Tag Archives: YumSugar

Book Club: Literary Snacks for Ladies

There are certain things that only ladies do when they hang out with other ladies.

  • Talk about boys. “He’s so cute, right? Is he cute? I like him so much. Does he like me? Does he notice that I looked at him a little bit longer than normal today? Cause I did. He should’ve noticed it. It meant a lot to me, and I can’t believe he didn’t notice it. He’s an asshole. I hate him.”
  • Talk about lady issues. I won’t go into details for all my male readers. And by male readers, I mean my dad. (HI DAD!!!)
  • Book club.

I’m pretty sure book club is a 100% female activity. Do dudes sit and talk about how they felt when Anna Karenina threw herself in front of the train?*

*I’m fairly well read, but Anna Karenina is not a book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen the Keira Knightley movie version though, so that’s how I know this. And, I’ve seen a Pulitzer Prize winning play about the book…sort of. I’m so fancy. You already know.

Also? Oops. Spoiler Alert.

Anyways, book club is a ladies occupation for ladies.

And this lady (me) hosted her lady book club a few weeks ago.

My friend Nora started the whole book club and, well, I’m glad she did. We’ve read a book I’d heard of but hadn’t gotten to yet (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn) and read a book that I hadn’t heard of but boy, did it make me cry in the airport (Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala).

But the most recent book club, I hosted. So, I choose the book. It was One More Thing by B.J. Novak (no relation) and it was hilarious. It’s a book of short, humorous essays. Some were dry. Some were almost poignant. But, boy, did they run the gamut. It’s well worth a read. OR, if you’re doing a long car trip, it’s worth downloading and listening to. He’s got an incredible cast of voices like Mindy Kaling, Jason Schwartzman, Rainn Wilson, Emma Thompson, Jenna Fischer and more.

So, what to make for a lady event for ladies?

Well, I like the tortilla española. Why not build a tapas menu? Also,  please note, this is a drinking book club, so boozing required.

  • Tortilla española
  • Jamon serrano because I cannot find ANY jamon iberico here in America. SIGH.
  • Spanish cheeses
  • Apricot and Goat Cheese Bites
  • Peppadews inspired by Leon’s in Decatur, GA
  • Pan con Tomate
  • Olives
  • Beverages, like Red Sangria and White Sangria
Oh dang.

Oh dang.

The apricot and goat cheese bites were the newbies here and #realtalk, they were delicious. And unbelievably simple. Make them right now for whatever lady event you have. I bet even boys would like the salty-sweet combo that they have going on.

Beyond that, sangria is a perfect summer drink. It’s bright and fruity, but has a boozy punch. I gravitate toward the white versus the red, but the red is a much more robust beverage.

I guarantee. This menu? Ladies love it. Girls adore it.

Y’all should trust me because I’m not internationally known, but I’m known to rock the microphone.

Absolutely Fabulous Apricot, Goat Cheese and Almond Bites from YumSugar

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
  • About 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
  • 40 dried apricots, preferably blenheim
  • 40 almonds, preferably marcona
  • 2 teaspoons honey

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix together the cheese and milk with a fork until spreadable. Thin with more milk if necessary. Add the basil and mix until evenly distributed.
  2. Spread a heaping 1/4 teaspoon cheese on each apricot and top each with an almond. Drizzle with honey.

Please note! If not using marcona almonds, substitute roasted salted almonds (the salt is key to the appetizer’s flavor).

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Tuesday Night Breadventure and Brinner

Back when we were in college, my best friend Stowe went to Beach Week in Myrtle Beach (he would want me to call Beach Week it’s rightful name: Posties). I was down there with other people, but Stowe stayed at a house with a bunch of dudes. One night, the dudes were trying to figure out what to do for dinner and Stowe earnestly and excitedly suggested, “Breakfast for dinner? Ehh?”

One of the other dudes, our friend Justin, turned to him and deadpanned, “THANKS, DAD.” Cause only dads would suggest breakfast for dinner to a bunch of cool dudes. 

This story is the first thing I think of every time I crave breakfast for dinner. Or as we bitchin’ people say: brinner. 

Here’s how it all went down. I saw a link on YumSugar today for a one hour start-to-finish bread recipe. It was for Black Pepper Beer Bread and I really wanted to make it. And brinner seemed to be the perfect vehicle. 

But if i’m being very honest and specific, this is how it REALLY went down: 

See YumSugar tweet.

Click on link.

Avoid work email.

Read recipe.

Decide to make recipe.

Avoid work email.

Read ingredients.

Marvel at the fact that I have all of aforementioned ingredients at home.

Avoid work email. 

Print out recipe.

Focus remainder of day.

Leave the office.

Realize the recipe is still sitting on the printer at the office.

This bread is so quick. And so easy. A lot of recipes say they’ll take an hour, but this one truly takes an hour start to finish. And I had all the ingredients in the house. That never happens. 

Not to mention the fact that this bread is great. The beer and the sugar give it a light sweetness, but the black pepper gives it some edge. A buttered slice pairs perfectly with the salty bacon and a fried egg.

Do yourself a favor. Make this for brinner.

THANKS, DAD.

Black Pepper Beer Bread from YumSugar 

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces pilsner or lager beer | I used PBR because fuck you, I love PBR.
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a nine-inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and pepper.

Pour in the beer and mix gently until combined.

Dump the batter into the loaf pan, smooth out the top, and brush/drizzle on the melted butter.

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and crusty in appearance.

I baked it the full 40 minutes, but I think it could’ve gone a minute or two less. 

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How to Open a Pomegranate: A Guide

So, you want to open a pomegranate. Great! You’ve come to the right place. I’ve stolen the steps learned the steps for how to do this from YumSugar.

…Wait. You also want to learn how to select a pomegranate? Well, ok. You probably should’ve mentioned that. You know, before I started out by saying “So, you want to open a pomegranate…” No, whatever, it’s fine. I don’t know how to do that either. So I’ll Google it.

Ok. This site that I found has some tips. It’s called pomegranatefruit.orgI mean, it has pomegranate IN the name, so it must be good.

Look for one that is brightly colored, large and heavy and with hard smooth skin. That’s what she said. (What? That one didn’t even make…sense… You’re an idiot, self.)

Congratulations! You have selected your pomegranate. If you’re anything like me, you will wait a solid 4 days to attempt to open it. You will contemplate throwing it away. But then you will remember you have a food blog and this would be fascinating scintillating unbelievable kind of interesting for a post and you could’ve spent as much as $5 on it, which you would verify but you cannot find your receipt. 

Well, the time has come! It’s time to open your pomegranate. Remove it from the produce bag. Hmm. It’s seeping a little bit of juice. That probably isn’t supposed to happen. But no matter, remember you have a food blog and you’ve paid maybe $30 of American money for this damn thing. This is for the greater good. (The greater good.)

The first step is to cut off the blossom and stem ends. I’ll use my powers of deduction to figure out which is which. I mean, I have TWO liberal arts degrees from a good college, so this should be easy!

Image

Then, score the skin. YumSugar’s picture has 6 score lines. So 6 score lines I shall do! Be careful not to puncture the seeds by going too deep (that’s what she said, which actually made sense this time.)

Next, submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of warm water and gently crack along the score lines. Wow, that water looks a bit cloudy. That’s kind of gross looking.

Ew

Tease the seeds away from the membrane (ew) and the flesh (ew) underwater. The damaged seeds will float to the top, though none seem to be doing it for me. And bits of the membrane (ew) and flesh (ew) will too. But wow, that looks really cloudy. I mean, disgustingly cloudy. But we must soldier on! Remove the bits of membrane (ew) and flesh (ew) and any dead seeds with a skimmer, slotted spoon or a sieve.

Remove any remaining damaged seeds, which in the case of the pomegranate that I selected, was almost all of them. Dry your good seeds on a paper towel before you eat.

Example of good seed versus bad seed is in my hand in the photo below. The good seed is on the left: clear, firm, and bright. The bad seed is on the right: cloudy, dull, and wrinkly. As you can see, the hand that is holding it is in dire need of lotion. Much, much lotion.

You can do so many things with pomegranate seeds. Like, you know. Eat them. And other things! I put mine in some yogurt. That was kind of a fun little adventure. But to be quite honest with you, I think that all of my work on my pomegranate yielded me about a half a cup them gorgeous, jewel-like seeds.

So ask yourself yourself, gentle reader, is all it worth it? Perhaps you should find yourself a less commitment intensive fruit. Like an apple. Or an orange. Or a cheeseburger. Cause fuck your new years resolution. It’s been a week. Health is so last year. 

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Creamy Butternut Squash Soup; Do YOU need all 10 fingers?

Let’s have some real talk, folks.

Do we really NEED 10 fingers? Doesn’t 10 seem like a lot? Are we being a little bit greedy?

You definitely need the thumbs. And the middle fingers for driving and flicking off the phone after you’ve gotten off an annoying call. Pinky? Decorative, but ultimately unnecessary. As I’m still single, I’m opting to keep left hand ring finger in case I do meet THE ONE. (You’ve heard of THE ONE, right? He’s from the movies. Goofy, funny, secretly hot. Probably already my best friend but I didn’t notice him because he wears glasses and I’m head over heels for that guy who doesn’t call and rides a motorcycle and runs a bar and hates commitment and stuff.)

Anyways. No pinkies. No right hand ring finger. And you could probably lose at least one pointer.

The reason I bring this up is because I made creamy butternut squash soup last week (yeah, it’s a FAKE blog, guys…I might be late on posts sometimes). It’s a recipe adaptation from Food 52 that I found on YumSugar. And it was EASY. And it was GOOD.

Except for the whole cutting-the-butternut-squash-oh-holy-crap-I’m-pretty-sure-I’m-going-to-cut-all-of-my-fingers-off thing.

But other than that, REAL easy. Great flavor. Comforting. Comes together fast. That is, if you managed to keep your wits about you and keep your fingers connected to your palms.

There is one thing I had to go out and invest in before I did this recipe, though. And that is a Y peeler. I went to William Sonoma at the mall, expecting to shell out tons of bucks. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it only cost me 4 American Dollars. That made the whole squash peeling situation so much easier.

I made this soup for myself and my friend Em. Our only complaint was that it made us really tired. We both had the soup and then promptly went into a food coma. Like, lethargically flipping through a magazine and barely speaking to one another food coma. Does butternut squash have some sort of naturally occurring roofie in it?

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup, from Food 52 as found on YumSugar

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced and cleaned (about 1 cup)
  • 1 3- to 4-pound butternut squash, peeled and roughly cubed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg | I bought some of the actual nutmeg….nuts? Alton Brown said they last for years vs. the store bought, pre-grated stuff which loses its flavor within weeks. He wears glasses. I trust him.
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry, plus more to finish
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock | I used 3 cups of chicken stock.
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for garnish
  • Sherry vinegar, to finish

To clean the leeks, trim off dark green part and spiky, white Guy Fieri-hair at the bottom. You want to use the white and light green parts only here. Leeks live in the dirt, so they’re really, really gritty. I typically split them down the middle like a hot dog/longitudinally (that was for you, Ben), and then cut them into thin half moons. Then, let them soak in a bowl of water for 10 minutes or so, changing the water out a couple times and moving the leeks around to get all the dirt and grit out. The dirt should settle on the bottom of the bowl, so when you’re done, transfer your leeks to a paper towel to dry. Boom. Clean leeks.

To peel and cube the butternut squash, here is a lovely step by step demo that I borrowed from YumSugar.

First, remove the ends. WATCH YOUR FINGERS.

Then, cut down the middle/longitudinally/like a hot dog.

Scoop out the butternut squash guts. Make sure you get all the little strings out because the blender won’t catch that and you’ll have little annoying guts in your soup at the end.

Lay flat and peel with your Y-peeler, available for 4 American Dollars.

Cut the butternut squash into fingers.

Then cube!

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and sweat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not yet browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, nutmeg, pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.

Add the sherry to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until reduced slightly (something that I didn’t really notice happening), then add enough stock to just cover the vegetables. If 3 cups isn’t sufficient, make up the difference with water. I think I put an extra cup of water in.

Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to keep it at a bare simmer, a phrase I’d never heard of before. So in my mind, I determined that a “bare simmer” was barely a simmer. Context clues! And it worked out alright. (Again. Fake food blog. Are you seriously expecting more expertise than this?)

Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender.

Add the milk and 2 tablespoons cream and blend until smooth, either using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches. Be careful with that blender, y’all. Hot things in a blender means hot things in your eyeballs.

Thanks to Sarah and her dad for that phrase!

Season to taste with salt, pepper, sherry, and sherry vinegar. Literally, I just did a little glug of the sherry and the sherry vinegar. Maybe about 1-2 tablespoons each.

Ladle into bowls and drizzle with cream.

If you managed to make it to the end of this recipe with all of your limbs, bravo! You are now free to enjoy very creamy soup that is actually pretty healthy in addition to delicious.

If you did not manage to make it to the end of this recipe with all of your limbs, that’s ok too! Duct tape a spoon to your bleeding used-to-be-a-hand. This soup is too good to be missed. Someone will drive you to the hospital later.

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