Recipe: Gooey butter cookies

I had the good fortune of encountering gooey butter cookies when I went to R’s family home for Christmas break last year. I generally don’t have a sweet tooth, but once I tried one of these babies, it took every ounce of self control not to nibble down the entire box of them. R’s mother has generously shared the recipe, and I’ve been enjoying these heavenly cookies to my heart’s content in the privacy of my own home  🙂

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened (Neufchatel or light cream cheese will NOT work!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Dough will be too sticky to handle at this point, so place in fridge for about an hour or so.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough into balls, about 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll each cookie ball in powdered sugar and place on parchment paper, evenly spaced.
  5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cookie will still be light-colored and very soft. Take parchment paper off the rack and cool on cooling racks. The last bit is very important, otherwise the cookies will continue to cook, dry out, and not be very gooey.
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Recipe: Beef and barley soup

It’s a cold and rainy Sunday here in Boston today, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Matthew making its way up north. I’m making cozy at home, candles lit, sipping fresh apple cider, oven-drying the last batch of garden tomatoes, and getting a big pot of my favorite beef and barley soup going on the stove.

This soup is hearty comfort food, which also happens to be really healthy as well. We live on this soup during the cold months, which is the majority of the year in Boston. It’s full of protein and fiber, made with only whole ingredients, and easy to whip up. Most importantly, we both can’t get enough of it. It’s unbelievable how flavorful the broth gets, considering it is made with plain water, without any bouillon or stock. I make a big pot of this on the weekend for quick weekday dinners and R’s work lunches while lazing around or getting laundry going.

Adapted from Skinnytaste

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb beef stew meat
  • 1.5 cup onions, chopped finely
  • 1.5 cup carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic, minced
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup barley

Instructions

  1. Over medium heat in a dutch oven (I used 3.5 quart), lightly brown the beef just until no longer pink. Don’t worry about crowding the pan. Do not sear, like you would do for braises or beef stew to enhance flavor, or the beef will be too tough.
  2. Remove meat and saute onions, carrots, and garlic for a couple minutes. No need to soften the vegetables.
  3. Add the beef back in and pour in the water. Add bay leaves, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
  4. Bring down to a slow simmer and cover. Cook for 1.5-2 hours until beef is fork-tender.
  5. Add barley and bring back to a simmer. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Serve. I like mine with dashes of Aleppo pepper flakes.

Recipe: Chicken biryani (Indian chicken and rice)

For the longest time, I held an incorrect preconception that biryani is too difficult to bother with at home. However, once you get the hang of it, it is about as involved as making your own meat sauce and putting together a lasagna with it. I can honestly say that the most cumbersome part was making the trek out to Central Square to obtain Indian spices!

R is usually extremely disciplined about not taking second helpings, but today he specifically requested this for dinner and ate an unprecedented three servings. Try it for yourself!

Adapted from Cooking the Globe

Ingredients

Fried onions

  •  3 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 serrano chilis
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2″ piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Curry

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bashed with a wooden spoon

Rice

  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • Plenty of salt

Finishing touches

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp onion-infused oil (from your fried onions)
  • 3 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken.
    1. Combine all marinade ingredients, except for chicken and greek yogurt, in a mini food processor, and process until minced fine.
    2. Mix into yogurt and add chicken.
    3. Marinate in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Soak the rice.
    1. Soak rice in a large bowl with plenty of water for about an hour.
  3. Make fried onions.
    1. Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan, until the back of a wooden spoon dipped in the oil starts bubbling within three seconds.
    2. Fry onions until golden brown.
    3. Scoop out onions with slotted spoons onto a paper towel lined plate.
  4. Boil the rice. 
    1. Drain rice from its soaking water.
    2. Get a large pot of water boiling and add the rice. Be sure to salt water until it is as salty as ocean-water; otherwise, the biryani will be bland.
    3. Boil rice for 7 minutes and drain.
  5. Make a quick chicken curry.
    1. Use same pan that was used for the fried onions. Preserve all but 3 tbsp of onion-infused oil in a glass container.
    2. Toss in all spices in the curry ingredient list and cook for about a minute.
    3. Add chicken with all the marinade and allow to come to a simmer.
    4. Add tomatoes, and allow to come to a simmer and cook for about 13 minutes.
    5. Scoop out the chicken and cook down the gravy for about 7 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and add chicken back in.
  6. Assemble and cook.
    1. Take a 3.5-quart dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed, lidded cooking vessel. Add 2 tbsp of onion-infused oil and water at the bottom.
    2. Add 1/3 of the rice.
    3. Layer with 1/2 of the curry.
    4. Top with 1/2 of fried onions.
    5. Repeat steps 2-4.
    6. Finish layering with the rest of the rice. Drizzle melted butter on top.
    7. Place lid on top, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Fluff the biryani and serve!