HOLIDAY REVERSE S’MORES & 2010 in Retrospect

Stupidly Simple Snacks 2010 episodes
(Photos: Stupidly Simple Snacks on YouTube.)

I RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM MYSELF THIS WEEKEND. For those unfamiliar with FutureMe.org, it’s a website that lets you write and schedule an email to yourself far into the future. Sure, you can schedule the message to send next Thursday, but that defeats the purpose of reflecting on where you are today in, say, a year from now. Here are a few notes I wrote to myself in December 2009:

“I had a driving lesson at noon and did pretty well. My road test is on Monday and I’d really like to pass this time…” and “By this time next year, I hope I will be working at a company with which I’m utterly in love.”

It took three tries, but I did finally get my driver’s license – only to not drive at all in the past twelve months. As for that job I was looking for – I found it in Stupidly Simple Snacks and Foodspotting. I had other hopes for the 2010 me, of course, which included: Visit India and Italy, learn French, and buy a DSLR camera – none of which I did. Despite the lack of travel to the eastern hemisphere, however, it was fun to look back at the old, slightly younger Amy who wanted – and still wants – to learn French, to see the world, and capture it through a big lens. Some things don’t change, which is great. Otherwise, what would I have to aspire to in the next 365 days?

At this time a year ago, I had only six snack videos. Today, there are thirty-five Stupidly Simple Snacks floating in web space and, because of them, I’ve made new friends, began working for a company with coworkers I cherish, and have come across great individuals who love food and can’t cook either. Luckily, I’ve met talented chefs, restaurant owners, bakers, and bloggers who have shown me that good food doesn’t have to be complicated too.

To celebrate the holidays and everyone I met through Stupidly Simple Snacks, I present my latest video with my new friend Mari Tuttle, the owner and chief baker of Mari’s New York. Mari makes artisanal treats like fudgy brownies and other decadent sweets that you can find online, at the Limelight Marketplace, and in upscale department stores around the States. We make HOLIDAY REVERSE S’MORES for the first time here. I think my second attempt might involve larger marshmallows, but you get the idea. After all, there’s always next time! This philosophy extends to chocolate-covered confections and new years. amy • december 13, 2010

HOLIDAY REVERSE S’MORES

SERVES 1 or many

WHAT YOU NEED
1 bag of marshmallows
1 chocolate bar (3.5 oz) or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
4 crushed graham crackers or crushed peppermint candy
frilly toothpicks

MUSIC Ike Turner Kills Fascists • City Lights

CLICK FOR MORE HOLIDAY CHEER…
Amy Blogs Christmas Reading Wish List
Stupidly Simple Gift GuideReal Simple magazine giveaway

December 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . brownies, Dessert, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 3 comments.

STUPIDLY SIMPLE DEVILED EGGS

SOMETIMES, STUPIDLY SIMPLE SNACKS ARE INSPIRED BY MY FRIENDS’ SUGGESTIONS. Other times, my talented guest stars share their secrets. Of course, then there are those snack recipes which are the product of pure guesswork. My deviled eggs recipe, however, was not one of them. By combining knowledge from three well-known personalities, I made DEVILED EGGS the Stupidly Simple Snacks way. Video instructions from Chef John of Food Wishes guided the hard-boiling process, Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Work Week showed in this video that there is, apparently, a way to peel eggs without peeling, and then there was Martha Stewart’s Creamy Deviled Eggs recipe, which seemed like a good one to follow. I didn’t follow it strictly, naturally, because I am a person with a limited attention span and mild aversion to shallots. I’d eat them if I had to, but if it means getting dressed and heading to the supermarket, then that would defeat the purpose of Stupidly Simple Snack-ing and that just wouldn’t do. amy • december 5, 2010

Follow my MASTER GUIDE TO DEVILED EGGS on my other favorite website, which is Foodspotting, of course.

STUPIDLY SIMPLE DEVILED EGGS

SERVES 3 to 4

WHAT YOU NEED
6 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons aged white wine vinegar
hot sauce
salt & pepper
1 tsp baking soda

MUSIC Danni RosnerIn The CityiTunesFacebook / Myspace / TwitterYouTube

December 5, 2010. Hungry Nation, recipe, videos, YouTube. 10 comments.

MY UNCONVENTIONAL SNACK SHOW

The Art of Non-Conformity cover“Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss, You’ll Land Among The Stars.” – Mary Poppins, The Musical. (I saw it twice in London. Don’t laugh at me.)

After following Chris Guillebeau‘s blog for two years, I finally met my hero at his book launch in New York this fall. Chris is a traveler, writer, entrepreneur, and now book author of The Art of Non-Conformity with the goal of visiting every country in the world by April 7, 2013.

I’ve been following Chris online since 2008 when my best friend Jenna Meister, whom you may remember from my ceviche video, introduced me to his site. While Chris updates his blog everyday, it’s his thoughtful newsletters that I find most valuable. Like clockwork, an email from Chris arrives every Monday and Thursday with a gem of advice exactly when you need it. (My latest favorite is “Who You Are And What They Say.”) Sharing insight on travel hacking to advice on how to think for yourself, Chris covers more ground in a week than I do in a month. Surely, no one’s perfect, but Chris is my reminder that everything will be alright as long as you give it your best and, whenever possible, do something extra ordinary. Or take on a task that scares you senseless. Taking this to heart, I emailed him to ask if he’d like to guest star on Stupidly Simple Snacks. He did.

The day after we met at his book signing, Chris and his lovely wife Jolie stopped by before they had to jet to the next stop of Chris’s Unconventional Book Tour through ten Canadian provinces and 50 states.

In my excitement, my brain skipped this step in the recipe: Keep the dry ingredients separate from the wet. Into the same bowl everything went before I realized my mistake. On my own time, I forgive myself – generously – for oversights, but to screw up with a guest and limited time is a catastrophe. (No, not really.) There was no time for a redo, so we improvised and remained optimistic. Chris named our honey, oat, and rice krispie concoction Unconventional Snack Bars, though “snack blob” would have been more fitting…

Later, I re-shot the video and tweaked the recipe taking inspiration from Mark Bittman’s almond-apricot granola bar recipe. According to Jason, this is my best Stupidly Simple Snack to date. I think it’s one of my best-edited videos too. It wouldn’t have been the same without all those mistakes. amy • november 29, 2010

To keep up with Chris, follow @chrisguillebeau on Twitter and sign up for his email newsletter. I have been subscribed to The Art of Non-Conformity for two years and have cherished every story he’s shared. Also, buy the book here. It’s the best gift you can give for under $10 this Christmas.

UNCONVENTIONAL SNACK BARS

SERVES 4 or one Jason

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup instant oats (Quaker oats work great.)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

MUSIC Julian Bachlow • Stars in the Moonlight / YouTubeFacebookMyspaceTwitter

November 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Blogs, people, Stupidly Simple Snacks, Travel, videos, YouTube. 3 comments.

EASY SHORTBREAD COOKIES By A Cook-Off Queen

I MET ROOPA ON THE MOST GRUELING DAY OF MY LIFE. I’m being dramatic, of course, but what began as a ploy to “get my blog out there” by participating in The Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment had me fleeing in the opposite direction of amateur cooking competitions for the rest of my days.

Roopa and I got lucky when the contestant assigned to the table between us never showed up. Opportunists that we are, we quickly took over the vacant spot with our trays. More room, after all, for Roopa’s Thai chili-lime chocolate ice cream with hand-rolled cocoa ginger Thai basil cone operation! For three hours that day, Jason dutifully replenished plates with Nanaimo bars while I explained to event attendees the chocolate creations I’d made. (More on my Canadian chocolate bars in my Chocolate Breakdown post.) Beside us, Roopa and her husband Matt doled out ice cream cone after handmade ice cream cone to the ravenous masses. I never stood a chance against the baker behind Raspberry Eggplant blog and neither did anyone else, really. To state the obvious, Roopa won the chocolate contest that day.

Afterward, I kept in touch with Roopa and, in April, I even got to try her signature buttercream cupcakes in flavors like pistachio rose and blackberry hazelnut. With all the shared food between us, it was just a matter of time before we made a snack video together. Still, I worried we’d never agree on a recipe which would represent Roopa’s intricate flavor preferences while staying true to the stupidly simple spirit of my snack videos.

Thankfully, Earl grey tea shortbread cookies turned out to be the key to Stupidly Simple Snacks with one of the most detail-oriented chefs I’ve met. For those without stand mixers, Roopa says a hand mixer will do the trick. Don’t have Earl grey tea bags? Make lemon shortbread using lemon zest instead. Even cook-off queens with an arsenal of complex recipes have shortcuts up their sleeve. amy • november 27, 2010

EARL GREY TEA SHORTBREAD COOKIES

SERVES 4

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 Earl grey tea bags
or
zest of 1 lemon if making lemon shortbread cookies

MUSIC Darwin Deez Constellation / Facebook / Myspace / Twitter

November 27, 2010. Brooklyn, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 1 comment.

WINE COCKTAILS with Joe Campanale

I’VE KNOWN OF JOE CAMPANALE FOR A WHILE. After all, there are few restaurant owners under the age of thirty, like Joe, in New York City and who happens to own not one, but three solid establishments in the West Village – dell’anima, L’Artusi, and the newest, a wine bar called Anfora. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I met Joe at a “meeting of minds” hosted by a food corporation that wanted to pick our brains about snacks. (I’m a snack expert, didn’t you know?) I recognized Joe and after shaking his hand, told him I was a fan of his mom, Karen Campanale, who so diligently keeps her twitter friends in the know with food recommendations and motherly updates on her son. I figured that if I name-dropped his mom, he’d warm up to collaborating on a Stupidly Simple Snacks video. I am a genius.

All kidding aside, I really love how this episode turned out. The only constant is change and it was only a matter of time before we added alcohol to the snack series. Without further ado, I present three light, stupidly simple wine cocktails – the spritz from Austria, Tinto de Verano (aka “poor man’s sangria”) from Spain, and the Italian bicicletta. Watch Joe go! I’m sure his mom would be proud. amy • september 7, 2010

SPRITZ ice | sparkling water | Grüner Veltliner or Riesling
TINTO DE VERANO ice | lemon-lime soda, like Sprite | red wine, like Cabernet Franc or Tempranillo | orange wedge or lemon slice
BICICLETTA ice | Campari | aromatic white wine, like Scheurebe or Riesling | orange wedge

MUSIC Julian Bachlow • Stars In The Moonlight • buy the song on iTunes

September 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, West Village, Wine. 7 comments.

PB&B • Stupidly Simple Sandwich

AFTER TWO WEEKS OF TRAVELING IN ECUADOR, I vowed to stay put in New York to regroup and save. But, as it always does in August, an urban strain of cabin fever kicked in and I began to plot my next escape. Cue Providence, an exceptionally agreeable city in Rhode Island just three and a half hours away from Manhattan by train. I’ve been to Providence a few times as a college student in nearby Boston, but it was my visit last August for an offManhattan.com article that planted the seed for this year’s return trip. Even then I knew I had to go back to see WaterFire and have dinner at Bacaro with Jason in tow. (Their flatbread-like pizza is justification enough for the train ride up.) But it’s the city as a whole – the ubiquitous Del’s Lemonade carts, antique shops, and easy, artsy energy – that brings me back. Thus, it seemed most fitting to find former New Yorker Jessica Becker on charming Wickenden Street where she and her husband Daniel had recently opened The Duck & Bunny – part-bar, part-creperie, with a whole lot of English-inspired treats, like scones and afternoon tea.

On the Friday I arrived in Providence, I made a Stupidly Simple Snacks video with Jessica and cleaned my plate of PB&B (Peanut Butter and Banana). The next day, I returned with Jason who, despite having just had lunch, made room for scones, tea sandwiches, and a Nutella-filled cupcake. Believe it or not, even the Duck & Bunny‘s cucumber-cream cheese sandwich is better than the ones I’ve madeamy • august 31, 2010

SERVES one

WHAT YOU NEED
bread
peanut butter
banana
honey
powdered sugar

MUSIC Keelay Sassmachine

Thanks to the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau for making this trip possible.

August 31, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Rhode Island, Stupidly Simple Snacks, Travel, videos. 9 comments.

Ice Cream Lollipops With GALE GAND

A FEW WEEKS AGO, I was invited to interview Gale Gand, a Chicago-based superstar pastry chef, restaurateurcookbook author, and former Food Network host, who was in New York to promote Breyers’ Sundae Scoop-Off. Gale had created a series of ice cream recipes to inspire young (at heart) sundae makers, including one for ice cream lollipops, which we created together under bright studio lights and heavy makeup. The experience was a far cry from my last snack video, which I filmed in my uncomfortably warm kitchen and jeans. But, isn’t that the damnedest thing? You can be anyone anywhere and wear whatever you want while making Stupidly Simple Snacks, including balls of ice cream. amy • august 30, 2010

SERVINGS varies

WHAT YOU NEED
ice cream
magic shell chocolate sauce (available in most supermarkets or make it from scratch using Brownie Points recipe)
sprinkles, crushed nuts, etc. for topping

MORE ICE CREAM RECIPES BY GALE
Mini Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches
Snowball Sundaes
Spaghetti & Meatballs Sundaes

MUSIC Loomis & the Lust Bright Red Chords myspacefacebookyoutube


August 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Hungry Nation, ice cream, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. Leave a comment.

My Romance with SWEET POTATO FRIES

ONCE, IN MARCH, I DEEP FRIED SWEET POTATO FRIES WITH THIERRY PEPIN. If you have no idea what a thierry pepin is, that is okay. I had no idea what I was in for either.

Earlier this year, my food/social media friend Aaron Ginsberg approached me to make a snack video with one of his clients, T Poutine, on the Lower East Side. I was flattered that the restaurant wanted to get in on the Stupidly Simple Snacks action, so, of course, I said yes. Ironically, I asked him “Do you have a charismatic employee who’d like to be on camera?”

The T Poutine team and I decided to make a French-Canadian dessert that they called The Canuck, which was sweet potato fries tossed with Asian Five Spice, cinnamon, sugar, and maple syrup. They had a deep fryer, so it was stupidly simple enough to throw frozen fries in a vat of boiling oil there. However, to make it feasible for the casual sweet potato fry eater, baking would be the better – plus, an equally tasty and arguably healthier – option.

I kept the video under wraps after I learned T Poutine closed, but it was a matter of time before sweet potato fries starred in an episode. Naturally, I had to include footage of Thierry, who turned out to be the owner of T Poutine and an underwear model. You may recognize him from the Ralph Lauren Romance commercial too. Confirm below. amy august 11, 2010


SERVINGS 2 to 3

WHAT YOU NEED
4 sweet potatoes
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
paprika
ground cumin

FOR “THE CANUCK” BY T POUTINE
sweet potato fries
Asian Five Spice
cinnamon sugar
maple syrup

MUSIC Kelly Harper Till This Goes Away website / myspace / facebook

August 11, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Dessert, Lower East Side, recipe, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 7 comments.

PANNA COTTA with DessertTruck Works

IF THERE’S A DESSERT DESTINATION THAT I’D RECOMMEND TO ANYONE IN OR VISITING NEW YORK, IT’S DESSERTTRUCK. Even die-hard dessert eating New Yorkers, who are notoriously spoilt for choice when it comes to sweets, would probably name DessertTruck among their favorite places for warm chocolate bread pudding, molten chocolate cake, vanilla cream-filled brioche donut holes, and goat cheese cheesecake. I met the owners Jerome, Susana, and Vincent last summer at one of their dessert making classes when Jason and I just started dating. Rereading that cheesy post reminds me how much can change in a year: DessertTruck lost their street vending license last fall and went brick-and-mortar earlier this year, and now they’re back on the streets by Astor Place (though just for the summer).

In my latest SSS episode, the trio demonstrates the simple art of making panna cotta! Panna cotta is unbelievably easy to make, provided you have Knox Gelatin (gelatin powder) on hand. If you don’t, go get some. Knox is easy to find at most grocery stores next to the boxes of Jell-O. In fact, making panna cotta is like making Jell-O, only it’s creamy, smooth, and pretty darn sophisticated. Enjoy! amy • august 3, 2010

SERVINGS 4

WHAT YOU NEED
2/5 cup heavy cream
3/5 cup buttermilk
1 bloomed* gelatin sheet or 1/4 packet of bloomed Knox Gelatin
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
jam (raspberry used in video)
fruit

*to bloom a gelatin sheet, soak the gelatin in water for 10 minutes to soften it. Then lightly wring out excess water before using. If using gelatin powder, use 1/4 cup water to dissolve the granules in every Knox Gelatin packet. Since this recipe calls for one gelatin sheet or 1/4 packet of Knox, bloom the gelatin powder in 1/16 cup (equivalent to 1 tablespoon) of water. To learn more about gelatin, refer to David Lebovitz’s immensely helpful guide: How To Use Gelatin.

MUSIC Keelay America

August 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Dessert, Italian, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. 3 comments.

JASMINE TEA SHAVED ICE with Guerrilla Ice Cream

I MET ETHAN FRISCH AND ORI ZOHAR – the masterminds behind Guerrilla Ice Cream – after loitering by their ice cream cart earlier this month at the Hester Street Fair in Chinatown. They’d just opened their business four weeks prior, so it was exciting to come across a new ice cream company manned by two guys in their twenties with a mission to create exotic ice cream and give back to the community.

The flavors are based on political movements around the world, such as lemon poppy seed Velvet Revolution and Libertação, a chocolate & port wine medley. New flavors and menu items, like a Malta (wheat soda) ice cream float, are added weekly. Now wrap your brain around this: 100% of profits go to organizations that support marginalized groups, like the Street Vendor Project, where Ethan has volunteered, in New York City.

In my latest video, which features Ethan as my snack-making cohort, we make a brilliant and ridiculously easy jasmine tea shaved ice. I think Guerrilla Ice Cream not only has a big heart, it shows that you can create great things and do good with something as simple as sugar. amy july 29, 2010

WHAT YOU NEED 4 cups of water | 1 cup of sugar | 5 tea bags (jasmine tea used in the video) | liquid honey or other topping (optional)

SERVINGS 2 to 3

MUSIC Julian Bachlow Desolate Place

July 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Chinatown, food cart, ice cream, Manhattan, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos. Leave a comment.

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