Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 30: Easy One Pan Rice Stick Noodles

Make these if you're having a million people over for dinner. It makes a TON of noodles. 

Easy One Pan Rice Stick Noodles
from FussFree Cooking

Cooking Oil
2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 cups water, boiling
2 tablespoons kecap manis
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
salt to taste
dash of white pepper
454 g dried rice stick noodles (Pandaroo brand, if possible)
150 g/5 ounces bean sprouts

Add about 4 tbsps of cooking oil and sliced shallots in a large pan and saute over low-medium heat until golden brown. Transfer the crispy onion and excess oil to a flat bowl and set aside.

With some of the shallot oil remaining in the pan, saute garlic over low heat until aromatic.

Add soy sauce and allow it to sizzle for about 5 seconds in the pan. 

Then add 4 cups of boiling water, salt, sesame oil, white pepper and kecap manis. Stir to combine and wait until the “broth” starts to boil.

When the broth is bubbling, add the dried rice stick noodles.

Using a tong, toss the noodles around in the broth until all are absorb evenly.

When the noodles are almost cooked, add bean sprouts and toss evenly with the noodles.

Sprinkle with crispy shallots before serving.

Week 29: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies (for Matt)

Is this not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? I mean, seriously. She's a beaut. The red microwave that was left here was very quickly moved to another spot so I could put my lovely red mixer in a place of honor. The only counter in my kitchen now holds my gorgeous 5 quart red mixer. All of this because I moved into my very own little apartment. My parents gave me this as a house-warming present.

I've never made these before and they aren't my very favorite cookie. However, they are someone's favorite cookie and that someone got a brand new job. So of course, I baked cookies. :)

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a bowl, mix the flour with salt and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk, sugar and butter until they are mixed properly. Add vanilla extract and whisk again for a couple of minutes.

Pour the flour mix into the egg mix. Add the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips. Mix with a rubber spatula. 

Pre-heat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a spoon, drop a ball of the dough onto the baking sheet. Wet your hands and press the dough to flatten it a litt.e

Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are light brown in color. The middles should not look completely cooked.

Take the cookies out of the oven and let them sit on the pan for 5 minutes before putting on a cooking rack. 

Week 28: Crock Pot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
4-6 Boneless Chicken Breasts, can still be frozen
1 Bottle Archer Farms Hawaiian Style Barbecue Sauce
1 20 oz. can Pineapple Chunks, drained

Spray the inside of your crock pot with cooking spray for an easy cleanup.

Place frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot and cover with sauce.  Empty can of drained pineapple chunks on top. 

Cook on High for 2-3 hours or Low for 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken with two forks while still in the crock pot so the chicken will be well coated with sauce.  Serve over rice.

*In the last 20-30 minutes, throw in some veggies too. Green pepper and onion would be good.

Week 27: 3 Layer Upside Down Apple Pecan Breakfast Cake

Trying to catch up, so here is a recipe and a picture.

3 Layer Upside Down Apple Pecan Breakfast Cake

1 cup pecans
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon, divided
1/3 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel and chop the apples. Grease a small casserole dish and spread 1 tablespoon syrup on the bottom of dish. Spread a layer of chopped apples followed by a layer of pecans on the bottom of the dish. Use just less than half of both.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Whisk together. In a small bowl, mix the applesauce, syrup, vanilla and butter. Mix.

Add the wet to the dry and mix well. Spread on a layer of the batter over the apples and pecans. Use half the batter.

Spread a layer of apples and pecans, leaving 2-3 tablespoons of each for the top. Follow this with the rest of the batter. Spread evenly.

Sprinkle with remaining apples and pecans. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake for 55 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 26: BLT Pasta

Make this and drink wine with it. If it's hot and you don't have A/C, only have one glass.

 I don't really like tomatoes. The original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes. Ick. I dislike them. I'm not the person who goes outside to the cherry tomato vines and eats them straight off the vine. Ew. So I substituted. I added sun-dried tomatoes instead. I also just used bread crumbs from a box and then cooked them with the oil and garlic. 
Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Pasta
originally from Framed Cooks

1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, 
1/2 cup thinly sliced leek
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
6 ounces linguine
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Make the breadcrumbs by heating olive oil in a medium skillet, adding garlic and bread crumbs and stirring until golden, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp, remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
Add tomatoes and sugar to skillet with bacon drippings and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add leek and stir for another 3 minutes.
Add wine to skillet and simmer until wine is almost evaporated. Add broth, vinegar and red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.
Add spinach, bacon and thyme to skillet. Add pasta and toss with tongs over low heat until spinach is wilted.
Divide among plates, top with bread crumbs and serve.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week 25: Wonton Tacos

I went on vacation.

On that vacation, I ate. I walked, then I ate, then I walked some more. I still have no idea how much I walked, but it was a lot. I think I ate just as much.

I was not overly impressed with the food on leg one of my trip. Washington, D.C. has a lot of stuff to do right around the National Mall, but not a lot of places to eat. I stayed 5 blocks east of the Capital building and that really limited what I could eat for dinner. Sure there are plenty of cafes around for lunch or an early dinner, but once 6:00 pm hits, everything closes. The food was just, normal.

Then I went to New York City. I made up for the banal food in DC when I was in NYC. 

Day 1: Tom's Restaurant (late lunch), Apple (happy hour), Yakituri Taisho (dinner), Max Brenner's (drinks)

Alex picked me up from the bus stop and got me on the subway successfully. After ditching my bags, we went to Tom's Restaurant. This is the exterior for the restaurant on Seinfeld. They had really good milkshakes.

I had some fruity drink at Apple, then a bunch of meat at Yakituri Taisho. It's a little hole-in-the-wall place where your waitress leads you through a maze of tables and bars to get you to your table. We ate shrimp balls, meat on sticks, and some other shrimp thingy.

Then it rained and it was chilly so we stopped at Max Brenner's for a hot chocolate. There are a bunch of different ways to get the hot chocolate, dark, light, milk, etc. I think all are probably delicious.

Day 2: Absolute Bagels (breakfast), Stand4 (lunch), Shima (dinner)

Ayesha left for work before I got up, so I got a text stating "Breakfast, Absolute Bagel" and then the directions how to get there. The plain bagel with strawberry cream cheese was very good. Not just strawberry flavored cream cheese, but real strawberries in there. After sightseeing, I met up with Ayesha and Alex for lunch. I still had a lot of bagel in me, so I had a little burger slider at Stand4. It came with fried pickle chips. A+A got a s'mores milkshake that was really good. It had little s'mores on top and I think there were graham cracker crumbs in the shake. After everything I had eaten that day, I was glad that my dinner plans weren't until 8:00. I met up with my friend Jim for sushi in the East Village. We ordered sushi, the kind where it's just rice with a piece of seafood on top of it. I have never had it this way, and I really enjoyed it. If you don't think about the fact that you're eating raw fish, it just melts in your mouth. That is a sign of really good, fresh fish. I learned that. I also had little pork dumplings for the first time. We finished it all off with ice cream. 

Day 3: Alice's Tea Cup (brunch), The Lobster Place (lunch)

If you have even the tiniest bit of girly-girl in you, you will love this place. Themed after the tea party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, this place is dainty and precious. There is a book of different teas that you can order and one of the menu options is tea and scones. Ayesha had the day off, so she brought me here. She had a fruit infused tea that was REALLY strong. I wanted the vanilla tea, but they were out so it was substituted with a Bourban Vanilla tea. Not bourban-y at all. This was all paired with a waffle, a mixed berry scone and a pumpkin scone with a really great glaze. The scones were served with a berry compote and clotted cream. I was quite happy.

We did some shopping and walking and lounged on the High Line. Then we did Chelsea Market and I finally got my seafood. The Lobster Place smells like fish, but has some really good food. I had a lump crab BLT and Ayesha and I split a cup of New England clam chowder. Yum. Dinner was with A+A's friends at poker night and there was pretty much just desserts...and cold medicine because somewhere between DC and NY I picked up a nasty little bug.

Day 4: The Garage (brunch), Waffles and Dinges (snack), Harlem Tavern (dinner)

I am a recent believer in serving alcohol with brunch. I don't care about Bloody Mary's. They don't even look good. Even a Screwdriver sounded a little strong. However, the Mimosa is perfect. It tingles and sparkles and it's a great pair with brunch. I had blueberry stuffed french toast that was phenomenal. The edges were practically caramelized and even though I was really hungry, I don't think I managed to eat the entire thing.

After spending a few hours at The Met, we wandered into Central Park and had a waffle-y snack at Waffles and Dinges. Dinges = toppings = ding-us. I had a mini-wafflini with Nutella and strawberries. A+A went with a full waffle with ice cream and chocolate and strawberries. It looked delicious, but there is only so much food I can put into my tummy.

Dinner was at Harlem Tavern. I was exhausted by this point and didn't really want to catch the subway downtown so we stayed in the neighborhood and got burgers.

I would go back to NYC just to eat more food. Everything was good and now that I'm back, I just want more of it.

Wonton Tacos

Similar to the Lasagna Cups a few weeks ago, these are pretty simple.

Cook about a pound of ground beef and season it with taco seasoning.

Put a wonton wrapper in the cup of a cupcake pan. Put some meat in there and top with cheese. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes so the cheese melts and voila! Dinner.

I got the bright idea to throw some corn in with the meat and it added a nice sweet taste in there. I put some black olives on top once they came out of the oven too.

*Pictures to come*

Friday, June 22, 2012

Week 24: High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad

It's hot here in the Midwest. If you have never lived here, it's definitely an experience. Not only do we get heat, we get humidity. I know it's bad when my phone beeps in the morning to tell me what the weather is and the humidity is already at 90%. That means I'm going to leave a few minutes early so I can bike to work a little more slowly than usual. It helps that work is downhill from where I live. Going home is an entirely different story. 

When it's so hot out, I don't want to eat. That is probably the best diet, the Summer Diet. It's so hot that you don't want to eat, but coupled with the fact that turning on the stove or the oven seems like the worst idea ever, BAM! there goes 5 pounds. 

I ate popcorn and chocolate chip cookies for dinner one night this week. Another night, cold pasta. Smoothies are good too. 

this is the time of year that I just want a nice cold salad. I eat too much pasta already so I wanted something new. Maybe a rice salad with lots of veggies. What I found was quinoa. 

I have in fact made quinoa before. I bought some at least a year ago and made a savory side dish with it. I didn't like it. When I reheated it, it wasn't good. This is delicious though. It's sweet and grainy without being bread and it's really good cold a few days later. Make it when it's hot, you won't regret it.

High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad 
originall from ohsheglows.com

3/4 cup dry quinoa
1 pint strawberries, sliced (2.5-3 cups)
16 oz. fresh blueberries (1.5-2 cups)
1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup almonds, chopped

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, chop the fruit and place in a large bowl.
3. Mix the dressing ingredients (maple syrup, balsamic, lime juice, salt) in a small jar and adjust to taste if necessary. Note: You may have to double the dressing recipe if your salad is quite large.
4. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and add to large bowl with fruit. Combine. Pour on dressing and mix well. Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until serving time. Serves 2-3 as a main or 4-6 as a side.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Week 23: Lemon Pound Cake Kabobs

Engineers like to eat. I have learned this in the past year that I've been working at UM. We have on engineer that comes over to the bullpen and asks, "Do you have any cookies?" This changes daily, or even hourly. Sometimes he wants candy. Sometimes he doesn't care and just wants some food. They'll eat anything.

I'm not saying that architects don't like to eat, but not like engineers do. 

We like to get together and have potlucks. We have a Thanksgiving potluck that was great. We had Christmas grazing day the day before our Christmas break. It's been a while since a holiday and a few days ago we heard about an impromptu potluck. I originally decided to make something healthy because most people make dessert, but I gave in to my sweet side and made a dessert. I tried to healthify it by putting fruit in it and on both sides.

Lemon Pound Cake
originally from Cooking with Directions

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 egg
low fat milk (filled to 1 cup line when mixed with egg)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. 

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.  

In another bowl, cream together butter, greek yogurt, and sugar. Break 1 egg into a measuring cup and then fill to the 1 cup line with milk. Add to butter mixture and beat well. Add vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Add dry mixture and mix well.
Pour batter into an 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of cake comes out clean.

To assemble the kabobs:

Slice the cake into cubes. Slide a cube onto a round toothpick. Slide half a strawberry on one side and a raspberry on the other. Use whatever fruit you want really. Melt some white chocolate in a double boiler and drizzle it over the kabobs. I didn't measure it, just estimated it. 

Eat and enjoy. :)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Week 22: M&M Peanut Butter Bars

The title of this post gives you 2/5 of the ingredients for the recipe.

I love one bowl recipes. Even more, I love one bowl, five ingredient recipes. This one is peanut butter, M&M's, Bisquick, eggs and brown sugar. Yum.

When I was at the mall the other day, I stopped at Mrs. Fields and got an M&M cookie. It took me back to my childhood when my mom would take us to Mrs. Fields and let us each pick out a cookie at the end of our shopping adventure. I always got the sugar cookie with M&M's on it. This was honestly not because it was the best or anything like that...but it was the biggest cookie in the case. Oh yeahhhh. Cookies. That gave me the M&M bug. I'm trying to clean out my pantry a little bit. I have a lot of things in there and sometimes I forget about them. I made chocolate pretzel bits at Christmas time so I had Christmas colored M&M's in the back of the pantry. I searched foodgawker for a recipe and got this guy. A simple bar that looked delicious and was. I made it on a Sunday, brought one in for myself on Monday and one of the summer interns asked if I had brought one for everyone since the previous Monday I had brought that delicious cake. So, I bought in my cookie bars and shared.

3/4 cup peanut butter
2 large eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose baking mix (Bisquick, for example)
1 bag of M&Ms (estimate this, see note)

Preheat oven to 325*F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

Combine peanut butter and eggs until well mixed and smooth.
Add in brown sugar and stir until combined.
Stir in baking mix until moistened. Fold in M&Ms.
Spread mixture in greased pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

*Note: I'm not sure what the original author meant by "1 bag of M&M's." Figure out what ratio of M&M to bar you want and go from there. I just threw the rest of mine in there. Also, the mixture is crazy thick. I had to knead the M&M's in. This makes it easy to judge how many M&M's you want in there.*

Friday, May 25, 2012

Week 21: Lasagna Cups

I made crab rangoons as an appetizer for Christmas Eve Dinner. That is when I discovered how easy wonton wrappers are to work with. I only used half a package of them in December and still had half a package left. I scoured my usual places for a recipe that would use them up and didn't involve frying anything. I had a couple of bags of open cheese and some goat cheese that I needed to use up, so I just threw it all together until I had the amount that the recipe required. It would be really easy to add whatever you wanted to these. Less cheese and more veggies? Go for it. Meat in the sauce? Yes, please. Also, don't use 6 month old wonton wrappers. Mine looked pretty shady, so I bought new ones because they're relatively cheap. 

I have a question that I've been pondering lately. It's pretty life altering. Why is it, when you cook or reheat anything with cheese on or in it, the pasta or bread or whatever stays a warm or normal temperature, but the cheese  becomes a BOILING MASS OF LAVA?! I do not understand. Can someone explain?

Lasagna Cupcakes
originally from Andy and Belle

11/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
24 small square wonton wrappers
11/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
11/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tspn chopped basil
1 tspn chopped oregano
Spaghetti sauce (whichever your favorite is)
Preheat oven to 350º

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, chopped basil, chopped oregano, salt and pepper all together and set aside.
Coat your muffin pan with non stick cooking spray or butter.
Place a wonton wrapper at the bottom of each cup.
Start layering by adding a small layer of ricotta mix in the 12 muffin cups, followed by the spaghetti sauce, topped with the mozzarella and cheddar cheese then covered with another wonton wrapper.
Repeat the process until each muffin cup is full.
Finish it all off with more mozzarella and cheddar cheese.
Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly (around 10 minutes).

Week 20: Chocolate Truffle Cake (for my Mom, Part II)

My little brother turned 21 about a month ago. We drank. That is all.

"little" brother and me at a wedding

Before we drank, we ate. Mom was visiting Boston, so Dad came out to Ann Arbor and took Christopher and I out to dinner at Grizzly Peak. I'm always a fan, but more so tonight. Christopher eats at least twice what I do. After we stuffed ourselves with delicious dinners, the waitress came over and asked if we wanted dessert. Christopher immediately asked for the Chocolate Truffle Cake. 

It. Was. Epic.

It was a smooth and chocolately and epic. Did I mention that already? GP serves it with espresso ice cream, but I'm not a fan of coffee. Once I tasted this cake I immediately knew this was what I would be making for Mother's Day dessert. 

Look at that cake, don't you want a slice?

We topped it off with some homemade hot fudge sauce. Make this. Right now. Epic.

Since this made a 9-inch cake, we didn't finish it. It is not possible for 4 people finish this cake in one sitting unless it's all you're eating. I left a couple extra slices at home and took the rest to work. My coworkers quite enjoyed having cake during lunch on Monday. 

Chocolate Truffle Cake
originally from Gluten Free Goddess

1 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon vanilla extract* or see notes
7 organic free-range eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the inside bottom of a 9-inch Springform cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. Wrap a large piece of foil around the outside of the pan, covering the bottom and sides, to catch any leaking drips. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, gently heat the cream over low heat. When the cream is fairly hot, melt the chocolate chips by adding them slowly to the pan as you whisk. Add the butter, in pieces. Whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted. Add the vanilla extract. As soon as the mixture is melted, smooth, and glossy remove it from the heat.

Using a wire whisk attachment, beat the eggs, light brown sugar and sea salt until the eggs are foamy and doubled in volume, roughly 3-4 minutes.

Slowly add the cooling chocolate mixture to the eggs, and beat gently until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for one hour, until the cake is set and cracked. It will still appear a bit loose in the center, underneath. This is fine.

Place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool. When the cake is close to room temperature, lightly cover and chill the cake overnight.

Before serving, gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan using a thin flexible spatula. Release the Springform clasp and remove the ring. Place the cake on a cake plate.

*Note: When the recipe says to wrap the bottom of the springform pan with foil, do it. I don't care if your springform pan doesn't have a history of leaking, it will leak and you don't want this cake on the bottom of your oven.*

Week 19: Chiles Rellenos (for my mom, Part I)


I love Mother's Day like a fat kid loves cake. 

Like Dobby loves socks. 

Like zombies like brains. 

Like vegan zombies like grains (ha!). 

Mother's Day means coming home on Saturday and spending the afternoon and evening putting together all the dishes that we're going to be eating for brunch the next day. On this years menu:

Baked Blintz

French Toast Casserole

Chesapeake Crab Quiche

Ham & Red Pepper Egg Muffins

Egg Strata

Monkey Bread

Fresh Fruit

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Does that list sound epic to you? Cause it is, believe me. I'm a sucker for brunch, so this is the ideal meal for me. Sweet and savory come together in a meal that should be the standard. Breakfast? Who needs it, lunch? Who cares! Brunch is where it's at. Yo. 

Three years ago I decided to make my mom dinner on Mother's Day. She spends all morning putting dishes into the oven and taking them out, making sure everyone has something to eat, cleaning up and then heading outside to work in her yard. It's the least I could do to make her some dinner. This year, I got overly ambitious. 

For whatever reason I got chiles rellenos in my head. I thought about them for at least two weeks before finally saying, yes, this is what I will make. I've had them only once before. That story involves a lot of tequila, my Aunt, and some coworkers (one of which was very underage). That's a story for another day.

The chiles are delicious. I really liked them, just give yourself more than an hour to make them. I did not manage my time well and Mom ended up pitching in and making the rice for me. Thanks Mom! Getting the seeds out of the pepper was horribly hard, stuffing them and "sewing" them back together was hard, frying things is kind of hard. I'm going to leave the chiles rellenos to the professionals.There are three parts to the recipe, the filling, the tomato sauce and the rest of the filling. That doesn't make sense, but it will soon I think.

Chiles Rellenos
originally from Closet Cooking
4 large poblano peppers (or 6 medium or 8 small)
4 eggs (separated)
2 tablespooons flour
1 cup flour
oil for frying
2 cups ranchero sauce (warm, see below)
1 cup jack and cheddar cheese (grated)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)

1. Broil the poblano peppers on the top oven rack until blackend on all sides.
2. Place the peppers in a plastic bag and let them sweat for 10-15 minutes before peeling the skins.
3. Make a small cut along the length of the pepper and scoop out the seeds.
4. Fill the peppers with some of the picadillo and seal the peppers back up with toothpicks.
5. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then beat in the flour followed by the egg yolks one at a time.
6. Dredge the peppers in the flour and then dip them in the egg white batter.
7. Fry the peppers in oil heated to 350F until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
8. Place the chiles rellenos in a baking dish, pour the ranchero sauce over them and sprinkle with cheese.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese has melted and the sides are bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
10. Serve garnished with cilantro.

(makes 4 servings) 
1 pound ground pork
2 cups Ranchero Sauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pimento stuffed green olives (chopped)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the pork in a pan and drain any excess grease.
2. Add the tomato sauce, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, vinegar, raisins and olives.
3. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
4. Mix in the almonds and season with salt and pepper.

Ranchero Sauce(makes 4 servings)
 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 small onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 jalapeno (seeded and diced)
1 handful cilantro (chopped)
2 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro in a food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the tomato mixture, chicken broth and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

All of this wasn't quite enough for me to do, so I also made Mexican Rice. Yummy. 

"Authentic" Mexican Rice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp Caldo de Tomate (I use Knorr brand)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder

In a mixing bowl whisk together water, Caldo de Tomate, optional onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and chili powder, set aside. Drizzle oil into a non-stick saucepan and heat over medium high heat.  Add rice and cook several minutes, stirring constantly until rice is slightly puffed and golden. Add water mixture to rice then stir and cover pan with lid.  Reduce heat to low and allow rice to simmer for 20-25 minutes until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff rice with a fork, cover with lid and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve warm. 

Here is my mom with Arvilla, our wonderful friend, who will be turning 102 years old in August. She's fabulous. She still comes to Mother's Day brunch and Thanksgiving dinner each year and eats a heaping plate full of food. I hope that I have such a healthy appetite when I'm her age.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Week 18: Garlic Beef with Green Beans

I don't have much to write about this recipe. It's not my favorite. The best part was the sauce over the rice. The beef wasn't tender, the green beans were not cooked in a way that made them edible to me.  I would eat the sauce and rice all by themselves. Yum.  

If you really like green beans, try this recipe. If you can afford to spring for some really good beef, try this recipe. It just wasn't for me.

Garlic Beef & Green Beans
originally from Crepes of Wrath

2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
2 pounds sirloin/top round/filet/flank steak (whatever you have on hand), sliced into long, thin strips
1 onion, diced
1 pound green beans, cleaned and de-stemmed
1/4 cup water (if needed)
Rice, cooked according to package directions (for serving)
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive or peanut oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup Hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha (I used 2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup water

Slice your beef into long, thin strips. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive or peanut oil in a large saute pan over high heat and add in your beef. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until almost completely cooked (it can still be a little pink, as it will continue to cook a bit on the plate) and remove with a slotted spatula onto a plate with paper towels so the juices drain a bit.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons of juices out of your pan and add the diced onion. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat until softened, then add in the cleaned and de-stemmed green beans. Add in 1/4 cup of water, if needed (just enough so the beans can steam), and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

While you cook the onions and green beans, heat 1 tablespoon of olive or peanut oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat, then add in your minced garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, until fragrant, then add in the rest of the sauce ingredients. Stir to combine, then cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes until bubbling and slightly thickened.

Add the sauce to the pan with the onions and green beans and cook over medium-high heat until thickened a bit more (about 3 minutes). Add in the beef and cook until heated through (about 3 minutes). Serve over rice or more vegetables. Serves 4 (or serves 5 when served over rice).

Week 17: Roast Chicken Risotto

I like to cook.

My roommate likes to cook.

My roommates boyfriend likes to cook.

This leads to some very delicious dinners that we cook together!

I'm the baker. I like measuring things out and knowing exactly how much of something is going into the bowl. That's why my kitchen scale is probably one of my favorite kitchen tools.

My roommate is Sarah. Yes, we're both called Sarah. It only leads to confusion every great once in a while. She'll come home and rummage through the cupboards and the fridge and come up with these amazing concoctions. I can't do that.

Her boyfriend, Elliot, who is practically my roommate too, will start talking about food and zeroes in on exactly what we want.

The day of roommate dinner Sarah and Elliot picked me up from work and we started driving to the grocery store. On our way, Elliot started naming things off. Did we want Mediterranean? Italian? Did we want pasta? Chicken? What veggies? We narrowed it down to risotto (since I'd never had it) and peas and chicken. Elliot whipped out the iPhone and we had a recipe. We used a rotisserie chicken since it was already cooked. We also added a lemon's worth of lemon juice and it made it very delicious.

Roast Chicken Risotto

1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
350g risotto rice
1 large glass white wine
1½  cups chicken stock , heated to simmering (vegetable stock can be substituted)
a large handful frozen peas , defrosted
cooked chicken, torn into strips, no skin
50g Parmesan, grated
juice of one lemon

Melt a knob of butter in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. Stir in the rice until coated with butter.

Add the wine and stir until evaporated. Add the stock a ladle at a time until the rice is cooked but still with a little bite (add the peas and chicken in the last 5 minutes of cooking to heat through). 

The rice should be creamy but firm to the bite.
Stir in the Parmesan.

* Note: 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock ARE NOT enough. I think we ended up using an entire box of chicken stock. Just add what you think is necessary.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 16: Italian Herb Skillet Bread

I like bread. A lot. When someone asks the question, "If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?" My answer is always bread. I mean, think about all the lovely things that are bread. Donuts, bagels, scones, rolls, etc. 


I found this recipe on Pinterest.

Seeing such tasty bread things makes me want to make them immediately. I haven't had good luck with making my own bread, so I resorted to using frozen rolls and making them fancy. 

I also got to use my cast iron skillet for the first time. I bought it for super cheap a few years ago and haven't had the opportunity to use it. 

I was hoping that these would be a little more dense than what they turned out to be. It's like Olive Garden. They advertise the soup and breadsticks and salad thing and it's so exciting because, never ending bread! Then you bite into the breadstick and it's just air. That's what these were like. Airy. Good, but airy. They needed more butter too.

Italian Herb Skillet Bread
originally from the Rhodes website

7 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp butter, melted
Spray a small iron skillet with cooking spray. Place 7 frozen rolls in the skillet, leaving plenty of room for rising. Cover and allow to rise for several hours. Uncover rolls. 
Combine herbs and mix with melted butter. Brush rolls with half of the melted butter and herbs. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired. 
Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rolls are a deep golden brown on top.
Brush with additional butter and serve in skillet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Week 15: Warm Strawberry Bacon Orzo Salad

I've been dreaming about salad. 

Let me repeat that.

I've been dreaming about salad.

This is not like me. This is a splendid day. I guess it's been a few days, but still.

I just wanted spinach and dressing and something sweet all tossed together into a salad.

I spent two days searching for this salad. I knew I had it somewhere. It was tucked away in an internet folder waiting to be found, and find it I did. 

It includes bacon. That was probably the first clue that I would love it. Part two...strawberries. LOVE. I love strawberries. I might have mentioned that before. Goat cheese I can pass on and oh, did I mention that I like pecans too? This salad has all those things in it. It's like one of those commercials where they tell you something, but wait! There's more!

Strawberries and spinach!

But wait, there's more!

Orzo and pecans!

But wait, there's more!

Beware, the amount of red onion that it calls for is pretty potent. I would recommend less. I still smell like it and I ate this an hour ago.

Warm Strawberry Bacon Orzo Salad
originally from How Sweet it Is

1/2 cup uncooked whole wheat orzo (or any other grain)
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 cup whole pecans
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups raw spinach
4 large strawberries, sliced
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
fresh basil for garnish
salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add bacon. Fry until golden brown and crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Add pecans and toast for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally so they do not burn. Remove and drain on a paper towel. In the meantime, boil water for orzo and cook according to directions.

Add sliced red onion to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt and stir to coat with bacon grease. Saute until onions are soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add in garlic and spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Add in strawberries and orzo and mix to coat. Season with salt and pepper, then add in pecans and bacon. Remove from heat and stir in crumbled goat cheese. Top with fresh basil to garnish if you’d like. Serve immediately. It tastes good cold too!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Week 14: Strawberry Banana Cream Baked Oatmeal Squares

I don't really deal well with change. The same orange carpet, or rust as my mom would say, has been in my room for as long as I have been around. I like the way things are. When I do decide that something needs to change, it must change immediately or the moment will pass and it won't happen. I find that there are many things in life that we can't control, so keeping the same carpet or keeping all my pens lined up on my desk all day is a comfort. Sounds a little autistic of me (I can hear my mom saying this right now).

I eat oatmeal every day. Well, every weekday. I eat it with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pecans. It's delicious. However, sometimes I change it up. Moments of change, remember?

I do love me some strawberries and they were sort of cheap at the store last week, so I bought them and some bananas and threw these together. 

Also, I'm addicted to The Vampire Diaries. I'll keep watching it until one of my two favorite characters stops taking off his shirt...or he starts getting flabby. I'm shallow like that. 

Strawberry Banana Cream Baked Oatmeal Squares
serves 4-6

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 medium ripe banana, mashed
3/4 cup chopped strawberries (about 4 large berries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray – I used a 10×7 dish, but an 8×8, 9×9, round cake pan or another size close to that will work too.

In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, mixing until combine. Measure out the cup of milk, then whisk in egg and vanilla extract. Add half and half to the milk mixture, then stir it into the dry oats. Mix in mashed banana and melted butter, then chopped strawberries, then scoop the batter into the baking dish. Bake for 30-33 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the top is set. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with strawberries, bananas and milk or half and half infused with vanilla extract.

Note: If served immediately, squares may not hold together perfectly. If they are left to cool, they should hold together fine and be able to be eaten with your hands.