Ham and Cheese Poppers

Please do not let the extremely ugly and underexposed picture turn you off of these ham and cheese poppers.  That would be sad, and a travesty to socks-with-sandals-proportions.

These came from a classic moment of me planning on making one thing, changing my mind, and then having to make use of the ingredients I bought.  I was planning on making mini chocolate croissants for a girl’s night, but ended up studying all day instead.  I had thawed the puff pastry, though, and didn’t want to let it go to waste.  Not wanting to make a dessert, I started brainstorming what I could make with the dough.  I had some honey ham from the deli, and started thinking of ham and cheese turnovers.

I’m going to let you in on a secret — these were supposed to be turnovers, but then I got frustrated with trying to fold the dough the right way and ended up just making poppers.  It’s the same thing, really, just less pretty.  I’m going to go ahead and say they’re rustic.  Because that sounds better.

I served these to my roommate and neighbors and they were gone in about ten minutes.  I’ll take that as a success!

Ham and Cheese Poppers

Ingredients

1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed

4 oz slices ham

4 oz gouda cheese, shredded

Directions

Roll out the puff pastry dough into a large rectangle. Slice down the center and cut each side into four triangles.  Put a slice of ham and then shredded cheese in the center of each triangle.  Bunch the edges at the center, making sure to seal the poppers.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.  Serve alongside whole-grain mustard.

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Peppermint Bark

A funny thing happened last week, and it wasn’t me almost walking into the wrong apartment.

(That happened too, though.)

I ran out of eggs.  You’re probably like, “What’s the big deal?  You can go a day or two without eggs.”  My response to that would be, “Yes, a normal person could.  Emphasis on the word normal.”  Bakers and food bloggers are not normal.  Nope.  And we can’t go a day without eggs.  Oh no.  That would mean a day without frittatas.  A day with baking.  I mean, you might as well just stay in bed all day and consider it a lost cause.

Dramatics aside, (I know, crazzzyyyy thought for this blog) I did have to make something for softball and with no eggs, my options were pretty slim.  It also had to come together in about an hour.  Talk about a tall order.  I scanned the blogs for any no-bake recipes, but most of them required hours of setting.  I needed something quick.

Cue the peppermint bark entrance.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.  I always make it for my holiday baskets, and they are an absolute cinch to make.  I guess they just seem too seasonal for me.  Just like you don’t break out velvet until winter, it felt a bit early for peppermint.

Well, I ended up saying, “Screw you, seasonal” and made it anyway.  And it was a complete who-cares-that-it’s-still-October-hit.  This is seriously one of the easiest desserts to make.  You just melt white chocolate, pour some crushed peppermint candy on top, and you have a fantastic dessert that goes a long way.  Barks are great because they can be a vehicle for a whole bunch of toppings.  Nuts and cranberries would be great on this instead of the peppermint, or even a different candy.  Let your imagination run wild!

Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

2 lbs white chocolate, melted

1 cup crushed peppermint

Directions

Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and set aside.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate.  Do it in 30 second intervals, stirring at each interval to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.  Sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top.  Place in freezer to set for 40-60 minutes.  Break into pieces and serve.

Mediterranean Couscous with Olives and Artichokes

Study groups are a big deal in law school.  Like, a big-Rod-Burgundy-deal.  Everyone talks about them.  Every information session about how to succeed in law school, blah-blah-blah, talks about them.  Naturally, I formed a study group only to find out a few meetings (okay, more like one meeting) later that study groups and me do not mix.  I didn’t want to leave the group, though, because I had pushed to form it in the first place and it was made up of all of my friends.  Plus, we watched a lot of fun Youtube videos.

I finally bit the bullet yesterday, though, and told them that I would be leaving the study group.  Funny enough, I felt like I was going through a break-up.  I was all uncomfortable and no-it’s-not-you-it’s-me.  I saw one of them in the hallway later that day and thought, Do I say hi?  Do I wave?  My hands, what do I do with my hands?!

It was freeing to finally admit that the study group wasn’t working for me, though.  I tried to stick with it because everyone else was in study groups, and I had this feeling that if I wasn’t in a study group then I wasn’t doing something right.  I had a chat with a friend earlier this week about the constant need to measure up to everyone else here, and it was really enlightening.  He told me that we all needed to stop comparing ourselves to others and run our own race.  Simple words, but they struck a chord.  I love it here and I love the people, but I do sometimes find myself comparing my work and progress with other people.  Sometimes it doesn’t faze me.    Sometimes it makes me reach for anti-acids.  The bottom line is that I don’t want to do it anymore.  What works for one person might not work for me.  I need to find my own way.

I need to run my own race.

One thing that I’ve learned I absolutely need here is to cook.  I love coming home after a lllooonnnggg day at the law school and parking myself in front of the stove.  It’s relaxing.  It’s comforting.  And then I get to eat afterwards.  I mean, I really can’t think of a better way to unwind.  This is a great dinner to make because it’s quick and nutritious.  Most of the ingredients were straight out of the refrigerator or pantry and it made enough for a few days.  Added bonus — the leftovers taste even better because all the flavors have a chance to meld.

Mediterranean Couscous with Olives and Artichokes

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cup Israeli couscous
1 tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sliced olives
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed
5 artichoke hearts, quartered 
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt/pepper

Directions:
Cook couscous according to directions on package.

Combine all the ingredients, up to the balsamic vinegar.  In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic and olive oil until emulsified.  Pour into the couscous mixture and toss to coat.  Serve either on its own or with a main dish.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cookie Frosting

I’ve been sick here for the past week.  Which, you know, pretty much sucks.  I miss being in grade school when being sick was the BEST thing ever.  I would stay home from school and spend the day watching all those terrible mid-day-talk-shows.  My mom would make me cinnamon-and-sugar toast and make sure my tea had just the right amount of honey.  Being sick was a call for rest.  For slowing down.  For Maury Povich.

Law school doesn’t allow sick days, though.  Alright…it probably does, but if you don’t want to get behind and be the pariah in your study group, you really better buck up and get yourself to class.  This means your purse becomes a moving trashbin for used kleenexes.  You become that person in the library who blows their nose and everyone hates.  And then you sort of hate yourself, too, because you’re sitting in the library feeling like death and all you want to do is sleep, but you just need to finish this last case and it’s going on forever because the Judge wants to turn this opinion into the next (not) great American novel.

And, basically, being sick when you’re a pseudo-adult sucks.  A lot.

Due to my walking around as a human germ ball, I haven’t done a lot of cooking.  I’ve basically had no appetite and when I do all I want to do is eat things like BBQ chips and these cupcakes.  It’s a rich chocolate base with a thin layer of ganache and a frosting peanut butter cookie nestled on top.  I made them over the summer for my birthday, and have been itching to make them again.

So…anyone want to make me these cupcakes??

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cookie Frosting

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips

For the ganache:
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the peanut butter cookie frosting:
9 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix together the cocoa powder and coffee in a bowl and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and two sugars.  Add the eggs on at a time.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  


Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the coffee-cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Fold in the peanut butter chips.   Fill the cupcake tins 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the ganache:

Bring the heavy cream to a boil.  Pour over the chocolate and let stand for two minutes.  Stir until the chocolate is melted.  

For the peanut butter cookie frosting:

Mix together the peanut butter and butter.  Add the powdered sugar, mixing until a thick frosting forms.  With clean and dry hands form round disks and press the tines of a fork on the top to make it look like a peanut butter cookie.  Place on a piece of parchment paper.

To assemble the cupcakes, use an offset spatula to smear a layer of the ganache on the cupcake.  Press a “peanut butter cookie” on top.

Source:  Annie’s Eats

Pizza Rolls

I’ve recently discovered the beautiful world of online shopping.  I know most of you are thinking, “Wow Liz, did you just discover electricity and running water, too?”

I concede that I am wwwaaayyyy late to this party.  Like, all the liquor is gone.  The cheese platter’s picked over.  And someone’s already passed out in the bathtub.  But I’m here now, and let me tell you, I’m all over that cheese platter.

It all started with my search for a Comic Con t-shirt.  I wanted something original, which sent me all over the internet.  I discovered Redbubble, Zazzle, and then I met a little site named Etsy.  Holy mostaccoli, that website is like heaven in an internet browser.  It caters to all of my really dorky and kitschy tendencies for generally reasonable prices.  Despite it being a total black hole for productivity (that’s the internet in general, really), I am basically in love.  With the website.  And everything on it.  EVERYTHING.

So, the recipe for today has absolutely nothing to do with online shopping.  And I can’t think of a clever transition, so…

— INSERT CLEVER TRANSITION HERE —

I love making appetizers for parties because it gives me an opportunity to make something I wouldn’t normally make for just myself.  This usually means a lot of cheese.  A lot of calories.  The stuff dreams are made of basically.  This is yet another recipe from the infamous football party.  I promise it’s the last!

I wanted something fun to serve alongside the buffalo chicken dip that wouldn’t take too much effort.  I decided to make everything right before the party (stupid decision in hindsight) so simplicity was key.  I can honestly say that these pizza rolls are one of the easiest appetizers that I’ve made.  For the basic recipe, all you really need is pizza dough, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.  The only way this could be easier is if someone made it for you.  Which I totally recommend if you can swing it.

Pizza Rolls

Ingredients:

1 tube pizza dough

1 jar pizza sauce

1 bag mozzarella cheese

1 tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp minced garlic

Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roll the pizza dough out into a large rectangle and cut into strips.  Cut those strips into six-inch squares.  Spoon two teaspoons of sauce onto each square and add a bit of cheese.  Pull the corners up toward each other and pinch shut.  Make sure they are all sealed well, otherwise they will break open during baking.

Bake for 15 minutes.  After removing from the oven, top with the parmesan cheese and the butter-garlic spread.

Stuff yo’ face.

Source: Eat, Live, Run 

Oreo Pudding Cookies

I typically don’t like to make cookies that have too many ingredients.  I’d like to say I’m a purist and appreciate cookies in their simplest form, but it’s really just because I’m a money-challenged-grad-student who doesn’t like shelling out money for random ingredients.  With that said, these cookies have a lot of random ingredients.

I made them last week for the previously mentioned Football Party – also known as that night we schemed to meet up with our crushes and ended up with a house-full of people that didn’t include them. I spent a lot of time trying to pick the perfect cookie for the night but pretty much knew my search was over when I saw this recipe on Cookies & Cups.  There’s a lot to love in these cookies, but they had at me at the chopped up cookies n’ cream candy bars.

I was OBSESSED with those candy bars during high school.  I used to get them whenever I went to the movie theater and it would pretty much be the greatest thing ever.  Well, it was the greatest thing ever until someone had the genius idea to put them in cookies.  Now, THAT is the greatest thing ever.  For realzies.

These cookies are pretty easy to make and come together quickly.  From what I saw at my party, they disappear quickly, as well!

Oreo Pudding Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 package Oreo pudding

1 tbsp vanilla

2 eggs

2 1/4 cup flour

3/4 old fashioned oats

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sat

2 cups chopped Cookies n’ Cream bars

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

In a bowl, mix together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, cream together the two sugars and  butter.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Next, add the flour mixture, making sure to scrape down the sides.  Fold in the chopped candy bars.  

Drop tablespoons of the dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until brown around the edges. Let cool 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source:  Cookies & Cups