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!