Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sundried tomato pasta w/steak and lemon butter asparagus.


Tonight for dinner I got a little ambitious. I didn't mean to be so ambitious. When I was wandering around Kroger looking for the ingredients for the Sun Dried Tomato Mac and Cheese I didn't think about the recipe being difficult to make. And it's not really. But it is kind of time consuming and it dirties up a lot of dishes. And I'm never very confident in my cheese sauce capabilities so I'm always super paranoid I'm gonna screw it up, so I don't know why I thought this was going to be super easy and slap dash, but I did.

I think the recipe could've used a bit more sun dried tomatoes (I think I just didn't have enough left in my jar) but otherwise it was pretty good. Very cheesy and not grainy like my mac and cheese usually turns out.

I paired it with some lemon butter steamed asparagus and grilled sirloin steak. All in all, a very tasty meal (and not chicken!).

As a side note, yesterday I made Bacon Pesto Pasta for a side dish to a lunch I was invited to. I added some sun dried tomatoes to that recipe too and OMG it was delicious. I think I like it just a wee bit better than the mac and cheese recipe from tonight, and that's surprising since I'm not much of a pesto fan. Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of it but I plan on making it again so I will be sure to take some next time.

Also, after learning how to make my own szechuan sauce I've gotten hooked on making stir fry. I make it about once a week now and instead of my usual chicken + a shit ton of vegetables I've simplified it with paring it down just to one vegetable and using shrimp instead (to cut back on my chicken intake). I also enjoy having it with vegetable fried right to kick it up a notch from plain steamed white rice.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Food Evolution

As a kid I was a pretty picky eater. The list of foods I did like was probably a lot shorter than the list of foods I didn't like. I didn't like onions, beans, tomatoes, pretty much all vegetables, pears, peaches, strawberries, lemons, limes, berries of any sort, melons (pretty much most fruits except for apples and bananas), peanut butter, meatloaf, turkey, fish and seafood, sushi, salad dressing other than ranch, and the list goes on. It was pretty ridiculous. I didn't eat turkey at Thanksgiving dinner for years.

I've actually grown up a lot as far as food goes. I slowly learned to eat most of the stuff served at Thanksgiving (except for that nasty cranberry sauce). I grew to tolerate more vegetables (squash, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and many others) and fruits. I'll now happily nosh on strawberries and grapes and I'll even do berries and peaches in cobblers. Once I went to college and moved away from home it's like a switch went off in my brain and I suddenly decided to like food. I saw my friend eat a peanut butter sandwich for a snack once and thought 'hey, I bet that'd be pretty good!' and it was! And so now I eat peanut butter. The strangest thing was the time I woke up one morning with a serious craving for sushi. Sushi was something I had never eaten before in my life and always shunned it as 'bait'. So I tried it and OMG, it was pretty much one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten and now it's one of my favorite foods. I love spicy food now. I'll eat pretty much any sort of ethnic cuisine. I love sushi, mexican, chinese, japanese, indian, ethiopian. I'll pretty much try anything.

My last hurdles of Pickiness have been beans and raw tomatoes (I'll eat them in any form other than sliced raw. I love salsa, spaghetti sauce, and sun dried tomatoes). The whole point of this blog post is that I've overcome one of those hurdles. I think I officially like beans now. I willingly and knowingly made beans and rice for dinner and I ENJOYED it. Sure I've had sweet baked beans as a side, and I've had some refried beans in fajitas. I've had a bite of them here and there and tolerated them but never really sought them out. They weren't the main feature of any dish. Just some minor bit part to play a supporting role to the real stars of dinner. Well not tonight. They were up front and center stage and they were tasty. The bean hurdle has been conquered.

Who knows...maybe one day I'll learn to like raw tomatoes too. Maybe that will be my ultimate adventure in foodland.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cooking Experiments

I did two cooking experiments today. I stepped out of my comfort zone a few times and was paid off with tasty foodstuffs to fill my belly with.

First up, bacon, egg and toast cups.  I stumbled across the recipe yesterday and thought it looked 1.) cute and 2.) tasty. I figured it'd be an interesting way to mix up the usual bacon, egg and toast breakfast we have on the weekends. It was technically brunch since I didn't get around to making them until around 2:00 this afternoon. I only made two since Kevin was still in bed hung over. He got to have left over chinese food for breakfast instead.

Aren't they cute? I really liked these. It's kind of like a cheap eggs benedict knock off and would probably be even better with some hollandaise sauce.

For dinner tonight I got ambitious and took on two recipes that were fiddly and time consuming. Both from the Budget Bytes blog (I'm telling you, this girl knows her stuff!). I made her vegetable not fried rice and crab and cream cheese won tons. Both recipes turned out great and went really well together. For the fried rice I cheated and used frozen peas and carrots for my veggies plus half of a red pepper that has seen better days that was sitting in the veggie drawer. I really enjoyed the nuttiness of the sesame oil in the rice and the peas and carrots were a nice touch. It wasn't heavy or greasy like the fried rice you get from chinese restaurants.

I made Kevin help with the rice while I focused my attention on the won tons. They were a gigantic pain in the ass to make (the recipe makes a LOT of won tons so you're stuck stuffing them for awhile) but they were really, really delicious. I used imitation crab meat instead of lobster meat. I also pan fried them using a little bit of vegetable oil instead of non stick spray. I'm convinced the non stick spray I have just makes my pans sticky.

I've got left over crab meat and won tons so I might wind up making these again sometime this week. Or perhaps making the won tons up and freezing them for future use. I think they'd probably freeze ok, yeah?

I definitely recommend trying out both of these recipes. They can be doctored up a bit to your preferred tastes or to whatever ingredients you have on hand so they're nice and flexible. I plan making them again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A meal that isn't chicken!

Look ma! No chicken! I broke out of the chicken rut and tried my hand at some enchiladas from the Budget Bytes blog.

I did take a picture of my enchilada on a plate but it was a decidedly less appetizing photo. Though if you really want to see it, go here.)These enchiladas were pretty good. Not really a replacement for going out to a mexican restaurant (no endless tortilla chips and cheese dip!) and I actually really prefer the shredded chicken enchiladas from those restaurants. But they weren't bad and I don't consider it a failed experiment. They were pretty easy to put together but I don't know how often I'll make this recipe though. It makes a crap ton of food and unfortunately they don't really reheat well. Kevin and I had the leftovers for dinner tonight and the wraps were soggy and kind of mushy (I even did it the slow way and reheated them in the oven). So that's a downer.

To sum up, this recipe was a nice break from chicken (though it probably would've been better if I made it with chicken) but the left overs do not reheat well.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Honey Lime Chicken

It's usually pretty rare that I have all ingredients necessary for any new recipe I want to try. Trying a new recipe usually requires a trip to the grocery store to buy some specialty ingredient that I would never think to have on hand and may never use in another recipe again. Tonight however there was the perfect storm of ingredients and I actually had everything on hand (namely limes and jalapenos) necessary to make this Honey Lime Roast Chicken in this month's issue of Food Network Magazine. Yes, yes, I know, it's more chicken! But this chicken was 98 cents a pound and the recipe looked tasty so there you go.

The only change I made was that I used split chicken breasts instead of half chickens and I didn't have regular thyme so I used my lemon thyme from the herb garden. Not really major changes at all.

The chicken was delicious and came out looking really similar to the picture (as you can see from above).  I served it with rice and roasted broccoli. Kevin declared that it was 'the bomb'.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Eat more chicken

One thing I don't really need to do is eat more chicken. I eat chicken so much I'm fairly certain I'm going to grow feathers and start clucking. I eat it grilled, in stir fry, baked, sauteed and fried. Chicken, chicken everywhere. You can tell that I'm uninspired come dinner time if chicken is on the menu.

But one recipe I've tried lately that I really enjoy is the Coconut chicken strips from Budget Bytes.

(pardon the photo, I forgot to take one before eating)

The recipe itself is really simple. She's also got a version for spicy strips with sriracha sauce. I didn't have any on hand but I like the idea of making them have a little kick so I add hot sauce to the egg wash and cayenne pepper to the flour mixture. Gives them a little heat. Also, the sweet chili sauce is a must. It really does add something special. I enjoyed these so much the first time I ate them I made them again a week later. I also made them this past weekend for our poker party and they were a hit, everyone raved about them and kept asking me what the sauce was.

I really like the Budget Bytes blog. She has plenty of recipes that are easy to make and I usually have most of the ingredients on hand. I recently made her Garlic Noodles to go with some fish for dinner and they were fantastic. No modifications needed for that recipe and I would've gladly made them again if Kevin hadn't used up the angel hair pasta for spaghetti.

I also want to share a recipe that my sister gave me for chex mix. (I lovingly refer to it as chex crack.) She makes it every year for Christmas but since Kevin and I alternate holidays now some years I don't get to have it and that makes me sad. I insisted on getting the recipe so I can make my own for special occasions (or when I feel like putting on 10lbs). I made a half batch this weekend for the party and it was wildly popular with the ladies. It's a sweet/savory mix and almost impossible to stop eating. Also, it's very, very bad for you. Make at your own risk.

4 sticks butter
2 cups oil
1 cup sugar (plus some brown sugar if you feel so inclined)
8 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and boil for 5 minutes. Pour over:

1 box rice chex
1 box corn chex
1 box honeycomb
1 bag pretzels

This makes TWO gigantic disposable baking pans. The glaze doesn't look like it will be enough for both pans but it will be. Bake at 250 for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. Share with everyone you know and become the most popular person in your circle of friends.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Recipe round up

I've been reading a lot about quinoa lately. Recipes for it have been showing up a lot in my food network magazine. People seem to be talking about it. Apparently it's the hot new 'healthy' thing to eat these days. First couscous, now quinoa. I decided to get some and give it a try.

I marinated some chicken in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon thyme, dill and spicy oregano (all herbs from my little garden). That was thrown on the grill and I made the quinoa w/roasted garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  The veggies I cheated on, they were just frozen microwave veggies.

I have to say, I don't think a huge fan of quinoa. It just tastes...healthy. I think I'll stick with couscous. The herbs were great on the chicken though.

Recently for dinner I made this recipe. Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina (sorry, no pictures). I changed it just a wee bit based on the reviews. I used two cans of diced italian tomatoes (to avoid the dryness people complained about), two chicken breasts, bow tie pasta and a healthy squeeze of my sun dried tomato paste. It's a pretty tasty recipe. It's light since there aren't any heavy sauces involved and it makes a crap ton. Definitely enough for leftovers for a few lunches. It's super easy and great to throw together when I don't want to be too involved for dinner but want to make sure there's something leftover for lunch.

Lastely, this morning I tried a little trick I've read on the internet in a few places. Candied bacon. Basically you sprinkle bacon with brown sugar and bake it until crispy. Kev's out of town this weekend so I figured it would be a great time to try it (he'd never understand). It was mostly out of curiosity. It was...ok. I thought it'd be more nirvana like based on the way people rave about it. Honestly, I think I prefer my bacon straight up fried and salty. What can I say, I'm a purist.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Playing Catch up

So I've slacked off a bit on posting my food stories and experiments. I'm not branching out as often as I was (laziness) but there are a few things to share.

First, some strawberry short pound cake.

The pound cake was make with this recipe. Very traditional. Loads of butter, eggs, sugar and flour. Nice and basic. I baked it in my silicone bundt pan however and it took FOR-EV-ER. Seriously, like an hour and a half and the middle was still a little runny when I gave up and pulled it out. I let it cool for a good long time and it actually turned out about perfect. The edges were a little over done but the middle was nice and moist.

To top it off I sliced up strawberries and sprinkled them with sugar just let the magic happen while the cake was baking. I also got ambitious and whipped up my own whipped topping using whipping cream, vanilla, and a bit of sugar. Why didn't anybody ever tell me it was so easy? And delicious! Yum!

The pound cake recipe makes a lot of pound cake. Seriously, like a lot. I'm pretty sure that cake weighed like 5lbs when it was all said and done. So I make up Alton Brown's lemon curd recipe (found in the link I just posted) and brought slices to work to share. My lemon curd was a bit too runny and didn't set up properly but still tasted quite delicious when drizzled over the cake.

Speaking of strawberries...

This little guy came off of my strawberry plants I just planted last weekend. So far it's the only ripe berry we've gotten and he was kind of tiny but uber delicious. I can't wait until we get more berries. I'm not sure how many berries 3 plants will produce so I'm considering getting a few more. Fresh strawberries > Kroger strawberries.

Strawberry plants.

Along with strawberries we are also growing herbs, lettuce, tomatos and peppers.

In this box you will find sage, cilantro, lemon thyme, spicy oregano, rosemary, mixed lettuce plants, dill, and parsley.


Green peppers (they're in pots now).

Kevin still has to build a second box for me. I want cherry tomatoes and hot pepper plants too. We're on week 3 of our little garden and so far nobody's died yet so I'm pretty excited. I'm looking forward to using my own herbs in my cooking. I can't wait to try that lemon thyme on some chicken. It smells so delicious.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Broccoli rice casserole

Continuing in the yellow(ish) food theme, here is a broccoli casserole I tried a few weeks ago. I got the recipe from another food blog I follow, Budget Bytes. I was kind of extra inspired to make it after having another broccoli casserole at a friend's house for dinner a few nights before.

There are a few key difference in my friend's recipe and mine. Her's was very simple. I believe it was just steamed frozen broccoli, velveeta cheese and crushed up Ritz crackers. I know, I know, it doesn't sound very classy but sometimes Velveeta cheese is just called for and it really worked in that recipe. It was delicious and cheesy and I'm pretty sure everyone had second helpings.

This recipe has a few more ingredients in it. So I thought "Oh! If she can make a good casserole with velveeta cheese then surely this will be extra delicious!" And it was good. Not extra delicious, but it was good. I think it could've been cheesier and it almost seemed a little...bland. I think the lack of salt in the recipe is noticeable.

So maybe sometimes it pays to KISS (keep it simple stupid) and this may have been one of those instances. While the casserole I made was pretty ok, the casserole my friend made (which was infinitely simpler) was delicious and will probably be my go to recipe for cheesy broccoli goodness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cooking with Manda and Boo!

I got to make a nice visit up to see dear Manda this weekend. We took the opportunity to do some cooking together.

The theme seemed to be yellow food.

We had homemade mac and cheese with bacon.

This was super easy and delicious. I may not ever go back to making mac and cheese from a box ever again.

Then we had lemon curd with short bread crust for dessert.

The curd was deliciously lemony, if a wee bit too sweet. The short bread crust stuck to the pie plate however and when we actually tried to serve slices it was more like...chiseling out stone covered in pudding. Delicious, but definitely not pretty. I'm thinking this recipe may be improved by making short bread cookies and spreading lemon curd on them.

I'll definitely give the recipes another try. Kevin really seemed to like it (after knocking on the poor broken apart scoops for a good half hour) and I'm still into my lemon phase.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lemony Snickets

I really thought I had posted about this recipe before. Apparently I haven't, as I discovered this past Friday as I was desperately trying to find the recipe to bake up some cookies for my friend Morgan and my printed copy was MIA.

Fortunately I did email myself the recipe one day (anticipating something like this) so I was able to bake the cookies.

This is a recipe I got off of livejournal one day. I wasn't a huge fan of the cookies the first time I made them. Not sure what it was, but they just didn't impress me. But Morgan liked them and requested them around Christmas when I on a baking frenzy. So I made them and the entire office went nuts over this little lemony delights. The second batch was definitely better than the first and I got loads of requests for the recipe. In fact, if I did lose my printed version I could just go to anybody else in the office now and copy theirs since everyone has it now.

The trick to this recipe I think is to be generous with the lemon. I use the juice of one whole lemon and the zest of two lemons. I also go a little easier on the flour. Roll in sugar before baking  or dust with powdered sugar right out of the oven. Whatever tickles your fancy.

1/2 butter (softened)
1 1/6 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tsp lemon juice (one whole lemon)
1 tsp lemon zest (two lemons)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 + 1/3 cup flour

bake 11-13 minutes at 375 until golden brown and delicious..

Sorry, no pictures this time. I will take pictures next time I make them. Who knows whenever that will be seein' as the oven is broken now. (TRAGIC!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 pancakes...


I love pancakes. Pancakes are definitely one of my favorite breakfast foods. Right behind Eggs Benedict. And Biscuit and Gravy. But they're up there, that's all that matters. And because they're easy I tend to make them most weekends. I'm partial to Alton Brown's buttermilk pancake recipe. It makes beautiful fluffy delicious pancakes. And having the mix made up before hand just means I can scoop out 1 cup and make enough batter for 6 pancakes.

But, we don't always have buttermilk on hand. That's what happened this past weekend. But Kevin really wanted pancakes. So I did what any loving girlfriend would do on Valentine's Day. I made him beer pancakes. Ok, to be fair he helped. I mixed up the batter and he cooked them (I get antsy with pancakes and always want to flip too early).

They were delicious! We used Sam Adam's Coastal Wheat and I added a touch of brown sugar to the batter (to make sure they weren't too beery). Word of warning though, don't use cold beer. Cold beer + melted butter = lumpy coagulated butter. I learned that the hard way and had to redo the liquid part of the batter. Second time around I mixed the egg into the butter and made sure the beer was warmer. That made it all better. I also used a smidge more butter than the recipe calls for. I like buttery pancakes.

These pancakes weren't quite as light and fluffy as AB's but they were damn tasty. This recipe will definitely be our backup for when we are out of buttermilk.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow baking part deux.

So you know how I said in my last entry, "When it snows, I bake."? Well I wasn't kidding about the snow. This is what I woke up to Saturday morning.

And you know the best part about snowy weekends? (Actually weekends in general for that matter.) BREAKFAST! I eat stupid cereal all week long just so I can have a nice hearty breakfast on the weekend. Most of the time this is pancakes and bacon and eggs or omelets or biscuits. This weekend I got ambitious and decided to try eggs benedict.

I followed the Pioneer Woman's blender method for the hollandaise but more or less used a scaled down recipe from I also didn't have any canadian bacon on hand so I just used bacon (and fried bologna (shut up! don't judge me!)). I need to work on my egg poaching technique. I pulled the first egg too early so the yolk broke, and my eggs got cold while I was trying to poach Kev's eggs. But overall I'd have to say it was really damn good. The sauce was absolutely fantastic and there's nothing quite like a good eggs benedict. It's so rich and comforting. It's probably just a shade under biscuit and gravy in my breakfast hierarchy.

But Bailie you say, breakfast isn't baking! This is true. But I did also make that Mocha Coffee Coffee cake I mentioned before.

I even took pictures of the process!

All the main players.

Showing my lovely new kitchen aid in action. Look at that beater blade go!

All of the batters (3!) in the floppy pan.

Golden brown and delicious.

And of course, finished off with a glaze.

I didn't have an instant espresso on hand so I used instant coffee instead. That's the only substitution I made. I think I over baked the cake just a shade. I did it for less time than called for but I think with the floppy pan it still baked up faster than I anticipated. My glaze was also a little thin and soaked into the cake a bit too much. But overall this cake was pretty good. It has a very strong coffee flavor so if you're into that then this cake should be right up your ally. Not to mention, having 3 batter bowls to lick clean? Can we say, HELL YEAH? I knew you could!

fun with leftovers

last week or so... or maybe the week before that... anyway i was slow getting to the grocery store and had company coming over. what's a girl to do with (practically) nothing in her fridge?

course #1 - beer stuffing
deep in the far corner of my freezer, i found some multigrain bread that i'm fairly certain pre-dates myspace. i also had some baby carrots, celery and a lonely shallot. throw all the kids in the pool, add salt, pepper, oregano and some beer and you get something like this.

let the stuffing cool for a bit, add an egg, bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees and you get some pretty kickass stuffing.
apologies for the lack of an 'after' photo, trust me it was tastey-looking.

on to course #2 - sweet potato and beef empanadas
i had a pillsbury pie shell laying around - i had ever intention of making a pecan pie, honest, i did but my plans never came together. so using a glass, we cut the pie shell into little rounds. add some ground beef leftover from taco night, some over-seasoned, disappointing, roasted sweet potatoes and a pinch of cheese and you've got empanadas! more cheese on top and quick egg wash, and these are picture perfect:

i've tried empanada recipes before with puff pastry, but the pillsbury pie crust was vastly superior! i was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

When it snows...I bake.

One of my favorite things about snow is that it gives me a good excuse to stay home and bake and cook my little heart out. Last weekend was those fabulous chocolate chip cookies, and this weekend I've been busy making pizza from scratch, eggs benedict (a post to come on that later) and White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies. Later today I'm planning on making Mocha Coffee Coffee Cake but this post isn't about that. This post is about the cookies.

I'll be honest. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies aren't my favorite. (They're not even in my top 5) I'm a chocolate chip girl through and through. But Kevin requested them since they are his favorite and since I do like him I made up a batch using Joy the Baker's recipe.

As you can see, they're pretty delicious looking.

I followed the recipe as directed. Including browning the butter and making little brown bits. I have to say for a kind of cookie I'm not entirely fond of, they're pretty damn good. Kev's words were "That's some good shit!" so I think that means he approves.They're really sweet, but nice and soft and chewy. Great texture. I probably won't make them as often as I make chocolate chip cookies, but this recipe will definitely go into my cookie bank to be used for social occasions and holiday baking.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sometimes food catches you by surprise.

Kev had the bright idea to make blackened chicken wraps for dinner last night. It sounded fine enough so I let him concoct his little creation. It was chicken w/balsamic vinaigrette and Cajun seasoning, rice, black beans, caramelized onions and some salad mix/lettuce wrapped up in a whole wrap tortilla. I didn't really think much about it, I just figured it was a simple slap dash throw it together type of dinner so I didn't take and pictures. (Kev even said, "What, you won't take pictures when I cook dinner?!". Sorry, hon, I didn't expect it to be that good!)

Much to my surprise though it was really, really delicious. The chicken had just enough kick to it, the caramelized onions added a very nice depth of flavor to the wrap and I think I'm finally getting over my bean aversion (they're the kind of food that I'll eat, but won't actively seek out). I liked it so much I made Kev share half of his second wrap with me because I wanted more.

I think I'll definitely have him make this dish more often when I'm not in the mood for cooking. It may have even inspired me to take on the poor man's staple 'beans and rice' one day now that I realize that combination really isn't that bad.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Best ever chocolate chip cookies


Since we got a big pile of snow on the ground yesterday and got invited over to our friend's place for a warm chili dinner, I decided to take advantage of the situation and bake up a batch of cookies. I stumbled upon a recipe from for the best chocolate chip cookies ever and decided to give them a try.

And you know what? The title of that recipe is not an exaggeration. Those cookies were FABULOUS. They turned out just the way I like them. Thick and chewy and soft. They were just puffy enough to make me happy but chewy enough that everyone else just loved them. I did change a few minor things. I used 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 3/4 cup white sugar (to help with the chewiness) and I was generous with the flour to make sure they didn't flatten out too much.

I took the cookies with us when we trekked through the snow to our friends' place for dinner. The cookies were raved about and all gobbled up before the night was out. I have to say, I'm pretty happy with this recipe and I think it may be my new go to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stuffed Peppers with Turkey and Vegetables


I discovered this recipe (surprise it's not a food network recipe!) a few months ago when I decided I wanted to try my hand at making stuffed peppers. It had plenty of good reviews and I liked the idea of making it healthier by using the ground turkey and loads of veggies.  The first couple of times I made it pretty much as listed in the recipe. I like using Italian seasoned canned tomatoes and sun dried tomato paste. This go around I added some fresh parsley and used frozen spinach since we never use up all of the fresh spinach we have left over. I also added mushrooms since I had them on hand. It definitely pays to be generous with the seasonings as well.

It makes a boat load of stuffing (I usually only stuff 2 peppers) so there are usually enough leftovers to eat for dinner again or for a couple of lunches. That's my favorite kind of recipe.

(this is what was left after stuffing two peppers)

We like to have it with rice but you can certainly do without if you are watching calories (the recipe itself is very low cal). I definitely don't feel guilty when I eat a bit extra just because there are so many veggies in this dish. So tasty and so filling and so healthy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Back to basics

One of my favorite basic dinners to make is stir fry (which technically it isn't really a stir fry since I don't have a wok and don't cook it hot enough like you're supposed to, but whatever). Kev and I usually have it a couple of times a month. It's easy, tasty, filling and there's usually enough for leftovers for lunch. We normally do chicken stir fry, but occasionally if we catch beef on sale we'll do beef stir fry.

The basic recipe usually includes green or red bell peppers, some hot chilies like habaneros, serranos or jalapenos (usually all of them), onion (caramelized), mushrooms, garlic, and sometimes broccoli if I think to pick it up. I cook the meat first, usually in a bit of olive oil, some stir fry sauce like szechuan suace or teriyaki sauce (usually both), seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic. Then I cook up the onions first to get them nice and browned before adding the other veggies (which have been given the same seasonings as the meat, and broccoli always goes in last just to get it a nice bright green but without making it mushy).

The hotter the peppers and the hotter the stir fry sauce we can use, the happier we are. We love to have it extra hot w/a tall glass if milk to drink. We eat it served over jasmine rice and it's just perfect. I don't think we've ever had a bad batch even though we never measure, never time and the ingredients usually change a little bit each time we make it. And it's a million times better than the frozen bag stir fries and infinitely better for you. And this is simple enough that Kev can make it if I'm not in the mood to cook (which he did last night).

Does anyone have stir fry recipes they like to make? Or any extra veggies we can toss in there that would make a good addition? I'm thinking maybe baby corn would be welcome to the party sometime.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Dear Manda Mae,

I did not do ANY cooking this weekend. Therefore you need to pick up on the posting slack!


Bailie Boo

Saturday, January 23, 2010

compost cookie test case #1

my base recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and i was going to copy the recipe here, but the recipe is copyrighted by CI. i have pretty strong feelings about taking what isn't yours. with that said, the cookie recipe i'm linking to is a workhorse! so do yourself a favor and register for the free trial.

Cook's Illustrated Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

now on to the first batch of compost cookies!
if you recall the compost cookie from momofuku has chocolate chips, pretzels, chips, butterscotch chips and coffee grounds. i set out with the best of intentions, but naturally was lazy and didn't make it to the grocery store. so ingredients were limited to what was available at cvs and in my pantry.
i started with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and went from there.

3/4 cup white chocolate chips - i thought i had regular chocolate, but i didn't
3/4 cup pretzels - chopped into manageable pieces
3/4 cup extra crunchy potato chips - i went with the lays kettle cooked hoping the extra crunchy chips would hold up better in the batter
1 king size heath bar - cvs doesn't make a habit of carrying butterscotch, heath seemed close enough
1 tablespoon instant coffee - coffee grounds doesn't sound appetizing, does it?

as you can see it makes for an interesting batter. i broke up the chips a bit before adding them and i was correct in choosing the extra crunchy chips. they didn't break up too much in the batter. i didn't mix the fixins before adding and i really wish i would have. with all the kids in the pool that batter was very stiff and difficult to stir. the goal is to have a bite of every ingredient in every bite. not sure my batch came out all that varied.

here's the final product! i was going to be obnoxious and draw arrows pointing to all the different ingredients, but i trust you can see it all. the heath was a good move (and was chocolate coated) so it easily balanced out the salty pretzels and chips. the white chocolate was a bit too sweet and i'd like to try it again with a dark chocolate. originally i thought the coffee was a bit frivolous but i must say it plays very nicely with all the flavors, even the salty.

see! jill thinks they're yummy. and in the interest of fairness she did do a lot of the chopping.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

This recipe is once again from the January '10 issue of the food network magazine. It's really light tasting and refreshing compared to the heavier pastas I normally make. I really liked the shrimp roasted in the oven and it's so simple even Kevin can make it! (He pretty much did, in fact.) We followed the recipe as is.The pasta was kind of dry, so I would definitely recommend using less pasta or more sauce. I had to make a second small batch of sauce for the left overs because the pasta was bone dry after being in the fridge. A lot of the reviews said the pasta was bland, but I really got a nice lemony taste with it and it was just

(I remembered to take a photo, but not before I ate a few bites)

I've really started using lemon a lot more frequently in my cooking. Between this, the chicken, and my Lemony Snicket cookies, I think I'm gonna have to start keeping a steady supply of fresh lemons on hand. It really does brighten a dish up quite a bit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

ktichen casualty

it's a sad day folks. we lost a good knife. he died in valiant battle against the damndable sweet potato. a moment of silence, please.

and i realize this may be a bit tacky to discuss at a funeral, but i really want these in pink.

also coming soon:
compost cookie test case #1
the now infamous (and killer!) sweet potato gratin

Pizza, Pizza!

Last night I made a pizza for dinner. I make a pretty damn good pizza if I do say so myself. Between me, Mom and Kevin the entire thing was gone in a flash.

I need to work on the picture thing when it comes to my food. I always forget to take one until I've already started eating and think "Gosh! This is good! I should blog it!". I promise, I'll work on taking the pictures before eating the food. When the pizza came out of the oven it was a sight of beauty!

I used a basic pizza dough recipe from my kitchen aid book. Just flour, salt, yeast, water, sugar and olive oil. You could use your own favorite recipe for dough (and if you have one, please share! I'm still searching for the right one).

The toppings are what really made this pizza. Diced ham, browned in a skillet then I sauteed onions and garlic in the same pan. I used sauce leftover from my last pizza (tomato sauce, canned crushed italian style tomatos, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, garlic powder and salt and pepper), pepperoni (always!), banana peppers, fresh parsley, italian cheese mix and a light dusting of garlic powder. I prebaked the crust for about 5 minutes and then added the toppings and baked for an additional 15? minutes. Just until the cheese was nice a brown.

The garlic and onions really sang on this pizza. I hate having plain onions on my pizza but if they're sauteed a bit then I'll eat them by the pound. Carmalization is KING when it comes to onions. I was worried about the dough being soggy from the sauce since it was a bit watery after thawing from it's stint in the freezer, but it had a nice crisp bite on the bottom and nice and chewy on the inside. It could stand to have a bit more flavor but I love the thickness and chewiness of this crust.

We had this with a toss salad (green leaf lettuce, onions, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes for Mom and Kev). I made a balsamic vinaigrette that was just delicious. I did 1/2 cup balsamic, 3/4 cup olive oil (ran out of EVOO so I just used olive oil), a healthy squeeze of dill mustard (no Dijon on hand), italian seasonings, salt, pepper, fresh parsley, and crushed red pepper. It was delicious, easy and I don't see a need to vinaigrette dressing ever again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

compost cookie

what: compost cookie™ – pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, chocolate chips

where: momofuku, milkbar, nyc see full menu:

why: early in 2009 i went to nyc with a friend and thoroughly enjoyed this cookie. and by thoroughly enjoyed, i mean happy time explosion in my mouth. (um... should really think about things before i post them. no! eff that noise! IT WAS happy time explosion in my mouth). so i'm on a mission this weekend. i will recreate this glorious cookie. i've done some googling and it appears that other bloggers have attempted such a feat. however, i maintain that mine will be quite wonderful and i will share my victory with you loyal readers (bailie, mom).
stay tuned and happy friday.

Bread and a minor egg victory

For Christmas my wonderful boyfriend Kevin got me a handy dandy Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I've been lusting after one of those bad boys for years now so to say I was excited about getting it is probably the understatement of the year. So far I've used it to make pretzels, pizza dough, chocolate chip cookies and as of this week, bread. I've dipped my toe into bread making before with simple beer breads and pumpkin breads and the like, and some stuff involving yeast like pretzels and pizza dough. This was my first time really trying my hand at making a loaf of real bread. Like sandwich bread.

I used a basic recipe from the book that came with the mixer.

1/2 low fat milk (I used 2%)
3 tablespoons sugar (I used 2.5 and a healthy drizzle of honey)
2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 to 6 cups ap flour (I used bread flour and it wound up being more like 7 cups)

You put the milk, sugar, salt, butter, in a saucepan and warm it until the sugar dissolves. You dissolve the yeast in the water. The recipe had me start out with 4 1/2 cups flour and then you ad more a 1/2 cup at a time. Mix on speed 2 until the dough clings to the hook. It's supposed to be smooth and elastic but mine just stayed sticky. I had already put in 7 cups of flour and didn't want to push it so I went ahead and put it in a greased bowl and let it rise in the oven.

It rose up beautifully and I actually had to pull it out before the hour was up because it was threatening to go over the bowl.

The bread turned out ok. Not bad for my first try, but it's a bit dry and...well white. I'm ready to dip my toes into more healthy, hearty breads now after getting this one to turn out ok.

It does make some awfully pretty toast.

Oh and on the eggs, I've never been one for making fried eggs. I couldn't ever get the flip down right and I'm always breaking the yolks. As you can see I finally got the flip (albeit awkwardly w/two spatulas) and no broken yolks! I use the Alton Brown method of lots of butter, cook on low, and letting the whites set almost completely before flipping. It works and I am a believer now. From now on, I am no longer limited to scrambled eggs for breakfast! Now I just need to tackled poached eggs and then I can have the holy grail of breakfasts at home: Eggs Benedict.

Mini Skillet Meatloaves

Just as a general disclaimer, I've never been one for eating meatloaf. As a child I decided that it was just one of those meals that I didn't like (you know, how diplomatic and rational children can be with their decisions) and spent most of my life avoiding eating meatloaf as much as possible. Well I saw this recipe in the December 09 food network magazine and decided that I was going to be a grown up and try some meatloaf and this meatloaf recipe sounded tasty enough to try out. 

I followed the recipe as written (except I just used ground beef instead of meatloaf mix of pork and beef). I even went out and bought some apple cider vinegar (my pantry was seriously lacking in the vinegar category. All we had was a big jug of regular white vinegar). The meatloaves were fairly delicate and crumbly and I accidentally browned them a bit too much on the first side w/my super hot pan but all in all they turned out great. They were very flavorful (if a bit sweet) and not dry at all. I think maybe if I make the recipe again I'll add more crushed red pepper to the mix and sauce to add a little kick. I might also cut back a bit on the brown sugar, the sauce was just a wee bit too sweet for me. I served this dish with leftover buttered egg noodles from the chicken dinner and roasted broccoli (w/chili powder, salt, pepper and olive oil).

Kev has requested I make this recipe again and I have to say, for not being a meatloaf fan, I thought this dish was really tasty.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crinkle Cutter

no recipe tonight, just showing off a nifty gadget. my mother has a knack for finding weird little gifts and this year i had this in my stocking. i'm calling it the crinkle cutter, because i'm creative like that.
i attacked a sweet potato yesterday and here are the results:

roasted 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees with salt and pepper.
and yes that is my cookie sheet. it's disgusting, how do people keep theirs looking like new? am i doing something wrong? am i a bad person?

Broiled Lemon Garlic Chicken w/buttered egg noodles and roasted brussel sprouts.

Once again the recipe is from the food network website. I've got a back log of these recipes that I tried that I didn't take pictures of. But! I promise they were good and next time I will take pictures!

Lemon garlic chicken was the first recipe I tried from my new food network magazine (Dec 09 issue). I made it with buttered egg noodles and roasted brussels sprouts.

While delicious, this meal was certainly a learning experience for me. I've never broiled anything. Ever. I'm not even sure I've seen anyone broil anything before. I certainly don't remember my Mom broiling anything growing up. see where this is going. I seasoned up my chicken, turned the oven on broil, threw it in and 5 minutes later my kitchen looked like a serious fire hazard. The smoke detector went off, my eyes were burning from the smoke and I had to open the window and turn on a fan to make it bearable.  (It wasn't until the end of the broil when Kevin helpfully mentioned that the oven door should've been left open. Doh!)

Ok, so aside from the smokey kitchen the chicken did turn out beautifully. I did the brussels sprouts in the toaster often since my oven was a frightening place at the time. The buttered egg noodles were easy and very tasty. All of the parts went together and added up to a wonderful meal. I did everything pretty much exactly to the recipe. I used just parsley on the noodles and forgot to drizzle the white wine vinegar (probably because I don't own any) and honey on the brussels sprouts. Other than that everything was by the book.

The skin on the chicken was wonderfully crispy, but I think next time I may just bake it for longer then broil for the last 5-10 minutes to crisp up the skin. There was just way too much broiling time and all the smoke made it impossible to work in the kitchen. I should also mention this was the first time I've ever really eaten brussels sprouts (they're one of those 'yucky' vegetables yanno). I have to say, I prefer asparagus, but they weren't bad and may be willing to try them in other recipes now.

Coming up on the blog soon, mini skillet meatloaves and my first loaf of bread!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


i'm just horrible when it comes to introductions. instead i offer a handy and easy recipe i devised. i've tried different variations, but this is what i keep coming back to. i don't mean to brag but my guacamole is pretty boss. it's only a few ingredients, but i think keeping it simple is what makes it so tasty.

1 avocado
1/2 lime
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

so let's do some quick chop chop. keep the onion and cilantro small, it'll blend and you'll have even flavor throughout.
however i like keeping the avocado in big chunks. salt and pepper to taste and you'll end up with something like this:

the lime juice is key! it keeps the avocado from turning brown once it's cut and adds tons of flavor. juice from half a lime isn't a very specific measurement, but you'll be able to adjust to taste.
and yes i realize it's not the prettiest thing, but it'll taste better than anything you'll find in a jar.

last step: be shifty and eat it all!

but now you're saying 'manda! what the hell? now i have 1/2 a lime and all kinds of fresh cilantro!' - well my friend you're going to squeeze that lime juice over some chicken, add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin and toss in the cilantro. marinate for 15 minutes and you've got some spicy chicken for nachos or a salad.