Corn husks are obnoxious little suckers

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Okay so there’s this unwritten rule/trend thing in the food blogger universe that you’re apparently supposed to make red, white and blue food on Memorial Day. Barring that, at least burgers. And probably alcohol. At least barbecue-outside-summer-food. For heaven’s sake, grill SOMETHING.

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I charred something, does that count??

Oops.

Sorry.

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Except not really because um HELLO, TAMALES AND FLAN?!

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I just like to be different.

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This was sort of like a Carneval meets Cinco  de Mayo meets Memorial Day mash-up kind of feast. And I wouldn’t have it any other way in my nutty food universe. Straight up homemade green chile chicken tamales + coconut sugar flan + vegan, gf, refined sugar free peanut butter date-oat cookies (because there was time in between roasting the tomatillos, soaking the corn husks, and pureeing chilies and garlic and rolling/tying/otherwise fighting with the tamale wrappings—who knew corn husks were so freaking stubborn?!). But SO fun to make. Talk about feeling accomplished with your Sunday—tamales, cookies, homemade chicken stock, and flan all in about 4.5 hours? Boom.

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And even better, I had a cooking buddy! My friend Jill (of the blog Halfway There) and I have regular baking-cooking-kitchen shenanigans get togethers, and this was the latest. We both decided that tamales are WAY more fun with friends. Those corn husks are obnoxious little suckers… [isn’t there some saying to the effect of ‘shared pleasure in increased, shared pain is decreased’?? Something like that, which DEFS applies to tying tamales. Oi. We almost busted out the twine].

IMG_0422And then I had a FAB dinner… AND lunch o’ leftovers on Monday when I got to work for time and a half (yippee!!). Happy belated holiday weekend! Aren’t you glad you’re invisible internet friends with this weirdo who doesn’t bust open the grill on Memorial Weekend? Yeah. Me too.

And okay okay I know this picture is suuuuper inelegant but whatever. This was one of those “OMG! I have a thousand pretty pictures of the wrapped tamales and I’m hungry and OMG WAIT I JUST TOOK A BITE HOW IS THIS SO GOOD must share with my invisible internet friends but my food looks… um questionable by this point?! But they want to know!!! Snap snap snap” moments. You know. I promise that mess down there was mega delicious. Promise.

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Green Chile Chicken Tamales

Recipe only mildly adapted from Epicurious, here. Jill and I got about 18 good-sized tamales out of our batch, with a bit of leftover masa dough and chicken filling (we ran out of decent husks, which was fine by me since then I got leftover filling for lunch… and we got sick of tying them, haha). We also doubled the amount of the sauce, which are the amounts I’ll include below.

  • 1 6 oz bag of corn husks, soaked for at least 3 hours [place in a large pot, pour water over, and weight with a small pan so they stay submerged]
  • 1 pound of tomatillos, husked+rinsed
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded with ribs removed
  • 4 serrano peppers, seeded with ribs removed
  • 8 small garlic cloves
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 2 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 c packed, shredded chicken [we used the meat off of an entire rotisserie chicken]
  • 2/3 c chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/3 c organic vegetable shortening
  • 1.5 tsp salt*
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder*
  • 4 c freshly ground masa flour
  • 2 c low sodium chicken broth

*only if your masa DOESN’T have these

This only looks complicated… it’s just time consuming!

Method can be found here [ugh I’m just too lazy to type it all out and we followed it exactly sooo…. yeah. Laziness ensues].

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Coconut Sugar Flan

Again, not too difficult, though I for some reason always thought it would be. Yield: 8 ramekins or custard cups. It is refined sugar free and gluten free, but that’s about all you can say… sorry I’m not sorry this isn’t good for you! Ha. Sometimes you just gotta indulge. The recipe is adapted from Food 52, here!

  • 1/2 c coconut sugar
  • 3/8 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 c half and half
  • 1/2 c coconut sugar (no, that’s not a typo…)

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Move your oven racks to the lower third, and preheat the oven to 350. Start a pot of water boiling on the stove. You’re going to need a water bath for this, so find a casserole dish or a baking dish that can comfortably hold all 8 of your ramekins. Set it all aside.

Whisk together 1/2 c coconut sugar+1/4 tsp sea salt in a small bowl. Pour the sugar/salt mix into the bottom of each ramekin, making sure the sugar is relatively evenly spread (I found it helpful to shake the ramekin slightly so the sugar would settle).

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, the other 1/2 c of coconut sugar, and remaining 1/8 tsp of salt until well combined. Heat the half and half in a saucepan until just steaming—you should be able to stick a finger in just barely, but it should be too hot for you to want to leave it there. Let the half and half cool for just a few minutes, then temper the eggs by pouring a ladleful at a time of the hot half and half into the eggs, whisking vigorously the whole time (nobody wants scrambled eggs in their flan. Ewwww), until you’ve poured in all your half an half. If you’ve ended up with egg bits, strain the mixture now (Jill and I have super whisking skills, there were no egg bits to be seen, yessss). Carefully skim the foam off the top of the liquid, then ladle the mixture careful into the ramekins, being careful not to disturb the sugar. Some will float up, but if you do it slowly enough most of it should stay down.

Remember that pan of boiling water? Yep, we need it now. Pour it carefully around the ramekins, until it comes about halfway up the sides of the dishes. CAREFULLY place this whole thing onto the bottom rack in your preheated oven. Bake until the flan is *just* wobbly in the center—-the very center should wobble, but it will look like it’s wobbling under a more solid top—-about 25-30 minutes, depending on your ramekin size and depth. Remove from the water bath with tongs, and let cool for 15 minutes before moving them to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.

To serve, run a thin knife around the edges of the custard and invert onto a plate. Ogle the amazing saucy, custardy deliciousness that has just appeared on your plate, and thank all the gods you decided to make tamales and flan on a random Sunday. Mmm.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, but wait what?! You have leftovers?? Hold the phone, I’m coming over…

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Winner winner, funfetti dinner!

ahhh yeahhhh, twenty two!

Guess what.

I turned twenty two yesterday! Such a nice symmetrical number.

However… I obviously can’t take the credit for all this awesomeness, as without a mother I clearly wouldn’t be here at all. Here’s what she has to say about all these bun in the oven shenanigans:

Twenty-two years ago, mere hours after I’d been swing dancing at a wedding, Hayley decided to make a speedy entrance into the world!! Originally, this wedding was supposed to take place on a boat sailing around SF Bay—good thing they chose a docked, historical ,version instead, since her Daddy was the best man! Call the Coast Guard!! She allowed us to get home from this big event, tired and happy, but then, since all of the dancing had stopped for her mom, she decided that it was time to do the baby cha-cha! Daddy-to-be couldn’t believe that it was time to watch the clock—he just tried to talk me into going back to sleep. Persistent baby….apparently, Hayley was *not* pleased that she missed the party AND  the cake, and decided that she’d had enough gestation….et voila! Punctual baby, punctual person! Early am, September 23rd! Daddy even remembered to throw the tuxes in with the suitcase, so he could return them!! Who gave the man with the really pregnant wife the tuxes to return!?

mmmm

There you have it. My entire personality in a nutshell can be determined from birth: I’m punctual, polite (I waited), and I love cake. Don’t try to stand between me and my cake.

And birthdays mean cake! Annnddd fun candles. So since I’m secretly a five year old inside, I requested funfetti from scratch, with MEGA sprinks. And my lovely mama made it for me! How fab is that. How very civilized having someone else make cake for you.

DO YOU SEE THE DINO?!

A tres fabulous birthday weekend all around… AND I have leftover cake. Winner winner, funfetti dinner! Ha.

Recipe from Sweetapolita! The only changes we made were whipped cream frosting instead of buttercream (I like whipped cream better), and a teeny cake in 6″ cake pans (also whole wheat pastry flour, natch). AND mega sprinks. Some were dino shaped. Feel free to be jealous, veryyy veryyy jealous, that I have such an awesome mutti who buys dino sprinks. Hehee.