Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies

Really, look at those pictures. How could I not try this??

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies
from Pioneer Woman

  • 20 whole fresh jalapenos, 2-3 inches each
  • 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 lb bacon, sliced into thirds

  1. If you have them, slip on some latex gloves and possibly a face mask for the pepper prep. Cut jalapenos in half length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane. Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with a bacon piece (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. At this point, you can freeze them, uncooked, in a Ziploc bag for later use.
  2. Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to the squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it.
  3. Serve immediately, or at room temperature.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Of course, you can make as many or as few as you want. Please don't make all 40 if you're the only one eating them.
  • The toothpick is kind of finicky; I don't bother. If you wrap the bacon so that the ends are underneath the jalapeno it keeps everything in place perfectly.

Verdict: Of course, these are ridiculously good. Do I even need to say it? A word of warning, however: jalapenos vary greatly in hotness. I've eaten plenty that were perfectly mild, and one or two that I thought were going to kill me. To play it safe, now I nibble a tiny bit off the very end to check for fiery burningness, and if it's bad, I give it to Dan to "dispose" of.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tomato Bread Soup

I had been looking forward to trying out this recipe since I read it. It sounded so appealing: fresh in-season tomatoes, spicy sausage, silky bread. So when I picked up a bunch of lovely tomatoes at the farm stand it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Tomato Bread Soup
via Wednesday Chef

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 4 oz chorizo (casings removed), cubed
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 lbs ripe tomatoes, peeled
  • generous pinch saffron threads
  • 2 c crustless country bread, finely diced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T minced flat-leaf parsley

  1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Add garlic and cook over low heat till soft. Add chorizo, raise heat and cook until starting to brown. Stir in paprika. Remove from heat.
  2. Place a sieve over the pan, halve tomatoes horizontally and hold cut side down over sieve as you gently squeeze to remove seeds and allow juice to fall into pan. Remove sieve. Reserve tomato pulp. Heat juice in pan until warm, add saffron and set aside off heat 10 minutes.
  3. Finely chop tomato pulp by hand or in food processor. Add to pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in bread. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to stand, off heat, stirring from time to time, until room temperature, about 30 minutes. Fold in parsley and serve.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I discovered at the last minute that our leftover good bread was kind of bad, so we substituted regular white sandwich bread.
  • I hate parsley. We left it out.

Verdict: This was okay. I think the substitution of regular sandwich bread was a mistake, because it tasted more slimy than silky. Also, there was a strange plasticky flavor to the soup, which could have come from either the chorizo or the saffron; I suspect the saffron. Next time I use it I'll be more cautious about adding a "generous pinch".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crockpot Cowboy Stew

Another soup that Dan picked out around bid season time. I try to keep him well fed.

Crockpot Cowboy Stew
via Year of Slowcooking

  • 1 lb browned hamburger or turkey
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2 cans whole baby potatoes, drained
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can Ranch Style beans
  • 1 cup water
  • sliced jalapeno peppers for garnish (optional)

  1. Brown the hamburger with the chopped garlic cloves on the stove top. Drain the fat. Let sit in the pan for a bit to cool.
  2. Open all of the cans, and dump them into the crockpot. Drain the corn and the potatoes, but add the rest of the can liquid to the crockpot.
  3. After adding all of the can contents, add the browned meat and a cup of water. Stir with a spoon to mix a bit.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or on high for 4-5. Soup and stew tastes better the longer you cook it, so opt for the longer cooking time if you can.
  5. Garnish with sliced jalapeno peppers, if desired.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I used regular fresh potatoes instead of canned, despite the warning in the original recipe that non-canned potatoes would disintegrate during cooking. I know from making beef stew that regular potatoes do just fine, so that's what I used.
  • I have no idea what ranch style beans are! I don't think grocery stores in my area carry them, if the blank looks from the employees are any indication. Since I was at the store and unable to research a reasonable substitute, I decided that we'd use pinto beans plus powdered ranch dressing mix.

Verdict: Again, I didn't get to try this but Dan said it was "okay". I'm skeptical; it smelled kind of boring, like it needed a ton more spices. Maybe it would have been better with the real ranch beans?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chickpea Tomato Soup

I made this back during bid season when I had to work long hours (April and May, proof of how long it's been since I posted here regularly), so I spent some time on the weekends making sure Dan had decent food to eat during the week. This is a recipe that Dan picked out to try, out of a list of things I thought he might like.

Chickpea Tomato Soup
via Orangette

  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem and finely chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, one 28-ounce and one 14.5-ounce
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  1. Drain the canned chickpeas in a colander, and rinse them well.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the garlic and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two, and then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, a few grinds of pepper, roughly half of the chickpeas, and the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the soup from the heat to purée. If using an immersion blender, purée the soup directly in the pot. Otherwise, wait a few minutes, until the soup cools; then purée it in batches in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Add the remaining chickpeas, and warm the soup over medium heat. Serve warm.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I didn't have fresh rosemary at the moment, so I substituted dried rosemary.

Verdict: I didn't get to try this, but Dan said it tasted pretty much like tomato sauce with chickpeas in it. He ate it, but didn't really enjoy it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Broccoli Soup with Lemon Chive Cream

More soup!

Broccoli Soup with Lemon Chive Cream
via Orangette

For the soup:
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 lb broccoli, both crowns and stems, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 5 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • rind (about 2 inches square) from a piece of Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt, or less if your broth is well salted

For the lemon chive cream:
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 scallions, white and pale green parts only, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup minced chives
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 c finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pressed or minced garlic

  1. In a small stockpot or Dutch oven, warm the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have softened and the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute. Add the broccoli, stock, Parmesan rind, and salt, and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until the broccoli is tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. While the soup cooks, prepare the cream. In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, scallions, chives, lemon zest, lemon juice, grated Parmesan, salt, and garlic, mixing until fully combined. Taste, and adjust as necessary.
  3. To finish the soup, remove the Parmesan rind. Purée it in the pot using an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pot, add a few dollops of the cream mixture, and stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as necessary. If needed, rewarm the soup gently over low heat.
  4. Serve the soup with a spoonful or two of the remaining cream on top.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I tried to use the parmesan rind, but it got really goopy so I took it out.
  • Next time I might just stir all of the cream into the soup. I think it would taste just as good, and then I wouldn't have to take two containers to work.
  • I bet plain yogurt would work just as well as sour cream since the tangy creaminess is really all that comes through.

Verdict: I really enjoyed this soup! Apparently broccoli, lemon, and chives go really well together. With yogurt instead of sour cream, it would be exceptionally healthy as well. I'll definitely make this again.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Curry Cauliflower Soup with Honey

I love making soup when it's cold out (so, pretty much all of fall and winter), and am always looking for new and interesting combinations. Curry and cauliflower go well together, and pureed cauliflower is creamy and delicious but very healthy, so I decided to give this recipe a try.

Curry Cauliflower Soup with Honey

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 onions, sliced thick
  • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Honey

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread cauliflower florets on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until florets are browned, about 25-30 minutes.
  2. In a medium stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they turn brown. Stir in curry powder and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken stock, water and cauliflower. Cover and bring to boil and then simmer until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup with a stand or immersion blender until smooth. Return to pot if using a stand blender, reheat if necessary. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowl with a drizzle of honey.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I cut back on the cayenne pepper because I'm really sensitive to it for some reason.

Verdict: This was good, but somehow it got a little tiresome on the palate after a decent-sized bowl. I'm slowly learning that cauliflower generally doesn't reheat well. Maybe some homemade croutons would help? I may try this again sometime with some modifications, if I can think of any.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Another notch in the search for the perfect lemon poppy seed muffins.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
via Recipezaar

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/3 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • 2 lemons worth of lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat just until smooth.
  4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into the muffin batter until blended.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely.

Comments & Modifications:
  • For muffins, these really were a lot of work. Not only did I have to get out the electric mixer, but I had to dirty three bowls, for the wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and egg whites. I'm more of a "stir gently" kind of muffin maker.
  • In addition to the lemon zest and juice, I added about half a teaspoon of lemon extract. They could have used more.

Verdict: With the help of the lemon extract, these muffins were tangy and a bit lemony, but still not as lemony as I would like. The texture was dense but tender, and they were kind of flat on top. Dan liked them well enough. Maybe I'll try them again sometime with more lemon extract.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

I love fall, and I love making food that tastes like fall. Pumpkin muffins are particularly fun to make, because the pumpkin helps them stay nice and moist. These were so good I decided to bring them to our Sunday school class where I immediately became very popular. :)

Pumpkin Muffins
via Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 c canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or spice mixture with proportions equivalent to recipe from pumpkin pie recipe on back of can
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups.
  2. Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, and oil until smooth, then whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.
  3. Divide batter among muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with cinnamon. Bake until puffed and golden brown, and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Comments & Modifications:
  • None.

Verdict: I hope Dan doesn't get tired of these, because I could see them coming around a lot.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Big Crumb Coffee Cake

In my never-ending quest to bake tasty breakfast goodies for Dan without getting bored by making the same thing too often, I decided to branch out into coffee cake. The one at Smitten Kitchen caught my attention because of the hefty proportion of crumb to cake; who wouldn't pick all the topping off the cake if they could? Rhubarb wasn't in season so I left it out, leaving a plain but tasty coffee cake.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake
via Smitten Kitchen


For the rhubarb filling:
  • 1/2 lb rhubarb, trimmed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the crumbs:
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 c cake flour or regular flour
For the cake:
  • 1/3 c sour cream
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c cake flour or regular flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 T butter, softened, cut into pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. Toss rhubarb with sugar, cornstarch and ginger and set aside.
  2. To make crumbs, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.
  3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.
  4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.
  5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • As I mentioned above, I left out the rhubarb as it was out of season. However, a tart fruit such as blueberries or raspberries would have been lovely as a replacement, and they're more easily found frozen when out of season.

Verdict: This was good, but probably a bit too rich to make for Dan for breakfast very often. This would, however, be fantastic as a part of a fancy brunch.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Buttermilk Chocolate Bread

There are several improvements I'd like to make to this blog, for aesthetics and ease of use. One, I'd like to start posting the recipe itself in each blog post, instead of just the link. I will of course continue to include the link, to give credit to the source. I fear that someday one of my favorite recipes will be taken down from wherever I found it, leaving me with a potentially awesome review of something I can never make again. Eventually I hope to go back and do this for all previous posts as well.

The second improvement is a much bigger change, and something I'm kind of dreading: I'd like to include pictures of each dish I've made with the review. You see, I'm so terrible at photography and have pretty much no interest in learning how to improve. We have a little point and shoot camera that takes decent vacation pictures, but close ups of food when there's hardly any natural light? It's gonna be tough. Obviously I'm not going to go back and re-make crappy dishes just for the sake of taking pictures, so this change will be something that starts next time I try a new recipe.

Onward! It's only day 2, after all; better get crackin'.

Buttermilk Chocolate Bread
via Allrecipes

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c buttermilk

  1. Cream butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Comments & Modifications:
  • The original recipe called for pecans in the batter and chocolate honey butter for spreading. I'm not into nuts in my bread, and I figured the chocolate honey butter was overkill, so I left it out.
  • I'm lazy, so I added the dry ingredients and buttermilk all at once. Someday I'd like to do a side-by-side test to see if this even makes a difference.

Verdict: Tasty, but more like chocolate cake than something you'd eat for breakfast. I don't think this bothered Dan though.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Well, it certainly has been a while since I last posted here. If anyone out there actually reads this, I'm sorry! I've been cooking like crazy, but once the backlog of recipes to post got out of control I lost all motivation to even bother. Sincerest apologies!

However! Now is the time for new beginnings. During the month of November, thousands of people around the world put pen to paper every day for National Novel Writing Month. Now, I have no interest in writing a novel. (Reading novels, on the other hand . . .) But many bloggers use this month as an exercise in regular blogging. And this is my intention: to post here every day during November, and therein to catch up on my recipe backlog.

To start, I will post a recipe out of a cookbook! And not just any recipe; the taste of allspice and fried almonds and tangy yogurt transports me back to Syria, where I first tried it this summer. I love Middle Eastern food of all kinds, but this stuff is just amazing. It sounds weird, but give it a try; you won't regret it.

adapted from A Gourmet's Delight, by Aida Karaoglan

  • 1-2 pounds boneless lamb, beef, or chicken thighs, cubed
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground allspice, or 1-2 tsp purchased ground allspice
  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups medium grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • fried slivered almonds or pine nuts, for garnish
  • plain yogurt, for garnish

  1. Brown meat and onions in large pot, then add salt and allspice.
  2. Add cauliflower, rice, and water, and stir to combine.
  3. Cover and simmer over low heat until rice and cauliflower is tender, about 30-45 minutes. If you wish to unmold the makloubi on a platter, do not stir; otherwise stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Serve with fried almonds or pine nuts on top and plain yogurt on the side.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I've already totally modified this from the original recipe, since it called for an absurd amount of cooking time and dirty pots.
  • However, for cheaper cuts of beef the longer cooking time may be useful. I'd simmer the beef alone for a while before adding the sauted onions, spices, and other ingredients to break down the connective tissues.
  • Apparently this is quite tasty with eggplant instead of cauliflower. However, the cauliflower was so good I may never get around to trying it with eggplant.

Verdict: Yum. Dan's opinion: "This is going into our regular rotation."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No-Knead Bread

So, my latest food-related project has been learning how to bake bread. I've discovered there's a lot to learn -- kneading, judging when dough is done rising, different baking techniques, all sorts of stuff. The first bready-thing I tried to make was pretzel rolls, which were partially successful. Then, feeling a little intimidated, I took a step back and attempted this incredibly easy crusty bread recipe, which I still managed to screw up the first time I tried it.

No Knead Bread

Comments & Modifications:
  • The recipe calls for a rise of 12-18 hours. The first time I made this was during the work week, and 12-18 hours didn't fit into my schedule, so I went for more like 22 hours. In a hot house in the summer. Not recommended. The second rise was pathetic and it baked up like a brick.
  • The second time making it, I let it rise for just barely 12 hours, and it was a huge success! The second rise was lovely, and it was nice and airy out of the oven. In the winter it might be able to handle a longer first rise, in the summer? I don't think so.
  • I don't have a dutch oven, so I used a medium sized round casserole dish with a glass lid. The dough just barely fit inside, but it still turned out okay.
  • I still haven't figured out whether the interior is supposed to be moist and chewy, or if I'm still messing something up.

Verdict: Awesome. The second time, at least. This has the crustiness of an artisanal bread, but for a fraction of the price and very little work. Dan and I ate this as a meal with some nice cheese and it was just perfect. I'll definitely be making this again.

Update: Forgot to mention last time that I do the first and second rises in the same bowl, with a wash in between. Working with floured towels just seemed like way too much trouble. Also, the bread is excellent with a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary mixed in before the first rise, and a bit of kosher salt sprinkled on top just before baking.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

Or, What To Do with Extra Buttermilk.

Seriously, there's like a hundred different ways to use up leftover buttermilk. And the baked goods are so delicious that it's totally acceptable to buy a quart of buttermilk and declare the whole thing leftovers. I declare it to be so.

Quick Buttermilk Cinnamon Bread

Comments & Modifications:
  • I have issues figuring out how to pour half the batter into the loaf pan, especially if making two loaves. This time the "middle" layer ended up about an inch from the top layer . . . in a four inch loaf. Oops! Not sure how to fix this problem other than by recalibrating my eyeballs.
  • I left out the walnuts because I think baked goods are best in their pure form, unadulterated by nuts or other such things.

Verdict: Yummy! This was perfect for bringing into work and sharing, and my coworkers definitely approved. I'd be happy to make this again. Also, the batter is delicious.

Pistachio Salad

This technically isn't a recipe I found on the internet; it was actually introduced to me by my lovely mother-in-law at a family gathering. But, since I seem to be using this website as my personal recipe box, I might as well add it just for completeness and such.

Pistachio Salad

Comments & Modifications:
  • I have made this using fat free cool whip and sugar free pudding, and it still tastes pretty darn good. I'd probably use the real stuff though if I were bringing it to a gathering.

Verdict: Of course this is good, my mother-in-law doesn't know how to make things that aren't totally tasty! :)

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeno Bisque

Here's another recipe that was just perfect for my stick blender. I love that thing. It's magical.

Also, I did not make bisque in August. I made this back when hot rich soups actually sounded appealing.

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeno Bisque

Comments & Modifications:
  • I thought I was going to die from the amount of heat that cayenne packed. Now, I am quite sensitive to cayenne, so I should have known better than to just throw in 1/4 tsp all optimistically. Next time I will start with just the jalapeno, and add cayenne to taste. No worries, my coworker with the tongue of iron helped me eat it.

Verdict: This was soooo good. Too bad I couldn't eat it without gasping and chugging water.

Rich Buttermilk Waffles

Sometimes Dan and I like to whip up an old-school breakfast after church, like pancakes or cream of wheat or, in this case, waffles. I was in the mood to use a real recipe instead of bisquik so I hopped online and found this one.

Rich Buttermilk Waffles

Comments & Modifications:
  • I got nothin' to share here. Really, what could I have changed?

Verdict: I love Smitten Kitchen, and virtually all of her recipes that I've tried have come out well, but this one was a bit of a failure. The waffles were light and fluffy, I suppose, but it wasn't much different than if I had mixed in the egg yolks and whites at the same time, instead of beating the whites separately. Also, the texture was practically the opposite of crispy, and that was the part I was really hoping would work out. Guess next time I'll stick with regular old bisquik.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

Time to start digging some recipes out from the archives of my brain . . .

This recipe is the first time I ever cooked with rhubarb. We were at the farmer's market and I really wanted to try something I'd never had, and being early spring, there wasn't much available. I was a little skeptical that rhubarb would even taste good, but figured that some variation on rhubarb pie would probably work out.

Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch

Comments & Modifications:
  • I think I followed this one pretty closely. Freaky.
  • However, if I make this again, I'll cut back significantly on both the sugar and the flour that gets stirred into the fruit. The flour caused it to feel a bit gluey, and the fruit itself was not tart enough to contrast with the extremely sweet topping.
  • I'd also probably make a half portion, if it's just for Dan and me, since the topping isn't nearly as good the next day.

Verdict: This was a relatively low-risk way to try out rhubarb, what with all the sugar and strawberries and stuff to mask the flavor, haha. It did taste good, but with the modifications above I bet it would be perfect.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sticky Buns

I must break my blog silence with this most nostalgic recipe: sticky buns. Growing up, practically every time I saw my grandma she had made these, and I would snarf down a few of them pretty quickly. Now she has passed away, so I got the recipe from my mom and gave it a try for myself.

Grandma's Sticky Buns


  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 c warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c bread flour (my mom has used regular flour plus gluten)
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3 T light corn syrup
  • 1 c pecans (optional)
  • butter (1/2 c?), softened
  • 1/2 c white or brown sugar
  • cinnamon (1/4 c?)
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  2. Mix the yeasty water with the sugar, salt, 2T butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat together using a hand mixer.
  3. Gradually add the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, using the hand mixer until the dough becomes too thick. At that point, work the remaining flour into the dough by hand until it is easy to handle. Although no kneading is required, it may be helpful to knead gently to incorporate the flour.
  4. Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to four days, or set in a warm place to rise until doubled.
  5. Shortly before rolling out the dough, combine the 1/2 c butter, 3/4 c brown sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan on the stove and stir together until glossy. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle evenly with pecans.
  6. When you are ready to roll out the dough, turn it out of the bowl onto a well floured surface. Pat the dough out into a good-sized rectangle and spread with butter. Combine the 1/2 c white or brown sugar with cinnamon, then sprinkle onto dough over butter. Starting from a long end, roll up dough into a tight log, stretching the dough as you roll. Pinch the end to seal.
  7. Cut off the ends, then cut the log into 15 evenly-sized pieces (or cut into 16 and eat one) and place into prepared pan, three across and five down. Cover and refrigerate, or allow to rise 1 1/2 hours. If refrigerating overnight, allow to rise before baking.
  8. Bake at 370 degrees for 25 minutes. Dump out onto cooling racks immediately, and scrape out any topping remaining in the pan and put on rolls.

Comments & Modifications:
  • I mixed up the dough and rolled it out in the same day, then put in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I took them out of the fridge and left for church. About 1 1/2 hours later, the rolls hadn't risen much, but I baked them anyway and they came out fine, if a little small. But it would be best to plan for more rise time in the morning.

Verdict: How could these not be yummy?? They were everything I remembered. I ate three. Dan and I fought over the topping that dripped on the counter. It was good.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Middle East Inspiration

For the past three weeks my family and I have been on vacation in the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel. It was amazing! One of the best parts was the food; apparently middle eastern food is something I haven't explored nearly enough! Here are some of the dishes that inspired me:

Lemonade or lemon ice with fresh or dried mint

Bananas, dates, honey, and cream blended together for tasty drink

Maklouvi, or spiced chicken and rice with fried almonds and pine nuts, topped with yogurt

Stuffed zucchini, filled with any of the following:
- rice
- ground beef
- bread crumbs
- cheese
- spices
- sausage

Roasted cauliflower salad with mayo and spices

Roasted eggplant salad with a tangy tomato based sauce

Salads in general, made up of the following:
- a grain, such as rice, bulgur, couscous, quinoa
- diced vegetables, raw or cooked, such as peppers, broccoli, onion, corn,
- a protein, such as shredded chicken or chickpeas
- an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar
- herbs and spices

I'm looking forward to trying some of these!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pepperjack Tomato Soup

I first ate this soup at Isaac's, a small chain restaurant in the Lancaster/suburban Philly area. I've always thought of them as the place with sandwiches named after birds. However, on this particular day, after a long cold morning of shopping (MCC sale!), I decided to try the pepperjack soup. Yummmmmmm.

Fortunately, it's not too hard to reproduce with simple pantry ingredients, so Dan and I ate this for dinner several times when I had nothing else planned.

Pepperjack Tomato Soup

Comments & Modifications:
  • Well, the pepperjack already was a modification based on the comments at the bottom of the recipe, which I can't seem to access now. Basically, in addition to the cream cheese, you just throw in a hunk (2-4 oz) of pepperjack cheese, and maybe a bit of Tabasco.
  • With the addition of the pepperjack, I don't think all the cream cheese is needed, maybe only half? Unless you need some more fat in your diet, which I certainly don't.
  • I've been making half the recipe as written, and it's sufficient for Dan and me for dinner with no other sides. Although, we might fight over the last couple of scoops.
  • I went with the higher amounts of dried basil, paprika, and garlic powder. Using dried basil is important; I think using fresh would change the results quite a bit.

Verdict: YUM. This is such a simple and tasty dinner during the cooler seasons. Not too great for you with the sodium from the canned soup and the fat from the cheeses, but it's worth it every now and then.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Apple Pie Muffins

I'm not really sure why these are called Apple Pie muffins. There's no crust, the apple-y innards don't really resemble apple pie, why not just call them apple muffins? I guess apple pie sounds tastier.

Apple Pie Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • I cut down on the toppings on these a lot, and just used streusel from fridge, again from last fall, oops.
  • The apples I used may have been "tart" but only because they had been sitting in the fridge for at least a few months. I wouldn't have eaten them plain, but they were fine for baking.
  • I subbed dark brown sugar, and I think it added a lot of flavor.
  • I may have added some cinnamon to the batter, to compensate for less in the topping. I have no idea, but I'm sure it would work out fine either way. I bet a bit of nutmeg would also be lovely.

Verdict: Dan really liked these. Hopefully I won't only make them when I have nasty old apples to use up.

Update: The nutmeg was indeed lovely. However, these muffins are just overwhelmingly sweet. I don't know how to fix that without changing the texture and flavor! Also, I'd increase the salt to at least half a teaspoon.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

I promise all these muffin recipes were tested at a rate of one per week, not all at once, like it must seem based on my posting habits.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

Comments & Modifications:
  • Technically the recipe is for Lemon Blueberry Cake, but it says right there in the description that the cake could be modified any number of different ways. That's why I'm posting it here as Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.
  • I used lemon flavored Dannon yogurt instead of plain. It tasted okay, but next time it would be better to find a naturally-flavored and naturally-sweetened variety. I'm not sure what baking might do to that unnatural stuff.
  • I bet I could make my own lemon yogurt by mixing some lemon juice into plain . . . better try that next time.
  • Three large eggs were sufficient; no need to get into partial eggs to convert extra-large to large.
  • Of course, I left out the blueberries and added poppy seeds instead.
  • I tried doing the glaze, but had a hard time getting it to sink in, even with holes poked into the tops. It made a nice mess on my counter. Next time I would add more lemon flavor to the muffin (via juice or zest) and skip the glaze.

Verdict: After several failures with lemon poppy seed muffins, this one finally got it right. Good texture, strong lemon flavor, they were delicious.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

More muffins . . .

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • This made more like 18 normal-sized muffins, not the 12 specified in the recipe. All my muffin tops grew together into one giant cake-thing.
  • We opted to skip the glaze, since it's a little inconvenient for traveling in a baggie.

Verdict: These were gross. They hardly tasted like lemon. The texture was okay, but nothing special. Move along, move along.

Cinnamon Muffins

Yet another entry in the long list of attempts to satisfy Dan's muffin cravings . . . okay, that sounded dramatic, he just finds them more palatable for breakfast than most other breakfast foods. Plus, they're portable.

Cinnamon Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • I think I just made these as written.
  • Maybe I added a little extra cinnamon?
  • I made twelve muffins instead of eleven. They didn't seem particularly small.

Verdict: These have good flavor, but are a little dry. I think we could do better.

Blueberry Muffins

Actually, in the link these are called "To Die For Blueberry Muffins" -- but "to die for" always seemed excessively dramatic to me, so I left it out.

Blueberry Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • Frozen blueberries are what we had, frozen blueberries are what I used. They did sink to the bottom a bit. I read somewhere that if you toss the blueberries with flour before mixing into the batter they sink less. Also, I didn't defrost them.
  • I'm pretty sure I used my own streusel topping for this, since I had some in the fridge (from last fall . . . oops).

Verdict: These muffins are Dan-approved. I didn't try them at all, but he said they were moist and light just like Betty Crocker (what a role model). Hey, whatever floats his boat.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Alas, it has been far too long since my last blog post. You see, work intervened, and although I made time to try out new recipes, I did not manage to blog about them. I'll do my best to dig up what few memories remain, but let's not be too optimistic.

And what better recipe to post about after a long hiatus than something I made just the other day? Hopefully this will help me get back in the groove.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Comments & Modifications:
  • I omitted the lemon zest; too much trouble.
  • I think I used salted butter, but it may not make much difference.
  • Since I had real cultured buttermilk in the fridge, that's what got used, rather than soured milk.
  • Instead of carefully placing the raspberries facing up or down, I scatter them, and most of them ended up sideways. They all sank into the batter.

Verdict: Since Dan's first reaction on taking a bite of this was "Wow!" we can probably can call this a winner. My coworker also made it, and she and her husband had a hard time holding back from devouring it on the spot. The tart raspberries worked perfectly with the creamy, buttery, not too sweet cake. We think it would work well with blueberries, and I think blackberries might be okay too but it's hard to say. I hope to make this again soon because the batter was excellent!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Here's another yummy-looking recipe, this time from my friend Kimberly. Seems my friends like cooking as much as I do. :)


  • 2 small eggplants
  • olive oil
  • 3 medium sized zucchinis
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 18 to 20 oz fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1 T tarragon, chopped
  • 1 T parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fine sugar
  • salt and pepper

  • Chop eggplant in small cubes. Place in colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave to drain at least 30 minutes.
  • Chop all zucchini in small cubes.
  • Chop the garlic and shallots thinly.
  • Dice peppers.
  • Heat 2 T olive oil in a dutch oven.
  • Add the zucchinis and eggplants and cook for 5 mins until softer. Remove from pot and set aside.
  • Heat 2 more T olive oil and then add the garlic, peppers and shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until softer.
  • Add the tomatoes and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes before adding the zucchinis and eggplants again.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chopped herbs, the bay leaf, and the sugar, and cook uncovered on low heat for 1 hour.

I look forward to trying this. Thanks Kimberly!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

I bought an immersion blender!! I broke it in on this recipe.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup

Comments & Modifications:
  • I used kielbasa, because it was in the freezer and because I like it.
  • It's important to brown the kielbasa in the same pot that you make the soup in, because the yummy brown stuff really contributes to the tasty flavor.
  • Obviously I used my blender instead of a potato masher. The blender doesn't do "chunky" very well, so I went ahead and pureed the potatoes entirely.

Verdict: This is really, really good. When I gave some to a coworker, she immediately went online and purchased her own immersion blender just so she could make this soup! It's not that bad for you either, although using turkey kielbasa or something a bit lower fat would probably help. I'm not a huge fan of spinach, but despite that I'll definitely be making this soup again.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Dan really likes to take muffins to school with him for breakfast. He's not naturally a breakfast eater, and the muffins go down more easily than most other portable options. I've been making muffins from a mix, but decided to try something homemade this week.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Comments & Modifications:
  • Not much to say here, since it's not wise to mess around too much with baked goods.
  • I had a huge lemon. It was fine.

Verdict: When I talked to Dan after he tried his muffins on Monday morning, he said they were tough and overdone. I was surprised, since I took them out of the oven when the tops were still nice and pale. Come Saturday I decided to try one of the leftovers, and it wasn't overdone at all! Turns out Dan doesn't like the dense type of muffin; he prefers the tender cake-like muffins. Guess I'll be looking for some more recipes.

Overnight Apricot Oatmeal

Now, if I'm looking for a recipe for my breakfast rotation, this is totally it. Full of fiber and vitamins, and tasty too, what more could I ask for?

Overnight Apricot Oatmeal

Comments & Modifications:
  • It's got overnight in the title, but I just cooked it on the stove. I worried about it getting burned or too dry, and plus the crockpot is so much hard to clean! It's super easy on the stove, just combine all the ingredients in a medium pot, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down until it's just barely simmering, and let it cook until it's thick and the oats are chewy, giving it a good stir every so often.
  • Based on some of the comments, and my laziness and cheapness, I used regular milk instead of buttermilk. I'm sure it would taste fine, but having to buy buttermilk and make sure I used it all before the expiration date would prevent me from ever making the recipe.
  • I added a bit more sugar (splenda, actually) than called for, and a bunch more salt. Oatmeal tastes bland to me without salt.
  • The one modification that really makes the recipe for me is a splash of almond extract. The apricots, at least the ones I bought, are sweet and flavorful but the taste doesn't quite permeate every bite like I would want. The almond extract, if you add just a splash, heightens and intensifies the apricot flavor without being overwhelmingly almond-y. It's awesome.

Verdict: Well obviously I like this oatmeal, since I had it for breakfast every day for the last month. It's really convenient to make it on the weekend and store in the fridge, then reheat in the morning at work when I'm ready to eat. (It does need a bit of extra liquid mixed in before reheating, since it congeals nastily in the fridge.) One recipe-worth is just about five servings, for me.

Now that I have a base recipe, I've been thinking of other tasty flavors that might work well with steel cut oats. Fresh fruit would certainly be tasty, if added after reheating. I imagine cinnamon and maple syrup and honey would all be nice, though probably not at the same time. I wonder what other spice combinations would work? There are enough possibilities to keep me eating breakfast for a long time. :)


It's been so long, I'm starting to forget the details of some of the recipes I've tried! This is one from back around Christmas; homemade granola can be a good gift for people who are otherwise hard to buy for.


Comments & Modifications:
  • This makes a crunchy, very crumbly granola. There won't be clumps like in store granola.
  • Instead of peanuts, I used a mixture of sliced almonds, macadamia nuts, and a few walnuts. The macadamia nuts were really, really good in this, but I only used them because they were left over from another recipe. Pretty much any nut mixture will work, as long as they're chopped fairly smallish.
  • No wheat germ for me. Why buy a whole container for 1/4 cup?
  • I didn't put in any dried fruit. There's some in the basement, but somehow it just didn't appeal to me in this recipe.

Verdict: This is pretty good granola, for not too much work. I liked it well enough with milk, but in yogurt it's delicious! I think it's kind of caloric for how full it makes me feel, so this probably won't be on my regular rotation, but it's good to have something different for breakfast every now and then.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vegetarian Lentil Soup

I recently reconnected with my friend Karen from high school on Facebook. Apparently she enjoys trying new recipes as much as I do, plus she has three little kids with different food preferences, so the more recipes they all like the better! Here's a recipe she posted, from Elaine on BBC.

I was a bit skeptical; I've tried cooking with lentils in the past and they never seemed to turn out right. (I think it was my technique; lentils need longer cooking over lower heat.) Plus the ingredients in this list didn't seem particularly flavorful (flavor in = flavor out). But, fortunately, I finally decided to give it a try, and boy was I glad. The flavors from the cloves and the bay leaves morph with everything else into a super tasty, satisfying stew.

Vegetarian Lentil Stew

  • 4 T oil
  • 1 c finely diced celery
  • 1 c finely diced carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cups lentils, washed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 small bay leaf
In a conventional soup pot, sauté the vegetables in oil until soft and translucent. Add lentils with remaining ingredients and cook over low heat for approximately 2 hours. Serves 8-10

Comments & Modifications:
  • There are lots of different kinds of lentils out there, but the regular cheap green ones were fine.
  • Only 1/3 cup of onion? Hah. I added a full cup and it was great. Plus, that used up exactly half of the massive onion I got from Produce Junction.
  • I added a bit more than a cup each of chopped carrots and celery, and next time I think I'd add more, maybe 1 1/2 to 2 cups. They kind of get drowned in lentils.
  • Similarly, I'd probably double the amount of stewed tomatoes. Which I did cut into smaller pieces, but next time I'd do that before adding them to the soup instead of after, to reduce fishing-around time.
  • Some chopped zucchini might work well with this. More veggies are always good.
  • I added only 1 1/2 tsp of salt, but it could have used the full two teaspoons. Karen said that the ratio of sugar to salt was more important than the absolute quantity of each, so I probably won't mess around with that too much in the future.
  • My stove is apparently very weak on low, so the stew turned out underdone. Apparently Karen's stove puts this at a light simmer on low, so I'll adjust the heat next time. Even with undercooked lentils it was still enjoyable!
I will definitely be making this again in the future! Tasty, cheap, and healthy! What more could I ask for?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cauliflower Soup

I made this recipe right after discovering Produce Junction. Mmm, inexpensive veggies.

Cauliflower Soup

Comments & Modifications:
  • Cauliflower can be finnicky, so I only used half a head since I wasn't sure whether we would like the soup.
  • I didn't put in nearly as much milk as was called for, and it was fine. I like thick soup, it says on my spoon better.
  • A dash each of garlic powder and onion powder was fine; doing it the real way might taste better, but laziness is nice too.
  • No butter! It didn't really need it, either.
  • Also, no toast. Maybe the toast would have been nice, though.

Verdict: This was good, with a nice creamy-salty-sweet thing going. The cauliflower flavor really goes with the parmesan. It was a bit more work than I like for something that won't be enough for a full meal, but it would be fun to make for a first course for company.

Crockpot Pizza Soup

Pizza soup! What a good idea, all the yumminess of pizza condensed into a bowl of nice, hot soup. I took some liberties with this recipe, and it was totally worth it.

Crockpot Pizza Soup

Comments & Modifications:
  • Instead of using pizza sauce from a jar (yuck), I took a 28-oz can of whole peeled tomatoes and ran them through the food processor until just a bit chunky. This has been my new thing lately; it tastes so much fresher than the jar stuff, plus I can customize it with whatever flavor add-ins I happen to need.
  • I think we added water at the end to thin it down, until it looked right.
  • I used red pepper, not green, because they were the same price and red tastes better.
  • I don't like mushrooms. We did put in about half of what the recipe calls for, but Dan diced them up so tiny that you couldn't even tell they were there. It was perfect. :) Next time we'll put in all the mushrooms.
  • No need for chopped tomatoes when you start with whole peeled tomatoes, eh?
  • We used some sort of cooked sausage from the supermarket, I can't remember what.
  • I put the pepperoni in the microwave for a bit to get some of the fat out, which helped, but there was still a sheen of oil on the soup after it was done.
  • No pasta for us.

Verdict: This was really good, like comfort food good. Next time I'd add all the mushrooms, and maybe more peppers, and maybe some other veggies if I can think of some that would work. The sausage didn't add a lot of flavor, so I think next time I'd use spicy sausage and put less in. Because if I can help it, there will definitely be a next time.

Southwest Chicken Stew

I am so ridiculous. It's been so long since I last posted that I can't remember anything about the recipes I've tried since then. Oh well, better to write down something than nothing . . .

Southwest Chicken Stew

Comments & Modifications:
  • This was in a Giant grocery store ad. This is probably not be relevant.
  • I think I pretty much followed the recipe. It's been so long, I have no idea.

Verdict: I do, however, remember that this was okay but not great. I liked the potatoes with the mexican flavors, but somehow the chicken didn't work for me. It was too dry or something. I think we ate most of it and threw the rest away. I bet it would be awesome with beef strips.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

Okay, I have to admit here that this isn't the first time I've made eggplant parm. It's just the first time I've done so using an actual recipe, instead of making it up on the fly. Using a recipe can be helpful, sometimes.

So, I picked up some eggplants a couple of weeks ago, thinking I'd try something vegetable-based and relatively health. (This is right after I started reading In Defense of Food.) What I didn't realize, though, is that eggplant soaks up a TON of oil while being fried. I mean, waaay more than I actually wanted to eat. So while it turned out most deliciously, this should probably not be considered a health food.

One more thing to note. Supposedly, "male" eggplants have fewer seeds. Supposedly, you can identify "male" eggplants by looking for a dash-shaped indentation at the bottom of the eggplant where it connected to the stem. I looked for "male" eggplants at the store, but the results were inconclusive; they were just as seedy as every other eggplant I've ever purchased.

Eggplant Parmesan

Comments & Modifications:
  • I salted and drained my eggplant for only a half hour or so, but didn't notice it tasting bitter or anything. I think the shorter time was probably fine.
  • I think it's important here to slice the eggplant thinly. I made this twice, and cut the slices a bit thicker the second time to reduce the amount of total frying time. When I sliced more thinly the eggplant got nice and crispy, which both Dan and I preferred.
  • I used half regular (homemade) breadcrumbs and half panko. Yum.
  • We were too hungry to let this sit in the oven for half an hour, so we layered it straight onto our dinner plates.
  • Er, we didn't have any fresh basil, or fresh mozzarella, and I didn't use any parmesan either. Dan did use some regular mozzarella but I didn't bother.
  • The main thing I learned from this recipe is that tomato sauce made from whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes from a can is easy, cheap, and really delicious. Seriously, it had such a fresh tomato-y taste even though I chose not to add the garlic and olive oil. I'm never ever going back to the jarred stuff, ew.

Verdict: This was deeeeelicious, but I don't think we'll be making it again. Too much oil, even if it is olive oil. I hear it's possible to make eggplant parm by baking instead of frying, and I hope to try it that way someday, but my expectations aren't that high.

Crockpot Vegetable Curry

I made this, like, two months ago, but I still remember more about the results than I will next time I want to make it, so here we go.

Crockpot Vegetable Curry

Comments & Modifications:
  • I think I pretty much followed the recipe as is. It's already really easy to make, after all.
  • Oh, except don't cut up the potatoes the night before making this. They turn a weird color, kind of blackish, that is very unappetizing.

Verdict: This was good, but nothing special. I think Dan and I were a bit tired of spicy food, because we managed to eat some of the leftovers and threw the rest away. Oh well.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

So the inspiration for this dish came from, of all places, a Weight Watchers frozen meal. I can be super lazy about preparing decent food for lunch at work, and on the days that I don't know what to eat there's always a Lean Cuisine or WW meal to back me up. (I don't really recommend this, since Lean Cuisines probably violate about 50% of the guidelines in In Defense of Food, but we can't all be perfect.)

Anyways, so I picked up a new WW meal to try, the sweet and sour chicken. And when I tasted it, I thought, this would be easy to make at home! And so it was.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Comments & Modifications:
  • Er, I kind of didn't measure too well on this one either. I have no idea how much chicken I used, although it might have been close to a pound. Also, I really like red peppers and pineapple, so I put lots of those in too.
  • I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, as usual. I don't know if it's the egg white marinade or what, but this chicken came out super tender and flavorful, more so than I've ever been able to achieve. There wasn't much of a coating, but it was okay because the chicken was so tender.
  • I used all red peppers because that's what I had. Also, have you seen the price of yellow peppers at the supermarket?
  • I followed the recipe for the sauce pretty closely, and even measured! But then at the end I threw in a bit extra brown sugar, and some of the leftover pineapple juice, since that's what I like.
  • I added some extra cornstarch at the end to thicken up the sauce. It's hard to eat watery rice with chopsticks, after all.
  • This went perfectly with a scoop of brown rice.

Verdict: In case you couldn't tell, I really liked this dish. I'll definitely make this again. Never again will I get the nasty sweet and sour chicken from the Chinese restaurant! This is way better! The sauce even had that weird reddish color as the restaurant stuff, but it was nice to actually know what was in it.

Caribbean Black Bean Soup

Yay! After a couple of months of feeling a bit half-hearted about eating healthfully, I'm back on track. What's the reason for the sudden inspiration? Well, there's this book that's so interesting and challenging that I really think everyone I know should read it. It's called "In Defense of Food" and it's by Michael Pollan, who you may remember also wrote "Omnivore's Dilemma." He has some very compelling reasons for Westerners to change the way we eat, to escape the spiral down into obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. So I've been slowly attempting to incorporate some of his principles into my own diet.

Not that I was thinking about Michael Pollan when I decided to make this recipe. In fact, I made this dish right around Christmas time when I had a nice cupful of leftover ham to get rid of, and too many Christmas calories to deal with. Not that it's unhealthy; I think it's actually pretty good for you. But still.

Caribbean Black Bean Soup

Comments & Modifications:
  • I halved all the ingredients because this was for my lunch at work, and it's really hard for me to finish a huge pot of soup without Dan's help.
  • I'm pretty sure I used red pepper instead of green. Red peppers are awesome and delicious. Green peppers are nasty.
  • I might possibly have not precisely measured anything in this recipe except the spices. I have a really hard time caring about precision when it comes to soup, because in most cases it just really doesn't matter in the end.
  • I don't have an immersion blender yet, and getting out the food processor seemed like too much trouble, so I just kind of smooshed some of the beans against the sides of the crockpot instead. Seemed to work well enough.
  • Sour cream is not for dieters, or at least not for dieters with my kind of willpower, so I left it off.

Verdict: I was really looking forward to eating this. All day it bubbled away in the crockpot, releasing delicious smells to tempt Dan and me to take just a little taste before it was done. However, when I got to work the next day and reheated it, I was pretty disappointed. I don't know if it was the color (the ham got stained black from the beans), or the spices (they just didn't taste right to me), or the consistency (very thick), but I had it for lunch one or maybe two days before throwing out the rest of it. So sad! But, at least the beans were cheap. If you're going to cook up something nasty, better to do it with cheap ingredients, I must say.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lentil, Spinach, and Bulgur Stew

I made this so long ago I can hardly remember what changes I made. Even so, here are my thoughts.

Lentil, Spinach, and Bulgur Stew

Comments & Modifications:
  • I used frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh.
  • That's it. It's not like there's much to modify here.

Verdict: Somehow, when I decided to make this recipe, I forgot that boring ingredients = boring food. This stew tasted exactly like nothing, unless you count the weirdish combination of lentils and spinach, which doesn't work very well, by the way. I bet there are spices somewhere that would be appropriate for this kind of stew, but I couldn't think of any, so it went into the trash. Oh well.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Egg Casserole

It has been far, far too long since I posted anything useful on this blog. To get my creative juices flowing again (if they exist), I'm going to post a recipe of my mom's.

We have a long-standing tradition of having this casserole for breakfast the morning of Christmas day. It's very flexible and easy to customize, and hard to screw up. When it was decided that Dan's family would come over for brunch this year around Christmastime, I figured it was time to get this recipe from my mom.

Christmas Egg Casserole

  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2-3 c milk
  • 18-24 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1-2 lbs cheese, sharp cheddar or your preference, shredded
  • 1-2 lbs bacon, sausage, and/or ham, cooked and crumbled
  1. Put butter in a medium saucepan to melt over medium heat. Whisk flour into butter, and cook 1-2 minutes to form a roux. Add milk, whisking to blend flour lumps, and heat until thick to form a white sauce. If you have cheese ends leftover in the fridge they can be melted into the white sauce.
  2. Spread some of the white sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish. Layer eggs, cheese, and meat until you run out, and then top with the remaining white sauce and one last layer of cheese. I like adding bacon on top of the cheese, but best to do this after it's been in the oven for a while so the bacon doesn't get burnt.
  3. Casserole can be stored in the fridge for at least a couple of days without coming to harm.
  4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until hot and bubbly.

When I made this for Dan's parents I used 24 eggs, 30 oz of sharp cheddar, 1 roll of bulk sausage, and one package of bacon for the topping. My mom usually uses a mixture of ham and pre-cooked bacon bits, which is also good. Really, it doesn't matter what you use, it all turns out okay somehow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

I need to make these cookies!

Grammy Davis's Brer Rabbit Molasses Oatmeal Cookies
Source: Amanda Davis

Combine in bowl:
2 c oatmeal
1 c flour
½ c sugar
½ t salt
½ t allspice
½ t cinnamon
½ c Crisco
½ c Brer Rabbit molasses
1 egg, unbeaten
1 t baking powder

Stir until just mixed. Drop in large spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325°F for 12 minutes. Do not overbake.