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OK look. I don’t particularly love cupcakes, and I would never wait a million hours outside of Magnolia to get one. I don’t ever make cupcakes. In fact, I had to buy a muffin tin just for these. I would like to lie to you and say that the dreaded Hallmark / diamond / chocolate industry holiday (you know of what I speak) did not inspire me to make a slightly more fantastic dessert than normal. But I can’t, it did inspire me. And you know what? I’m. Not. Sorry.

You can tell just from the texture of the batter how light and airy these will be. And did I mention the whipped cream is actually white chocolate mint whipped cream? Although I had to shell out $5.99 for peppermint extract, it was worth it. Now I just need to find some more pepperminty recipes to try, or just make this whipped cream once a week to satisfy my craving until it runs out. I’m seriously considering the latter option.

These are outrageously good, and for some reason I came out with not 9 cupcakes as the recipe said I would get, but 12+. Not that I’m complaining, but really, these are best consumed day-of, so do make them for any upcoming events where 12 cupcakes might be gobbled up immediately — birthdays, bar mitzvahs (I just watched ‘A Serious Man’ so I have Judaism on the brain), weddings, celebrations, etc.

Thank you, smitten kitchen, once again, for introducing me to greatness. Recipe here.

Here I present to you two meals — neither of which photograph particularly well, but both of which were delicious and easy to prepare. And, like a broken record, I tell you that they are just asking to be modified. I love methods moreso than recipes, although I’ll approximate the recipes themselves below as best I can. One is vegetarian, one isn’t, but both could easily become veggie or meaty.

I’m bundling these because I really do want to tell you about the lasagna rolls I made a week or two ago, but having taken only one sad picture of the cheesy top, I didn’t think you would be convinced of how delicious they are. But now that I have another pretty simple recipe to share, I decided to do a two-fer. The second is a casserole of sorts, although it started as an idea for a savory cobbler. It’s something between those things. Turkey + black beans + tomatoes and veggies, topped with buttermilk cornbread and baked.

Recipes after the jump…

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I wouldn’t imagine from-scratch biscotti are one of the more popular baked goods in America. In fact, even “from scratch” biscotti at coffee shops and bakeries seem strangely manufactured, too perfectly shaped, too similar, and all pretty boring. But few treats are as well-suited to a coffee dunking, and given my intense coffee addiction, it’s surprising I’ve never tried to make these before.

I found a recipe on epicurious for chocolate-orange biscotti that sounded pretty delicious, and I had everything on hand already except for the chocolate. The crispness of these homemade biscotti is superior to any I’ve had before — crunchy but not hard, delicious with or without being dunked…that I think I would use this recipe as a base and sub out any number of flavor combinations. You could use dried cherries, almonds, and a little vanilla extract for a less dessert-like variation. Or walnuts instead of pecans, white chocolate chunks, pretty much anything. The dough is very simple to make. The only issue I had is that I think my oven runs hot (it definitely has hot spots) and so the bottom of my biscotti after the first bake was a bit darker than I would have liked, but miraculously there’s no burnt flavor to them at all. Just keep an eye on those suckers and you’ll be fine!

Here’s the recipe, which I made without modification: Chocolate-Orange Biscotti

People are passionate about their tacos, I’ll tell you that. The Brooklyn Taco Experiment was possibly the most exhausting and hectic of all the cook-offs I’ve done, and I’ll tell you why. Tacos. Take. Work.

Lauren and I had about 100 tupperwares, containers, tote bags, and boxes between us and still we were improvising. Thirty pounds of pork shoulder alone. And we had about the perfect amount after it was all said and done. I’m convinced we made way more than 300 tacos.

We had about 4 square feet in which to display / heat / assemble our tacos, and some seriously stubborn donated tortillas to deal with (not all the best things in life are free, I’m just sayin’). Nothing makes me feel older than standing for a whole day. Man, my back hurt!

No prizes this time, but I have to say, I have not seen so many hard core competitors (or so many competitors, period — there were 30 tacos to try) in any previous cook-off, and though once again I tried nothing, my friends who were there said it was a stellar group. So I’m not in the least bit sad about the lack of prize winning. If I were there and had to try 30 tacos, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to pick a favorite at all.

I think it might be time to take a bit of a cook-off hiatus. Work is crazy busy, and I have some possible big purchases coming up (including a car?!?) so the massive amount of time and money that these things take will just not be available to me. However, I will be an enthusiastic spectator and continue to follow Nick & Theo’s meteoric rise to the top of the New York foodie scene.

My final taco?

Slow roasted pork (with habanero, pasilla, ancho and chipotle chiles and cinnamon), creamy jicama slaw, home pickled onions and jalapenos, cotija cheese, a squeeze of lime, and cilantro! We also served a tequila punch: tequila, guava juice, orange juice, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

(these 2 pics are from the Huffington Post article on the event!)

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