicy as far as hot sauces go and I love the flavor. Siracha or Tapatio would work well, or if you want it really spicy use tobasco. <kind of a hot sauce connoisseur NBD.

20140220-191453.jpgGet ready for tons of grapefruit recipes to eat that delicious baby at all times of the day!

Whats your favorite way to eat grapefruit?

Plan Less, Do More

So this blog will be mostly about food, recipes that I’ve created but I’d also like you to get to know the person behind it all, so I’ll occasionally post about what’s happening in my life.
Turks and caicos. Perhaps the most beautiful water I’ve ever seen.

Oh my god I could look at it all day.

It was a short trip full of eating fresh conch, red snapper and mahi- seriously that’s all I ate all day- and adventuring. We snorkeled with eagle rays and explored the parts people don’t generally explore on Provo.
I went with my boyfriend. On a whim. An essentially unplanned vacation to another country.

Being busy is great. But don’t forget to actually enjoy life. Because it’s pretty awesome.

As my boyfriend always says, don’t take life so seriously. You’ll never make it out alive.
Peace and Love,

Espresso Cookies with Candied Cacao Nibs


Coffee and chocolate. Chocolate and coffee. The two go hand in hand.
There are roasted coffee notes in chocolate and and rich chocolate notes in coffee.
I find that we generally use coffee as a dual flavor component with chocolate -mocha- or as way to intensify chocolate. Not often is it the other way around. These cookies focus on the espresso flavor with the chocolate as an undertone.
Since being nut-free, I’ve been brainstorming different ways to create texture. One ingredient I’ve played with are cacao nibs. Wonderfully bitter with a distinct chocolate flavor, and reminiscent of roasted coffee beans without that awful woody texture. Alone I felt the weren’t quite crunchy enough so I candied them. This way, the bitterness is the undertone and the chocolate flavor hits the palate first.


Candied cacao nibs
.5 cups granulated sugar
2T water
.75-1 cup cacao nibs

In a medium skillet (do NOT use non stick) combine the sugar and water. Bring it to a boil for 1 minute. Toss in the cacao nibs and stir till the sugar crystallizes. Transfer to a Silpat to cool.

Espresso cookies
1 stick of butter, at room temp
1 cup dark brown sugar
3T granulated sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1.75 Cups AP flour
.5t baking powder
.5t baking soda
.5 t salt
2T espresso grind coffee

-Cream the butter and sugars in a stand mixer on medium speed for two minutes, add the vanilla and the eggs and mix to combine.
-Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together.
-Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix just till combined.
-Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This is important for shaping the dough. Meanwhile preheat oven to 325*F.
-Scoop the cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I used a disher to ensure even cookies but a heaping tablespoon will work as well.
-After they are scooped pick up each ball and dunk the top into the cacao nibs. Thus will work if the dough is chilled. If your dough is warm, generously sprinkle the tops.
-Gently push down the tops of the balls to create thick disks.
Your unbanked cookies should look like this:

Bake in a 325 oven for 10 minutes flipping the tray half way through. Cool on a rack and enjoy.

I’m thinking ice cream sandwiches for these bad boys. So delicious.