Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weekend Round-Up

Hello Foodie Friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and Monday. Well, my knitting is almost done. I have 500 stitches around and it goes to 548, so stay tuned...

Anyway tonight is Pasta with pesto (from Trader Joes) with spinach and tomatoes and last night was fried rice (again and yum). But, if I go back to this weekend I do have a recipe to share. On Saturday the wonderful boyfriend made me dinner for a change. A lovely treat, steak and rice. On Sunday, I made my mom's Asian inspired tuna steak and because we had rice the night before and didn't want it again, I randomly served it with a potato and onion hash, that was extremely delicious. While, I don't necessarily recommend the pairing, both were very good.

Easy Potato Hash:

2 Medium golden potatoes (or however many you want)
1 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1/4 can of beer
Salt, pepper

Chop the potatoes as small as you possible can, I'm talking tiny. Heat olive oil in a pan. toss in potatoes and some salt and pepper and let brown a bit. Lower the heat and add in the beer, it should be enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but the potatoes should not be submerged. Chop onions and garlic toss in the pan. Salt and pepper to taste and let the potatoes cook through. That's it your done. So easy. So good.

Mom's Tuna:

2 Tuna steaks
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Tereyaki Sauce
3-4 slices Pickled ginger
Wasabi paste
Black sesame seeds
Olive oil

Mix the sauce in a sauce in a serving bowl by mixing the soy, tereyaki, ginger, and a good squeezing of wasabi paste. Adjust until you like the flavor. Then pour some sauce on the tuna steaks. Enough to coat each side. Cover the tuna in the sesame seeds. Heat a pan with the oil. Put steaks in and let brown (a few minutes) then flip over and brown the other side. Take tuna out of the man and cut into long strips. Brown the raw sides of these strips in the pan. This just takes a minute. Take out tuna slice into little pieces so that it's pink in the middle and sesamed around. Serve with sauce on the side. Enjoy

Happy Eating!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Fried Rice

I am looking forward to another lazy weekend, I am cooking and crafting bound. But until then...

Let's talk about fried rice.

It is probably my favorite quick dinner, ever. I usually make it with chicken, but every once in awhile I have it with steak (especially if there is some left over in the freezer), so good. When you home make fried rice, it does not taste like what you get at the Chinese restaurant, it is so much more magical!

Fried Rice:
1 Yellow Onion
1 Tbsp of butter
2 Garlic cloves
1 cup of white rice
2 cups of boiling water
1 chicken breast or steak (optional)
1 Egg
Soy sauce
Salt, pepper, chili powder

Spicy Mayo

Salt and boil the water and put in rice, reduce heat and simmer with lid on. Dice onion and garlic. Heat butter in the pan and throw onion and garlic in. Salt and pepper. Let brown a little, but not too much. Let cook down. Slice the chicken or steak into bite size pieces. Salt, pepper, and chili powder the meat and put in pan. Mix in a little soy sauce (and oil if it looks to dry) (if you are not using meat do not put soy in now). Let meat brown a little and then reduce heat and cover. When meat is cooked and rice is cooked add the egg to the onion/meat mixtures and scramble. Add the rice and mix around. Add soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. When it is the flavor you like, turn the heat on the pan all the way up and let bottom of the rice brown and crispy. Mix the Spicy mayo in the mean time by combining mayo with siracha, to taste. You can mix this in or serve it on the side. Turn heat down and mix the crispy rice parts threw out. Serve, right out of the pan.

Yum Yum Yum.

Happy Eating!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Craft Pictures!

Craft Photos! As promised, here are some pictures of my crafting adventures from this weekend. This one below is some highlights of my projects. Then I have individual photos with instructions, templates, and links to Martha Stewart's website below.

This is two heart cards I made. The one on the left is just one card stock heart cut out and two paper cut outs (one small, and one the size of the card stock). Then I just glued them together. The outside of the card matches the small heart. It was very simple to make, but I love pretty paper and think it looks quite pretty. The one on the right, is fabric paper, hole punched in the shape of heart and white ribbon stitched through. (I found some sort of instructions on the Martha Stewart site, but I couldn't really follow them, so I just winged it. So I'll say, inspired my Martha).

Once again inspired by Martha, she has a template, which you totally don't need (just cut out different size hearts) and I couldn't figure out how she was asking me to fold the base of the card so I just messed around with it, until it folded correctly.

I made a few of these and I'm going to make some more. Here are the instructions (thanks Martha). You fill them with candy and hang them around. Fun!

And Finally...

This you do need a template and instructions for! It came out really well and is so pretty! I think this one might be for a special someone. lol.

Crafting was a blast! And I have so much supplies left, I see more crafting in my future. I found some other cute idea. Plus, I started making hand made envelopes for some of the cards and need to make more! I wonder if you can mail them? I definitely need another craft-filled weekend. I am also on the last section of my knitting and booking along! I can't wait to finish this and start a new project!

Well I'd say happy eating, but I didn't talk at all about food (a first) so happy crafting!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weekend Cooks and Crafts

Well, I had a very marvelous, relaxing weekend. I love a long weekend (who doesn't). Plenty of time to cook and craft! I only cooked twice (had to enjoy some nights out and football), but I crafted and knitted a ton to make up for it.

On Friday, I made fried rice, which is one of my staples and go a to quick dinner. But, I will talk about it another time.

First crafting! On Saturday I hit the clearance sale at Micheal's hard. I bought a ton of paper, card stock, glitter, ribbon and other general supplies. And then spent the weekend (in addition to knitting, of course) making cards and frou-frou Valentine's Day crafts (mostly inspired from the Martha Stewart website's Valentine's day section). Now I am not a major Valentine's day person, but I do love to craft and I love hand made cards. I will post some pictures of them later today (if I can). The cat also enjoyed crafting, he kept jumping on the paper to stop it from moving, very adorable.

Monday night, which was this week's Sunday (roasting night!), I made pot roast and mash potatoes (using the left over butter milk from the corn muffins). It was in the slow cooker, so not really roasting, but has that patient, lazy Sunday, flavorful feel to it. Plus the meat is guaranteed to be moist and no knives are necessary to eat it.

Pot Roast:
2-3 Lbs of chuck roast
2 yellow onions
2-3 Tbsp of Flour
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 leeks
3 Carrots
3 garlic cloves
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Parsley
Avocado Oil (or another high heat oil)
2 Cups beef stock
1/2 a large can of grape tomatoes
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.

Heat the oil in a pan. Salt and pepper the meat, and rub with a sprinkling of fresh thyme. Then lightly flour the the roast, then rub brown sugar all over as well. Brown meat of both sides in the hot pan, so that sugar caramelizes (a minute or 2 on both sides). Put meat in the slow cooker. Give onions, garlic and leeks a rough chop. Lower heat on pan, and slightly brown the onions, garlic and leeks, let cook down on low for about 5 minutes. In the mean time, chop carrots and put in slow cooker. Add stock, and tomatoes and juice (from the can) to slow cooker as well. Add thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. When the onion mixture has cooked down a bit, add that as well. Stir so that meat is more on the top and veggies are all mixed in. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Take meat out of the slow cooker and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing (it will fall apart like slow cooker goodness should). Serve meat with the veggies and gravy on the side or on top (and mash potatoes on the side)

Happy Eating.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let's Get Saucy

So, last night my wonderful boyfriend took met to Limoncello in West Chester. It was extremely excellent. I was very impressed with their sauce, which is a difficult task, as I am a total sauce snob. I love red sauce. I love to eat it and I love to make it. I do many variations on my classic sauce, thick or thin, chunky or smooth, spicy or mild, wine or no wine, meat or no meat), but they all start the same way. A can. You may think it's cheating, but you can't get even half way decent tomatoes in winter. And all it does is save you from boiling and pureeing the tomatoes, which I will do in summer (sometimes), for absolutely fresh sauce, but if your lazy, or you can't find succulent tomatoes, a can will do just fine. Make it right and no one will no the difference.

Basic Tomato Sauce:

1 Yellow onion
2-4 garlic cloves
Olive oil
3-4 oz of tomato paste (about half a small can)
1 Large Can of Tomato Sauce
Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes.
Fresh herbs or dried (any number of): oregano, parsley, basil, sage, thyme (or you can use Italian seasoning)
Fresh Cilantro (sounds weird, but trust me (ok it's optional)

Dice the onion and garlic as small as you can, season with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic and onions until onions are soft and translucent. Add tomato paste to the onions and swirl around, add the can of tomato sauce. Stir around add dry herbs and red pepper flakes to taste, you may also want additional salt and pepper. If using fresh herb add a little more than half now and save the rest for later. Season to taste, and let sauce simmer until the pasta is ready. Right before serving mix in the rest of the fresh herbs.

Voila it is that easy. (I told you it was simple). Feel free to kick the spice up a notch with more red pepper flakes and chili powder. Or fancy it up (and thin it out) with your favorite red wine. Simmer meat balls (homemade, of course) in the sauce, sausage pieces, or ground beef. If you want it thicker, use stewed tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes) and any fresh veggies you like (I like pepper's and mushrooms).

Just because I'm feeling generous (and because I'm thinking about meatballs) I will tell you how I make my meatballs.

1 Pound of Ground beef (85-5)
1 Pound ground lamb
1 small yellow onion
1 egg
1/2 cup (approximately) of bread crumbs
Salt, pepper, garlic powder
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a cookie pan (Pam is fine). Chop the onion as small as possible, and mix with the meat. Add seasonings and mix around. Mix the cheese (as much as you want) with the breadcrumbs. Add eggs and breadcrumb mixture. Stir with your hands until everything is combined and distributed evenly. Make into balls, as small or large as you like. Put on the cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. Cook at 375 for about 10 minutes, then finish cooking covered in the sauce.

Now I want spaghetti and meatballs...

Happy Eating.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Bit about Baking

Before I get to the baking, I just calculated it out and I have 37 rows (including binding off) until my blanket is finished. That does not seem like a lot, but I currently have 404 stitches around and it has to go to 548 (I started with 4). I also am only on my 3rd skein of yarn (out of an estimated 10ish). I still think I am more than half way, It goes much faster now, sort of. I am trying not to lose motivation, but my mind is starting to wander to other projects, knitting and non (a hat, a cat valentine's present, quilling, to name a few). But I am determined to finish. It is by no means perfect, but it is the largest and most difficult thing I have made and it looks pretty darn good. My knitting has improved greatly because of it.

So last night I induldged my first love in the kitchen, baking. I made Jalapeño Corn Muffins from a recipe on the Martha Stewart website. I made a double recipe, but I only had two jalapeños (which is what the single recipe called for), I also used reduced fat butter milk instead of regular buttermilk and low fat sour cream (I always do). The recipe says to bake at 375 for 25 minutes, but mine took about 20 minutes (maybe even a little less).

A bit about the muffins, they use buttermilk. Usually, when a recipe calls for buttermilk, I use the powdered variety (it lasts longer), but I decided to spring for some real buttermilk this time because it was the main liquid in the recipe and there was a small container at the store. The muffins are super moist and creamy (the liquids being buttermilk, sour cream, and melted butter, so that is not surprising) but they aren't greasy. They are sweeter than you think they are going to be, but with a spicy kick at the end (not too spicy though). I brought most of them into work and they went fast. Overall they were very tasty.

So, this was a recipe I had never used before. The first time I bake something, I like to follow the recipe as closely as possible (sometimes I choose to do lower fat substitutions if I think it will not effect the baking, like this recipe, which had 3 different sources of fat (butter milk, sour cream, and butter), since reduced fat butter milk and sour cream have a similar consistency to their higher fat siblings, they are fine to substitute. If a recipe calls for whole milk, it's probably not a good idea to use skim the first time). Then, I first decide whether it is worth making again (which it was) and what could I do to make it better, starting with small, flavoring changes then working my way up to consistency (and other things that would effect the true heart of the recipe) if needed.

This recipe is very good, next time I make it I will use at least the full amount of jalapeños, but probably more (3 peppers for a single recipe) and I will either slightly decrease the amount of sugar or increase the amount of salt or both. I will have to look/taste how it effects the recipe. So, you will just have to stay tuned for batch 2 and see how it turns out.

Tonight and tomorrow are both dinner out (a birthday celebration and a genuine date). Then we will have to see what the rest of the week brings. Oh and in case you were wondering, I did not start my early seeds last weekend, it was to hectic, but I will be starting them soon (hopefully).

Happy Eating!


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Quest for Crispy Skin

For me, the difficult part of roasting a chicken is the skin. I am good with flavor and consistently cook not-dry chicken, but the crispy skin has always been my issue (and, therefore my goal).

On Sunday, after a weekend (plus Thursday) of celebrations, we all went to my dad's house for dinner, which was going to be a roast chicken (a gigantic 7 and a half pound bird, I might add). I said I would make the chicken, I had been thinking about roasting one all weekend anyway, and this one was free (well, free for me). The skin (minus the bottom because my dad did not have a rack to put in the pan) was crispy perfection (thanks to a temperature assist from my mom). The skin, was completely gone by the time I got the chicken (thanks, little brother), but I stole some off the boyfriend's plate and it was yummy.

Insides and outsides:

4 small onions
6ish cloves of garlic
Dried Thyme and Rosemary
Coarse Salt
1 can of chicken stock
A whole chicken (obviously)
the inside parts of the chicken (for gravy)
2 tbsp of flour
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Give the onions a rough chop, save about half a small onion for inside the chicken, and line the pan with the rest. Salt and pepper the onions. Smash and set aside to cloves of garlic (just put your knife on top of them and give them a little squish. Chop the rest of the garlic, sprinkle about half in the bottom of the pan with the onions. Remove the package of insides from the chicken and set aside. Wash the chicken and pat dry. Rub olive oil over the bottom of the chicken and season with coarse salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the the seasoned chicken. Put the chicken in the pan, season side down (on top of the onions, or on a rack if you have one). Season the inside of the chicken with salt, pepper and herbs, stuff the reserved onion and garlic in the chicken. Season the top side of the chicken in the same way. Put both halves of the juiced lemon in the chicken. Add about a quarter of the can of stock to the bottom of pan, it should just cover the onions so they don't burn completely and stick to the pan.

Cook for 20-40 minutes at 400 degrees, this is really a judgement call, based on how the skin looks and the size of the bird. Then lower the temperature to 325 for the remainder of the cooking, if skin isn't brown enough, raise the temperature to 375 for the last 15 minutes or so (thanks, mom). Baste from the bottom of the pan and remaining stock (save about a quarter of the can for gravy)

To make gravy:

Butter the bottom of a skillet. Add the reserved inside parts of the pan and brown on both sides. When, they are browned, add another chunk of butter and the flour, whisk until combined (hey, you made rue). Add leftover stock and reduce heat and let simmer until chicken is done. Remove all the inside parts from the gravy pan, when chicken is cooked. Take the chicken out of the roasting pan and pour all the juices and onions into the gravy pan. Stir together.

Our dinner was excellent, a great last meal for my brother (who is leaving for Italy today, I am jealous and will visit). I don't really know what I will be making this week, but tonight I will not be cooking, I will be baking. Jalapeño Corn Muffins, to be exact. Stay tuned...

Happy Eating!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Tapas People

I will get to the Tapas in a minute, but first, Truffled Pasta.

It was delicious, the boyfriend walked back into the kitchen for more, and was so upset when he saw the empty pan (I let him finish my bowl, though). I don't really have a recipe for you, I was not even close to keeping track to how much of each ingredient went in, but I will tell you what I used and a little about the truffle oil. First of all, we were out of spaghetti (whoops) so my choices were whole wheat elbows or left-over ziti noodles, I went with ziti (something about elbows and truffles seems so very wrong). Then it took me 15 minutes to find the extra virgin olive oil, which was literally sitting in front of me on the counter the entire time. Finally I was ready for action. I sautéed some mushrooms, garlic and a whole lot of spinach (I love watching a giant thing of spinach shrink down to almost nothing). I set the spinach asides and threw a good amount of the elusive olive oil in the pan with the mushrooms, and added some more salt pepper and red pepper flakes, then a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water (starchy goodness) and some chicken Better than Base. Better that base is a small jar of extra concentrated chicken (beef, lobster, etc) something, it's like a bouillon but 1000 times better (and can be found in the same aisle in your local super market). Then I tossed everything together, pasta, oil-sauce-mushrooms, spinach and added just a touch of the white truffle oil. Delicious.

The truffle oil is intense, like really intense. Take a good whiff of it before you use it, and you'll see what I mean. It doesn't really smell so great in the bottle, way to intense mushroominess (and I know how mushrooms are grown, disturbing). So a very small amount does just fine. Use to little, you can always add more, it's much harder to add less. The flavor (in small doses) is so wonderful though and rich and decadent (like eating tasty gold, I think its more than gold, oz for oz). So a special thanks to the boyfriend, who went to 3 stores to find it for me. A fantastic gift.

So now a little about Tapas (because that's what we had last night).

We are tapas people, my family that is. Food is meant for sharing, only the aggressive get full, let someone (usually me, because of my knowledge of the Spanish language and loud voice) order everything, and on you go. I did not know we were going to a tapas restaurant last night (my brother's Bon Voyage dinner, before he heads to Rome for 6 months, oh college days). The boyfriend kept telling me it was and I kept saying no, no, no (the restaurant was Distrito, by the way, the Mexican themed restaurant byrecently named iron chef Jose Garces restaurant, in University City), but I was wrong, it is most certainly tapas.

One of my brother's friends looked at the menu and went, I wish this was in English (some of it was, most was in pseudo-Spanish), then the adults tried to pass around 1 set of reading glasses (for 6 people). The waiter came (bearing margaritas, of course) and recommended we do the tasting menu, which was immediately vetoed (what do we look like, amateurs). My dad looks at the waiter, points at me and says she'll be ordering. I ordered for everyone, we ate (kobe tacos, hamachi ceviche, and tres leches cake were my favorites), we drank, and were merry. Oh and I tried rabbit for the first time, but it was mole rabbit, and it just tasted like chicken, so I will have to try again. The boyfriend keeps calling us tapas people (think noodle people from Kung Foo Panda) because every out meal he has had with my family has been tapas (so I guess that's fair, we do love our tapas). My dad only said, all she needs is an unlimited credit card or you better make a lot of money to the poor boyfriend like 4 times, so we'll call that a victory.

Well I am done cooking for the week, wedding festivities bound. We will see what the new week brings on Sunday, but maybe I will try to make a tres leches cake of my very own...

Happy Eating!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Success in a Slow Cooker

While the debate rages on about whose slow cooker I used to make the chili, there is no debate that it a, it was in fact chili and the b, it was good.

So, it wasn't your classic chili and certainly would be disqualified from any chili competition but it sure was tasty and super easy to make. I will share my pseudo-recipe with you.

1 Yellow Onion (or half if it is very large)
1 Green Pepper
2 Garlic Cloves
2 to 3 chillies of your favorite variety (I used 2 greens and a shrivel-y orange one)
1 29 oz can of stewed tomatoes with juices (the big can)
1 29 oz can of tomato puree (the big can again)
1 cup of dried black beans
1 cup of dried kidney beans
1 to 1.5 pounds of lean chuck stew meat (trust me)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and a whole lot of cumin
Sour cream, cheese, and cilantro for serving

Dump the 2 cans of tomato product into a Croc Pot. Dice the onion, pepper, chillies and garlic and throw them in the Croc Pot as well. Rinse the beans in cold water (ignore the instructions on the back of the bag, they are not for a slow cooker, just rinse in cold water and drain) then throw them in the pot. Stir everything together. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin (use a lot of this) to taste. The flavor will intensify and be less tomato-y when its cooked, but it should still taste good. When you are satisfied that you have seasoned it enough, season the meat with salt, pepper and cumin then throw it in. Stir again. Put the lid on and cook on low for 8-10 hours (I'm guessing 5-6 hours on high would also work, but I didn't try it). Mine cooked for about 10, because I was at work and the mystery owned Croc Pot did not have an automatic go to warm on it, if your's does feel free to use it after 8 or 9 hours, but if it doesn't don't worry about it. Serve with sour cream, cheese and a little fresh cilantro (if you have it handy) and some bread if you, like me cannot eat a meal without bread.

It was so tasty, and the meat just falls apart and is so tender, you can eat it with a spoon. Definitely something I will be making again!

Happy Eating


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Blog Makeover!

Ok so I haven't written in awhile (and I just deleted out my old posts, to start fresh, and in case they said anything incriminating), this is hard and I am not that interesting. So, I have decided that my that my blog needs focus. Therefore, I will focus on 3 areas of my life that I love to bother my friends with (and most of them don't want to hear about) cooking, my "garden", and knitting. Clearly, I was born in the wrong decade.

So to update on all of them:

Knitting: I am making a gigantic blanket, it is consuming my evenings, in the best possible way, I got the pattern from a blog I like. After some initial hardships, its smooth sailing through calm seas. It is getting really big, it now keeps my lap warm while I knit it. I also recently stocked up on supplies from Loop, my favorite online/in town yarn shop. I will be making a chunky hat next (if I ever finish the blanket).

Gardening: Not a ton to report, I have some supplies to do a container herb garden. I will be planting some of the seeds on Sunday (hopefully) to give them time to establish before they are moved to the deck.

Finally, Cooking: (the only one my darling boyfriend wants to hear about, as in what's for dinner). This week is a short week, for cooking anyways, 3 nights. Last night I made Stir fry, with those Chinese yellow noodles, I never realized that they were made out of wheat flour, healthier than I thought, and a super ton of vegetables. I used, snow peas, onion, baby corn, peppers, chilies, and mushrooms. I definitely over did it on the chilies though, because the sauce I made was spicy too, next time no chilies. The sauce was a made up concoction from Siracha (a staple in the apartment), soy sauce, olive oil, lime juice, and a splash of red wine vinegar, the sauce was excellent (if I do say so myself, but next time NO CHILIES, my mouth is still recovering)

This morning I set up in the slow cooker a "chili". It's really more of a stew though. It has a nice tomato base with black and pinto beans, lean beef chunks, peppers and onions. We will see how it turns out, because I have never used dried beans before and I am not 100 percent sure I did it right. The instructions on the bag say you have to do a whole soaking process to the beans, but the recipe I started with (before I mutated it beyond recognition, as usual) said to rinse the beans off and then throw them in, so that's what I did. I'll let you know how it goes. I plan to serve it with sour cream and a bit of fresh cilantro.

Finally on Wednesday, I will be making a spaghetti with spinach and mushrooms in a truffle olive oil sauce!!! I am so excited to use the truffle oil (which was a Christmas stocking stuffer from the bf. I don't know exactly what will be in the sauce, seasoning wise, but I will let you know after I see how it turns out.

The rest of the week will be occupied with my brother's going away party and a wedding, so that takes us to next week!

Happy Eating!!