Monday, October 31, 2016: Cupcake Wars
Oct 31st, 2016 by Kate

Our school was having a Halloween bake sale to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti so we decided to have a mini cupcake war (just between the two of us).  See the photo below and try to decide who made which cupcake!  The purple one was a funfetti batter (with sprinkles in the batter)  and the orange one was a gold cake.  (Purple is our school color)


Guess who made the purple funfetti cupcake and one made the candy corn cupcake!


Saturday, October 22, 2016: Dinner No. 71: Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding & Strawberry Pavlova
Oct 24th, 2016 by Kate

Tonight I (Alex) made dinner for Max because he had to take the NYC Specialized High School Test this morning–so he deserved a break and one of his favorite meals: roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  I also made an arugula/pine nut/goat cheese salad and petite (small) green peas.  For dessert I made Strawberry Pavlova (a meringue cake filled with whipped cream and fresh berries).

Max: I was so happy Ali made me my favorite meal. It was really a special night. The Yorkshire Pudding tasted wonderful, and the Roast Beef was a perfect medium-rare. Generally I don’t like meringues, but the Pavlova cake made out of strawberries and meringue was the best one I have ever eaten. Thanks so much!

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For the roast beef, I put salt and pepper on it and then threw it in the oven at 325 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. Then I let it stand for 15 minutes while I cooked the Yorkeshire Pudding. Even through roast beef is a very simple dish its sooooo good, one of my personal favorites.

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For the Yorkshire pudding, I whisked 6 eggs, half a teaspoon of salt, a little flour and milk.  The most important step is pre-heating your baking dish in the oven with either butter or pan drippings (from the roast). It needs to be piping hot before you add your egg mixture: and then the egg mixture poofs up!

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Yorkshire pudding looks kind of funky but looks can be deceiving.  It is so good that we all wished we had made a double recipe.

Salad was very straight forward: Arugula, goat cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts. Most important step: toasting the pine nuts! And don’t burn them.

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For the Strawberry Pavlova, the most important thing is planning ahead because you have to bake the meringue cakes for a long time at a very low heat, but it’s actually a pretty simple recipe:

Whip egg whites with sugar and corn starch to make meringues; bake, cool.  Whip heavy cream with a little sugar and vanilla. Slice berries. Layer meringue cakes with whipped cream and berries.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016: Dinner No. 70: Tandoori Night
Oct 18th, 2016 by Kate

Today we celebrated our 70th dinner by cooking something we had never cooked before: Tandoori-style chicken along with raita, naan, rice and a chickpea salad.  We had eaten these foods in restaurants but wanted to recreate them at home.  Alex started the dinner Saturday before by chopping up a whole chicken and preparing the yogurt marinade for the chicken. And then we both finished the meal on Sunday night.  We loved it!

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For the Tandoori-style chicken:

Max had test prep for his big high school entrance exam so I chopped up a whole chicken.  I was glad I had kitchen shears: they really helped.  Then I made a marinade out of plain yogurt, chopped garlic, chopped ginger and garam masala.  Garam masala is a blend of spices including pepper, cloves, cinnamon and cumin and is used a lot in Indian cooking. I definitely smelled cinnamon.  I squeezed lemon and salt on the cut up chicken and then spread the yogurt marinade on them.  The recipe said we could add red and yellow food coloring to make the chicken more tandoori-style orange, but we didn’t have any food coloring so we left it plain.  (We later bought food coloring and added it so the chicken looked more like traditional tandoori chicken).  I covered up the chicken tightly with plastic wrap and let it marinade over night in the fridge.  We cooked it Sunday night

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This is what the marinading chicken looked like after we added the vegetable food coloring:



For the salad:

I wanted to make a salad that used some of the ingredients I had seen in the Indian cook book we used for the Tandoori-style chicken and I saw a lot of the recipes with chick peas in them.  So I decided to make a salad with spinach, crispy chick peas, tomatoes, goat cheese and papitas.  I love chick peas after they have been sauteed in olive oil and get crispy.  They are a great snack by themselves.

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For the raita:

Raita is a yogurt cucumber dip that often accompanies spicy Indian food because it cools down your mouth.  Traditionally it is just yogurt and cucumber (and a few spices) but we like to add tomatoes as well.


For the naan (flat Indian bread): we bought that! We can’t make everything!

Monday, October 10, 2016: Dinner No. 69 : Rosti Challenge
Oct 13th, 2016 by Kate

Tonight I (Alex) was really craving Swiss food so I decided to make a traditional Swiss meal.  Plus we had bought a “pre-made” Rosti in Switzerland that I wanted to try. I was worried it might not be good so I decided to make my own and have my brother and parents taste test them…it was a Rosti Challenge.  Max had late soccer practice so he couldn’t helped with the rosti but he did help with the grilled sausages.  The full meal was Rosti (potato/cheese pancakes), grilled bratwurst, and a spinach salad.  For dessert we had an improvised a pumpkin cheesecake made out out of 4 ingredients mom gave me:  canned pumpkin, cream cheese, frozen cinnamon rolls and walnuts.  It was fun to make and if you like cheesecake, pretty good.


The Rosti Challenge:

My Rosti had grated gruyere cheese, grated potato, panko bread crumbs and an egg.  I also added a little vegetable oil bind it.  Not sure what my competition (in the brown package) had since the ingredients were in German.

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Even cooking them I had an idea which one I would like better (mine are the three smaller pancakes; my competition is the large square one: once I put it in the pan it just fell apart!).   And after I cooked them, it was clear mine were better! Anyone could see that the other “rosti” had just become fried potatoes.  Mine was the obvious winner (at least in my mind). [I (Max) agree: Alex’s were better because they were full of cheese and potatoes.  The packaged rosti tasted minerally and didn’t look like a rosti: it just ended up a pile of sauteed potatoes.]  Mom and Dad agreed with Max as well–I won the ROSTI CHALLENGE.

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Here’s the rest of the meal:

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For the dessert: I put the cinnamon rolls in the food processor and pulsed with a little butter to make a crust. I pressed that into muffin tins.  For the filling I combined the canned pumpkin with the cream cheese and added sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  It seemed a little dense so I whipped cream and folded that into the batter.  Then I spooned the batter into the little tins.  I pulsed the walnuts in the food processor with some left over cinnamon rolls to make a topping and added a dab of whipped cream.  It was fun. I just don’t like cheese cake but if I did, I would have like this dessert.

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Saturday, October 8, 2016: Quick, Delicious (& Pretty) Snack: Cinnamon Pastries
Oct 9th, 2016 by Kate

Today we had hoped to go apple picking and celebrate fall with lots of apple-related cooking (like apple pie!) but it rained.  So we decided to cheer ourselves up by making cinnamon pastries.  This is a recipe that our grandma taught our mom as a way to use up extra pastry dough when you made a pie.  It’s really easy but so delicious.  Since we didn’t have any apples to make an apple pie, we had a full pie’s worth of pastry. (And you can always buy store-made pastry!)  The steps are simple…roll out the pastry dough, spread melted (or softened) butter on the pastry, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, roll up, slice and bake for 12-15 minutes at a 450 degree oven.  Be sure to check between 12 and 15 minutes because, depending on your oven, they can burn quickly…

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These are just so cute! And easy! And delicious!


Dinner No. 68: Saturday, October 1, 2016: Left-overs Night: Soup & Salad
Oct 2nd, 2016 by Kate

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We weren’t sure what to call the soup we made because we made it up as we went along and used mostly left overs.  Mom had a party two nights ago and had a big vegetable platter that nobody ate. So we had left -over squash, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes, cucumbers (we only used the squash and the carrots in the soup; we made a Greek salad with the left-over tomatoes & cucumbers).  Then we had two pints of chicken broth frozen that we had made a couple of months ago and needed to use up.  We also had 1/2 head of kale and a chunk of hard parmesan cheese.  Finally we had 1/4 box fusilli that wasn’t enough for a full meal.  The only “new” thing we added were cannellini beans. Here’s a little trick for making any type of soup: put the ingredient that takes the longest to cook in first.

Here are the steps we took:

1. First chop up any of the vegetables you are going to use (this is called “mis en place”):

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2. Thaw the chicken broth and add the vegetables that need to cook the longest (carrots here)


3. When the carrots are soft, and kale, pasta and chunk of cheese.

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4. Add squash (it doesn’t take long too cook)


5. Simmer and right before you are ready to serve: Add the beans (they go last because they need the least time to cook).


For the salad: the same principles apply.  Chop everything you are going to put up in the salad first….then combine.  We used the cucumbers and tomatoes from the veggie platter and then olives and feta cheese that were left from a Middle-Eastern platter that mom had had at the party.  We felt super good about not wasting the food.

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