Wednesday, June 18, 2008

sorry for the lack of updates. i moved on june 1 and don't quite have things settled in yet; still am looking for another job and a bookshelf. hopefully i will be getting internet within the next few weeks.

Friday, May 30, 2008

salad days

salad is one of my favorite dinners during warm summer months. salad, a glass of wine maybe, ahh, perfection. it's an awesome way to showcase locally grown produce if you like farmers markets or garden. if you prepare the lettuce ahead of time, you can have dinner ready in minutes on days when it's just too hot to cook.

my salad was simple. the photo above shows lettuce (which i washed and spun earlier today), mushrooms, tomatoes, green pepper, black olives, and cucumber. i also like to add tofu for protein; marinate if you like (i used broth, greek seasoning, and garlic) before frying or baking.

dressing can be a simple vinaigrette or even just a drizzle of some good olive oil, but i prefer creamier stuff. i used this recipe as a guideline, but eyeballed all of the measurements and probably added almost twice as much because i thought it was too bland. i think it also tastes better if you let it sit for a few hours or even overnight, so plan accordingly.

(i know all of my photos look the same lately, but it's hard to maneuver around a dim kitchen when the weather is yucky.)

it is hard to photograph tofu strips and salad dressing and make it look ok, just sayin'.

after i snapped this picture, i dumped on a bunch more dressing. because i love dressing, possibly more than the vegetables or tofu.

cheddar cheese risotto

i've never made risotto. i've heard of it, tasted it once, seen emeril make it on his show, but never prepared it myself. first of all, it took me a few trips to the grocery store to find it. the first time i printed off a recipe from food network, went looking for the ingredients, and found everything except arborio rice! the second time i was buying ingredients for other things to make but thought i saw the rice out of the corner of my eye in aisle number eight, which houses the "ethnic foods" and canned goods. yesterday i remembered the previous two trips and that i had clipped a recipe from the newspaper months ago. i went in hoping that the stars would align and i could once again locate the arborio rice, and i totally did!

cheddar cheese risotto
printed in the minneapolis star tribune (date unknown),
adapted from "nigella express" by nigella lawson

makes 4 servings

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 small leeks or 2 large green onions, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
3 cans (14 1/2 oz each) hot vegetable broth
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tbsp chopped chives

to cook leeks: heat butter and oil in medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. add leeks. cook for 5 minutes or until softened.

to cook rice: add rice. cook, stirring, for 1 minute. increase heat to high. stir in wine and mustard. cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until wine is absorbed. add 1 ladle of hot broth. cook for 5 minutes or until broth is absorbed. repeat, adding broth and cooking, until rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.

to add cheese: stir in cheese until it melts. remove pan from heat, still stirring. spoon into warm dishes. garnish with chopped chives.

yummy! i didn't realize risotto was so easy to make until i made it myself. and now that i understand the process i'm excited to experiment with different flavor combinations. i feel like cheese risotto is kind of like an adult version of mac n cheese. gooey, hot, and comforting. why did it take me so long to make this?!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

cinnamon rolls with vanilla bean glaze

yum! cinnamon rolls are so good and pretty easy to make. the only drawback is that they're time consuming, but it is definitely possible to prepare the dough the night before and then roll it out and bake it in the morning.

i found this recipe by cruising food network's website, but i didn't have any nut so i omitted them and instead was heavy handed when measuring out the sugar and cinnamon. additionally, i love vanilla and will put it in anything so i added about a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to the glaze.

cinnamon buns
courtesy of the little red barn baking book (clarkson potter, 2000) by adriana rabinovich
makes 12 rolls

for the dough:
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

for the filling:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts, lightly toasted (i omitted this)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

for the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 tablespoons milk
(+ 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, if you desire a vanilla glaze)

To make the dough, dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a saucepan. Add the butter, remaining sugar, and salt, and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Sift 3 cups of flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast, warm milk mixture, and the egg, and stir to make a dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board, incorporating more flour as necessary, until the dough is soft, silky, and pliable. Form into a ball. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the dough all over. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until twice its original size. This will take about 2 hours. At this point, the dough can be left overnight in the fridge, ready to use the next morning. When well risen, punch down the dough, then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, butter a baking sheet. Prepare filling by mixing the sugar, cinnamon, and nuts in a small bowl.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. Brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, pressing it in slightly. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, starting at one long side. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll across into 12 equal slices. Arrange the rolls, cut-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Allow to rise, covered, for at least 40 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and golden. While the buns are in the oven, prepare the glaze (and get the coffee started). Sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Whisk in the melted butter and enough milk to make a thick but pourable mixture. When the buns are ready, remove from the oven. Pour the glaze over them and leave to set for a few minutes before devouring.

honestly, these were so good without the nuts i don't think i will add them the next time i make these. i've never been a huge nut person, so just cinnamon and brown sugar is enough for me. half of them are already gone since i made them a day or two ago, and i'm the only one eating them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

peanut butter cookies

om nom nom. i'm not usually a peanut butter fan so i'm not sure what possessed me to make these monday night. i also don't know what i did wrong because they turned out way too flat. oh well, i think i like flat pb cookies because the thicker ones usually turn out too dense for my liking. i will probably make these again this week just to see if i can figure out why they turned out so flat. i only chilled the dough for about an hour because i'm impatient, and i also used a #20 scoop which was too large and therefore only got about 18 cookies. i really hate the criss-cross fork look so i used the bottom of a cut crystal candy dish dipped in sugar to press the balls down instead. it left a cool pattern but it didn't stay once the cookies spread out.

betty crocker's peanut butter cookies

prep: 15 min; chill: 2 hr; bake: 30 min
makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
granulated sugar

1. mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, margarine, and egg in large bowl. stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. cover and refrigerate about 2 hours until firm.
2. heat oven to 375*.
3. shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. flatten in criss-cross pattern with fork dipped in granulated sugar.
4. bake 9 to 10 minutes or until light brown. cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. cool on wire rack.

i think they're pretty tasty, although i don't eat very many pb cookies so i don't know how they'd measure up to others. i just love the way they look. all uniformly round with a slightly crackly, sugary top instead of the usual fork marks.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

wild rice soup

i love soup. i sure do. unfortunately i'm without my cookbooks at the moment so i had to make do with what i have on hand right now. this recipe was a bit bland in my opinion but could be spruced up to be much better. also, it is hard to photograph this soup without making it look like a steaming bowl of vomit. D:

wild rice soup
from betty crocker's new cookbook
(my comments in italic)

prep: 20 min
cook: 25 min
makes 5 servings, ~1 cup each

2 tbsp margarine or butter
2 medium stalks celery, sliced (1 cup) i used 3
1 medium carrot, coarsely shredded (1 cup) even though i hate carrots i put in some anyway.
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small green bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup) i omitted this because i hate cooked bell peppers more than i hate carrots.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup water i used about half a cup of water
1 can (10 1/2 oz) condensed chicken broth i used uncondensed vegetable broth, about 14 oz
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1. melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. cook celery, carrot, onion, and bell pepper in margarine about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
2. stir in flour and pepper. stir in wild rice, water, and broth. heat to boiling, reduce heat to low. cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. this seemed like too long so i only simmered for about 10.
3. stir in half-and-half, almonds, and parsley. heat just until hot (do not boil).
(i shredded some marble cheddar on top since i felt the flavor was lacking somewhat.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

veggie and tofu pita with cucumber yogurt sauce

long time, no blog! i've been cooking a lot but didn't have the opportunity to take pictures. if / when i make bakerella's cake balls (i used chocolate cake and icing dipped in MOAR CHOCOLATE) and mini mac n cheese from food and wine magazine again i'll be sure to blog about it. because i brought both to a potluck and dang, people inhaled them!

anyway, while flipping through a month-old issue of vegetarian times i saw an ad for joyva tahini which featured a recipe for "brain power pita pockets". it looks like the recipe is adapted from a veg times from 10 years ago. the picture looked good to me so i decided to make pita sandwiches this week.

the original recipe called for plain uncooked tofu which kind of grosses me out so my version involves flavoring it with some greek seasoning i picked up on a whim at the grocery store and frying it. the seasoning pretty good, but it tastes quite salty and contains msg. there is a msg-free version on amazon, so i will probably purchase that next time. for a healthier version, feel free to bake the tofu instead.

i wanted to eat my sandwich with some fries but i didn't remember until after i had eaten. this would also go well with some fresh fruit, but unfortunately i'm a carb addict and junk food junkie.

veggie and tofu pita pockets with cucumber yogurt sauce
inspired by the vegetarian times recipe which appeared in the may 1998 issue
makes 6 sandwiches

3 pita breads
1 brick firm tofu, drained and pressed well, sliced into 12 slices
1 large cucumber, sliced thinly
3 plum tomatoes, sliced
a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1-2 avocados, sliced into thin wedges
olive oil
a few generous tablespoons of cavender's greek seasoning
cucumber yogurt sauce, recipe below

mix a few tablespoons or more of olive oil with a tablespoon or two of the greek seasoning. try to remove as much moisture fromthe tofu as possible by pressing the slices in between paper towels. place tofu slices on the bottom of a baking dish and and pour seasoning mixture over it. allow it to marinade for at least 15 minutes. you may freeze and defrost the tofu first if you desire a meatier texture. i got impatient and didn't.

while tofu is marinading, prepare the cucumber yogurt sauce and vegetables.

fry tofu in pan using the oil and seasoning mixture. rub the seasoning onto the tofu slices before placing in pan. tofu will be ready when light golden brown and slightly crispy. drain on paper towel.

warm pita using either a toaster or microwave on high for about 30 seconds. cut each pita in half. place two slices of tofu in each pita pocket and add veggies. serve with a dollop of cucumber yogurt sauce.

cucumber yogurt sauce
(i believe i found this on the near east website.)

8 oz plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and grated
1 tablespoon dill
1 small clove garlic, minced (this gave a very strong garlic flavor, so use less if you are sensitive to the taste)
salt and pepper, to taste

make sure cucumber is dry by wringing out in paper towel or clean dish towel. combine all ingredients in a bowl. store in refrigerator.

i am a horrible insomniac, and after sleeping only 3 hours this morning i found myself wide awake and starving. i made myself another sandwich without reheating the tofu and it was still really good, so don't worry about eating it cold later on.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

vanilla-vanilla cupcakes

i have no idea who amy sedaris is, but people are praising her vanilla cupcake recipe all over the 'net. i'm usually weary of random people recommending recipes instead of bloggers i'm familiar with, but it seems a handful of people on the bakebakebake community on livejournal have made the recipe with success. still, i wasn't expecting anything amazing since i believe everything tastes better with chocolate!

as far as the frosting goes, i've had my eye on cupcake project's vanilla bean butter cream recipe, since she is the one who introduced me to the wonders of vanilla bean paste. once again, i wasn't expecting greatness simply because i'm not a huge fan of butter cream. oh but i was wrong. oh so wrong. stef was not lying when she said it tastes like vanilla ice cream. and seeing the flecks of vanilla bean send it over the top! i stood over the beaters for about five minutes just taking samples for "quality inspection" purposes.

i've only made butter cream a few times but i'm always fascinated with the process. one minute you have some butter and sugar, then it gets crumbly, and all of a sudden everything comes together into a creamy delicious mess.

here is the recipe for amy sedaris's cupcakes, as it appears on her website:

Amy Sedaris' Cupcakes

1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar

Beat well, then add:

Add 2 large eggs

2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk

Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, 'cause I'm doing something wrong.

here are some of my hints: bring the eggs and butter to room temperature. after you have already mixed in the eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking powder, alternate adding flour and milk. if you want to be extra fancy, sift all of the dry ingredients together. i used part milk and part half and half since i only had skim in the refrigerator. i came out with 24 cupcakes and could probably have gotten one or two more. i can't imagine what 18 would look like. massive!

and as far as the deeeelicious frosting, it's pretty straight forward as well:

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting Recipe

from the cupcake project

  • 1 1/2 C confectioners' sugar (add more until it reaches your preferred consistency)
  • 1/2 C butter (room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (add more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute. If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste, or more confectioners' sugar to make it stiffer.

yummmmy!!! this doesn't make very much frosting. if you want to really pile it on with an icing tip and pastry bag you would need to double it for even 12 cupcakes. since it's pretty rich, i opted to spread it on lightly with a spatula instead and it was enough for 2 dozen cupcakes.

the cupcake itself isn't too light or too heavy. very moist. the frosting is amazing, like i said before, it tastes like vanilla ice cream! however i love chocolate too much so i found these a bit plain. i would make either the cupcakes or the frosting again but not both together. i'm thinking the cupcake recipe would go well with a chocolate frosting, and the vanilla bean frosting would be fantastic with the chai cake recipe i have.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

rotini with salsa di limone

i saw giada make this on her show a few months ago and it looked so good. i eat way too much pasta, but i knew i'd be trying it eventually. i wasn't sure if i'd actually like it though because i have never had ricotta salata and i'm not too keen on lemon juice in foods usually. i gave it a shot today though and thought it was pretty tasty. it was pretty simple and fast too. the only part that got tedious was seeding and chopping up the tomatoes. i learned that the best method was to cut each tomato in half and use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds and innards. then just dice what's left.

Rotini with Salsa di Limone
Recipe by Giada de Laurentiis

1 pound rotini pasta
1 1/4 pound Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup crumbled ricotta salata cheese or feta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the hot pasta in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, ricotta salata cheese, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss to combine, adding the remaining pasta water, if desired. Serve.

whoaaa, extreme pasta closeup!

anyway, i made this pasta so i could give some to my brother (like i mentioned before, he doesn't cook often) but he hasn't come by to try it yet. hopefully he will approve. i used feta cheese instead of ricotta salata and i don't remember if he likes it. we usually like to make a pasta salad with penne, mozzarella, tomatoes, and a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. this is similar with the tomatoes and cheese, but tastes a bit lighter due to the lemon. i haven't decided which i like better because they taste different.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

chickpea tacos

tacos are my second favorite food (the list goes like this: pizza, tacos, potato chips, in case you were wondering). i think chickpeas are good too, although surprisingly i am not a huge hummus person. perhaps i just haven't had any good hummus. *shrug* anyway a few weeks ago i saw this recipe in the march issue of vegetarian times and knew i'd have to make it soon.

this is a very quick and easy recipe. i think it probably took me 15 minutes to prepare. i wash my herbs when i get home from the store so they're always ready, but if you don't do this it will take you a bit longer.

the magazine article suggests using the chickpea-avocado mixture as a sandwich spread as well, but i can't imagine it any other way than inside of a taco shell with your favorite fixings.

chickpea tacos
vegetarian times, march 2008, page 34
serves 4

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
4 tbsp fresh lime juice (i juiced an entire lime and got about that amount)
1 clove garlic, minced
8 corn taco shells
2 cups baby salad greens 1 cup prepared salad greens (medium or hot)
1/2 cup nondairy sour cream

1. place avocado in small bowl, and mash with fork. stir in chickpeas, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

2. set taco shells in napkin-lined basket. place salad greens, salsa and sour cream in separate bowls, and set out alongside chickpea-avocado mash.

3. to serve, let each person build their own taco by filling each shell with 1/4 cup chickpea-avocado mash, some greens, salsa, and sour cream.

i used baby spinach leaves because i'm still trying to use it up. very tasty. a word of advice: don't overfill the shell with sour cream! it will squish out when you take a bite.

Friday, April 11, 2008

garlic spinach pasta

i have half a bag of spinach sitting in my refrigerator and need to use it up before it goes bad.

i also had some cream cheese, pasta, and garlic (always garlic!).

this is what i came up with. it's very garlicky so if you're not down with garlic as much as i am, put in half a clove or even less.

garlic spinach pasta
serves one

1 cup rotini
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 handful baby spinach, stems cut off leaves
3-4 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon half and half
pinch of salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

cook the pasta in a pot of salted water. drain and reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.

take half of the spinach and chop finely. place in bowl with garlic, cream cheese, salt and pepper. and half and half. beat with electric mixer until well combined. (if you have a food processor you could use that instead.) add pasta water and stir well.

put the remaining spinach on the bottom of serving dish or bowl, top with pasta, and pour sauce on top. toss to coat. whole spinach leaves should wilt slightly.

sprinkle with parmesan cheese, season with more salt and pepper to taste.

i didn't have any parmesan cheese. :( i think it would also be good to add a few tablespoonfuls to the spinach-cheese mixture for more flavor. when i made it, the garlic was overpowering but i didn't have a big problem with that since i love garlic. if i make this again i would definitely need something else. maybe part of a vegetable bullion cube.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the quesadilla is a food from the gods

yesterday i mentioned eating a ton of quesadillas, and today i decided it was once again time to make one.

the great thing about quesadillas is that you can put almost anything inside of them. lately i've been using spinach, portobello mushrooms, black beans, and cheese. even though the filling is good, i think my favorite part is dipping the wedges into sauce. mmm, sauce.

anyone who has seen me cook knows i rarely use measuring cups or spoons and prefer to eyeball things and taste as i go, so this recipe may need to be tweaked if you decide to try it.

mushroom, cheese, and bean quesadillas

4 oz portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
1 package chopped spinach
1 can black beans
1 cup shredded cheese (i like to use either monterey jack or a mix of mj and cheddar)
cumin, oregano
8" flour tortillas

cook spinach according to package instructions. drain or press well (usually i wring it in a clean dish towel or paper towel) and set aside.

in a saucepan saute half of the onion in half of the oil over medium heat for a few minutes. add garlic and cook for an additional minute. open the can of beans and drain about half of the liquid out. add beans to pan, along with a few large pinches of cumin and a bit of oregano. reduce heat to low. cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has cooked off or thickened. remove from heat and set aside.

meanwhile, add the rest of onion and oil (you may use a dab of butter instead if you wish) to a pan and cook over medium heat. add garlic and mushrooms. cook until mushrooms have released their liquid. add spinach and stir to combine.

heat skilled over medium heat. (melt a bit of butter in the pan if you want.) place one tortilla in the pan and then add cheese, beans, spinach mixture, and more cheese to one half of the tortilla. be careful not to over-fill. if you put too much inside, it will ooze out while cooking or when cut up. use a spatula to fold and press down. once the bottom starts to brown, flip it over. heat until tortilla is brown and cheese is melted. slice and serve while still hot.

you can make at least 4 quesadillas with the beans but may run out of the spinach-mushroom mixture before that. it depends on how much you put in each one.

as far as dipping sauces go, i like to mix sour cream with cumin and use that or mash up some avocados for guacamole.

if you're a ranch fiend, try a dollop of ranch dressing with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

fresh veggie overload!

these past few days i've been subsisting off of quesadillas. all of the dairy's been making me feel kind of gross so i thought today i should have something more healthy.

i've had my eye on the pioneer woman's favorite salad for a while so i was pretty psyched to make it today. lots of chopping. i realized when i was making the dressing that i didn't have sesame oil. disappointment! so i harassed my brother over text messages to try to get him to bring me the sesame oil in his apartment. after bribing him with freshly baked cookies (i started to make chocolate chip cookies when i was waiting), he called me and told me he was on his way.

now my brother is a meat-and-potatoes type of person. he rarely eats vegatables but admits to popping a frozen pizza in the oven a few days a week. when he came over with the coveted sesame oil i offered him some salad and he really liked it. sweet success! little brother does like some vegetables!

Asian Noodle Salad
adapted from Jamie Oliver by the Pioneer Woman


1 package linguine noodles, cooked, rinsed, and cooled

1/2 to 1 head sliced Napa cabbage

1/2 to 1 head sliced purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 bag baby spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
1 small bag bean sprouts
3 sliced scallions
3 peeled, sliced cucumbers
LOTS of chopped cilantro—up to one bunch


Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped
More chopped cilantro—LOTS

Mix together salad ingredients. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on platter.
*Dressing keeps up to three days before serving, WITHOUT cilantro.

this made a LOT of salad. pretty yummy though! i'll be eating off of this for the rest of the week. i think it would be tasty with some fried tofu (my brother suggested chicken, haha).

also ugh, i hate the way the lighting in my kitchen is yellow and how i fail at fixing pictures on the computer. oh well. hopefully i'll get better at that.

Monday, April 7, 2008

ice cream sandwiches

i don't really like ice cream but ended up buying a pint of ben and jerry's peanut butter cup a few days ago when i just had to have a peanut butter cup milkshake. there's no way i'd eat the rest of the ice cream any time this year so i decided to use cookies from yesterday to make some ice cream sandwiches.

my first attempt was a scoop of semi-melted ice cream plopped onto a cookie with another one squished on top. that didn't really work because the peanut butter cups prevented me from being able to squish everything together evenly.

after some thought i spread some ice cream on a plate and used a round metal measuring cup to cut out a round of ice cream. (i would've used a circular cookie or biscuit cutter if i had one.) then i simply put it on a cookie and then set another one on top.

my only problem with this is the size. you almost have to be snake-like and dislocated your jaw in order to take a bite! i toyed with the idea of making an open faced sandwich but ultimately decided bigger is better.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

chocolate chip cookies, take two

my mother gave me a gift card to williams sonoma for my birthday. yesterday i finally went there to spend it.

i ended up getting vanilla bean paste ($11)and a medium-sized stainless steel cog-and-ratchet scoop ($21)anyway, today i just had to bake cookies to try out the scoop and vanilla. this time around, the cookies were actually the right size instead of huge.

all ready to go into the oven! look at those vanilla flecks. look at that beautiful shape. yum!

after fourteen minutes of oven time, they were all ready.

i sampled one and that is a good cookie! i don't really remember what it tasted like the previous time i made them, but this is a damn good recipe. i believe last time it was a bit too doughy for my liking (well that's what happens when you make them twice the usual size), but this was amazing. crispy outside, soft and chewy inside. very rich.

here's the recipe, in case you missed it. i used half and half instead of milk and a generous amount of vanilla bean paste instead of extract. the recipe yielded exactly 12.5 dozen for me when i used a scoop, which i think is too cool.

Friday, March 28, 2008

homemade pizza! om nom nom

i'm finalllyyyy updating this blog again. for the past week i've been hooked on making pizza from scratch. i think i'm also catching on to this food blogging thing. as i snapped a picture of the finished product i realized i should've shown the dough after i punched it down, the chopped vegetables in their bowls, etc. oh well. live and learn. next time though!

i found this recipe on allrecipes and i think it's pretty good. i don't have anything to compare it to though, since this has been my first attempt at making crust

jay's signature pizza crust.
from allrecipes


  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.
  5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes
i've made this crust recipe twice (and it makes enough for two pizzas) so far and would definitely recommend adding some herbs or garlic powder to the dough, or else it may be a bit bland. the first time i made it, i brushed some melted butter and herbs onto the exposed crust after putting the toppings on!

I don't have a pizza stone so i baked it in the pan (oiled and sprinkled with cornmeal) for about 7 minutes by itself. be sure to spread some oil and poke some holes in it so it doesn't get bubbles.

then for sauce i used some homemade stuff i threw together. cook onion and garlic in some oil, add spices. then add a can of diced (or crushed) tomatoes, a few heaping tablespoons of tomato
paste, and a spoonful of sugar. stir over medium heat and then let simmer for, i dunno, 10 or 15 minutes. this will make enough for 2 pizzas.

today i threw on all of the veggies i had left from previous recipes. sliced mushrooms, minced onion, and black olives. i would've liked to have some other things on it, but it was still super yum because i used a mix of mozzarella, asiago, parmesan, and monterey jack cheese tossed with garlic powder and more basil and oregano.

oops, i got a bit distracted this evening and let it hang out in the oven for a bit too long. cheese got a little too brown, but it was still the best pizza i've made to date.

the pizza pan i own is 12 or 13 inches i think. i can eat half a pizza in one sitting easily, haha.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

amazing chocolate chip cookies

in a fit of boredom i volunteered myself to bake cookies for a touring band that's stopping by minneapolis. at first i wanted to do cupcakes, but i realized they might have problems storing them especially since all of the recipes i wanted to use suggested refrigerating them. so i decided on cookies. although cookies confuse me somewhat (how do you know when they're done? you can't just stick a toothpick in!) i went for it.

after searching for different ideas i finally selected alton brown's "the chewy" chocolate chip cookie recipe. omg. so good! although my scoop is probably 2x too large (i only got about 16 cookies and the recipe is supposed to yield 2.5 dozen) they turned out beautifully.

and yes, i'm back to unappetizing cell phone camera pictures. i'm broke as hell so i can't get more batteries for my regular camera. and i seem to have misplaced my memory card AND usb cord so it's not like i could transfer photos anyway.

here is the recipe:

the chewy
from food network's alton brown

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

yum! i can't wait to make these again. and this time, actually be able to eat more than one! (it's a reggae band so they have lots of members. i'm giving them all of the cookies, save the one i ate for "quality inspection".)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


while i do have a healthy amount of ~*azn pride*~ i don't always feel authentically asian since i'm an adoptee. although i have been back to my birth country, met my birth family, and have done other culturally reaffirming activities, i still lack a lot of knowledge about, well, everything korean.

a while ago i found a korean cookbook and flipped through it. i figured manduguk (dumpling soup) couldn't be too difficult so i gave it a shot.

no recipe though, cause i made it last week and forgot what i put in it. a mixture of tofu, shiitake mushrooms, onion, garlic, kimchi, sesame oil, soy sauce, and i don't know what. oops.

if you want to make it i would recommend perusing a few different recipes for it (try googling "manduguk recipe" or something similar) and then either picking one or using them for reference.

fyi -- wonton skins come in a package of 50 (at least at my grocery store) and unless you're feeding an army, you'll probably need to freeze them. put them on a cookie sheet or plate in a single layer and freeze for 20 minutes or half an hour until they're firm. you don't want them to stick to each other. after 20 minutes or so, take them off the cookie sheet and put them all in a large tupperware container or clean plastic ice cream tub.

poptarts of FAIL

yesterday i saw another blogger make homemade pop-tarts and i was intrigued. so this evening i decided to give it a try. ugh.

here's the recipe, but i'm not sure who invented it originally since i saw it posted on other recipe websites:

homemade poptarts
from a sweet fantasy

For Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp. cold water

For Filling

Jam (your choice)

For Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
milk to thin


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and butter and blend with a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands. Blend until mixture is fairly coarse. Add water, 1 tbsp. at a time,
gently mixing dough after each addiction until dough forms a ball.

2. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a square/rectangle. To about 1/8 thickness. Cut out long strips about 2 inches wide and 3 inches long. Repeat until dough runs out.

3. Take one pie crust rectangle and lace 1 tsp. of jam on top. Cover with another piece of pie crust and crimp all four edges. Repeat with the rest of dough. Place Pop-tarts on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and bake for 7-8 minutes.

4. While pop-tarts are baking, make glaze. Place powdered sugar in a bowl. Pour milk slowing until it has a consistancy of really thick syrup. 1/2 a tbsp. to 1 tbsp. might be enough.

5. Once pop-tarts are done and cooled, top with glaze. Sprinkle and decorate with colorful sprinkles.

this is one of the first things i've made that did NOT work out. i couldn't get the dough right, even after trying to fix it in various ways (refrigerating it before rolling, adding more flour, etc). i'm not sure what i did wrong, and it looks like the blogger i got the recipe from isn't answering questions people have left.

after a struggle i made 5 'tarts and baked them. after they came out i tried one and was not impressed with the taste. the dough was too bland.

at least they looked ok. (the other ones turned out better but i was in a hurry to get them DONE since i thought they were kind of gross).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

mmmm chickpea sandwich

oops so i haven't updated for a long time. i dunno why. embarrassed about my shitty pictures i guess, haha. well i've updated to my crappy camera, but i admit i'm not very good at taking pictures.

well this is what i had for dinner (/ late lunch?) today.

chickpea salad sandwich with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and mayo along with a handful of jalapeno cheddar kettle chips and half an asian pear. delicious.

i think every veg*n has their own version of this chickpea stuff. it's a super tasty alternative to chicken or tuna salad. it's a very forgiving thing to make -- just throw in any crunchy veggies you have and it will probably be good. use mayo (real or vegan) or salad dressing instead of plain yogurt. i had some left over from something else and wanted to use it up. i just kind of threw mine together, but i think this is approximate (hopefully i'm not forgetting anything here, i made it yesterday):

jeni's chickpea salad

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 rib celery, chopped
1/4 of an onion, minced
1/4 of a cucumber, chopped
plain yogurt
dried dill weed
sea salt, fresh cracked pepper
lemon juice
garlic salt

place chickpeas in a bowl and mash with fork (or pulse in a food processor). add veggies and a few dollops of yogurt and mix until it is a spreadable consistency. season with dill, salt and pepper, garlic salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. mix well. if time allows, refrigerate to let flavors mix together.

serve on bread or pita with other sandwich fixings or use as a dip for crackers, chips, or veggies.

i'm thinking that pear would be really good in a sandwich somehow. maybe with some cheese in a panini-style sandwich. and i also don't think this is an original thought. i'm pretty sure i saw giada de laurentiis make something like that on her show once. damn.

Monday, January 21, 2008

cornmeal tortillas

i am a lame-o for once again eating my food before taking pictures. sorry dudez.

i made the hillbilly housewife's cornmeal tortillas today. i've been making bean and cheese quesadillas for about a week and i was running out of (storebought) flour tortillas. obviously i am no stranger to homemade tortillas -- my first "real" entry was my first attempt at making them.

i am not really a fan of corn tortillas. but i gave them a fair shot anyway. this is far from an authentic recipe, but then again isn't anything i make just a bastardized version of something else more gourmet?

cornmeal tortillas
courtesy of the hillbilly housewife

3/4 cup cornmeal
1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or oil
1 cup boiling water
Waxed paper

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour and salt. Stir it up while the water is coming to a boil. Use a metal measuring cup to measure the water, if possible. Plastic melts, and glass sometimes shatters, so a metal measuring cup is the safest type when you measure boiling water. To continue, place the shortening in the bowl with the cornmeal and flour. Pour the boiling water over everything and stir it up with a fork. Stir and stir because it will lump up quite a bit before it turns into dough. Allow the mixture to cool. Divide the dough into 10 lumps about the size of golf balls. Roll each ball out very thinly between sheets of waxed paper. Loosen and remove the top sheet of paper, and lay the tortilla down on a hot dry skillet, with the bottom sheet of waxed paper still attached, and now on top. After the tortilla cooks for a few seconds, the remaining sheet of waxed paper will easily loosen for removal. When the underside of the tortilla is dry with a few brown spots, turn it and cook the other side.

my notes: i don't know what i did at first, but the dough was too wet for it to work properly. i left it sitting out for at least half an hour after mixing it, but maybe it needs a bit more time or less water. i switched off my humidifier (which lives on my kitchen counter because i don't have space anywhere else) and after that things were better. i still had to be careful when peeling the rolled dough off the paper because it tore very easily. i think the key is to leave them thicker than flour tortillas. pretty tasty though.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

mushroom bolognese

yeah i'll admit i didn't know what bolognese sauce was until after i made it and after i wikipedia'd it.

wikipedia says:

Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian, also known by its French name sauce bolognaise) is a meat based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce but authentic recipes have only a very small amount of tomato, perhaps a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.

oh i see.

the recipe i used came from a cookbook i received for christmas maybe 10 years ago when i first decided to become vegetarian. it's called the best-ever vegetarian cookbook and can be found here or at any barnes and noble stores i guess. i don't know if it is the BEST EVER cookbook, but it was a great starting point for someone who wasn't familiar with cooking sans animals. every recipe is pictured which is amazing. a lot of them were too sophisticated for my 11 year old tastes, but i did like that it didn't base recipes around mock meats which are kind of gross and rather expensive. instead of providing a list of things to substitute for meat, each recipe was unique and didn't make a big deal out of the fact that it was vegetarian. each dish i tried was easy to prepare -- by that time i had been cooking meals for my family for maybe a little over a year so i had some experience in the kitchen, but nothing too fancy. the only thing that failed me was the homemade ravioli recipe. *shrug* i'm sure if i tried it again i could get it though. i do wish, however, that it featured more recipes with tofu because it took me years to figure out how to prepare it. still, this book is what i turn to when i'm not feeling creative but still want to eat something healthy and tasty.

mushroom bolognese
(from the best-ever vegetarian cookbook)

1 pound of mushrooms
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 T tomato paste
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
3 T fresh oregano
1 pound fresh pasta
salt and fresh cracked pepper
parmesan cheese, to serve (vegans, leave this out)

serves 4.

1. trim the mushroom stems neatly at the top, then cut each mushroom into quarters.
2. heat the oil in a large pan. add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
3. add the mushrooms to the pan and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. there will be quite a lot of liquid produced.
4. stir in the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon of the oregano. lower the heat and cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
5. meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes, or according to package directions, until just tender.
6. season the bolognese sauce with salt and pepper. drain the pasta, pour it into the bowl, and add the mushroom mixture. toss to mix well. serve in individual bowls, topped with shavings of fresh parmesan and the remaining chopped oregano.

*if you prefer to use dried pasta, make this the first thing you cook. use 12 oz dried pasta. it will take 10-12 minutes, during which time you can make the mushroom mixture.*

my comments: i used dried pasta. no pasta machine = no homemade pasta. i think it would be lovely to make everything homemade, but whatever. i also halved the recipe since i cook for myself and no one else. although it did not specify, i would recommend draining the tomatoes before adding them, perhaps reserving a small amount of liquid in case the sauce is too dry.

i also found this to be a little bland. i left out the cheese and only had dried oregano on hand, but i think even with those it would've been a little blah for my tastes. serve this to people like my great-aunt who order food "as mild as possible" when you go to restaurants.

once again, sorry for lack of photo. i am lazy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

not related to cooking

just wanted to show off a gift i made for my friend abe who has been living in europe for over 2 years and finally made it back to the usa a few days ago.

it's a thaumatrope. when i mention it by name no one seems to know what it is but once i explain that it's a toy that usually has a picture of a bird on one side and a cage on the other people usually understand. when you spin it the bird appears to be in the cage.

here is my thaumatrope for my friend abe:

i couldn't get a picture of it in action, but rest assured that it is awesome because he is BACK IN THE USAbe!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Birthday Chai Cupcakes

I apologize ahead of time for the lack of pictures. I failed to take any before the cupcakes were eaten by everyone on New Year's Eve. I made some chai cupcakes and some chocolate buttercream frosting. Last year I made it as a layer cake (2 layers) but I've caught onto the cupcake craze of 2006. I think I used a 1M Wilton decorating tip when icing, but I can't be certain since I'm updating from a lab and not my home. I also put some cute dinosaur toys on top of the frosting cause my roommate is wild about them.

Vegan Chai Cake
(Recipe originally submitted to vegsource by Chef Deb, modified by Livejournal user _andie_)

2 cups self-rising flour (I substituted with all-purpose flour and baking powder, as per this recommendation)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine
2 tablespoons apple sauce
1 cup strongly brewed chai tea (Use 2 bags in the water)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla essence (I omitted the vanilla this time around since I used vanilla chai.)
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350º. Brew the cup of chai. Cream margarine and sugar in a bowl, then cream in applesauce. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients and chai tea bit by bit into the margerine and sugar mixture, whisking well to avoid lumps. Add more hot water if needed. Finally add vanilla essence. Pour into greased cake tin or a cupcake pan either greased or lined with paper wrappers. Bake for 30 minutes (cake) or 20 minutes (cupcakes), or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (I usually let the cupcakes hang out in the pan for about five minutes before removing them to cool.)

I used Bake and Destroy's recipe for buttercream and it turned out beautifully. It was my first time making icing from scratch!

Fluffly Vegan Buttercream
(originally posted here)

1⁄2 c non-hydrogenated shortening
1⁄2 c non-hydrogenated margarine
3 1⁄2 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 1⁄2 t vanilla extract
1⁄4 c plain or vanilla soy milk

Beat shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add vanilla and soymilk, beat for another 5 to 7 minutes or so until fluffy.

I added a few tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa so it would have a hint of chocolate but not overpower the cake. It was really neat to watch everything come together into frosting. A cautionary note: Powdered sugar will fly everywhere so be careful you don't inhale it. Your countertop may be covered in a fine dusting of it too.

Note :Store the iced cupcakes in an airtight container. Don't refrigerate (even with nonvegan ingredients in the icing, it's stable when all mixed together) because you may get condensation on the food -- moisture provides a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive!

nothing left to eat pea soup

Job hasn't given me hours in over a month. The same $11 has stayed in my wallet since xmas. I am trying not to buy anything until I either get more hours or secure another job. Suxorz. Anyway today I was hungry and wanted to use up a bag of peas I had in my freezer. I don't really like peas (especially when they're not fresh) but I don't mind them in soup.

Nothing Left to Eat Pea Soup

1/2 c butter or margerine (i used vegan margerine & if it seems like a lot use less or use olive oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk broccoli, chopped roughly
4-5 c water (vegetable stock would be better)
1.5 - 2 c frozen peas (I just dumped them in so I don't know how much I used.)
4 bay leaves
1-2 t soy sauce
unhealthy amount of salt
fresh cracked pepper
oregano, thyme, cumin, paprika, garlic salt, whatever spices sound good to you, to taste

Sautee onion in butter until transluscent. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until broccoli and peas are tender. Remove from heat. Using either a traditional blender or a hand-held blender, blend soup until creamy. Return soup to pan. It will be thin; if you want to thicken it up, dissolve 2 T flour in some water (1/2 c?) and temper into the soup, stirring well. Reheat to almost boiling. Serve.

Other notes: You can't taste the broccoli and it's optional. I just had a stalk left over from something I made last week. I would recommend adding a potato to make it creamier after blending. I added a ridiculous amount of salt to mine, only because I love the stuff.