#Cookie Hack- 5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Bark

#Cookie Hack- 5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Bark

Cookie RecipeOh hello, my favorite readers. The holiday season has officially descended upon us. And if you’re anything like me, you’re frantically trying to think of some thoughtful gifts for those near and dear. Enter Bark or as some rather interesting Pinterest users call it- Christmas Crack. Every year, I like to make a big batch of Bark to give with presents. Actually, if I’m being honest. Sometimes I give Bark as the main present. because thoughtful, handmade presents are the best, right? RIGHT?!?. This weekend, I made a huge batch of Bark to give to the people in our apartment building and decided to document the process.  It is such a simple but flexible recipe. One year, I added chopped pecans and another year, I added chopped candy canes. The only hard part is you have go on patrol that make sure no one sneakily steals the edge pieces (ahem, G!).  I hope you enjoy. – A

5 Ingredient Graham Cracker Bark

IMG_7647IMG_7651IMG_7668IMG_7672IMG_7675IMG_7670

Time: 25 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients: 

  • 1 box of graham crackers (14-16 sheets of graham crackers) (I’ve also used saltines)
  • 1 & 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of salted butter
  • 1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of topping of your choice (pecans, almonds, candy canes)

Tools:

  • 1 baking sheet (11 x 15-inch)
  • 1 quart sauce pan
  • Scissors
  • Spatula or Spoon
  • Parchment paper

 

Steps:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Break graham crackers apart to create small triangles. Line crackers up so they are side by side in a single layer. Set aside.
  3. Heat butter in saucepan over medium-high heat until melted.
  4. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Add small chunks of brown sugar to avoid butter-sugar foam. Stir CONSTANTLY.
  5. Let mixture boil for 2 minutes and remove. Pour over graham cracker.
  6. Use spatula or spoon to spread mixture evenly across the graham crackers.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes until toffee starts to bubble. Remove and add chocolate chip sprinkles.
  8. Put tray back in the oven and continue baking for another 3-4 minutes.
  9. Use spatula or spoon to spread chocolate mixture evenly across the crackers + toffee.
  10. Sprinkle desired topping.
  11. Let sit for about two hours and then cut and serve. You can cool bark in the freezer for faster cooling time.

 

Life Lately- November Edition

Life Lately- November Edition

paul-itkin-46110

Photo by paul itkin on Unsplash

Greetings from chilly Brooklyn where I’m currently sitting cocooned in a sea of blankets and sipping a cup of hot early grey tea. It’s currently 4:30AM and I’m suffering from a seemingly incurable bout of jet lag. Not that I’m complaining (completely). Jet lag has turned me into a functioning morning person. I’ve gone to early morning Pilates classes, knocked off worked projects before the sun rises, and have generally felt like a real adult. And even though this happens after every trip past the Atlantic, I can never seem to keep up the routine. The allure of that snooze button becomes too great after a week of being a morning person. I thought I would take advantage of the early hours to write this month’s Life Lately post. Can you believe that it’s December 1st tomorrow? Where did the month go? Actually, where did this year go?Hope that you are all ready and excited for this year’s Holiday season. I’m looking forward to hearing what you’ll are up to!

Cheers, A

 

Currently Eating: G’s super special chili. I’m still hoping that one day he’ll let me share the recipe so everyone can enjoy this super tasty (and reasonable healthy) chili. (Hint: It involves coconut milk)

Currently Craving: BCD Tofu House‘s Soon Tofu Soup. Because it’s winter and I like warm things.

Currently Drinking: Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey Tea.

Currently Bookmarking: Celestine– purely for the Brooklyn Bridge views.

Currently Re-Reading:  Murder on the Orient Express. This is one of those books that I re-read every couple of years. This time, I re-read it because of the new movie release. I didn’t care for the movie (no one who has ever seen the David Suchet version of Hercule Poirot could) but the story itself is still marvelously cheeky.

Currently on my Nightstand: A Gentleman in Moscow. I started this back in April and it’s been sitting on my night stand ever since. Don’t get me wrong. It’s interesting but it seems like the type of book that you need to consistently dedicate a couple hours to. And, I haven’t had that type of time. Maybe over the holidays?

Currently Recommending: Movie Pass. Back in August, we signed up for MoviePass, and to say it’s completely transformed our movie theatre going experience is an understatement. For a set fee, ($6 – $10) you can see a movie a day in the majority of theaters. Given that NYC movie tickets are $15, it’s a steal. I’m not sure how MoviePass is making money or how they will sustain this business model, but I’m not questioning it (too much).

Currently Watching: Stranger Things 2 . I know, I know. It was released over a month ago. But G+ I have been so busy (and can’t watch it without each other) so we just finished it yesterday.

Currently Making: Holiday Potpourri from Half Baked Harvest. Every holiday season, I bookmark about a hundred links to make our apartment smell like the inside of log cabin filled with apple pies. I never do it. But, this feels like the year.

Currently Listening to: Imogen Heap. #tbt

Currently Loving: Sunrises + Sunsets. The only good thing about the early darkness winter hours.

Currently Visiting: Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life exhibit at David Zwirner’s Gallery.

Currently Reminiscing About: The Maldives. Best vacation EVER. Post-coming soon!

Currently Traveling Through: Brooklyn –> San Antonio –> Brooklyn –> Kolkata

Currently Looking Forward To: the holidays.

Monthly Recap from the blog:

  • This year’s Thanksgiving was actually an early Friendsgiving with 25 of our closest friends and family. Check out our epic menu. But please don’t do it on an empty stomach.
  • Interested in going to Western Europe, but skipping the typical Tourist countries? Check our my guide to Belgium.
  • This bookworm slash food lover finally got her act together and made a list of “Five Books for Foodies“. It’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction (and the one rare cookbook) suggestions.
  • Craving something healthy but yummy? Try Chrissy Teigen’s Pork Stuffed Cucumber Soup. I did, and now I can’t stop thinking about it.

Happy American Turkey Day

Happy American Turkey Day

pro-church-media-441073chris-lawton-154388simon-maage-351417Happy American Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving is, hands down, my favorite holiday. What more could you want than food, family and leftovers? Most years, we host Thanksgiving at my parent’s and invite my mom’s graduate students and colleagues over. It’s usually potluck style so we end up with an eclectic assortment of food (my mom’s Biriyani is the most requested dish) and very few leftovers.

This year, however, we threw an early Friendsgiving since my parents and I are traveling (in two different locations!*). And honestly, it was one of my favorite celebrations to date! Since we were able to invite 25 of our closest friends, neighbors, and colleagues without encroaching on actual thanksgiving day plans.

Today, I thought I’d do a throwback to our early celebration. In this post, you will see my best photography skills. Haha, just kidding. You try taking photos of food as 25 people try to devour it. Here is our official menu and some of the food pictures I managed to snap before being shoved out of the way.

I’m taking the rest of the week off from the blog — there’s too much eating, wine drinking, and merry making to be had! I hope that you have the most wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family, wherever you are. Stay safe and warm/cold!

-Aheli

PS — You can keep up with me over on Instagram…I’m sure I’ll be snapping some beach pics.

* As you can tell I do not let travel get in the way of any thanksgiving celebration. See my quest for a Turkey in Scotland 2007. 

Thanksgiving Menu

IMG_6304

Amazing Mozzarella, Pesto, Cherry Tomato and Tortellini sticks by Steph 

IMG_6309

Grapefruit-and-Beet Salad. Recipe from NYT.IMG_6370

Raita

IMG_6374

MangshooIMG_6375

Leftover Biryani

SaveSave

A Special Birthday Post

A Special Birthday Post
annie-spratt-96526lizzie-254530
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think Mindy Kaling said it best when she wrote “…I guess I’m just one of those weird kids who likes their parents too much.” Except for today, I need to expand the quote to say that I’m a kid that likes my family too much. Today, is a very special day. Today, I get to celebrate the birthdays of the two most amazing and inspiring (did I mention, talent) women in my life- my aunt Ranu Pishi and my mom. I know I’m biased, but both of these women are the most inspiring role models a person could have.
Ranu Pishi. You are the true definition of selflessness. Every time I see you, you go above and beyond to make sure everyone around you is comfortable. Whether that means chasing down the grey haired ladies to get the perfect Lapin recipe or staying up late, after a full day of work, to hang out and make time for your niece. You manage to entertain a barrage of never-ending guests and without requesting anything for yourself. I’ve watched you countless times from age 0 till now, selflessly helping those around you. I’m SO lucky to have you in my life.
Mom, I know I’m biased, but you are truly one of the most incredible, talented, stylish, innovative, endlessly giving, super humans that I know in my life. You inspire me every day and have taught me that no person operates independently in this life. You have created (and sustained) such an incredible network of both men and women for me to look up to. Thank you for being the constant source of inspiration- from encouraging me to dive deep into life, even when I cause you get distress (ahem, Bangkok and Spain).  
I’m very happy that you are celebrating together. I’m sending the biggest hugs possible.
Love,
Aheli/Ghurni

Weekend Guide | 36 hours in Belgium

Weekend Guide | 36 hours in Belgium
IMG_2114Belgium is one of those hidden gems that often gets (rudely) overlooked by its more popular neighbors- France, Netherlands and Germany. Considering Belgium’s central location, it’s an ideal location to swing through and stay for a 3-5 day trip. I managed to convince my parents to visit over Thanksgiving break for my mom’s birthday. In their honor- and because I’m craving some frites right now- I wanted to share a very quick (read: RUSHED!) overview of my most recent trip to Bruges & Ghent. I hope you enjoy.
– Aheli
Belgium 101
Location: Nestled between France, the Netherlands, and Germany, Belgium is the perfect central location- make it your primary stay or a pip-stop during a European adventure. An ideal stay, in my opinion is about 3-5 days.
Currency: Euro (€)
Language: There are three official languages: French, Dutch and German. Please note that language (and national identity) are a sensitive subject. In the North (Flanders), residents typically speak Flemish (Dutch). In the South (Wallonia), residents speak French. In a small section of the east, residents speak German. To avoid, offending anyone, it’s best to stick to English. And also read up on this history before you go…just to be well informed.
Electric: Type C two-prong plug
Weather: Temperate, though make sure to bring a jacket if you’re traveling in the winter months. That means you, Dad!
Transportation: Within the major cities— Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp- you can easily walk from place to place. Between cities, you can easily and unexpectedly travel via train.
Deciding Where to Go:
I’ve only been to three places- Brussels, Bruges and Ghent in Belgium and I’d recommend them all. Brussels, being the capital, has a lot to offer.  Bruges (Dutch) or Brugge (French) is one of my favorite cities. This charming UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with cobble-stone alleys, picturesque canals and the most quintessential market squares. It honestly looks like it came out of the set of a medieval fairy tale. Ghent is equally charming- but is much larger and cosmopolitan.
Where We Stayed: 
We opted to stay in the most charming medieval hotel the Hotel Ter Brughe.  Seriously, our room overlooked a bridge, canal and a tree that looked like it was painted.
Where We Stayed:
IMG_2023IMG_1976IMG_1973
IMG_2008
Things I Ate & Liked in: (Bruges)
  • We had a wonderful Vlaamsche Stooflees (flemish stew) at ’t Gezelleke
  • The best beer — and I say this as a none beer drinker— was the house beer at the Staminee de Garre  Warning: it does look like you are breaking into a private courtyard. There are no signs at all.
  • The waffles at Chez Albert are completely instagram worthy
  • If you need a fancy dinner, try the Park Restaurant.
IMG_1965
Franz* in front of ’t Gezelleke
IMG_1966
IMG_2208
G and the best Vlaamsche Stooflees
IMG_1983
IMG_2104
IMG_2166
IMG_2035
 IMG_2312IMG_2042
Waffles from Chez Albert
IMG_2086
Fancy Birthday Dinner at the Park
IMG_2083
Things We Ate (& Did) in Ghent
IMG_2054
IMG_2451
IMG_2416
IMG_2073
Postscript: I know G is reading this and shaking his head because I named Franz post trip. I tried to convince him that all cars- see Lord Dashell of Steph and my UK+ Ireland Road Trip— need names but he was not convinced. Also, I was tired and not creative.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

the book mark | five books for foodies

the book mark | five books for foodies

Artboard

Given that 99.9% of this blog is devoted to food, I’m not sure why it took me four months to put together a list of my favorite food related books. But ce la vie. This month, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I wanted to share my favorite food related books. I’ve only included one cookbook- mostly because I really completely rely on the internet of food things* for all my recipes. Hopefully you’ll be culinary inspired. or Hungry. There is a high chance that you will be hungry after reading any of these books.

Side note: My parents and G+I are traveling (separately) over Thanksgiving, so we’re throwing a Friendsgiving at my parent’s place this weekend. So far the guest list is 25 people, including Steph!– so stay tuned for a post on how the party turned out. My parents have planned the menu so I’m in charge of green beans and snacks. (They let me handle the most important stuff obviously.) Let me know in the comments how you celebrate!

-A

 

28118580

1. Truffle Boy by Ian Purkayastha

Yes, this book already made the list but it’s that good.

Truffle Boy covers Ian Purkayastha’s journey with exotic food- from his first taste of truffles (age 15 in rural Arkansas) to his high stakes dealings with truffle kingpins in Serbia, meth-head foragers in Oregon, crooked businessman and maniacal chefs in Manhattan, gypsy truffle hunters in the Hungarian forests and a supreme adventure to find “Gucci” mushrooms in the Himalayan foothills.

Read When: You’ve run out of Chef’s Table episodes on Netflix and want to know about how those chefs get those exotic truffles and want to impress others with your identifying fake Wagyu beef.

Read with: The best whisky or scotch you have. It will be worth it.

920x920

2. Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure amoung the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists who taught me to live for Taste by Bianca Bosker

Bianca Bosker traded her job writing about tech companies to throw herself headfirst in wine- tasting, smelling, studying, and stalking hanging out with other sommeliers. Cork Dork chronicles her self-designed wine immersion- from working as a cellar rat in a top New York City restaurant, joining exclusive blind tasting clubs and bagging a TopSomm guest judge spot.  As a result, this book is a delightful blend of science, memoir and encounters with people who are deadly serious about wine.

Read When: You want to know what the big deal is between a $20 and $200 bottle of wine.

Read with: Wine. Obviously.

80642._UY500_SS500_

3. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

In 1993, Ruth Reichl became the most influential person in the New York food scene- the New York Times food critic. Garlic and Saphires chronicles Reichl’s ten year stint with the Times, and her effort to bring good food to the masses.  Reichl disguises herself with wigs, make-up, clothing and personas to avoid being recognized and avoid any red carpet treatment that might unduly influence her reviews. The result is a smart and witty reflection about American national identity, the relationship to food, and the concepts of service, status and privilege.

Read When: You want to be a NYT food critic but don’t know what it entails

Read with: a full stomach

51CkaBTOPIL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

4. A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

The book begins at a four hour lunch on New Years Day.  In this charming and warm memoir, Peter Mayle chronicles the details of his first year living in the remote French countryside of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. The pages are peppered with hilarious accounts of eating outside during the chilly mistral, exposing a frozen baguette ring (sacrelig!) to using pigs to uncover the prize black Périgord truffles.  Mayle’s descriptions of his neighbors, laborers, markets and restaurants make this an especially fun weekend or holiday read.

Read When: You want food and wanderlust

Read with: Cheese, fresh baguettes and a good glass of wine.

cra

5. Cravings by  Chrissy Tiegen

And lastly, the only cookbook I’ve ever loved and wanted to actually recommend. Chrissy Tiegen truly makes food you want to eat. So far I’ve made her pork stuffed cucumber soup, chili garlic sauce, lettuce wraps, actual drunk noodles, Gaucamole, and chicken grapow. The best thing is Tiegen covers a mix of recipes from healthy salads (she is a swimsuit model) to absolutely decadent junk food. This book has a recipe for every occasion.

Read When: You’re hosting Friendsgiving

Read with: You need a fun and refreshing and actually useful cookbook.

*this is a totally nerdy thing from my industry. Bonus points to you if you know what the internet of things is. But for real- I rely mostly on Pinterest and buzzfeed for my recipes.

Pork Stuffed Cucumber Soup

Pork Stuffed Cucumber Soup
We all know that Chrissy Teigen is the undisputed queen of the Internet, but did you also know that she’s a super talented Chef. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of cookbooks- hey, I started cooking in the age of Pinterest— but when Chrissy announced- Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat— I knew I needed to read it.
And… drumroll please…it’s wonderful. From her chili-garlic oil (TO DIE FOR!), John’s Chicken & Waffles recipes to all her mother’s Thai-inspired recipes, You’ll find something for you. A couple months ago (!), G and I tried her mother’s Pork Stuffed Cucumber Soup, and I thought I’d share our results. It’s a perfect soup for when you need something light and filling. The best part is that you can re-use the mix as a topping for zoodles or a simple stir-fry. I hope you enjoy.
– A
Pork Stuffed Cucumber Soup
Adapted from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings 
 
Serves 4
IMG_3278IMG_3280IMG_3282IMG_3285IMG_3287IMG_3752

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 10 cloves of garlic, mashed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon grand black pepper
  • 5 large cucumbers
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes or 3 cups of chicken  stock
  • 1/4 cup of thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 bunch of mushrooms (honshimeji mushrooms, shiitakes, sliced white mushrooms)
  • Chili flakes/ chili garlic sauce
 
Tools:
  • Mixing bowl
  • Veggie Peeler
  • Knife
  • Measuring spoon, melon ball peeler or pineapple corer
  • Large Pot
 
Steps:
1. Mix pork, soy sauce, garlic, chili flakes and pepper. Use your hands for optimal mixing (and fun).
2. Peel and halve cucumbers. Use the spoon to hollow cylinder and remove seeds. Pack each tube with the pork mixture, spooning it in a little at a time to avoid air pockets*
3. In a large Dutch oven or wide soup pot combine 12 cups of water and bouillon cubes. If you are using chicken stock, boil 9 cups of water. Add stuffed cucumbers to pot and reduce heat to a low simmer. Let cucumbers cook for 30 mins. Then add, mushrooms and cook for another 15 minutes.
4. Serve in bowls with a garnish of scallions and some chili garlic sauce.
* There will be leftover pork mixture. I recommend pan frying and serving the next day onto of zoodles.