30 November 2009

A Dash of Health - Frozen Veggies

Hi Guys! This will be the first of a few posts I am planning on publishing focusing on Healthy Eating. For the last 3 months I have embarked on a new eating and exercise regimen that has shaved 30lbs off my frame. Over those months I picked up a few tips and tricks on how lower calories, fat and sodium without sacrificing flavor while making each dish better for you with a "Dash of Health". Each post in this series will provide you with quick and easy tip/trick to make cooking and eating healthier!


Chapter 1 - Frozen Veggies


I am the biggest fan of frozen veggies! For years I have had a bag or two on hand just incase I needed to make a side dish in a flash. Since I have been trying to eat healthier I find myself adding them to every dish I cook and go through a bag or four of them weekly. They are the quickest and easiest way to get your 5 a day without breaking the bank. Most frozen veggies range from $1-$2 a bag and are packed with a pound of the veggie. You can get 5-7 bags of veggies for $10 while those same veggies bought fresh would be $20-$40!


The trick with buying, storing and using your frozen veggies is to try and maintain a nice mix of of your favorite combination of veggies in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Doing this will not only save you the time taking each bag out of the freezer to cook with, but will also make sure you have a variety of veggies on hand to add to your favorite dish. If you have an extra 1/2 or 1/3 measuring cup laying around I suggest keeping it in the bag so you can easily dish out your 2/3 to 1 cups of veggies (typical serving size). A few dishes I find myself using the veggies for are: Omelets, Soups, Couscous, Rice, Pasta, Sauces, Mac & Cheese, and Casseroles. What is great about having them mixed and ready is that adding a few scoops of veggies will make your dishes healthier and will also give your food a greater depth of flavor.


What I currently have in my veggie bag:

1/2 bag Onions

1/2 bag Diced Red & Green Peppers

1/2 bag Chopped Broccoli (anything larger cooks unevenly)

1/2 bag Chopped Spinach

1/2 bag Chopped Zucchini



















Check out my Healthy Alternative recipes for ideas of how you can add more veggies to your diet.


The next A Dash of Health post will be on bread.

food stuff: freezing common vegetables

planet green had a nice article on taking advantage of fresh produce and freezing it - there might not be as much fresh produce these days (because its near winter), but i thought i would still link to it so you can read about it and maybe file for later...
this is to add great compliment to JaBootaay's post on healthy eating and frozen veggies.

29 November 2009

containing kitchen mayhem with relish











Via Bargainist, thought I should share this with mad tasty readers. Relish (which is actually at relishrelish.com) is a site that combines meal selection with nutrition, grocery list preparation and a promise that all meals can be made in 30 minutes or less.

Interesting idea, although I have a hard time thinking of what demographic it would appeal to. Perhaps a very specific two working adults with kids, neither has an interest in cooking?

The site promises to soon be launching a free iPhone app to accompany the $7/month service.

Maybe the better question is whether there are any other food apps that you're using. Anyone out there? I know that Shake just got an iphone.... unless that was Bake.

28 November 2009

Easy and Delicious Brussel Sprouts in a Goat Cheese Sauce


http://www.producepedia.com/images/commodity/brussel_sprouts.jpg

I apologize for not having pictures of the actual dish, but I served them at my annual Prethanks party and they were GONE the next time I looked. Ho hum.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 packages of small brussels sprouts - about 40 in total
Note: Try to use brussels sprouts that are on the small size and tightly closed. For holiday cooking, I make a fairly large amount of these little guys but they ALWAYS get eaten. This recipe really does wonders for an unpopular vegetable.
  • 8-10 shallots, peeled and sliced into thin rings
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided) - If you end up using salted butter, cut down on the salt that you add when cooking.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of marjoram
  • 1 cup of stock - chicken, veggie, store bought, home made - doesn't really matter...
  • 1 small package of goat cheese, about 10 oz.
NOTE: I think an unflavored cheese is best for this recipe, but if you want to experiment with other types of goat cheese (pepper crusted, herb dusted, whatever), I don't think it would really hurt the dish. I tend to stick my goat cheese in the freezer for this dish so that I dont have an ooey-gooey mess when it comes time to add it to the dish.

Directions:

Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top, keeping it intact. Anything you trim off can go into your freezer bag of vegetable ends to use for making homemade stock in the future!

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large heavy skillet over low-medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and let them sweat for about 10 minutes. If they are cooking too quickly then turn the heat down slightly. The pan should still be wet with butter and they should look soft and only slightly opaque when the 10 minutes have passed. Sprinkle the pan with the salt, pepper, and marjoram, add the other tablespoon of butter, and stir. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer),Turn up the heat to high and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should be brown and have a hard crust. Stir the veggies so that the spices get evenly distributed and the other side of the brussel sprouts can brown as well, about another 5 minutes. Add the stock to the pan and give it a quick stir, picking up any brown bits from the pan and incorporating it into the stock. Add your goat cheese to the pan. If you froze it, like I do, it will be fairly easy to cut and crumble evenly into the pan without making a big gooey mess. Give your pan a good stir - it should be simmering and saucy since your heat has been on high this whole time. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Allow the sauce to simmer and the brussels sprouts to cook through but not get mushy - about 10 minutes. Take off the cover about half way through and stir, checking the consistency of your sauce. If it is not reducing as you would like, leave the cover off for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Check the seasoning at the end. Serve immediately.

A last note: You can always add more salt and pepper at the end. Red pepper flakes? Whatever you personally like, but trust me, this fairly easy method of cooking brussel sprouts will please your guests and can serve a truckload of people. The down side? Unfortunately, there are never any left over.



27 November 2009

trio lasagna pan

Trio Lasagna Pan

The idea, right, is that you've got a pesky vegetarian at your dinner table.  But the carnivores don't have the grace to eat something minus meat without complaining about protein deficiency.  The solution?  A trio lasagna pan that comes with a fancy special spatula that'll fit in the perfectly-spaced rows.  $32.

h/t:  rare bird finds.

26 November 2009

Workout Queen's Peanut Butter Cheesecake


Happy Thanksgiving!!! After running and running so many miles (back to Mexico) since my last post (lol) I'm back and ready to crack the whip on healthy dining. Just so that you all know these diets and foods work, I've lost 14lbs and it's still coming off...and with that I share with you a Thanksgiving Treat which may or may not be on the diet (but all within reason and portions, right??)...this is a spin off of regular cheesecake. DO try this at home!

Ingredients:

For the crust:
  • 2 Ready Made Crusts
For the Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1.5 bars of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup of sugar
For the Peanut Butter mixture
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
I had to do a little substitution here because I didn't have powdered sugar. But for all you novices out there...just take the granulated sugar and put it in the blender. And there you've got powdered sugar. Also, regular sugar works instead of brown sugar. So, the recipe is rather easy.

Procedure:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put all the ingredients of the Cream Cheese Filling into a blender (YES, a blender). Mix well. Set that aside.
  3. Combine the two different sugars for the peanut butter mixture.
  4. With a fork, measure out the peanut butter and put it into the sugar mixture. Begin to cover it with sugar and mush it around.
  5. After a few minutes, you'll start to see that little balls are created from the mixture. That's what you want!
  6. Grab your Ready Bake Crusts.
  7. Take the Peanut Butter Mixture and pour all but about two teaspoons into the crusts. Set the extra aside for now.
  8. Get your cream cheese filling and gently pour it into the crusts. You'll see the peanut butter mixture mixing with the cream cheese.
  9. Put your crusts into the oven. Bake for 35 mins and cool for 3 hours.
  10. Sprinkle the extra Peanut Butter mixture on top. It will melt right into the cake, but also be a little garnish.
  11. Then SERVE!
The cooling time is what helps it congeal, so don't be too nervous about the consistency as it comes out of the oven - it's okay. Just let it do its cooling thing and it should definitely smell and taste awesome. Now just remember, we did put TONS of sugar in here, so portions are what REALLY matter to the Workout Queen. Taste it, enjoy it. Just don't gorge! Eat your heart out!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! :)

menu at obama's state dinner

























So he may not have done a whole lot for the gays yet, but at least he has a vegetarian main course at his state dinner. And "White House Arugula"!

Anyone have menus they'd like to share, either for today's feast or otherwise?

25 November 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
















Personally, I'm not a big fan of pumpkin pie. I'm not really sure if it's the texture or the flavor, but I just can't get into it.

I can, however, get into pumpkin pie + cheesecake. I don't know how the cheesecake does it, but some how, it makes pumpkin pie filling totally fantastic. Add a crunchy pecan topping and this is the best pumpkin pie recipe out there. At least in my non-pumpkin pie loving opinion.

Hope everyone has a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Pie Crust (from my fabulous sister)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 15 Tbsp (1 stick + 7 Tbsps) of chilled butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  1. Mix flour and salt.
  2. Add butter and use a pastry blender or fork to combine
  3. Add ice water slowly, forming dough into a ball
  4. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 1 hour
  5. Remove and place dough on a flat, floured surface
  6. Flatten with your hands and roll out until 1/8 thick
  7. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry. Trim and crimp edge as desired; set aside
Cheesecake Filling (from Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  1. Blend all ingredients together
  2. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
Pumpkin Pie Filling (from Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
  • 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Blend all ingredients together
Pecan Topping (from Cassie at How to Eat a Cupcake)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  1. Combine the pecans, flour, the 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and butter.
Now get ready to put it together
  1. Spoon cream cheese filling into pastry-lined pie plate
  2. Carefully pour pumpkin filling over cream-cheese mixture
  3. Cover edge of the pie with foil to prevent overbrowning
  4. Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes
  5. Remove foil and bake for 25 minutes more
  6. Sprinkle pecans over the pie
  7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean
  8. Cool for 1 to 2 hours on a wire rack
  9. Refrigerate for storage

24 November 2009

Carrot-Butternut Squash Soup

You'd never believe that this one is vegan. It tastes—not unappealingly—like there might be a stick of butter in there, and in that respect will be a perfect addition to whatever you stuff your face with this weekend. For variety, you might want to add some roasted chestnuts before you puree the soup, or stir in some chopped greens like spinach, chard, or kale at the end.
Carrot-Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4
  • 1 small or 1/2 a large butternut squash, halved from the stem to the base
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, cut into thin discs, peeled or unpeeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5-6 cups vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • fresh lemon juice, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Roast the squash: Rub about a teaspoon of olive oil all over the skin and the flesh of the squash, then place it face down on a baking sheet (foil-lined, if you'd like). Roast for 15 minutes, flip it over and roast it for 10 minutes, and turn it face down for about another 15 minutes. It will be done when you can effortlessly skewer it with a knife. Cool until safe to handle, then scoop out the seeds, trim off the skin, and roughly chop.

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry until almost translucent, then add the garlic, carrots, bay leaf, and squash, tossing to combine. Cover the pot for three minutes, which will allow everything to steam and sweat and release its goodness. Pour in the stock, covering by about 3/4". Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or so, until everything is tender. REMOVE THE BAY LEAF and then puree the soup either with an immersion blender, in batches in a regular blender or food processor, or through a food mill (it best pureed, otherwise I'd list here an option to mush it up with a potato masher). Add salt, pepper, and lemon, adjusting seasonings however you see fit, and serve.

23 November 2009

food stuff: knife storage

last week we posted about what kind of knives you should have and keeping them sharp. the kitchn has a good article to follow up on knife storage.
enjoy that article here.

22 November 2009

Vegetarian Bleu Cheese Tagliatelli


This here pasta recipe was inspired by, or maybe just directly stolen from, my old flatmate Thomas. He was one of the only vegetarians I ever lived with so he and I and my other flatmate Stuart would always cook together whenever we had a chance. We lived near a Lidle (a very cheap German chain store found throughout Europe that even carries organic produce now) where good bleu cheese was in ready supply and Thomas used it in almost everything he cooked. The man changed my mind about mould.

The vegetables in this are just a suggestion. I usually use whatever is left in the fridge at the end of the week, but it would probably be nice as a simplified version; maybe just red pepper, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms or something. Apologies for the out of focus picture and I assure you it is much more delicious than it looks...

Ingredients:
  • olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 thinly chopped carrot
  • 4-5 broccoli florets chopped into mini-florets
  • 5-6 mushrooms chopped
  • red wine
  • 1 cube vegetable stock
  • 3-4 tbls sour cream
  • water
  • basil
  • bleu cheese
  • tagliatelli
Directions:
  1. Heat the oil and bay leaf in a large/deep frying pan. Add the onion, pepper, carrot, and broccoli. Cover and saute for 5 minutes, stirring when needed.
  2. Add the garlic. When onions are starting to become softened, add the mushroom and crumble the stock cube over the vegetables.
  3. Add a hearty splash of red wine, cover and simmer a further 3-5 mins.
  4. Add the sour cream and water. I usually do it by eye, adding enough water to thin out the sour cream, not too much. Just to make a sauce that covers the vegetables.
  5. Add the basil and simmer uncovered on a very low heat, turn off if too much liquid is evaporating.
  6. Cook the pasta according to instructions or personal taste. I usually dry it out in the pan on the stove after so it is not too wet.
  7. Add the sauce to the pasta and mix well.
  8. At this point you can either add the bleu cheese to the pasta as you are mixing, or if serving to other people, maybe allow them to add it individually to their plate. Either way go easy as too much can overpower the sauce.
  9. Add cracked black pepper to taste and you are good to go!

21 November 2009

crock pot challenge!

http://www.thepriceguide.com.au/images60000/64824.jpg

Ladies and gents and other variously gendered friends, come one come all to the mad tasty challenge of the season!

On behalf of our collective cooking think tank, we challenge you to a CROCK OFF!!!

The fine print?
  • Competitors will include both mad tasty and any outside challengers who choose to!
  • Please announce your intentions to compete in the comments below this post, with a link to your blog if not a mad tasty contributor.
  • You will have two weeks to pot your crock!
  • After that point I will schedule posts to be over the following few days, with "link out" posts for extra-blogular competitors.
  • A poll will be posted to determine the winner!
  • The winner shall receive gratitude, acclaim and possibly notoriety!

20 November 2009

Roast Chicken Dinner



Ingredients:
  • One whole chicken
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Stuffing:
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Butter
Roast with:
  • Potatoes
  • Whole onions

Serve with:
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Gravy

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. While the oven is heating, prepare the stuffing. Dice the onion, and put into a bowl with the breadcrumbs. Season with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Finally, mix with some butter to bind it all together.

2. Peel some potatoes, and boil some water. Boil the potatoes for 5 minutes only. (This will make them softer when they are roasted).

3. Wash the chicken, removing all rope binding, and any pins. Lay in an oven tray and spoon all the stuffing into the cavity of the chicken. Rub the chicken with butter, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. If you have them, leave fresh sprigs of rosemary here and there as well.

4. Take the slightly boiled potatoes, and cover with olive oil. Place them in the oven tray around the chicken. If you don't have any room then just leave them in another oven dish. But when they are in the same dish as the chicken, all the juices soak into the potatoes, it's really tasty. Also include one or two peeled onions.

5. Put the chicken, potatoes and onion into the oven and cook for 90 minutes.

6. Relax for an hour with the paper and a glass of wine! But every now and then, check the chicken, and spoon the juices and oil all over the chicken and potatoes to make them crispy and moist. Do this as often as you feel like, the more times the merrier.

7. When there are about 30 minutes left, prepare the carrots and peas or whatever other vegetables you would like to have. Peel, chop, and boil for a few minutes. Set table etc.

8. Prepare gravy. I just used instant here, sorry! Am pretty crap at making it myself.....next time.

9. When the chicken is ready, take it out of the oven and let it stand for 10 mins before carving it.

10. Carve the chicken, distribute all the potatoes, onions and veg etc, and enjoy!

19 November 2009

Pad See Ew

 












There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of Thai restaurants in the Seattle area. So its a given for any resident longer than 6 months, you come to love virtually anything on a thai menu. But nothing beats homemade: especially when a friends whose mom still lives in Thailand hands down a recipe for pad see ew.


Ingredients: as with most Asian dishes, the ingredients can vary widely, and there is no measuring of spices and oils, so use these as a guide. Everything should be available at your Asian grocery.














  • Sauces: Sweet Sauce, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Red Chili Paste, Diced Garlic, Sesame Oil
  • Veggies: Bok Choy, Broccoli, Leeks and Onions, are a good choice
  • Fresh thai noodles
  • Meat: Really anything, we used Chicken breast, but great for tofu, chickpeas or shrimp

Directions:

  • Clean and dice meat, place in a bowl with a bit of sesame oil, diced garlic and red chili paste to marinate while you chop other ingredients
  • Dice onions, chop into bite sized pieces the remaining vegetables
  • Heat oil with garlic in a wok (or large sautee pan), add chicken and brown
  • Whisk together all sauces, set aside
  • Remove chicken to a plate with paper towel to drain
  • Add veggies, and 1/4 cup of water to deglaze pan. Sautee until cooked through.
  • Add fresh thai noodles and another 1/4 cup of water. Mix thoroughly and warm through.
  • Add in sauce mixture, mix thoroughly. Add back in chicken.

18 November 2009

How to Clean up Shattered Glass


Shattered glass - it happens to the best of us. Dropping a wine glass, a bottle of olive oil, or, in my case, a mason jar full of black coffee on a Monday morning as I am walking out the door makes for a very unpleasant and unsafe mess to clean up. What steps should you take?
  • My clean up process started with absorbing the coffee with my little kitchen throw rug (thankfully $5 at the Christmas Tree Shop and not $50 at West Elm) and also scooping up the majority of the larger glass shards across my beige tile floor. That was only half the battle, though. Then I was faced with a river of stubborn glass slivers.
  • My next step was pulling out the vacuum cleaner. This seemed to be a most important step. The vacuum picked up what a paper towel would never get.
  • Following the vacuum, I wet some paper towels and wiped up the floor. Got some all purpose cleaner, sprayed, rinsed, repeated. The vacuum made an encore appearance as well.

20 minutes later, I was on my way out the door. I had to get to work... this was no way to start my week. When I got home, I did a once over with the vacuum again and followed up with a swiffer. Then I looked up some helpful glass cleaning up tips to file in the back of my mind for the next time this happens because I am sure there will be a next time:
  • Vacuum (score)
  • wet paper towels while wearing rubber gloves (oops safety first kids)
  • roll a flashlight on the floor so it will set off a sparkle on those little slivers you missed
  • drag cotton along the surface, this will also pick up remnants (remember those rubber gloves)
  • run bar soap across surface, same idea as the cotton (gee rubber gloves keep popping up with these tips)
One big NO: Do not use a reusable towel to clean this mess up. Think disposable. If you do use a towel, be willing to part with it at the end (it's been a crazy, wild ride, $5 rug from Christmas Tree Shop).

17 November 2009

Cheese Straws

We hadn't heard of cheese straws until someone brought them in to work, but we quickly became fans. A long cheddar cracker with a spicy kick -- what's not to like? These are traditionally a Southern snack, but they're so easy and delicious we think they should be an NYC party staple.

That's why we were so excited to see this recipe for them on one of our favorite food blogs, smitten kitchen. We hadn't actually made anything from this blog yet (we mostly just ogled the pictures during our lunch break), but clearly this was a sign to take our relationship with smitten kitchen to the next level (we've since had good luck with her green bean salad).

Note: If you can't find your rolling pin, a commemorative glass from college works almost as well.

Cheese Straws
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon half-and-half (cream or milk would work just as well)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a food processor (a blender works fine), combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet (though it can't hurt to line with parchment), leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. Many of ours broke while trying to transfer, but it's not a problem — the straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.
4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.

16 November 2009

Low Cal Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich




The Healthy Egg Mc Muffin

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Sautee veggies with Adobo and Turmeric seasonings in small frying pan covered with Pam
  2. In small cereal bowl mix together Egg Beaters and Milk
  3. Once veggies are tender add them to your eggs and mix thoroughly
  4. Rinse pan and return to heat
  5. Once dry (either by heat or with paper towel) spray with Pam and add egg mixture cooking it like a omelet
  6. Toast English Muffin
  7. Once eggs are done to your liking plate English Muffin and make a sandwich with cheese on bottom and your egg omelet on top and enjoy!
Nutritional Information 2000 cal diet:
Cals 251 (13%), Fat 5g (8%), Sat Fat 2 (10%), Sodium 678mg (3%), Carbs 34g (11%), Fiber 6g (25%), Protien 19g (30%)



Commentary:
The first time I made this I was so surprised at how good it tasted! I used to HATE the idea of egg beaters. The first time I cooked with them (8 years ago) they left a weird film on my pan and tasted gross. I dont know what they did to their recipe, whoever changed it should get a hi five. Mixed with the right seasonings and veggies it tastes just like real eggs without all the fat, calories and cholesterol of real eggs. This sandwich is a perfect meal to get your day going while providing you with more then 1/4th of all the vitamins and minerals you need for the day and lets not forget it is way filling! If you wanted to bump up the protein add a slice of turkey bacon or your favorite deli meat. I hope you guys enjoy!

food stuff: sharp knives

this delightful blog called tea & cookies posted a very interesting, if detailed, post about the importance of sharp knives and how to maintain them.


i know nothing about knives and did, indeed, buy the butcher block full of knives that the author suggests NOT doing. now i know better, and you shall, too, after you read this. (oh and posted now because he talks about doing things before thanksgiving...)

15 November 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread



Just in time for the holidays. This 'bread' is more of a loaf, and a sweet one at that. Resembling a pound cake, it is heavy on the butter, eggs and sugar. Best served with and afternoon tea cup of Barry's in hand.


Ingredients:

3 large eggs

1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

¼ cup (60 ml) milk

1 ½ cups (210 grams) flour, sifted

¾ cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. grated lemon zest (outer yellow skin of the lemon)

3 tblsp. (30 grams) poppy seeds

13 tblsp. (184 grams) (about 1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened


Lemon Syrup:

1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar


Preheat oven to 350* F / 180* C. and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Lightly grease and flour the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. Line the bottom with the paper wrapping from one of the sticks of butter (greasy side up). Set aside.


In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk. Set aside.


By hand or with a mixer, blend the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds until combined. Add the softened butter and half the egg mixture, mixing until moistened. Beat well for about 1 minute (this aerates and develops the cake's structure), scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining egg mixture in two batches (beating about 30 seconds after each addition to strengthen the structure of the batter).


Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You may have to cover the bread with buttered foil after about 30 minutes if you find the bread over browning.


Bring the sugar and lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.


When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the hot loaf all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick and then brush the top of the loaf with about half the hot lemon syrup. Cool the loaf in the pan for about 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack. Brush the remaining syrup onto the bottom and the sides of the loaf. Re-invert the bread so it is right side up and then cool the bread completely before wrapping.


Store at least overnight before serving to allow the lemon syrup to distribute throughout the loaf.


Makes 1 loaf.


NOTA BENE: For coeliacs and gluten-free diets, a good substitute is a blend of soy, white rice and tapioca flours. Add an extra tsp. each of baking powder & soda to the flour mixture.


For those with a wheat intolerance, barley flour is good for baking.



14 November 2009

Alana's Tried-and-True Roasted Turkey Recipe!

Ed note: I'm posting this on behalf of Alana, who is actually cooking this today. Photos, if not animated GIFs, will follow shortly. - [dave]























Anybody can make a spectacular roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, or Halloween, or Tuesdays – whatever; I am convinced of it. I too was once deterred by this seemingly insurmountable task, but I was lucky to be given parts of this recipe from a trusted friend one year when I unexpectedly had to take over the holiday cooking duties in my family due to illness. I was daunted, but the recipe proved to be tried-and-true and it has sustained me for about 6 years now. Over time, I have added bits to it, using the advice of more trusted friends (and their moms!) and what is left is a hodge-podge of a recipe that I can hardly take credit for. It has been seasoned with love from every corner of my life and I promise that it will translate that into your own life as well. Trust me, this recipe will make your loved ones drool and think you are a magician. It’s not that hard, it just isn’t. There is a little prep work to be done, but it’s worth it and once it’s in the oven it’s in and you’re (mostly) free until the little red automatic timer pops out. Be bold! Go forth! Try this fool-proof recipe and you’ll never look back again.

Prep Time: 45-1hr for garlic butter mixture, 25 minutes for the rest of the prep.
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 to 10 servings















Ingredients

· I whole head of garlic
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil
· 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
· 1 stick of butter, slightly softened

Several hours before you begin roasting your turkey, roast your head of garlic in the oven by slicing off the top, covering it with the olive oil and wrapping it in aluminum foil. Stick it in the oven, cut side up, at 350º for about 45 minutes. You will likely smell it when it’s done. Cloves should be soft like butter on the inside. You may want to place a pan underneath to catch any drippings so that they don’t burn on the floor of your oven. When the garlic is roasted and has cooled, squeeze out the cloves and mix them with the butter and sage to form a thick paste.

· 1 turkey – the size depend on how many people you are feeding. 1½lb per person generally. The recipe below is for a 14-16 lb turkey. If using a frozen turkey, remember to give it 2-3 days in the refrigerator to defrost. Forgetting this step may lead to a sad Thanksgiving if no fresh turkeys are available.

· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1/2 medium onion
· 1/2 lemon
· 8-10 stalks of celery
· 1 carrot (or 2 mini carrots)
· 1-2 cloves of garlic
· 1/2 red apple
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil
· 1 tablespoon Bell’s seasoning
· 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
· 4 pieces of bacon – any kind will do
· 1 cup of apple cider

Directions

Adjust a rack to lowest position and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove turkey parts from neck and breast cavities and reserve for other uses, if desired. Dry bird well with paper towels, inside and out. Salt and pepper inside the breast cavity and stuff the onion, lemon, garlic, 1 stalk of celery, carrots, and apple inside. Using your fingers to separate the skin from the bird, start at the neck area and make your way into the breast are, making space. Fill that space with the garlic-butter-sage mixture. In your roasting pan, arrange the remaining celery stalks horizontally. Set the bird in the roasting pan on top of the celery; breast side up and massage generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, Bell's seasoning and ginger. Cover the breast and lower portion of the bird with the bacon slices. If using flavored bacon, I generally dip in water gently to rinse off any seasoning before applying. Pour the apple cider around the base of the bird. Tent the bird with foil.

Roast the turkey for 2 hours. Remove the foil and baste with the juices and cider from the bottom of the pan. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F and continue to roast until the timer pops out and/or a meat thermometer registers 165-180 degrees F in the thigh of the bird, about 45 minutes more.Juices should run clear.




















Remove turkey form the oven and set aside to rest for 15-30 minutes before carving. Carve and serve with gravy. You can make delicious gravy by taking the pan drippings from the roasting pan and boiling them in a sauce pan on top of your stove until it reduces slightly. Then turn the heat down to a simmer and spoon out about 3-4 tablespoons of this liquid into a glass bowl, add a teaspoon of flour or Wondra and whisk it with a whisk or fork until it thickens. Set this aside. To the mixture in the saucepan, whisk in about half a pack of McCormack's turkey gravy (yes, I know this is cheating, but hey, it's delicious), a tablespoon of spicy brown,whole grain or dijon mustard, and the flour mixture. Whisk this all together and then turn up the heat again until gravy thickens to desired consistency. You can always add more flour/Wondra in the method described above to thicken your gravy more during this process should you desire. Serve with the carved turkey and enjoy!!!

13 November 2009

vegetarian chipotle chili




















ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • minced garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 4 red peppers
  • 8 spring onions
  • 2 chipotle peppers
  • crushed hot chili peppers
  • 3 cans dark red kidney beans
  • 3 cans of diced tomatoes
  • a fistful of kalamata olives
  • a bunch of pepitas
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro
  • spices: cumin & pepper & salt & turmeric & paprika
instruction:
start with garlic and oil and chilies, dice everything else when appropriate (and its almost always appropriate) and toss in big pot, simmer for a couple hours, then serve.

chocolat fusilli



This $7.99 pasta from Chocolate Heaven leaves me both confused and intrigued, but the more I think about it the more I may be sensing an Iron Chef-like challenge?  Let me know if there are any takers in the comments.

h/t: rare bird finds.

12 November 2009

food stuff: bb rice krispie and candy sushi

despite being a horrible chef, i love reading about food and food stuff. so i will start posting about interesting food and food stuff i find online. here is the first from boing boing:

rice krispie and candy sushi


how fun is that?? maybe i can get my brothers to start eating this to trick them into eating sushi again...

11 November 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

















I don't know how I've been missing Cinnamon Chips in the baking aisle all these years, but they have to be my new favorite baking ingredient. They are fantastic. They add a super concentrated kick of cinnamon that is the definition of mad tasty.

This recipe, brought to you by Hershey's, is my new favorite recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies.
















Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Makes 4 dozen cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
  • 3/4 cup raisins
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Combine flour and baking soda in a medium sized mixing bowl
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy
  4. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well
  5. Add flour and baking soda to butter mixture, beating well
  6. Stir in oats, cinnamon chips, and raisins
  7. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet
  8. Bake 10 to 12 minutes on until lightly browned
  9. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack

10 November 2009

Sweetspot Cookie Bars


It seems like it's time for a cookie break.

When I start pining for a chocolate chip cookie, this is the one I want. Which is lucky for me because it's an easy recipe, one that produces a slight sugar crust, which is basically an envelope for some pillowey, chocolate- and vanilla-laced half-inch-thick sweet spot chocolate-chip-cookie action. The recipe originally came from the America's Test Kitchen mavens (Melted butter? An egg and a yolk?); my only real modification is to press it into a 9x13 pan rather than roll them into balls.

I never thought I'd turn into this type of person, but what makes these cookies dangerously easy is a scale. You do have to do some math that requires adding fractions. Otherwise just dump the sugar and the flour directly into the mixing bowls, and your only dirty dishes will be a whisk, spatula, mixing bowl, a 1/2 t measuring spoon, and the dish you melt the butter in.
Sweetspot Cookie Bars
  • 6 oz butter (12 T), melted and then cooled slightly
  • 7 oz light brown sugar (1 cup)
  • 3-1/2 oz sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 10-5/8 oz flour (2 cups + 2 T)
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans or walnuts (optional!)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk the butter into the sugars, mixing well. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, again mixing well. In separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, and salt, and then stir this mixture into the butter-sugar mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Press into a rectangular 13x9 Pyrex dish. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown in the center. Allow to cool for at least a half hour before slicing into bars.

09 November 2009

kitchen katastrophe: homemade bbq chicken pizza

welcome back my lovelies! kit kat is back! one might think that there have been no kitchen katastrophe posts in a while because there have been no kitchen katastrophes. if only that were the case... alas, i have not improved in the kitchen. this makes me avoid cooking more and more. but i shall prevail! or, more accurately, attempt to prevail and record my misadventures here.

to begin, i thought i would write about a recipe i made that was so perfect until literally the last second.

at the lovely hornbachers grocery store (yes, that's really the name) in fargo, north dakota, where my parents live, i found a fun pre-made pizza crust. it was whole wheat, which makes me feel like i'm eating healthily, so i bought it wondering what i could make with it. and then it hit me: homemade pizza! possibly one of the easiest things ever - how could i screw up? if you are short on time and want to throw something easy together, use this recipe for a delicious barbecue chicken pizza:
"Homemade" Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Ingredients
  1. two chicken breasts
  2. shredded cheese - i prefer colby jack blend
  3. pre-made pizza crust (e.g. boboli or whatever hornbacher's sells)
  4. barbecue sauce (i recommend hunt's original)
  5. jalapenos, onions, or other veggies you like
Directions
  • Cook the chicken breast in oil with some salt and pepper to taste. Cut into pieces about the size of a quarter
  • Spread barbecue sauce on the pizza crust - use as little or be as liberal as you like - depends on how much barbecue you like
  • Place the chicken on the barbecue sauce, cover with cheese and any veggies you like
  • Follow baking instructions on the pizza crust label
  • Enjoy!
i call this "homemade" in quotations because nothing is really MADE per se - you could make your own crust, but i don't know how to do that.

bbq chicken pizza is quite possibly my favorite food if done correctly. i LOVE it. so on the night that i was making this for my mom and i, i was quite excited. i splurged and bought organic chicken (which is really expensive in remote fargo), all natural cheese and put jalapenos on half of the pizza since my mom doesn't like them. we were so hungry waiting for it to bake. the directions suggested i bake it on a cookie sheet, which i did. i took it out of the oven and let it cool on the counter for a bit. i grabbed the rolling pizza cutter and starting cutting - not realizing the cookie sheet was not fully on the counter. as i drew the cutter towards me, it tried cutting pizza that wasn't balanced on the counter and all of a sudden, before i could blink - the pizza was all over my shoe, the floor, the shelves below the counter... my mom was standing next to me and we stared at each other with mouths agape. after picking it up, here is what it looked like:

of all my kitchen katastrophes, this was the one with which i was the most disappointed. we were shocked and dismayed and hungry. in the end, it was arby's roast beef for us. such a sad compromise.

what is your backup dinner?

08 November 2009

Roasted Tomatillo and Chili Salsa



This is a variation of a recipe a friend gave me last summer; with the original all you have to do is throw all the ingredients into a blender and then serve, ending up a with an extremely fresh and zingy green salsa (add chilis depending on taste!). This roasted winter version turned out sweeter and thicker. Very different but just as good! Can be served with everything; as a snack with corn chips, on any mexican food (obviously), with eggs in the morning, in sandwiches, soups, what have you...
  • 11 medium tomatillos
  • 1 serano chili
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 pasillo chili (dried works as well)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 bunch coriander/cilantro
  • a little olive oil and salt
(Makes around 1 and 1/2 medium jam jars)
  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius. Peel the husks (if still attached) off the tomatillos and quarter them. Together with the chilis throw them on a roasting pan with a little olive oil and salt.
  2. Roast for around 25 mins or until tomatillos are soft and beginning to brown. Mine were in between a solid state and an almost carmelized one.
  3. Deseed the chilis to taste, I removed about two thirds from each chili.
  4. Place tomatillos, chilis, garlic, lime and coriander in blender and blend to desired consistency.
  5. Serve still warm or cool, store in fridge, not sure how long it keeps as we usually finish it within three days...

07 November 2009

South West Grilled Chicken and Green Beans

With a little prep you too can make this tasty yet healthy meal... Just kidding, I'm not that pretentious and neither is this meal, though it kinda taste like it, and I meant that in a good way.


Ingredients:
  • 1 Sachet of southwest seasoning (or make your own: cumin, pepper, chilli powder, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, bit of hot sauce)
  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup of chicken broth
  • 3 large handfuls of green beans
Instructions:

Step 1: Marinate the chicken overnight in the seasoning. i.e. put it in a ziploc bag with a couple tablespoon of white vinegar, a 1/4 cup of canola oil, and half a cup of water.

Step 2a and 2b: Heat your grill pan and oven to 350

Step 3: Place the chicken on the grill (or saute) pan


Step 4: Turn the Chicken after about 5-7 minutes (once one side is brown). Let the other side brown.


Step 5: Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. It really depends on how thick the breasts are. These were some big honkers so your are quite as massive maybe 15 minutes.

Step 6:Pull chicken out of the oven and set aside. Now, take a look at all of that browned gook at the bottom of the pan....


Step 7a: It's actually goodness. Place the pan back on the stove at med high heat, splash some chicken broth on it and move it around. I think this is what they call deglazing....

Step 7b. throw those green beans in. They should cook up in about 7 minutes.


Step 8a, 8b, 8c: Slice Chicken, Serve and Enjoy

06 November 2009

Baked feta and tomato

















This is so quick and easy, and SO tasty - its perfect for throwing together when you don't have the energy for much else.

Ingredients:
  • Feta cheese or goats cheese
  • Vine tomoatoes
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
Also can use:
  • Fresh Basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Serve with salad, as done here, or on a toasted ciabatta or brown soda bread.

Can be baked at 180C or grilled.

1. Preheat the oven or grill. Slice the tomatoes and feta.

2. Put the feta and tomato into a dish with olive oil, season with the rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. Optionally add some balsamic vinegar.

3. Bake in the oven, or grill, for 20 minutes.

4. If using bread, add in for last 5 or 10 minutes.

5. Serve the feta and tomato on the bread and/or with salad. Make sure to scoop out all the olive oil from the dish and drizzle it over the top. Finish with the fresh basil, chopped and sprinkled on top.

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05 November 2009

Ouzi: National Dish of Jordan

For those of you who aren’t aware I’m having a love affair with middle eastern / african food, and wanted to share my recent introduction to a wonderfully flavorful new dish from Jordan I had while enjoying live Belly Dancing, Shisha and microbrews: Ouzi, sometimes referred to as Mansaf. At its core, the dish is just your basic chicken and rice, but with all the flavors, it is truly much more. Enjoy!



Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
• 8 Chicken thighs
• ½ cup low fat, plain yogurt, divided
• 2 tbl Four Spice mixture (equal parts Ginger, Cloves, Nutmeg and Black Pepper)
• 1 cup brown rice
• Pinch of Saffron
• ¼ cup each almonds and pine nuts
• ½ cup shredded carrots
• ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
• 3 cloves garlic, minced and divided
• ½ bunch parsley, chopped and divided
• 2 tbls Lemon Juice, divided

Directions:

Prep ahead:
1. Prep the Chicken: Wash and clean thighs; marinate 12 - 24 hours in a combination of ½ yogurt, ½ garlic, salt and pepper
2. Toast and chop almonds and pine nuts: prep a medium skillet over medium heat, add almonds and pine nuts, watching carefully. As soon as they start to brown, remove pan from heat, cool and store up to 3 days.
3. Make the Dressing: Mix 1/4 cup yogurt, minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley well, and store up to 3 days.

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 375 F
2. Prepare brown rice as directed, using low sodium chicken or veggie stock for extra flavor.
3. Preheat a medium skillet with 2 tbls of olive oil, wipe excess yogurt and garlic from chicken thighs. Dust skin side with four spice mixture.
4. Put thighs skin side down in skillet until crispy, turn over, dust with spice mixture and repeat. Remove excess fat and place in oven while remainder of dish is prepared.
5. Mince onion and garlic, sauté until translucent in butter. Add rice, 1/4 cup of stock, saffron, and remaining lemon juice, mix well, simmer for 2 - 3 min. Add in carrots and peas, mix well, remove from pan and let cool 2 - 3 min. Add in toasted nuts and remaining parsley.
6. Serve on a platter with chicken on the bed of rice and drizzle with yogurt dressing.

Alternatives: traditionally, ground lamb is added into the rice mixture; remove chicken skin for lower fat alternative; use ½ water, ½ stock for lower sodium; add feta to the rice for some extra tang and creaminess

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