Tuna Avocado Sushi

I’m never completely full after eating sushi. It’s just not something that happens. Reason being, the most I’ll ever order is three rolls; otherwise it gets too pricey. I’ve wanted to try making it at home for a long time to solve this issue (I always imagined making a sushi boat’s worth), but hesitated because I didn’t know where to find sushi grade fish*.

*I live on an island so I really should have thought harder on that one.

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In a moment of serendipity my friend and I decided to make it a few months ago. I volunteered to get most of the ingredients so long as he got the fish. HEE HEE HEE, the fish problem was off my hands. He bought pre-packaged sushi grade tuna at Whole Foods and neither of us died, so I decided to make it again today with my friend Lauren. I got my sushi grade tuna from Fairway since that’s closer to me than Whole Foods– though I only realized Fairway had sushi grade tuna AFTER chatting with multiple Whole Foods fish department representatives about their sashimi inventory over the phone.

If you’re going to make this recipe, only do so if you can find safe, sushi grade tuna!! Do not go rogue!

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Makes 3 rolls

INGREDIENTS:

5 oz. sushi grade tuna

1 cup (uncooked) sushi rice, prepared according to package instructions — you will need 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar for this

3 sheets nori, prepared according to package instructions

1/2 cucumber, thinly julienned

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Soy sauce, if desired

Pickled ginger, if desired

Wasabi, if desired

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DIRECTIONS:

Roll out a sushi mat or a clean kitchen towel. Place one sheet of the prepared nori on the mat or towel. (If you’re using a towel you may want to cover it in nonstick saran wrap to assist with the rolling process).

Put a third of the cooked rice on the nori and press it evenly into the seaweed, keeping it about a half inch away from the edges. Sprinkle a third of the sesame seeds over it. Lay the cucumber, avocado, and tuna at the edge of the nori that is closest to you. Using the mat/towel to guide you, gently roll it away from you.

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Once it is fully rolled up, squeeze the mat/towel to tighten the roll. Remove the towel/mat and slice the roll into 5 or 6 pieces.

Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and/or pickled ginger if desired.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I ate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for the first time at my cousin’s Confirmation lunch when I was eight or nine. I didn’t know what it was, but I had three servings and only stopped my gluttonous endeavor because the tart rhubarb started to make my mouth hurt. For years after, I ordered it any time I spotted it on a dessert menu.

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Fresh rhubarb can generally only be found in the spring, and I’ve missed my window of opportunity the past few years. But lo and behold, the bright red stalks caught my eye at Fairway this week and I grabbed them like they were the last drops of morning dew in The Land Before Time (for those of you who don’t get that *v cool* 90’s movie reference, I snatched the rhubarb quickly and without hesitation).

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed according to package instructions

1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch slices

1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (to dot)

1 large egg yolk beaten and blended with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar (to sprinkle on top)

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press one pie crust into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour into prepared pie crust. Dot with butter.

You can either place the full second pie crust on top, crimp the edges, and cut slits for ventilation, OR cut the second pie crust into strips and create a lattice work top.

Once the second crust is on, brush it with the egg-water glaze. Sprinkle the turbinado (or 1 tbsp of granulated) sugar over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and baked for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes*. The filling should be thick and the crust golden when you remove it.

*I have a powerful oven, so you may need to keep it in for another 5-10 minutes.

Let cool on a rack then enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

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Hummus

Hummus is a divisive subject in my family. Some of us like it creamy, some like it a little chunky (I’m with you; I think the chunky hummus lovers are crazy too). Some adore store brand hummus such as Sabra, while others scoff at its pasty texture (yeah, this is the chunky hummus lover).

Personally, I’m fine with store bought or homemade, but I recently had a hummus awakening that drove me to make some myself and to try a couple new seasonings. “What could this revelation have been?”, you wonder. Answer: I went to a restaurant on the west side a few months ago called Hummus Kitchen. And. Their. Hummus. Was. Phenomenal. Like, can’t stop talking about it phenomenal. Like, told my coworkers that they have no option but to go there phenomenal. It was warm, covered in chicken shwarma, and drizzled with olive oil. The addition of olive oil to the top of hummus is probably completely normal but my family has never made it that way, so it was a lightbulb moment for me.

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The restaurant itself was frigid because of its petite size and my table’s proximity to the street, but the food and friendly waitstaff completely made up for it. Oh, and did I mention their freshly made lemon-mint lemonade? I’m a sucker for flavored lemonades. Lavender, mint, whatever… I’m there.

This recipe is ever so slightly adapted from Bon Appetit.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained

½ cup tahini, well mixed — this will take a couple minutes but don’t despair, it will become smooth!

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)

¾ teaspoon (or more) kosher salt

10 cranks freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 pinch dried oregano

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DIRECTIONS:

Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, cumin, and water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to process the mixture for about a minute more.

Put the hummus in a shallow bowl or a plate with raised edges. Drizzle a tad more olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle on the sesame seeds and oregano.

Enjoy with veggies, pita, or on a spoon!

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Birthday Cake Truffles

Oreos are like my Mr. Big a la Sex and the City. I go back to them time and time again no matter how bad they make me feel (i.e. this directly correlates to how many I eat). My friends warn me about repeating bad decisions, but something keeps me coming back. I’ve dated them all: the birthday cake, the mint, the double stuf… no matter the flavor, they’re all my old standby.

This recipe gives air to an old flame; it’s amazing what adding cream cheese and chocolate to a relationship can do. These Birthday Cake Truffles are sort of a hybrid between a truffle and a cake pop; the texture is so creamy you wouldn’t know Oreos were the primary ingredient. Though delicious, they are exceedingly sweet, so have a cool glass of milk ready! There I go, pushing milk again.

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INGREDIENTS:

16 oz. white chocolate chip morsels, melted

8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (not whipped– save it for your bagels!)

1 package Birthday Cake Oreos (you can use golden or chocolate but for the classic cake pop taste, go for golden!)

2 tbsp. rainbow jimmies

1 tbsp rainbow nonpareils

DIRECTIONS:

Set aside a baking sheet.

Put Oreos in a food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms, about 45 seconds– I used to use a meat mallet to smash the Oreos, but it never got the crumbs fine enough.

Dump Oreo crumbs into medium sized mixing bowl with cream cheese. Mix well, then add jimmies until combined. Roll Oreo mixture into balls that are about 1 inch in size. Set on baking sheet. Let chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

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One by one, dip each Oreo ball into the melted chocolate, then set back on the baking sheet. I used a fork to dip the truffles into the chocolate, which was pretty successful. In the past I’ve used toothpicks and they always fell out!

Put a pinch of nonpareils on each ball as you go. Don’t wait until the chocolate has set or none will stick!

Wait until the chocolate has hardened, then eat!

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Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I made these cookies about two weeks ago, and I still haven’t posted them! First, my Great Aunt was visiting from Florida, and next it was my birthday and then my birthday party (which my wonderful friend Mookie and her lovely roommates hosted for me). Needless to say, I’ve been a bit busy. I wish I had posted some of the amazing recipes I used for my aunt’s visit, like Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, or Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Chip Pound Cake, both of which were met with rave reviews. But alas, it was a busy weekend so I didn’t have time to take photos while I baked. But believe me, both recipes are more than deserving of your time. Have you ever been amazed at how good something you’ve made is? Both of these recipes will give you and your guests that reaction. Or just you. I won’t judge if you make them for yourself. In fact, I will applaud you.

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When I made these cookies they were actually for my mom to bring to a beach gathering. It seemed a little counterintuitive since it was still pretty warm out at the time, but I was in the mood to make warm, chewy pumpkin desserts. They’re simple to make, and can be made with or without the sugary drizzle, though I recommend icing them. The cookies themselves are not super sweet, so a little bit of the icing goes a long way. If you do ice the cookies, make sure to let the icing dry before stacking them on a plate, or they’ll get stuck together- they just want to be friends! They can be kept in a container for up to three days (normally I suggest airtight, but because they’re so moist, they will create condensation which will change their consistency). So eat them quickly!

The original recipe hails from Allrecipes.com. I altered it slightly to omit the ground cloves; my mom has never used them so I don’t keep any around. If you like a hearty spice element in your pumpkin desserts, add the cloves back into the recipe, and add them alongside the other spices.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (Libby’s or organic is fine)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with non-stick baking spray. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

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In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly. The batter will be very sticky so don’t be disheartened if they look like crazy, misshapen rocks. 

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Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork. You’re done! You did it! Reward yourself with a cup of hot apple cider and a few (handfuls of) cookies!

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Cannoli Cones

My cousin asked me to make a dessert for her second baby shower. Initially, I planned on making Ooey Gooey Lemon Bars, but the oven in my new apartment isn’t working (you can imagine the toll this has taken on my cookie making: I’ve been eating graham crackers with peanut butter as a midnight snack instead of moist, decadent, pillowy cookies fresh from my kitchen OMGIWANTCOOKIES), so I had to scratch that idea and think of something else that wouldn’t require baking.

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I really like the idea of marrying two desserts in one delicious package, so I started thinking of ways to do something a little different with cannoli cream; I went to brunch in Long Island a week ago and passed up a cannoli cream waffle, which I’ve been (rightfully) regretting ever since. Consequently, I’ve had cannoli on the brain.

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I realized it would be a cute and easy, no-bake idea to insert homemade cannoli cream into sugar cones from the grocery store. I could decorate the cones with some sprinkles to jazz them up and make them baby shower appropriate. The sprinkle actually wound up being mermaid themed, so the ice cream cone concept was a good fit with the beachy atmosphere that my aunt created with her decorations and menu options.

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I’ve never made cannoli before, but I know what I like, so I adapted a recipe from Alex Guarnaschelli.

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INGREDIENTS:

For the Cones:

2 packages (about 24), sugar cones

1/2 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles

For the Cream:

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, strained (I used Bel Gioioso because it doesn’t require much straining)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips (I used regular, because I had them on hand, but small is more authentic!)

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbsp of orange zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

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DIRECTIONS:

For the Cones:

Remove the cones from their packaging, and separate them. Set any broken ones aside (we’ll eat these later with any extra cannoli cream). Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl on high in 15 second increments, stirring in between each, until they’re thoroughly melted but not burned.

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^My nephew noshing on one.^

Dip the rounded part of each cone into the chocolate, then dip them in the sprinkles while still wet. I found the sprinkles adhered better when I stuck the cone directly into the sprinkles, rather than twisting it clockwise in them.

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Set the cones, chocolate-sprinkle ends up, in a few mugs, then refrigerate for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate is no longer wet. Set aside.

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For the Cream:

In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I made this at home on Long Island and left my sifter in the city, so I used a splatter screen. Hehe. Blend, whisking gently until just combined and there are no powdery lumps.

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In a small, chilled metal bowl, beat the heavy cream with the vanilla until relatively stiff peaks form. Do not over whip, or it will collapse. Gingerly fold the cream into the ricotta blend using a rubber spatula. Fold in the chocolate chips and fruit zests. Refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

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Assembly:

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop about 1 1/2 scoops into each cone. The cream will lie flat on top; it won’t be arched as ice cream would be. However, the better you strain your ricotta, the fluffier it will be (truth be told, I didn’t strain my ricotta at all, because I left my sieve in my apartment too! But it still tasted great and the texture was absolutely fine). Place a chocolate chip or two on top of the cream as a garnish. If you’re trying to be authentic, skip the sprinkles and simply coat the top of the cream in mini chocolate chips so that it looks more similar to a regular cannoli.

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^You can store the cones in an airtight container until use. DO NOT fill them until you are ready to serve, or the cones will become mushy!^

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Enjoy!

Leslie

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

If there is one recipe I want you to make from my blog, this is it. It is hands down the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever tried. I discovered it when I first started baking a few years ago on a site called Allrecipes.com. Since then, I’ve adjusted it slightly and have made it countless times. Without fail, it’s always a success.

When I make these gigundo cookies I love eating them at various stages of the recipe. I take my first nibble once I’ve added the chocolate chips to the cookie dough. I don’t like to eat too much of the dough because that means less cookies for me (did I mention I’m legit Cookie Monster?). Next, I steal a pinch right after they come out of the oven. I’m often impatient when it comes to cookies (haha no really, I am Cookie Monster), so I try to move them to the cooling racks too soon. When this happens and a cookie breaks or crumbles, I use its imperfect appearance as an excuse to eat it right then and there. Once the remainder of the cookies have cooled, I eat at least two more. At least.

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So maybe I’m NOT the real Cookie Monster, but I’m pretty darn close. 

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup packed light brown sugar 

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips OR 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup white chocolate chips OR 1 cup peanut butter chips and 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips OR 1 cup milk chocolate chips and 1 cup dark chocolate chips

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DIRECTIONS:

Makes 18 large and in charge cookies

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper for an easy cleanup.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Do not skip this step; this is part of what makes these cookies so fluffy!

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In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy (I’ve done this step using an electric beater and by hand; do whichever you prefer). Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon.

Roll cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time in your hands then place on the prepared cookie sheets (each cookie should be about the size of a golf ball… every time I make them, my mom comments on how big they are). Thus, cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

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Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. They may seem undercooked to you, but they’re probably not! Take them out as soon as the edges have firmed up a little bit and the egg yolk has created a slight iridescence on the cookies. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Use the biggest spatula you have to avoid breaking them when transferring the cookies from the baking sheets to the wire racks. Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days– if they last that long.

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