the perfect cinco de mayo guac

guac1 the perfect cinco de mayo guac

 

I like to think I’ve perfected the art of guac. My roommate and I have “guac night” at least once a week–this sounds cool, but all it really entails is shoveling mounds of homemade guacamole into our mouths while watching The Mindy Project and sitting on the floor (white couches and green guac don’t mix). Still, practice makes perfect, and we’ve finally nailed the recipe down–I’ve yet to find a restaurant version that comes close. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo this weekend, here’s how you make it for yourself:

 

You’ll need:

  • 2 avocados, ripe (they should give a little to a poke, but should still feel dense and heavy in your hand)
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

 

guac2 the perfect cinco de mayo guac

 

Start off with the avocado. I’ve found the easiest way to get it out of the rind is the trace around the edge, and dice the avocado while the rind is still intact, then flip it inside out to dislodge the pieces.

 

guac4 the perfect cinco de mayo guac

 

Empty both of the avocados into a bowl, leaving the pit of one of the avocados in the bowl until just before serving (this supposedly keeps it from turning brown–I’m superstitious, so I just keep doing it!). Squeeze the juice of one small lemon, and one half of a lime, and let sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavor marinate.

 

guac5 the perfect cinco de mayo guac

 

Remove the pit, and mash in the onions, tomato, salt and pepper (taste it occasionally so you don’t make it too salty–especially if you’re using salted chips) with a fork. I tend to like it a little bit on the chunkier side, but feel free to make it as mushy as you’d like. Serve cold, with warmed tortilla chips (I prefer blue personally) and a side of sour cream. Oh, and a marg. Or two.

 

guac6 the perfect cinco de mayo guac

 

 

peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

IMG 2026 peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

 

There’s nothing better than drinks with friends–and with that naturally comes food. In college it was nachos, Ellio’s pizza and frankly, some decidedly gross 2 a.m. concoctions. But grown-up life calls for something a bit more refined (but only a little bit) and this easy crostini recipe is one of those unicorn foods–it takes about 10-minutes, but everyone thinks you’re really, super amazing. Happy hour bites? You killed it.

 

IMG 2034 peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

 

You’ll need (makes about 8 slices):

  • 8 pieces of Italian or French bread, sliced thin
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 peaches, sliced thin
  • 1/4 pound imported prosciutto, slice extremely thin
  • basil
  • honey

IMG 2048 peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

 

Place the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toast in the oven on 400 degrees until slightly browned.

 

IMG 2083 peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

 

In a bowl, mix the ricotta and sugar, then top the cooled toasts with a heaping tablespoon (or two!).

 

IMG 2092 peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

 

Layer on the prosciutto, basil and peaches, then top with honey. Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight. Serving suggestion: one large glass of wine and a few friends.

 

IMG 2097 peach, prosciutto and ricotta crostini

 

 

grown up fettuccine alfredo

IMG 0088 grown up fettuccine alfredo

 

Growing up, fettuccine alfredo was my jam when I would go out to eat with my family. When you’re nine or ten years old, there’s something that seems so sophisticated and adult about it. You’re not just ordering spaghetti and meatballs off the kids menu, you’re getting fettuccine alfredo.

 

It stopped being my go-to a while back in the name of trying different things, but I’ve never forgotten how creamy and delicious it was. I knew I wanted to recreate that quintessential flavor with this recipe, but grow it up a bit. This was sort of a throw anything I can in a pan and see if it works situation, but it actually turned out great!

 

 grown up fettuccine alfredo

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 pound fettuccine pasta
  • 15-20 shrimp, pre-cooked
  • 1/4 frozen peas

 

Boil water in a large saucepan. In a large skillet, melt the butter and heavy cream together, stirring slowly until combined, then set to a simmer. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. In the final two minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas to the water. Drain, reserving a 1/4 cup pasta water and set pasta and peas aside. Add the pasta water, cheese and shrimp to the skillet and cook on medium-high until it reduces down slightly.

 

IMG 0152 grown up fettuccine alfredo

 

Add the pasta (and subsequently the peas) to the skillet and toss with tongs until the sauce has thickened and coated the noodles. Serve with an additional sprinkle of cheese and enjoy sitting at the grown up table!

 

IMG 0153 grown up fettuccine alfredo

 

“impress your date” meatloaf…really.

IMG 0405 impress your date meatloaf...really.

 

“Impress your date” meatloaf seems like it should be an oxymoron, I know. Because no one likes meatloaf, right? Well, if that’s the case, it’s simply because they’ve never had this version. First good thing: you make it into extra-generous meatballs, so right off the bat you throw off those auto-loaf haters. Second good thing: it’s one of those dishes that seems like it took forever to make, so you’ll rake in impressive points with whatever guy (or girl or family member) you put the plate down in front of. Honestly, I can’t rave about this recipe enough, so I’m thinking you should just try it!

 

Tomato Glazed Meatloaf (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen):

 

  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • onion, celery, carrot and garlic–all chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 slices of white bread

 

IMG 0410 impress your date meatloaf...really.

 

Combine the tomato paste, vinegar, honey and 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce in a sauce pan and simmer on low until thickened and bubbling. Set aside.

 

IMG 0428 impress your date meatloaf...really.

 

Pulse the bread in a food processor to create breadcrumbs. Set aside. Add the vegetables and process until minced, about 5 minutes (you may need to do this in batched in order to fit everything!). Brown the veggies in a hot skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

 

Add the vegetables to the ground beef and breadcrumbs, mixing with your hands and forming into palm-sized meatballs (be generous!).

 

IMG 0430 impress your date meatloaf...really.

 

Top the meatloaf(s) with a bit of glaze and place in the oven to cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the outsides are browned and juice around them is bubbling (if you’re unsure, check with a meat thermometer).

 

IMG 0472 impress your date meatloaf...really.

 

Serve over your favorite variation of mashed potatoes–because everyone has their favorite (mine are garlic with a touch of sour cream). Enjoy–and prepare to impress your next date. He’ll be raving about you to Mom before you know it!

 

 

a little valentine’s day sugar

vcookiesopen a little valentines day sugar

 

If there’s ever a time for a little sugar, it’s Valentine’s Day. I had an idea as to how I wanted these babies to turn out, but truth be told, I totally messed up these cookies–twice. The first time, the batter was so watery, it could never be a cookie. The second time–well let’s just say there was a fire alarm involved (yeah, it was an off day). But you know what they say, after a few recipes tweaks, third time’s a charm! I plan on handing these out to spread a little love this Valentine’s Day.

 

vcookies1 a little valentines day sugar

 

You’ll need:

 

  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5 cups of flour

 

vcookies2 a little valentines day sugar

 

Cream together the butter and the sugar until smooth, but don’t over mix. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again on low. Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated, for no longer than 30 seconds.

 

vcookies3 a little valentines day sugar

vcookies4 a little valentines day sugar

 

Put the dough on a tray, sandwiched between two pieces of parchment paper. Roll out flat (or, if you’re like me and can’t seem to find your rolling pin, sandwich between two trays and lay on it with your body weight). Put in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.

 

vcookies6 a little valentines day sugar

vcookies7 a little valentines day sugar

 

Cut out cookie shapes using the cutters of your choice (naturally, I chose hearts for the occasion). Make sure you give the cookies room on the sheet–they will spread a little bit!

 

vcookies8 a little valentines day sugar

 

For the frosting:

 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons half and half
  • red and pink food coloring (optional)

 

vcookies5 a little valentines day sugar

 

Dye the frosting a variety of pinks and red, and go crazy! I did a few different designs, added some sprinkles and sparkles (naturally) and generally went all out.

 

vcookies9 a little valentines day sugar

vcookies10 a little valentines day sugar

 

Wrap them up in red cellophane and hand out to all of your Valentines! If you need, you can store them in an air tight container for up to five days.

 

 

 

berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

IMG 1279 berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

 

A while ago, I put a feeler call-out on Twitter to see if people would be willing to take a blog  survey to help me improve The Glossy Life in 2013. The response to the idea of the survey was amazingly positive–especially when I mentioned cupcakes (I have this theory that people will do anything for a cupcake or free t-shirt). Obviously I can’t send you all cupcakes personally, but I can give you the recipe to make your own.

To make the cupcakes, I used this cake and frosting recipe from Sweetapolita, which never fails me. Once the cupcakes are cooled, core the center with a knife and fill with preserves or jam (I love the triple berry version from Anarchy in a Jar!).

 

IMG 1282 berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

IMG 1290 berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

IMG 1294 berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

 

Once you’re done, “re-cork” them (so to say) and frost generously–it is the best part, after all!. I garnished mine with some fun pink rock candy to make them feel extra special.

 

IMG 1321 berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

IMG 1336 berry vanilla cloud cupcakes [+ a blog survey!]

 

Now that I’ve buttered you all up with a yummy cupcake recipe, I’d love to ask a favor: take this little 10 question survey about your thoughts on The Glossy Life thus far (bonus: it’s anonymous, so be honest!). I’m dying to hear what you like, dislike and want to see more of. It will only take you five minutes and will help me improve this little space for you in 2013. Thanks, all!

ricotta and raspberry scones

IMG 0057 ricotta and raspberry scones

 

There are several foods that I’m afraid to make: souffles, risotto and, irrationally, scones. I’ve been under some preconceived notion that they’re difficult and easy to mess up, but at least with this recipe, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

 

IMG 0105 ricotta and raspberry scones

 

I was really skeptical about adding ricotta to this recipe, but I’ve always trusted everything from Smitten Kitchen, so I knew it had to be a home run. Raspberries are my favorite fruit, but I bet these would be amazing with blueberries and a bit of lemon zest too.

 

IMG 0062 ricotta and raspberry scones

IMG 0110 ricotta and raspberry scones

 

These best part? These stay moist and perfectly tart for days. Warm them with a bit of raspberry jam and settle in with the paper on a lazy Sunday morning–perfection.

 

IMG 0142 ricotta and raspberry scones

 

thick and creamy new england clam chowder

IMG 0524 thick and creamy new england clam chowder

 

I was raised on a good dose of love, adventure and clam chowder. Growing up in New England, “chowda” was a staple and no one did it better than a company called Chowder Heads. Many have tried (my mom included) but few have succeeded in capturing the perfectly creamy, sweet, amazing taste that Chowder Heads has somehow mastered.

 

IMG 0549 thick and creamy new england clam chowder

 

However, in my small apartment kitchen, on a rainy Sunday, with a few old Italian tunes playing in the background, magic kind of, sort of, almost happened. If I’m being honest, I pretty much measured out a bunch ingredients that I thought made sense, added them to a pot and hoped they came out like I imagined they would. Lucky for me, they did. The result was a perfectly thick, creamy, indulgent bowl of New England Clam Chowder, worthy of sharing here on the blog.

 

IMG 0550 thick and creamy new england clam chowder

You’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 small potatoes, chopped into cubes
  • 3/4 of a spanish onion
  • 1 leek (chopped up to the green portion)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 cans of whole clams, drained
  • 1/2 c clam juice
  • 1 1/2 cups half & half
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Set a sauce pan over medium heat and place butter in the bottom to melt. Add onion and leek and cook on low until translucent. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the mixture and stir to coat. Add celery and potatoes to the pot and continue to cook. Potatoes should eventually get mushy but not lose their shape. Cook on low for 2-3 minutes, add a bit of salt and pepper, then sprinkle another tablespoon of flour and turn to coat. Add the clams and clam juice, simmering on low. Add the final tablespoon of flour and stir.

IMG 0569 thick and creamy new england clam chowder

Simmer until the clam juice has disolved, then add the half and half, milk, and heavy cream. Stir well to combine, then cook on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve the chowder hot, garnished with oyster crackers and pretend you’re a New Englander!

IMG 0572 thick and creamy new england clam chowder

 

wild mushroom tart

IMG 0230 wild mushroom tart

I have a friend who is obsessed with mushrooms–to the point that she even goes looking for them in the woods with her boss (yes, I’m serious!). When I saw this recipe, I immediately thought of her and had to test it out. I’ve only ever made fruit tarts, so a dinner version of a tart was a change of pace. A delicious change of pace, as it turns out!

IMG 0192 wild mushroom tart

For the tart crust, I follow the recipe for cornmeal crust in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook–I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the flavor of the cornmeal/texture, but it was so easy to make (which is a huge plus when talking about crusts!). I guess I’m just not a cornmeal person. Next time, I think I’m going to go with this crust.

IMG 0202 wild mushroom tart

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 pounds cremini or brown mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 pound wild mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 c mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c grated provolone
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil and butter together in a large saute pan. Add the shallots and saute until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook for about one minute more. Add the mushrooms–your pan will likely be overflowing, but the mushrooms should cook down shortly. Season with salt and pepper and cook until they are tender and the liquid they release has evaporated.

IMG 0205 wild mushroom tart

Add the mascarpone to a medium bowl and wisk together with the milk until smooth. Wisk in the eggs, provolone, parmesan and mushrooms.

IMG 0212 wild mushroom tart

Pour into the tart shell and cook for 35-40 minutes, until it’s puffed and golden brown on the top. Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm, or at room temperature.

IMG 0215 wild mushroom tart

 

*Tart recipe from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Which is amazing. Seriously, go buy it!