In which I make (finally) something sweet…

Great Gatsby’s Ghost! I just realized I have not posted anything sweet on here since LAST AUGUST! That’s crazy! I have certainly made sweet things, and I have most definitely eaten sweet things, but apparently, I showed them no love here. I’m aghast. That changes today.

Well, hello there!

I made Hello Mollys and I actually made them incorrectly, though it appears that no one but me was the wiser. Hello Mollys are better known as Seven-Layer bars, Congo Bars or Hello Dolly Bars, but they happen to be the specialty of one of my favorite relations, whose name happens to be Molly, and as a result, in our family, these are called Hello Mollys. She makes them at Christmastime, so I always think of them as a Christmas treat, but that is actually not the case at all. There is nothing seasonal about them, and even if there is, I made them a couple weeks ago (I know! Why can’t I stay on top of this?!?) and everybody at work loved them in spite of the time of year. When I made these, I promptly sent an e-mail to Molly telling her I had done so, and I had followed her recipe, and that I liked hers better. I think I have since figured out why that was the case…

If you look these up on the webs, there are definitely some variations, but there are more similarities than differences. The name Seven-Layer Bars comes from the cookies having –you guessed it – seven layers. Each of the layers is an ingredient, so I suppose they could also be called Seven-Ingredient Bars. I don’t know where the name Congo Bars or Hello Dolly Bars came from. Irrelevant to the discussion at hand… The layers/ingredients are: butter, graham cracker, chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut, condensed milk and almonds. Is that seven? Yep! That’s it. That’s what you need. You might even already have all that stuff in your kitchen! The recipe is super easy to remember too, since all the amounts, except for the butter, are the same (though you can feel free to play with them and adjust proportions to your liking.)

getting layered

It goes something like this – melt a stick of butter in a 9×13 baking pan (this is where I went wrong, I am not sure exactly what size mine was, but it was bigger, and I didn’t have a 9×13  – I have remedied that situation.) Once the butter has melted and you’ve swirled it around the pan, you add 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs and spread it around to make an even layer. Then add two cups of chocolate chips and spread it around to make an even layer. Then add two cups of lightly chopped walnuts, and spread them around to make an even layer. Then add two cups of shredded coconut and spread it around to make an even layer. Then it gets crazy! (and also, this is the other place I went wrong.) Open two cans of sweetened condensed milk and pour it over the top. Last but not least, sprinkle two cups of sliced almonds over the top, spread around to make an even layer, and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. When I made them, I sprinkled the almonds on first and THEN poured the condensed milk over, so they got coated too and got kind of shellacked on to the cookies. When Molly does it, the almonds stay flaky on the top and some of them end up falling off and they so they are not quite as almond-y or something. I don’t know, I just know I like hers better…I am not a huge nut fan, so that might be why. As I mentioned, no one at work thought that anything was amiss, so they work either way. I want to make these again, but I want to sub in some butterscotch chips for some of the chocolate, and I want to use salted peanuts instead of walnuts. And I would also like to perhaps sub in fancier chocolate instead of just regular chocolate chips, and then use pistachios? I don’t know about that one, but I’d be tempted to try it. Probably in a smaller pan since that would mean a lot of pistachios, and they are ‘spensive.

So there you go, if you have a potluck coming up, or you feel like bringing something when you go to someone’s house, or you just feel like making yourself a delightful treat, these truly couldn’t be easier. And so quick! You have to leave in 45 minutes? No worries! Make some Hello Mollys and slice ‘em when you get where you’re going. Just don’t burn yourself on the walk or ride over there. Wear your oven mitts. (But don’t leave them behind, because then you won’t have them anymore.)

yum

Phew! Something sweet! Balance has been restored…now on to more pressing matters.

1. The Olsen twins: Am I supposed to be able to tell them apart? Please advise.

2. I had to have an emergency root canal on Monday afternoon. I sort of suspected I might, when I spent all of Sunday trying to figure out if I could mainline Advil, or if I had any connections to unsavory characters that specialize in pills. I was really hungry that night so I made myself an egg and not very toasted toast, hoping it would be soft enough to get down my gullet without causing pain, but a wayward crumb crept over to the left side of my mouth, resulting in 20 minutes of tears until the feeling that someone was pounding nails into my tooth roots subsided. Monday afternoon in the dentist chair also saw 20 minutes of tears when I realized that the last root canal I had was under the blissful influence of Valium, and this one was going to have to be Valium free, and also, did you know how expensive root canals are when you’ve already used most of your dental benefits this year getting a beautiful shiny crown that is also about to be defaced? I felt really sorry for the dentist, who had never met me, because he had to deal with a grown-ass stranger lady falling apart in his chair on a Monday afternoon when he probably thought he’d get to go home early. And then, apparently, it was a really difficult tooth to deal with. Sorry guy. I am afraid of dental work and I have difficult teeth. I am not proud of either.

3. Have I told you about the Honey Badgers? I don’t think I have, and that makes me remiss. The HBs are a group of fantastic, hilarious, loyal, gorgeous ladies that I am lucky enough to keep company with. The name Honey Badgers does not, in fact, come from creepy coyotes, but from this. (Gram, don’t even bother, you won’t enjoy that…) HBs 4 dash eva.

4. I read a  lot of blogs and websites and there are a couple in particular I’d like to share with you…Gifts that Give is a blog by my friend Meg with fantastic daily ideas about gifts that give back. She has excellent taste and I want pretty much everything on there. The Hairpin makes me laugh every single day. Tastespotting is inspirational. Gilt Taste is just trouble. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not gonna lie, I love the internet.

5. I also read a lot of more traditional reading material like books and magazines. (Do books on Kindle count as traditional?) Right now I am reading “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson. It is great. Erik Larson is really good. He also wrote “The Devil in the White City” which I could not recommend more highly. He writes non-fiction in the most enjoyable, readable way imaginable, and he writes about major events with a focus on one or two players, and the books are great. I also read The New Yorker on my Kindle, and I am very excited for my upcoming vacation, so I can catch up on the back issues that I have gotten half way through that are still languishing on there waiting to be finished. A couple of issues of Vanity Fair will also be accompanying me to the North Carolina shores in a week and a half. I hope no one in my extended family is hoping to like chat with me or anything while I am there.

6. I will be on vacation in about 10 days with 46 other people. That is not a typo. There will 46 walking around humans in two large houses on the beach. 46 of my favorite humans in existence. I CAN NOT WAIT.

7. Bruins. Game 7. Up by one. Nervous. Also, I love the name Peverley. I could say it all the time. I want it to be my name. I wonder if he’s single? (Related: playoff beards are G-R-O-S-S. Not a fan.) UPDATE: 2-0, I’m less nervous.

Hello Mollys (makes 18-24 cookies)

1 stick butter

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 cups chocolate chips

2 cups lightly chopped walnuts

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

2 cans sweetened condensed milk

2 cups sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in the baking pan (you can do this on top of the stove, but even easier to stick the pan and the butter in the oven as it heats up.) When the butter is melted, swirl the pan around so it coats the entire bottom as evenly as possible. Add the graham cracker crumbs to the pan and spread over the bottom in an even layer. Add the chocolate chips to the pan and spread them in an even layer. Do the same with the walnuts and then the coconut. Pour the cans of condensed milk evenly over the layers, and top with the sliced almonds. Bake for 30 mins. Cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

In which I make some more chicken…

Ahoy mateys!

I have been BUSY! I have been cooking, but also doing other things, like throwing a baby shower, hanging out at the beach, playing golf for the first time…busy. I have lots of things to tell you about: two weeknight chickens, banana bread, softshell crab two ways, pesto, Congo Bars/7 layer bars/Hello Mollys, fish tacos, brownies, leek and lobster bread pudding…SO MANY THINGS! Today though, I am going to talk about weeknight chicken again, because I have a good one for you.

three teacup chicken

I have actually made three teacup chicken once before, but it was a bit different. The first time I did it I used chicken breast pieces. I liked it this way better. First of all, dark meat chicken, second of all, less prep, third of all, I just liked it better, k?

The name comes from the measurements in the sauce. Apparently a small Chinese teacup is approximately a quarter of a cup, and the three major ingredients in the sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar are each one of the three teacups. This recipe uses chicken legs, but the cooking was pretty much the same for both, which was interesting, because it meant cooking whole chicken legs in the wok, which I had not done before (never fear, if you are wok-less, this one could totally be done in a high sided saute pan just as well.)

This is super easy.

In the wok.

Brown the chicken over medium high heat, add ginger and garlic, and then the sauce ingredients, cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, then remove the chicken and reduce the sauce for a minute or two then serve. Delicious! I served it over rice and it was mighty tasty. And super quick.

mmmmm mmmm...

Some thoughts:

1. Fellas, listen up, this one’s for you. Some life lessons, totally free, courtesy of me.

  • If a lady hasn’t asked you for a picture of your genitalia…don’t send it to her via Twitter. Or actually, at all, don’t send it at all, via any medium. (I may not know all ladies, but I can pretty much guarantee if she didn’t ask for it, she doesn’t want to see it. Also? Some vocab for you: harassment. Look it up.)
  • If a lady does ask you for a picture, and you’ve never actually met her…don’t send it (and maybe reconsider your social media relationships…she sounds like no good.)
  • If a lady does ask you for a picture, and you have met her, but you are married and she IS NOT YOUR WIFE…don’t send it. Seriously. I can’t believe we still have to have this conversation.
  • If a lady asks you for a picture, and you’ve met her, and she is currently your wife, but you are, hope to be, thought about being, or have a loved one who is or hopes to be in a public office, maybe still?…DON’T SEND IT OVER TWITTER/FACEBOOK/THE INTERWEBS. Seriously. It is a TERRIBLE IDEA. Also, potentially super creepy. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. I hope we all learned something today. You are welcome.

2. Listening tip of the week. Adele. She’s not new if you’ve been paying attention, but she’s just awesome all the time. 

3. I almost had to play the Slap a Stranger game recently when a weirdo got in the revolving door compartment with me. Seriously, just jumped right in. Lucky for his well being I was too shocked to hand out anything but a death stare. 

4. I am curious about kimchi. Everyone talks about how awesome it is, but the description of it usually includes the word “funky.” Am I crazy for thinking that doesn’t sound super delicious? Luckily, I happen to know a Korean food expert, and I am hoping he can enlighten me. 

5. I’ve discovered food trucks and I’m in love…if you are in Boston, find yourself a clover truck and try the chick pea fritter sandwich. It is definitely the most popular sandwich from a very popular truck for a reason. 

6. I played golf for the first time this weekend. I was not good. But I had very patient teachers who tried their best not to laugh at me, which I appreciated. And I kind of liked it! New hobby!

7. So I have a book recommendation for you. (Things is getting crazy up in here!) The NeverEnding Story. NOT the movie. The movie, as it turns out, sucks a lot by comparison. Read the book. And then watch the movie again. Because the special effects are HI-lariously bad.

8. It’s SUMMER! Finally! I can’t even tell you how excited I am. I have had two epic good weather weekends in a row. It is fantastic. I missed it so.

Three Teacup Chicken (serves 4)

Adapted from Serious Eats and Simply Recipes

3 whole star anise

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup sugar

2 tbls Shaoxing rice wine

½ tsp vegetable oil

4 chicken legs, skin on (or, if you’d rather, use 1½ – 2 lbs breast or thigh meat, cut into bite size pieces*)

4 garlic cloves, smashed

One 2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 6 or 8 pieces.

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted and ground (I did not have these, apparently to my complete detriment. I threw in some red pepper flakes for heat, and it still tasted delicious, though I guess I’m missing out. Next time.)

½ cup chicken stock

Whisk together star anise, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and rice wine (and red pepper flakes if you are using) in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Place a large wok over high heat. (Recipe note: I used my wok to do two legs and it was great, but it’s not huge, so four may have been too crowded. A sauté pan would also work just fine (and maybe better if you are making four legs at a time, just make sure you use a high-sided one that is not too big, so the sauce doesn’t evaporate too quickly.) When it starts to smoke, pour in oil. Swirl oil around, and then add chicken legs skin side down. Adjust heat to medium-high and cook without moving or touching until they are browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the chicken legs, and add garlic and ginger. Continue cooking until the other side is browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add Sichuan peppercorns if you are using, soy sauce mixture, and chicken stock. Toss chicken pieces with sauce. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until juices run clear, about 12 minutes. Remove legs and set aside on a plate.

Turn heat to medium-high, and reduce sauce until it lightly coats the back of a spoon, stirring often. Serve chicken legs with sauce with rice or a vegetable.

*If you are using pieces in a wok you may want to add the in two batches so you don’t crowd the wok and lower the temperature significantly, add the first batch, toss for a minute or two, then remove and add the second and toss for a minute or two before adding the first batch back in and adding the sauce. Additionally they may only take about 5-6 minutes TOTAL to cook through, add the sauce mixture after a minute or two, and then remove chicken when cooked through and reduce sauce as detailed.