Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

Only a couple days left until the ultimate sugarfest known as Halloween. If you get sick of noshing on mini chocolate bars and candy apples (do people still make/eat candy apples on Halloween anymore?) why not make a homemade snack that’s not only sweet, but also salty and spicy? Win-win-win if you ask me.

I got a pack of chipotle maple almonds from Naturebox and while they suggested mixing the nuts in a homemade popcorn, their delightful flavor combo inspired me to throw together this special chipotle kettle corn. As we all know, I love chipotle. A lot. It’s kind of weird. Anyway:

Chipotle Almond Kettle Corn

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Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad

Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

There’s a cute place in Austin’s Manor neighborhood called the Salty Sow. Their slogan is “swine + wine + beer” so clearly I’m on board. (I love Salty Sow so much that I actually wrote a bit about them in an ES post last summer!) This head-to-tail gastropub specializes in all things porky and meaty, of course, but surprisingly one of my favorite things on their menu is a salad! Go figure.

This isn’t just any salad, though. It starts with brussels sprouts, always a winner in my book, and makes them into a take on the Caesar salad, topped with dried cranberries and candied almonds. It’s salty, savory, slightly crispy, and just a tad bit sweet. My mouth is seriously watering just thinking about it.

I loved this salad so much that I begged the recipe out of ’em, and now I want all of you to experience its magic.

Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

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My One-Item Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is coming, which means that it’s time for many of my favorite blogs, especially the food ones, to give me their annual list of suggestions for the foodies in my life (see here and here, for example).  Now, I enjoy reading what other people like as much as the next guy, but the problem with lists like these, for me,  is twofold.  Uno, the things are often super-specific. I can already tell you that my mom will not like tea that tastes like pine trees, or even sounds like it might taste like pine trees.  Two, the gifts on these lists tend to offend my delicately frugal sensibilities ($24 for 12 oz. of olive oil?  Seriously? In my dreams.)

And so, ESers, I bring you the only food gift you need this holiday season: the classic cast iron skillet.  Here are five reasons why it makes the perfect gift:

1. Everyone needs one, whether they know it or not, and if they already have one, they probably need it in another size.  (Come on, so cute!)

2. It’s perfect for a tight budget.  They are a good value to begin with, and I find them often at thrift stores where, after simple re-seasoning, they are at least as good as new.

3. Not only functional, if you hang it on the wall, it makes you look like you know what you are doing in the kitchen.  Just be sure to use wall anchors.

4. It offers endless cooking adventures.  My new fav: cake baking (see photo above and recipe below).

5.  Even for the non-cook,  cast iron skillets always come in handy:

Skillet Apple Cake

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Sometimes It’s OK to Cheat: Dump Cake

So I know that here at ES (and in my life in general) there is a no-cheating policy. That is, make your own damn food, don’t use a bunch of boxed, pre-made mixes and shortcuts. Basically, don’t be Sandra Lee. Sometimes, just sometimes, though… there is a time to break the rules.

Now is that time.

Have you ever heard of “dump cake?” Kind of a gross-sounding name, I know. My mom used to make it for us when we were younger. It’s a very easy, quick, and delicious dessert comprised solely of peach pie filling, cherry pie filling, and yellow cake mix. After dumping those in a cake pan and baking, it kind of comes out as a cross between an actual cake, a cobbler and a pie. Anyway, this summer I got to thinking about my mom’s dump cakes and decided I wanted to bust out my grownup version of the old favorite. It still uses some of the “cheater” ingredients—canned pie filling and cake mix—but I changed up some of the flavors (coconut instead of cherry) and added a few more interesting elements to the topping (toasted coconut-almond crunch versus just cake).

I wasn’t sure if this old recipe would stand up, but the acclaim I received from everyone who tried it confirmed my actions. Sometimes it’s okay to be a cheater.

Peach, Almond, and Toasted Coconut Dump Cake

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The Cookie Dough-Lympics: Banana Almond Poppers

Banana Almond Poppers

Have you ever witnessed the “law of attraction” at work? Like when you think about something for a long time, dream it to be true, and then voila! it shows up at your front doorstep? Well, ladies and gentleman, all my years of wanting, wishing, and longing for have finally come to light—in the form of a book full of raw cookie dough recipes.

Before you go singing the salmonella symphony to me, let me explain: this cookie dough is egg-less. What does that mean, my friends?  It means that you can stick your head right into that bowl and nom you way to the bottom, worry-free. And thanks to Lindsay Landis, creator of this cookie dough recipe and book full of desserts to make with it, all of our lives have now been touched.

With this new cookbook ES has entered the “Cookie Dough-Lympics,” where we come up with our own recipes based around this egg-less delight. I sat down with the book while brainstorming ideas and found cakes, ice cream, souffles…you name it, Lindsay created it. In brainstorming for my own recipe I realized I wanted a yummy, easy to make, minimal-ingredient summer treat with this dough.  I want the kind of thing that is bite-size so I can munch with ease. I want the kind of thing I can make on a weeknight, store in the freezer, and grab whenever I need a frozen pick-me-up. And then it hit me: the Banana Almond Poppers were born.

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Cherry-Whiskey Upside Down Cake

I’m going through such a maniac state right now. I think my overloaded schedule has me in some sort of fit of always doing. Not that “doing” is actually resulting into anything productive. For instance if you follow me on Pinterest or Instagram, you see quite a bit of time has been sucked away admiring and trying to acheive some level of aestheticness that I’ve yet to figure out. What I have figured out is how to make a killer whiskey-loaded cake to impress the hell out of the dads in your life this Father’s Day.

Go ahead and show them that whiskey ain’t just for sipping or for licking. You truly can bite your whiskey with this cake. Here’s the quick rundown: the cake portion is tender and springy, not all all mushy as the bottoms of upside cakes can be. The whiskey gives the ensemble an extra subtle dimension that quiets the caramel topping and brings it in balance with the cake and fruity sweetness of the cherry.

If you like to bake, make this. If you don’t – well, there aren’t many times in your life where you can drink on the job, but in this case you totally can. Get in the kitchen and bake this for the dad(s) in your life, already.

Cherry  & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

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Not Your Typical Burger

 

We have to say that with all of our travels, there’s nothing better than returning home to an all-American burger. Whether you’re indulging in a juicy beef burger hot off the grill, or an extravagant veggie burger stocked with funky toppings, the first bite is pure bliss.

To add a Spanish spin to a summer BBQ, we created a burger featuring three of our absolute favorite tapas staples: Manchego cheese, chorizo and roasted red peppers. The finely-chopped chorizo adds a smoky intensity to a classic Angus beef burger, and we sprinkle a layer of sharp Manchego cheese on top. Finely, we substitute classic ketchup with a staple in Catalan cooking: romesco sauce.

We are obsessed with romesco and will put it on anything. If you find yourself with extra sauce, try spreading it on a grilled baguette for a quick and impressive appetizer, use it as a spicy dip for cocktail shrimp, or drizzle it atop grilled chicken or fish. You can’t beat this fiery pesto!

Spanish-Style Chorizo and Romesco Burgers with Manchego Cheese

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