Archive for December, 2010

2010 brought us a lot of things. It brought Jessica and me both apartments with more than the combined 24 inches of counterspace we once had. It brought us my favorite Kanye West song to date, the end of my favorite otter blog and a moment when I didn’t hate a shellfish-type food, possibly because it was immediately followed by tzatziki sauce. I got to see the Queen of Butter in person. Overall, it was a pretty good year.

It also brought me to a realization: I can never betray my delicious Midwestern roots. I might think I’m highfalutin food bloggy city lady, but deep down, I just want to eat cheesy potatoes.

So I do.

You’ll need:

1 2-lb. bag of hash browns (you want the little cubes, not the little matchsticks)

1/2 C onion, grated

1 can cream of whatever soup (I use cream of mushroom for the least obtrusive flavor that is still vegetarian)

2 C cheddar cheese (I use a package of mild cheddar and a package of sharp cheddar, but this is up to you)

1 lb sour cream

1/4 C melted butter

1/2 tsp salt

Dump all of these things into a bowl, mix ’em up. Pour it all into a 9×13 pan and top with corn flakes. Bake at 350 for an hour or until everything looks sizzly (I made up this word; plenty of other people have done a lot worse in 2010) and you can’t wait anymore.

NOTE: The corn flakes are necessary! I cannot even tell you how important these guys are. CORN FLAKES, you guys.

The motion blur is for realism.

Listen, I can eat this for every meal or as a side dish. It’s a dish best enjoyed with a few other people avoiding the cold outdoors. Leftovers are phenomenal, but make sure you top with fresh corn flakes before you nuke ’em; they tend to get a little soggy in the fridge.

We’ll see you guys in 2011, when I promise to be adventurous in both the kitchen and the world.



Read Full Post »

My Grandma W makes some of the best Christmas cookies in the business. Nary a year went by without the full menu of Christmas cookies: sugar cookies (obviously; my sister and I went nuts trying to help her with these), snow balls, pecan cuplets, pecan sandies, jelly thumbprints, etc., etc., etc., until the whole house was cookie-filled and we stashed boxes and boxes of ’em in the chilly vestibule.

My mom’s favorite when I was growing up was a staple in both Grandmas’ houses: Cat turds. Yeah, we eat cookies called CAT TURDS. This is why: when done right, they’re kind of log-shaped, and then you roll them in coconut, sooooo…… you get the picture. The best part about the name is it grosses out the kiddos, so you can keep these in full view but have adult dibs on them.

You’ll need:

1 C chopped dates

1 C brown sugar

1/2 C butter, melted

1 C chopped nuts (I used walnuts; pecans work really well too)

1 egg, beaten

Combine all these in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Make sure the bottom of your pan is good and buttery otherwise you’re going to scorch it. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in 1 tsp vanilla and 2-3 C Rice Krispies. Take off heat.

Shape this goo into turd-shaped logs (balls also work) and roll in coconut. Let cool on a wire rack.

Now, I might feel like Cookie Monster this year, because my sister and I will both be home, and she’s vegan, so all of the old standards are off-limits. SUCKS TO BE HER. But, I found a vegan cookie recipe in the Washington Post that I’m a big fan of, so I’ll probably try to make these while she’s home so I’m not the only one hoovering treats.

You’ll need:

1 C fake butter, like Earth Balance

3/4 C evaporated cane sugar (don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find this. Straight up sugar works just fine)

1 tsp vanilla extract

A little lemon zest

1/4 almond milk (soy probably works OK, too)

1/3 C roasted, unsalted pistachios, chopped (you’re allowed to go overboard on this)

2 tsp ground cardamom (I found this was too much; it was like putting a tea bag directly in your mouth. I cut it by a teaspoon and added some chopped crystalized ginger)

Combine the fake butter and sugar in a bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat again.

By hand, stir in the almond milk, lemon zest and pistachios. Then add sifted flour and cardamom (and ginger if you threw that in too). You should have a soft dough – but you might need to add a touch more fake milk. Work gently until you have a dough ball, then refrigerate that puppy for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350. Make little balls of dough and flatten them a bit, then cook ’em up for about 13 minutes or until they’re getting golden on the bottom.

Merry Christmas! Hope Santa likes these under your tree tonight.


Read Full Post »

I don’t talk about it too much on this blog, but I was raised pretty Polish-Catholic. Unfortunately, I never learned how to speak Polish – unless you count singing the Polish national anthem and “Sto Lat” and a couple of choice swears from my Busia – and my polka skills only see the light of day at weddings and beer tents. But we did do (and still do) a pretty solid, bastardized, Americanized wigilia on Christmas Eve.

Wigilia is the traditional Polish Christmas Eve meal. Normally, it doesn’t include meat, and it does include a bunch of dishes I’m just not ready to cook yet (duck blood soup, for example). I love it because most of my favorite memories of my grandparents start in their basement, where we gather around a folding table and eat kielbasa, pierogi and other tasty treats. Grandpa would lead us in prayer and try to sneak us blackberry brandy without our mom yelling at him.

Almost all of my hometown is Polish. I met my best friend at polka lessons when we were 3. But almost none of my DC friends are Polish. So I thought I’d treat them to a little Woho tradition – a mini wigilia, here in DC. And I thought I’d share the menu here, in case you get excited about stinky Polish food, too!

Woho Wigilia: a Pole-ish Christmas

Menu: Oplatek (not really food, but necessary)

Kielbasa: Fresh (from The Kielbasa Factory in Rockville; the owner is amazing!) and smoked (from Canales Deli in Eastern Market)

Pierogi (I had to buy, there were budget issues, but they were yummy)

Boiled potatoes


You’ll need:

One big ol’ jar of sour kraut (my mom uses Vlasic; I grabbed one in all Polish)

One tube breakfast sausage (I used the fake-meat Gimme Lean stuff), browned

One onion, grated

One can mushrooms, drained

A few bay leaves

Dump all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook for 6 hours on high or all day on low.

I’ll post desserts later in the week, but know this: with only one other Polish Princess in the room, everyone still left full, happy and satisfied.

Sto lat, indeed.


Read Full Post »

Get yourself a crock pot.

Seriously, mine is my favorite thing in the wintertime. Dump in some meat, some veggies, some liquid. Go to work. Come home to the greatest smells of all time.

This isn't as flattering as it could be.

When I lived in Big Rapids, I interviewed this phenomenal chef who gave me all kinds of easy-peasy recipes to cook in the wintertime, real comfort food. His recipes were all delicious, but the best one is the one I’ll share here (and the one I make about once a month in the winter).

You’ll need:

A good pork butt, bone-in (THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID) (no, seriously, the pork butt is good, but if you keep kosher, you might try a pot roast instead)

Enough dark beer to cover  the meat (I like Leinenkugel’s Creamy Dark, but Guiness works too. Pick one that you’ll like so you can finish the six-pack)

Onion, if desired. I bet a carrot would be nice here, too.

Throw everything in the crock pot. Salt and pepper. Make sure the beer is covering your meat completely. Put the crock pot on low and go about your day. Come home and enjoy, preferably with cheesy potatoes and green beans.


Read Full Post »

I have a theory that, just like Anton Ego in Ratatouille, the right foods can transport us back in time, to the first or best time we ever tasted something important. Especially under stress, we want these familiar tastes – that’s why we crave simple, wholesome things. Seriously, no one wants an eel roll when they’re sick. Nobody’s crying for lobster thermidor after a long day at the office. We just want something easy and tasty.

In my house, that’s breakfast for dinner.

My mom makes, easily, the best french toast in the world. What is her secret? A little ground black pepper in the dip. It makes all the difference.

You’ll need:

Some bread (here I used a raisin bread from the farmer’s market but seriously any bread will do)

Eggs (however many)

Milk (whatever)

Splash of vanilla

Dash of cinnamon (if desired)

ground pepper (mandatory if you want it to taste good)

Syrup (necessary) and garnish of fruit (who cares at this point; you just want dinner)

Mix up the egg and milk. Throw in your aromatics. Dip a bread slice in, both sides. Fry. Seriously, you’re thinking about it this much? It is BREAKFAST FOR DINNER. You clearly had a crummy day. Why don’t you pop on an episode of 30 Rock and relax. This’ll be ready in no time.

Feel better, champ. Tomorrow’s a new day.


Read Full Post »