Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leftover Eggnog Muffins

The whirlwind that is Christmas has passed by and has left in its wake an abundance of leftovers. Most notoriously is that thick gooey beverage eggnog that is consumed for only one month of the year and then when the month passes is left in the fridge until it spoils. After December 25th it is nearly impossible to get any one to consume eggnog. I am an exception because the stuff is like crack for me... especially the soy nog which I picked up this year. So tasty. But I accept the rest of the worlds seasonal approach to this drink. So to alleviate the pain of food spoilage once everyone has moved on to the post-Christmas world, I present you with eggnog muffins. The dough uses up a cup of eggnog so the muffins have a slight hint of the flavor within them and then are topped with a yummy nutmeg streusel. If you're feeling like an adventurous cook, throw a little rum or rum extract into the dough. I made these for my family and my dad said that the idea didn't sound very good but he was surprised by how much he liked them (I always like to hear this).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

I will leave you with one last holiday recipe to hopefully be included in your own Christmas festivities and the conclusion of the epic saga: me vs. the pumpkin. I destroyed a pumpkin many months ago and told the 4 people or so who read my blog (2 of them are my parents) that I was making a pie completely from scratch. I made some pumpkin puree and froze it until I would need it. The whole thing ended up being very satisfying and a great accomplishment. Maybe it was just the pride I was tasting but I preferred this pie to all of the other pumpkin pies in my past.

I don't know about the rest of the world but my Christmas family feast is uncannily similar to my Thanksgiving feast. There is still cranberry sauce and my weird tofurky log thing and of course mashed potatoes (which I wish would be less of a feast-y food and more of an everyday food). We always seem to have pumpkin pie still too. I don't know if this is normal but if it is than here is a lovely

I found the recipe here. Of course it is only one of thousands of pumpkin pie recipes on the Martha Stewart website. How I came across this one and inevitably chose it is a mystery but I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 large eggs plus 1 egg for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 tbsp heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.
2. Roll out the pie dough to a twelve inch circle and transfer to a 9 inch pie pan. Pinch the edges to form a border if there is any overhang. In a small bowl, beat together the heavy cream and then brush this glaze on the pie crust.
3. Fill the pie crust with the pumpkin mixture and then bake 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Sauce

I hope that I don't really need to tell anyone that most every time you make something yourself it tastes way better than when you pull it out of a can. There is also the added bonus in the case of cranberry sauce that your creation doesn't have those can lines on it. I bet some people like those attractive lines though. With Christmas coming up I will leave you with one simple recommendation. Make this from scratch. I will even help and hand out a quick recipe.
 If you don't like the taste of orange juice, use water or maybe use half water and half juice.

1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice + orange zest
1 12 ounce package of fresh cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and orange juice. Heat on medium high heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Add the cranberries, zest and cinnamon and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool, it will thicken up during this time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Just one more cookie to add to the baking extravaganza... the bake-stravaganza if you will. I decided to add these to my list personally because I just got myself a cookie press and there are really no other occasions throughout the year to use one. It was a garage sale find of my mom and it only cost two dollars. My mom has a cookie press too and they make gorgeous cookies in fun patterns, my favorite this year was the wreath shape. The downside is that these things are frequently a pain to use. It took me a few batches to fully figure out my press but once I did it wasn't so bad. Unfortunately, as I said before, these things only come out once a year so it is likely I will have to go through this same song and dance next Christmas. The thing even came with instructions but they are just generally pretty unreliable. It is also supposed to function as an icing press. If anyone has one of these I would be curious to know about that. Leave me a comment and tell me your ways.

O. I bet you want to know about the cookies. These things are delicious and have so few ingredients, it's great. Of course the majority of the recipe is butter but everyone will give up butter come January right? They are really just simply delicious shortbread cookies. On top of that great buttery flavor, they just look like Christmas. I add food coloring to mine to make them red and green. They were my only colorful treat this year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies!

I would like to welcome the world to Christmas Bake-stravaganza 2010 where I am determined to give out cookies to everyone I see. I had my last final on Wednesday morning and then spent the rest of the day making various treats. Most notably these gingerbread cookies which gave me an opportunity to whip out my eclectic collection of cookie cutters. I'm generally accustomed to making sugar cookies with my mom and getting to decorate those but this year it is time to get real and make my own intense cookies with some pretty decorations. I was drawn to this recipe by Martha Stewart because it uses real ginger although if you go to the recipe you might see as I did that she includes a lot of crazy steps that seem a bit extravagant. Well. If you want to freeze cookies after every fifteen minutes then go for it but I do think that freezing the dough on the tray before cooking helps the dough to retain its awesome octopus shape.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An apology and a Present

Let me start with the apology... I just finished up all of my finals and the last week has been incredibly busy so that is why I have neither been cooking nor sharing tasty tasty recipes based on my cooking adventures. For that I apologize but I will attempt to make amends with this great granola recipe. I made it quite a while ago for the first time as a present to give to my dad for his birthday. I have made myself a batch since then because I enjoyed it so much (and it only uses half a can of pumpkin. What am I going to do with half a can of pumpkin?). I used it as a gift to my dad but it would be really easy to make and then use for a CHRISTMAS gift. I know I'm giving homemade food gifts to a lot of people. Some people may not like incredibly sugary, buttery, unhealthy (delicious) treats and may prefer something like granola which is generally viewed as pretty healthy.

You could ask my Dad I suppose if you want an opinion on this but I think that this granola is really great and surprisingly easy. It's difficult to imagine a world where we make our own cereal. It's just one of those things that if you want it, you have to buy it. Well not anymore! I'm in love! This granola is flavored with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice with just a bit of brown sugar. It has some nuts and dried fruit added to this which just makes for a great hearty breakfast or maybe even dessert if you're weird like me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spinach Pesto Pasta

I'm not complaining but I have been eating so much spinach lately in any form available to me. I should be glad that it's spinach I'm addicted to and not twizzlers though so there is a silver lining. Another silver lining is this great pesto that I found on the world wide web. I would very much so like to make my own traditional pesto and I'm certain that it would be delicious but there are a lot of overhead costs involved. Pine nuts aren't cheap, good Parmesan isn't too cheap and basil at that quantity is pretty hard to come by. This pesto uses much more accessible ingredients that won't break the bank and is still delicious. I was pretty upset that I used this all in pasta because I was really tempted to try it in other settings. A grilled cheese perhaps? Instead of pizza sauce perhaps? The possibilities for any sort of pesto are astounding. I love the stuff.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Maple Pecan Pie + Pie Crust

I love pecan pie. All throughout the holiday season I am bombarded with magazines telling me that it is literally the worst dessert I can eat but every time I see these warnings, I only crave it more. I think it is the little bit of Georgia in me... Georgia also comes out in me occasionally calling the featured nut pe-CANS. In this decade spanning love affair, there is a little hitch for me. I can look past the calories and the vast unhealthiness of it all but I simply can't get over the corn syrup. I was really determined to find a recipe for pecan pie without any corn syrup and I finally found one that sounded like something I would love. Not only does it not have corn syrup, but it does have one of my favorite flavors in the world: maple syrup. Boy o boy does that maple syrup make a difference.

This would be perfect for a Christmas pie!

The homemade pie crust was another big advantage that this pecan pie had over its corn syrup laden counterparts. Really I had always believed that it was so much easier to use store bought pie crusts so it was worth it to put up with their sup par tastes but for this homemade recipe, the exertion amounts to pulsing some ingredients in the food processor. Also, look at the cool pattern the food processor made, I think it looks lovely.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Banana Spring Rolls

I may have teased about this one earlier as an option for what to do with those pesky but delicious egg roll wrappers. I made nearly a dozen spring rolls but I swear one package has about 30 wrappers in them. They were less than two dollars at the store though so I'm definitely not complaining. I will note a teeny gripe that I have in that these wrappers have essentially one use-- filling them with cabbage and potentially some sort of protein then frying them up. As a person who enjoys both using everything in my refrigerator AND variety, this simply won't do. It was then that genius struck in the form of remembering something I had eaten before with no real creativity involved.

Banana spring rolls. Have you ever had something healthy, then decided it would be a good idea to fry it but the logistics posed a problem to you? There is nothing quite like a warm sliced banana filling inside of a crispy shell. Every once in a blue moon of course because having this decadent treat every night might just kill you. One option though would be to bake these just like my Asian Rolls recipe and then it could be possible to label these healthy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Spinach Puffs!

For those of you who were not obsessed with the movie as a child, this is my ode to Kronk from the Emperor's New Groove. Along with being an assistant to the evil Yzma, he is a talented chef eager to show off his skills by preparing a diner for her and the emperor. During a crucial moment, Kronk realizes that his spinach puffs may be burning but saves them just in time. At the end of the movie it is revealed that Yzma never really liked his spinach puffs. Bitch. I did though, and I had a great time making these Emperor's New Groove inspired pastries. I'm really proud of the way they turned out and they tasted so great. They would be perfect for breakfast or brunch but being the weirdo that I am, I made them for dinner. It's really just a simply pastry dough (no yeast or rising involved) and then some cooked spinach and delicious feta cheese on the inside.

As a side note: I don't think that my dad would like these. I made him endure so many viewings of this movie that I think for a while he banned it. He does like Kronk though.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pizza Dough

I have a very long tradition of buying my pizza dough from whole foods and while I love the fact that it only has about 5 ingredients (and they are all ingredients I recognize!) it makes me realize that I should be making my own. I also  have quite the tradition of avoiding yeast but I finally just bought myself a jar as a way of enticing myself to use it up. As it turns out, baking with yeast is one of the most satisfying experiences out there. You get the satisfaction of turning a tiny ball of unappealing dough into a giant inflated ball of awesome. And did I mention the punching? That was the most exciting part for me when I get to beat the dough back down.

I see recipes calling for frozen pizza dough all of the time for items that aren't pizza like pretzels of strombolis so I think that this really basic recipe can turn out to be very versatile. And this dough is very basic, for the adventurers out there, adding some herbs could be fun or maybe adding cheese or garlic flavored oil. Either way, I think it's a good thing to have in your repertoire, even if it just means one less trip to whole foods.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baked Eggs

I love eggs. I don't know if I need to go on but they really are great for every meal of the day. I think that through my many posts just on this blog about my undying love of eggs I have convinced the world of their value. I am automatically drawn to most recipes that have eggs as the centerpiece, especially those that involve them baked in a tomato sauce like this one. Add feta cheese and I'm sold. And while I'm serving up some tasty eggs I might as well throw in some peas and some garlic bread to scoop up the rest of the tomato sauce.

I really don't have that much to say. It's simple. It has eggs. I love it.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I think I mentioned before that I got a cast iron skillet mostly to make the dish you're about to see here. But more than just making the dish, I really enjoy saying the word frittata. My poor dad during the entire car ride home from the thrift store had to endure me saying over and over again that I was going to make a frittata in my terrible Italian accent. Frittata! But just like my Ambiguous Asian Rolls, this required a bit of research googling. I have never made a frittata before but I have made a quiche quite a few times because I think they are delicious and I love eggs. So what is the difference between a frittata and a quiche? My initial assumption was that the difference was in the crust seeing as a quiche generally has a pie crust and a frittata lacks this but like all google searches I ended up more confused afterward than when I began. I became more confused because I began to see recipes for crustless quiche and judging by my initial rule, that would be a frittata. It seems that a quiche is more like a baked custard (think less eggs, more cream) and a frittata is more like an omelet. There are always so many layers of mystery in these early established taxonomies of food and so many people online convinced that they know making the mystery even more difficult to unravel.

What I like about both egg dishes though is their versatility. I didn't go out to buy anything for my frittata, instead I just looked through the vegetables I had and threw them in.So feel free to use this versatility to your own advantage and use everything you have around the house and turn leftovers into a hearty breakfast.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

French Onion Soup-- Vegetarian Style

 I've been feeling a bit like buying frozen pizzas or eating pretty simple sandwiches lately. While I am writing this I am perfectly content to just grab a handful of grapes from the fridge-- yes my computer is by my fridge and it's weird but it's a long story-- and not cook a big meal at all throughout the day. Maybe school is finally getting to me but it's sad because this is my favorite time of year. It's the time where I can make cookies and give them to people without feeling a bit awkward about it and, best of all, hearty soups are finally an acceptable meal. So I'm not going to make anything tonight, but I will share this excellent soup I made about a week ago.

 Since I have become vegetarian I miss very few things about the meat eating world but one thing that always makes me regret my decision is going to La Baguette in Colorado Springs and watching those around me enjoy a bowl of French Onion Soup. The cheese on these bowls looks like it must take days to soak off and it consistently smells welcoming and delicious. Alas! Full of beef broth! Recently though on a day when apparently many vegetarians decided to give up on cooking, I found a great cookbook in the thrift store. Lo and behold it had a decent looking French Onion soup recipe in it using vegetable stock. As my christening of this new cookbook I made this soup first. I have quite low expectations for recreations of traditionally meaty dishes but I fell in love with this one right away. I must admit though, I think that what I really love is the croutons soaked in onion broth and covered with melted cheese. That was without a doubt the best part.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Time!

So my ultimate goal for the past couple of months has been to make a pumpkin pie from scratch by Thanksgiving. There is something inside of me that is no longer satisfied with a store bought frozen pie crust and a can of pumpkin puree. I did look at a can of Pumpkin puree recently and the only ingredient was pumpkin (or calabaza) so that inspired confidence in me but I still wanted to try it myself. Also I have been very attracted to very labor intensive processes lately so this is the one for me. I bought myself a pumpkin and carried it home-- adding to the labor of course. It as just a run of the mill pumpkin, not a special pie pumpkin or anything.I'm sure that everyone has been flooded with recipes for pumpkin and pumpkin seeds already so hey, what's one more?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ambiguous Asian Rolls

I do have a quick question before I start? What is the difference between egg rolls and spring rolls? I had always assumed that the difference could be found in the contents of the roll-- generally egg rolls have meat based fillings and spring rolls are, like the spring, full of vegetables. Judging by the google search vast research I have done on the topic that the answer actually lies in the wrapper itself. Egg rolls have a thicker, egg-based wrapper and spring rolls employ a translucent rice-based wrapper. I have also heard that an egg roll is fried and a spring roll isn't but then there is also the issue of the summer roll which hasn't been mentioned at all. The debate may never be solved so for the meantime I will be making ambiguous Asian rolls with a package of wrappers labeled as egg rolls but filled with springtime vegetables. I will stop this discussion now before heads (namely mine) begin to explode.

I do not own a deep fryer for the same reason I choose to not get an ice cream machine; the results could only be tighter pants and frequent sickness. I do still love Asian rolls though and especially for the fact that they use my favorite pre-packaged cole slaw mix. I believe that I have never actually bought a head of cabbage which is kind of sad. Another perk of making these rolls? I get to use that new bottle of liquid amino that I bought. I love it because it really just transfers perfectly for the amount of soy sauce one would ordinarily use in a recipe. These ones are also baked because I don't have a deep fryer but don't let that stop anyone from frying away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lentil Tacos

I have been neglecting a bag of lentils that I bought way back in the day when I had the high hopes of making some great dal. While I generally prefer making my own food at home in the case of dal I felt like I was better served by the fine folks at the various Indian restaurants I attend. Perhaps one day I will work up the cojones to make my own but now that I know this recipe for lentils I doubt dal will get that much attention. Really, to tell everyone how obsessed I am I will tell you that I am eating one from my leftovers right now (yes I eat at my computer and no I'm not proud of it). I am still loving every bite of the leftovers even though I don't have the fancy chipotle sour cream or my go to topping of choice coleslaw with some lime and cilantro. It's still excellent.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Date Pinwheel Cookies

As a child I was exposed to many fruits that many other children around me never experienced until they looked into my lunchbox-- most notably pomegranates and dates. The pomegranates (which are in stores right now. Yes!) in particular were a big hit during our traditional elementary school lunch time potlucks. The food I could get for my pomegranate seeds from my naive friends who didn't have adventurous fruits like my own household. Back to my history with dates though: my dad was very fond of his bread machine even though it never fully worked and something was always going wrong. His favorite was a date bread that I also loved. I was also very partial to the dates that one could find in many cereals. One of the best date applications throughout my entire childhood though were these excellent date cookies my mom made every once in a blue moon. They are a relatively difficult process for babies like me but they end up being attractive and delicious. I bought a rolling pin from Goodwill especially for these cookies but now that I have it I'm excited for the possibilities a rolling pin represents.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Portobello Pineapple Sandwiches

By all food conventions that I have learned in my brief career as a home cook, this combination of pineapples and portobello mushrooms shouldn't work. However, according to my roots, any sandwich with sauteed portobello mushrooms have been excellent. I now have another delicious way to utilize the magnificent portobello. I was telling a coworker that I was vegetarian and proceeded to go on about my obsession with mushrooms so she told me about this great sandwich she makes that I would love. She said it was on ciabatta bread too which is my favorite bread. Alas! no recipe! so I went to searching for my own version of her magnificent sandwich and I found something similar on the whole foods website. so sign me up.

In addition to the pineapples and mushrooms marinaded in some lovely Asian juice I added some plain coleslaw mix which has replaced normal vegetables and salad for me. It's admittedly one of my stranger tastes. A quick food and economics related sidenote: In I think it was the 1960's an economist (the name escapes me now of course) came up with the most cost efficient diet that fulfills all nutritional requirements and it included only five components: wheat flour, dried navy beans, spinach, evaporated milk, and cabbage. So the way I see it is that my cole slaw mix is getting my cost efficient, nutrient rich food in the mix.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Almond Butter Cups

I make almond butter a lot and while I love it on toast or on various fruits or on my spoon about to enter my mouth I longed for something different this time. I was thinking about the various applications of other nut butters and became fixated on peanut butter cups. This was my AHA moment and I suddenly became very devoted to the cause of making my own almond butter cups. It also gave me just the opportunity to use the mini muffin pans I had acquired at a garage sale. My mom makes mini pies in them too so I may have to whip out that recipe sometime soon or I could actually make smaller muffins. Therein lies my true problem though; I love large muffins too much to make them any smaller. But back to the recipe at hand! I had a great opportunity to use up my own homemade almond butter and to use my mini muffin pan so I was totally in business. On top of that (yes! In infomercial style there IS more!) I was making candy so I was gaining yet another prospect for screwing my friends and family out of real gifts and leaving them with homemade food products.
Wow. With all of the benefits stacked up against me I made them and they were great. They were really easy—requiring only two ingredients once if the almond butter has been made in advance—and actually pretty fun. But man o man, were the rewards bountiful. I love chocolate covered almonds but I would say that these were better and more exciting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Green Bean Pickles

I made refrigerator pickles a while ago and while I loved them, I was required to eat them within a month. Of course I did finish all of the pickles by that time because they were quite awesome (if I do say so myself) but something inside of me longed to make them more permanent. I happened to have a ton of green beans at home that I got from the farmers market when I was really craving green beans but as soon as I got them home and into my fridge I no longer wanted them. They sat and sat in my fridge until I had the brilliant idea of turning them into pickles. My favorite pickles at the store are always the ones that aren’t cucumbers. I love the okra, green beans, and asparagus so much. They are really expensive though. I think a jar of okra pickles runs for just under five dollars so I don’t often get them. So I was absolutely ready to make some of my own green bean pickles and can them but then I foolishly decided to look at a little bit of the literature online about botulism. Suddenly I was completely terrified of killing all of my family and friends who trusted my cooking skills enough to eat my pickles. Literally on the night that I made these I was awake absolutely paralyzed with fear of eating them. Canning is a strange process in that way for me because under normal circumstances the only thing I want to do is eat what I have just made. In the case of canning, I had my boyfriend try a pickle first before I did. Although, if the pickles had botulism in them it wouldn’t have mattered who tried them first since the symptoms take about eight hours to show up. I tried them on Tuesday—the recipe calls for waiting two weeks before trying them—and they were great. My fears were totally unjustified and now I can’t stop eating them. They are perfectly crisp and spicy, just like the perfect pickle should be. I think this may have helped me in my journey to screw all of my friends out of real Christmas presents this year. Haha! Take canned goods friends and family.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

Healthy Cookies? Trail Mix Style

So in general I like to eat healthy and I'm particularly proud of the way I can sometimes take a recipe and change one thing in it to make it just a bit better for me. That being said, I don't really believe in healthy cookies. Some healthier desserts I can bear but cookies are probably my favorite food in the world. Hear that? Not just my favorite dessert or my favorite indulgence but my favorite food. They are practically a food group for me and I love them for all of their butter and sugar and the ingredients that make a cookie a cookie. I believe that there are healthy cookies out there but in some ways they are just sacrilege. Despite this being completely ingrained in me, I found myself very attracted to this recipe and with good reason. They ended up tasting really good but I won't lie and say they tasted just like a cookie. It's not in me. They are their own tasty brand of desserts that I will let slide into my cookie food group but I will still feel dirty calling something that has wheat germ, no egg yolk, and no butter a cookie.

In other exciting news, I canned for the first time a while ago and had to wait two weeks before trying them and the two weeks are up tomorrow. If you don't hear from me for a while it's because I have botulism. I'm kind of terrified to eat my own pickles. Terrified and excited.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why I'm cooler than Campbell's

Because I made my own tomato soup that's why! And I feel awesome! After cooking a lot you begin to realize that when you make things yourself they just taste better. And I feel better because I know exactly what is going on through every step. I know there is no corn syrup, no preservatives, no dyes and no other scary things. All in all it was very exciting to me. I think that the new Campbell's tomato soup is actually pretty healthy and they had all of those commercials that say they use real sea salt. Wow. It took much longer than opening up a can and pouring it in a pan but it was much more rewarding.

I may have also had a ridiculous abundance of fresh tomatoes from the farmers market. They were so cheap and the people who sold them to me gave me a few extras. They were the remnants of my farm market binge that filled my fridge with so many tasty fruits in vegetables that I was having trouble eating up. Since I have decided to use up everything in my kitchen instead of going to the grocery store when I really want to make something special. I can make great things with what I already have right? I'm working on convincing myself.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Health-ified Cucumber Salad

So my mom makes this great cucumber salad and since I was tempted into buying an egregious amount of cucumbers at the farmers market I asked for the recipe. I soon realized why it was so tasty all along. Half a cup of sour cream and half a cup of mayonnaise. While I love both of those ingredients and I'm generally quite happy to eat something that's unhealthy but in this case I decided to health-ify it up as best I can. Also I didn't have sour cream or mayonnaise so it made complete sense.

I did have a lot of Greek yogurt on hand though, as per usual, and have recently determined that I can interchange sour cream with yogurt in all recipes. Anny baked goods that call for sour cream? Hello Greek yogurt. I think I even used it with salsa and nachos one day. The good thing though is that I've been told that Greek yogurt is healthy for me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Creamed Corn

So creamed corn may sound like the most boring tasteless thing in the world. Creamed any vegetable sounds inherently unappealing and like something a mother serves to a child circa 1950 and the child has a fit. That's all I can think about in fact. I was lucky as a child to never receive creamed anything so this is my first experience with the whole genre of vegetable sides. What an experience it was! I love corn so much and I got some great ears of the sweet stuff from the farmers market but I had to find a way to prepare it so my boyfriend would eat it (he doesn't like it enough to just eat it off the cob like me). This recipe was calling my name for some reason probably because I already had some heavy cream I had to use up and I had corn.  I needed no extra ingredients. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oat Bran Muffins

I think I have mentioned in the past that I am really bad at grocery shopping and often end up with multiples of the same item... I believe my last goof was multiple bags of shredded coconut. I recently learned that this trait of mine is in fact genetic. I went home the a while ago only to discover that my family had no less than 8 boxes of cereal, I can't complain because I benefited from the surplus. Apparently my dad has a pretty serious problem with oat bran also. He had five boxes in the pantry when I went home last. I was able to take one of the boxes off his hands and because I'm such a nice daughter, I came up with a way for him to use up the rest of his oat bran. Of course he will have to make them himself so it may not pan out. 

I recently had some reading for my economics class about the great oat bran craze of the late 1980's so I had further motivation to make these muffins. Apparently some research came out around then saying that eating oat bran would drastically reduce your cholesterol and suddenly oat bran prices went through the roof and everyone was eating the stuff. The craze has pretty much died down in everyone (except my dad apparently) but oat bran is still very healthy and I loved these muffins.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fruit Jellies

I have decided to go on a quest as someone who makes barely more per month than what she pays for rent. My quest is to screw my friends and family out of real presents and leave them with a plethora of silly homemade candy. I am aided by my newest trusty gadget from a garage sale, the candy thermometer—only a dollar! And what a time to begin making my own candy in the month of October. In every foodie magazine there are recipes and recipes for all sorts of different candy in celebration of Halloween.
However, as I have learned from my few endeavors so far I am not good at making candy at all. It’s beginning to seem as if I will have to buy real presents or make canned goods (as I’m currently working on).  I’m sharing this recipe though because it is incredibly forgiving. I nearly set my oven on fire and made quite a sticky mess to clean up. I gave up when all of my liquid candy boiled over and decided to just put it in the fridge. In the morning the mixture hadn’t set up at all. I was about to resign myself to using it as a fruity syrup or jelly when I decided that just for the hell of it I would try again. I put the failed mixture into a pot and began to heat it up all over again. I heat it up to the temperature called for by the recipe. I made it up to that temperature slowly and surely with no more boiling over. I put it back into my pan and lo and behold it set up. It turned into candy! Mighty fine candy at that!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Carrot Ginger Soup

 Has anybody had this at Whole Foods before? I have had it once before and I really liked it so I decided to recreate it from what I remember of that one time at Whole Foods. I don't think that getting attached to any soup there is financially sustainable, at least not for me. I wanted to cook with fresh ginger for the first time and I was also excited to make the first soup of the season essentially. It tastes amazing with a dollop of greek yogurt on top but without it the soup is completely vegan. Yes! So the goal was to make a carrot ginger soup that is healthy and delicious. Isn't this the goal for most recipes though?

 Truth be told, I had another motive. To use this puppy!
I got an immersion blender at a garage sale for five dollars. I never thought that they were that practical but for five dollars and taking up nearly no space, I'm convinced. It also makes me feel like I'm on Iron Chef which is always a plus.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Happy Breakfast Meal

 Eggs are so great for simple and quick sandwiches. Remember those eggs in purgatory sandwiches from a while back? That's one of my favorite dinner recipes, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches. Open faced of course (which is a concept I find very few people can grasp). Now all I need is one for lunch and dessert and I'll be set.I won't keep my hopes up for dessert though.

These sandwiches were so good. It was like a hash brown cake topped with guacamole and a fried egg. It was super filling and delicious. I don't use avocados too often but I'm starting to like them (as they are going out of season of course) in applications more than just nachos and burritos. I could have predicted they would go well with potatoes but the way they mixed with the egg was great too. So many amazing textures and flavors in a sinfully easy recipe.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

What is that monstrous Frankenstein of a cookie? Well, since I asked, it is my newest, latest, and greatest discovery which combines salty and sweet in an amazing way. They are peanut butter pretzel cookies and I found them in the Rachael Ray magazine and decided it was brilliant. O I've had doubters along the way but these truly are delicious.

I don't know what has been up with me and peanut butter cookies lately but I simply can't resist. Once upon a time I used to hate them. They were really on the bottom of my cookie ranking ladder. I know better now that a subtly nutty cookie can be the best one out there and combining butter with peanut butter produces a very moist and fluffy little treat. Maybe my body wants protein... and then with that an excuse to eat multiple cookies on the basis that I'm getting a good dose of protein. I do enjoy fooling myself into thinking eating certain evil things are good for me. Ok so maybe these cookies aren't the best way to get my protein but they are delicious and they combination of the salty pretzels with the sweet cookies is very fun. They are also kind of fun to make with the rolling and the crushing of pretzels. They turn out to be just fun monster cookies. yum!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

I set out to make my own breakfast burritos with these three main flavors from things I had in my house. a quick salsa (I can't call it pico de gallo because I left out the raw onions. I detest raw onions), eggs and cheese. I also threw in some black beans just for fun. This recipe I made serves about 5 people or if you're like me, you can wrap them up in aluminum foil and have a quick breakfast on the go. I really love breakfast burritos but ordering them out in a restaurant scares me. I found a piece of bacon in mine once and have been traumatized ever since. Most diners are like that where everything is just cooked communally on a big griddle, it's a bit scary if you ask me. I think I watched a forensic files or CSI one time where they were trying to confirm whether this man had eaten at this diner based on the contents of his stomach. The cook insisted that it was impossible because he hadn't put onions in his eggs or whatever he was making but it turned out that he had without knowing it because his cooking on this big griddle was so frantic. Well I know for sure that there will not be any unwanted ingredients in my own burritos and truth be told they ended up tasting as good as if not better than the ones I would order from a diner. If only I had green chile to smother them in. But some hot sauce will have to do for now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes in nearly everything. I love them just baked and eating them right out of the skin (maybe with a heap of brown sugar). Lately though, I really enjoy them in savory applications like in these sweet potato and black bean burritos I made. Turns out too, that they are supposed to be very healthy for you providing you with necessary Vitamin A and C as well as potassium and calcium apparently. O! and the folate! Of course that is simply me justifying my new love. I think it's better than the time I tried to justify my love of twizzlers though so bear with me.

So where has my love of sweet potatoes taken me? To the wonderful realm of pasta. Especially that type of pasta that requires no special equipment, not even a rolling pin. I'm talking about gnocchi. The little "clouds" of the pasta world. The dumplings that are often described as light and airy when they are good or heavy and mushy when they are bad. It's not difficult to spot a bad piece of gnocchi as it will stick to the roof of the mouth as you try to chew it. I had one piece in my batch like this but I think it was because I got a little bit impatient towards the end and may not have waited for my second round to cook all the way through. O well. The rest were awesome. I should add a disclaimer to this recipe though because it requires a lot of intuition with the ingredients. A cook here will have to be in tune with their potatoes!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fluff-tastic Lemon Ricotta Muffins

So I never know what to do with ricotta. I buy it for one specific recipe that calls for it and then I have a ton left over that usually ends up getting thrown out (sad). This time I had a lot left over from my lasagna from back in the day seeing as apparently this cheese keeps forever. Not that long because I'm posting this pretty late but still a substantial amount of time when compared to many other dairy products. The point is that I had an abundance of ricotta and nothing to do with it. I didn't want to make lasagna again, that would just be boring and in this house I don't like to repeat meals very often since with school and work I rarely have time to cook so when I have an opportunity, I take it to try something new and exciting. This is turning into a paragraph of pretty intense tangents so I think I will just get to the point here. I was looking at some recipes online (I think I googled ricotta recipes) and I began to get results for french toast and breakfast food. For some reason, the idea of ricotta in a sweet treat was unheard of to me. This is the part where it gets a bit confusing because I literally worship the cannoli and yet I have always tied ricotta to pasta dishes. I finally found the perfect recipe for me, a lemon ricotta muffin, and set off on making them.

Someone may be curious about the modifier I have bestowed upon these muffins. Yes, they are indeed fluff-tastic.The lemon may be the star flavor wise in this recipe but the ricotta definitely pulls its weight making for a very light and airy batter and thus a fluffy muffin unlike nay I have ever had before. They are definitely worth a try if you have some extra ricotta but hell, I'd buy ricotta just to make these.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Almond Butter

So I never really buy almond butter because despite how delicious it looks, it's incredibly expensive. Like beyond any reasonable price for any condiment unless it's gold flake. Which I think is more of a decoration than a condiment. I can certainly understand the argument for all of these natural butters though since the ingredient and nutrition label on my normal jar of kroger peanut butter is a bit scary to look at. Of course, being the obsessive person that I am, I've decided to make my own nut butter. I found raw almonds at I think Sprouts for 3 dollars a pound. I love sales.

I have other motives for making almond butter. Now that I'm in school I need highly portable snacks and Almond butter works as a great dipping sauce for apple slices, celery sticks, carrot sticks, or bananas which are a bit more difficult to dip. Also as a vegetarian I am often desperate for happy protein loaded snacks. Finally, it just tastes really good and I was able to make it for very cheap.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

I don't know that I have ever really had a shepherd's pie and I question whether a vegetarian version can even be called shepherds pie. The main characteristic to me is the mashed potatoes on top (of course) but shepherds don't grow mashed potatoes, they grow sheep so without any sheep in this, is it still a shepherd's pie? And therein lies the philosophical dilemma that surrounds most vegetarian food. Or perhaps it is called shepherd's pie because shepherds possess a particular fondness for it. Well it doesn't matter because I possessed a certain fondness for it and I also feel quite partial to call it shepherds pie. Mine did not have any sheep in it, my pie only had broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini and onions in it and with a ton of creamy mashed potatoes on top, it turned out really well. It felt really hearty which is not something one often comes across in vegetarian dinners. I felt like I was out on the farm! That was a bit of a stretch but this really was good. A bit time consuming though and requiring a lot of attention.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greek Nachos

So the one person who reads this blog may have noticed that my cooking has been a little bit less intense lately and much more sporadic. The incredibly intuitive reader may have picked up on my new inclination for desserts and snacks. Well everyone is right. I've returned to school now and due to my hectic schedule I can't really cook and when I do, it's just for myself. As it turns out, cooking for one's self is both much less rewarding and more difficult. So why do it? Well I do it when I find a recipe like this one that is easily amended to feed just myself and such a pleasant after school treat that I can hold off on decimating an entire box of wheat thins for dinner or that bag of ramen. It's so quick too that after a 9 hour day trapped on campus I'm willing to wait the extra few minutes and put in a little bit of effort in chopping to do it.  A lot of recipes I find online seem to be geared towards cooking for a family of four or a larger group and I would have to imagine that this turns off a lot of people to cooking for themselves and perpetuates this notion that the only people who cook or enjoy being in the kitchen are housewives. I  think I may be thinking about this too much so it's time to talk about the nachos.

I like nachos. Usually when I need a quick meal I like chips with some beans and cheese and corn on top baked until they are awesome and served with guacamole and salsa on the side. This night I wanted to try something different though (and eat up a cucumber) so I searched for greek nachos. There was only one recipe that it seemed everyone and there mother was trying and naturally it contained meat. Other than that though, the flavors seemed great and just what I wanted. I used some sundried tomatoes and some cucumbers for my toppings with a delicious yogurt sauce but this is open to interpretation. I think that maybe some chickpeas or something would be great too.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

So here is one of the many recipes that I have been enjoying since I was a wee girl. Probably not so wee but it is definitely such an easy recipe that I could make it at a younger age. I guess these aren't technically macaroons but I think this sounds better than coconut balls or something. I made them because I accidentally bought a new bag of coconut without realizing I had another almost full bag lurking in the dark realms of my cabinet. It was a sad day but luckily for me I have this recipe which is excellent for eating up large quantities of coconut and I just so happen to love the cookies that result. Perfect! All of the other ingredients are definitely things that I normally have on hand anyway so it was a very quick result. My only problem is that it has a pretty small yield so if anyone plans on making these for a group of people I would double the recipe.

I also think that this recipe is so basic so it would be easy to mess around with it a bit. While baking, I was thinking that a maraschino cherry on top would look great and taste pretty fantastic too. Or maybe an almond. This time around though, I'm very happy to just eat them plain.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

Don't you just want to put it on a crostini and eat it? Well guess what! thats the plan! Now I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I made these delicious. It's cherry tomatoes and olive oil for crying out loud. How much preparation could they need before they taste amazing? And really, this recipe is painfully easy and the results are amazing. The sweet tomatoes are cooked in some olive oil infused with mint and garlic until the split open and are just about to lose their shape. Put them on top of some thin slices of baguette with maybe a little bit of goat cheese and suddenly the world doesn't seem such a bad place after all.

I was a little bit picky with this one. I decided that I wanted a box of cherry tomatoes that had the yellow ones in there too so that the dish would look even prettier. It took a while to find but Whole Foods had the goods for me. Unfortunately, my pickiness as to color distracted me from the size which led to a wide range of sizes. In the recipe, the authors told me to avoid this at all costs but I didn't really notice a difference. Who knows. I got it from one of the home-y magazines, either Good Housekeeping or Better Home and Gardens but I couldn't find the recipe online.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

Here are my peanut butter cookies and surprise! They're vegan. This was terribly exciting to me because while I realize that these cookies are probably no more healthy for me than if I had just made normal peanut butter cookies, it's fun to find out how versatile everything is and how many viable substitutes there are for things I would consider baking staples like butter and eggs. I also like scouring the internet for things that I become temporarily obsessed with... That last statement is only half true. I didn't want to go shopping so I really did have to scour for a recipe that didn't call for crazy vegan things (no, I don't have ground flax seed on hand).  

Which brings me to my second point. Did anyone see the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? It was really fun and you should see it but the reason I bring it up is for their inclusion of vegans. The vegan academy cracked me up but it kind of has ties back in to real life where vegans are part of this elite club and they look down upon people who are only vegetarians. I have been vegan before and I like to make vegan meals occasionally but one can only go so far. There is no way for me to give up everything out there that employs questionable practices. In my apartment that is, if I had a ten acre farm and the hired help to run it things might be different (I can't make strawberry Twizzlers from scratch). What I'm getting  at is that I think it is good enough to give up what really bothers you and to be mindful about your other choices. Essentially, this is me preaching about how everyone should stop preaching about lifestyle choices. I'm a vegetarian, you're a pescetarian, you're a vegan, you eat meat. Whatever, It's all cool.

But these cookies. They're amazing. And they just so happen to be vegan. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Strawberry Banana Bread

I think we've all been here with bananas that are just impossible to eat plain anymore. There are quite a few possibilities when one encounters this situation. There are smoothies and baked goods and the less desirable act of just grinning and bearing it and eating the mushy thing. There is always the ubiquitous banana bread of course. I won't patronize anybody by putting up a plain banana bread recipe. I think most people have their own recipe that they follow religiously any time they accidentally (it was an accident right?) let their bananas get to an inedible state. Sometimes though, you may crave something a bit unusual and more exciting. That's where I come in with the addition of fresh strawberries. I don't know why I had never thought of this before considering strawberry-banana must be one of the most popular fruity flavors in everything. I don't think a smoothie shop can exist without a strawberry banana smoothie. The flavor combination works just as well in a bread.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bread and Butter Pickles

I may have mentioned before that I have been searching the Earth high and low for some pickling cucumbers. Even more organically inclined or specialty-ish grocery stores have been seriously letting me down in this realm. But I guess now I have one more reason to appreciate the farmers market because they have answered my prayers and now with cucumbers in hand I embark on a mythical quest to make a mighty fine pickle. I tend to love all pickles of all different vegetables but for these I really wanted to make the slightly sweet, perfect with cheese and crackers bread and butter pickle which has always been so near and dear to my heart. Just as a warning, there is no canning going on here, I just made them in an airtight jar so they will keep for about 3 weeks in the fridge.

Also, an added incentive arose! Earlier in the summer when I was telling my mom about my journey to make my own pickle and asking her if she had seen them in any stores I cleverly got her to promise to try one if I made them. She is on a crazy restrictive diet (crazy but highly highly effective) and so she has not been allowed to try anything I've made since the inception of this blog. Two months ago though, I garnered the promise and I made her eat one of my pickles darn it! She liked it but I wouldn't take that too seriously because she hasn't eaten anything really awesome for a while now. The rest of my family who have eaten real food recently though (myself included) also thought these were pretty tasty.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beet Hummus

So that same problem I have with eggplant transfers over to beets. I really want to like them but have never found a way to. From everyone I have talked to about beets I've only heard that they taste like dirt or they are in love! Though during pregnancy especially, some women crave dirt or clay (Truth!) so maybe that could explain their appeal. I think that nature was cruel to the beet in making it so vibrant and lovely to look at yet so generally distasteful. That all being said about how much I dislike them, I think I have found a solution that even the illustrious Dwight Schrute would be proud of. It's the same basic formula as the lasagna where you take something you know and love but combine with a foreign flavor. This recipe marries the unlikely players beet and hummus. I was instantly won over by the unconventional color of this but continued to love it well after just looking at it. Personally, I am a fan of tahini but some people find that as distasteful as a beet and if that is the case than this recipe probably isn't for you. Also, apparently tahini here only comes in a bucket so don't be surprised if there are more recipes featuring it soon.

I treated this just like regular hummus and served with pita chips and vegetables. My favorite was bringing a little tupperware full of the hummus to school and eating it with some celery sticks. O. I'm back to school now which is seriously debilitating my cooking time. Luckily this recipe is less than labor intensive.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Every-Vegetable-My-Boyfriend-Hates Lasagna

I have this problem with eggplant. Really I want to love it and it seems that every time I go into a grocery store I feel tempted by it so I buy it and then I get home, come down off my produce high and remember that I really dislike eggplant. That being said, I really like lasagna and I think it disguises things I don't like really well. So while I'm disguising things, I might as well just go all out and throw in some other things that won't get eaten in this apartment. I think that it turned out really well. Surprisingly well for my first attempt at lasagna (the making of lasagna was always reserved for my mom and I'll admit I called her a couple of times when deciding how this should go). I made it in an 8x8 pan since there are only two of us but the recipe could easily be doubled and put into a 9x13 dish. The eggplant became very tender and retained an eggplant-y flavor without repulsing me. As for the other components, I have always loved pasta, ricotta, spinach and zucchini and I still loved them all together.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sushi Time!

I think there are few foods as intimidating as sushi-- pristine rolls of vegetables and raw fish seem very beyond the skill level of the average home cook. Lucky for the vegetarian though, the raw fish is already eliminated as a potential problem. I will admit that even if I ate meat, raw preparations would certainly frighten me. In the meantime I am still going about 8 years strong as a vegetarian so sushi is an excellent not terrifying meal. Just know that in the recipe to follow, I'm not claiming to be a Morimoto or even close really. Sushi can be so scary because so many people are absolute experts at it and sometimes the sushi served at restaurants is on the same level as an art form. They include intricate designs with unique and well planned patterns. I have heard that some of the best sushi chefs in the world think it's an insult to dip the sushi in anything. Sushi is really just pretty amazing to me.

So while not a sushi expert, I still produce a mean meal with some soy sauce and some wasabi.Shockingly enough too, the only additional equipment needed is a bamboo mat to roll the sushi in, everything else is just optional. The first time I made this, I just happened to have a bamboo mat on accident because I thought they were neat... It was during my Asian decoration phase that I never really got out of. The ingredients are not things that many people have in their kitchen but nori and sushi rice really aren't difficult to find in a run of the mill supermarket. No need even for a specialty store.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cake Truffles

I was snooping around the depths of the internet when I came along some cake truffles for sale for nearly twenty dollars for a dozen tiny balls of cake covered in chocolate. I decided to snoop further into this topic because how they were made completely eluded me. They must be really difficult too because of how expensive all of the ones I saw were. Were the balls of cake baked in that shape? how is the cake formed in that shape and so moist? Well it turns out I was right about the labor intensive part of my theory. However my other theories regarding the shape were grossly off... Essentially, it is a baked cake mixed with frosting to become malleable and moist. The people selling these delicious snacks by the dozen are (I assume and hope) baking their own cake from scratch and then combining it with frosting also made from scratch. Suddenly the price makes sense. I found this recipe which is much less involved. It is still quite a process though. The end result, though coming from the humble beginnings of a cake mix and store-bought frosting, is fabulous. They look amazing and professional and taste even better. They are super sweet though so 1 or 2 is the limit every time. The cake inside is so moist even after all it has been through. I was surprised and they stay this good for a while because they keep in the fridge very well. Which is necessary because the recipe yielded about 60 truffles for me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet potato and black bean burritos

I've made myself a new friend in these burritos. They are really amazing and it should be no secret that I'm obsessed with black beans. I hear tell they are good for me too which only adds fuel to my fire. I was mostly inspired by a recipe in the low fat moosewood cookbook that I got at a garage sale for a dollar. I love garage sales and don't know that I could ever pay full price for a cookbook. In fact, looking at my cookbooks right now, none of them were full priced. Anyway, back to the task at hand. I added cheese on top because that sounded good but without cheese the burritos would be vegan. The pictures also include the yellow rice I made on the side (to de-healthy the dish a bit naturally). The flavor is really unlike any other burrito I've ever had before but it was just spicy enough with a little bit of salsa on top. Cilantro and lemon juice mixed in with the black beans add another appreciated dose of flavor to the mix. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Samoas Bars

I'm not too proud of the way these turned out. I know. They're ugly. What can I say? I was in a hurry. That being said though, they really are delicious and surprisingly true to the flavors of a real girlscout samoa. And truly with girlscout cookie prices rising every year these prove to be a good alternative. Now if only I could get the samoa look down. Instead I will just say that I desperately needed to go to the auto parts store and had a ride ready so my cooking took the back seat so to speak. The bars are just a buttery shortbread topped with a caramel-coconut mixture and then drizzled in sweet sweet chocolate. I thought that I could handle them in the short amount of time I had but I was very wrong. The times in the recipe are deceiving because the bars desperately need to cool in between every step. I was a little rushed. That's why they don't look so appetizing. Taste though? Amazing!

Also have I ever mentioned how much I love bar desserts? Love them! I'm completely obsessed in fact.