Thursday, September 30, 2010

Curried Vegetable Soup

I have been making a lot of soups lately because I'm quite busy (three jobs), and soups are really easy to freeze.

I'm a very dedicated meat eater, and making recipes without meat is difficult for me. I decided to give this recipe a whirl because I'm head-over-heals in love with a man named Curry.

I found this recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine publication called Everyday Easy Recipes.

Ingredients:
3 cups of cauliflower
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
1 14 oz can of chicken broth
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups frozen peas/carrots
1/4 teaspoon salt

I bought a 32 oz container of chicken broth, and the recipe only called for 14 oz. That meant that I needed to do some Google calculations! Do you know how to find out how cups are in 14 liquid oz? Just type in 14 oz to cups in the search box. Want to know what I did with the other 18 oz of chicken broth? I froze it. Learn how.

In a large pot, add the broth, coconut milk, cauliflower, cilantro, and curry powder. Confession, I also added about a tablespoon of Frank's hot sauce. I think that curry and hot sauce deserve to be together.
Boil.

Turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover for 10 minutes. Stir in the frozen veggies. Leave it uncovered. Read a magazine. What is new with the Kardashians?

After the frozen veggies are warm, serve! You can garnish with the cilantro and red pepper. I went a little crazy with the red pepper.

Isn't it pretty?

Caution, it was quite spicy.

"If you can't stand the heat, you better get out of the kitchen." - Harry Truman

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Egg Bake

I cut this recipe out of a Johnsonville advertisement in a magazine a few months ago. This clipping was barely clinging to life. I made this for the BF's family. It was a hit.

RIP to the recipe clipping. I can't find it now. Thank god I took this photo.

This was the best egg bake that I have ever made. I liked the English muffin crust much more than previous sandwich bread crusts.

Enough said.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ravioli Vegetable Soup

There's been a clear chill in the air lately... a very familiar Fall crispness has arrived.  It's time to pull out the down comforters, throw open the windows and park your butt on the couch on Sundays.  It's also time to dig out the crock pots and start making some seriously warm and hearty meals.  As I planned out a weeks worth of menus this past weekend, I saw a glaring trend - most everything was very fall feeling - squash, apples, pumpkin, soups.  Subconsciously, I must be ready for a change in season.

I bring to you:

Ravioli Vegetable Soup
1 bag of frozen peppers, thawed and chopped
2 cloves minced garlic (or crushed)
1 Tbsn Olive Oil
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1.5 cups of water
20 oz of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 package of ravioli of your choosing (anywhere from 6 to 14 ounces is fine)
1 zucchini
1 Tbsp of dried basil
Salt/Pepper to taste


Heat a little EVOO in a saucepan and when heated, add in peppers, garlic and red pepper.  Allow to cook for a few minutes, constantly stirring as to not stick to the bottom of the pan.  Let the flavors heat together as you saute.  Take a deep breath..... this is one of my favorite smells.  Peppers and garlic... OH MY!

Add in your tomatoes, broth, water and basil.  Allow to come to a boil. Again, keep stirring.  You don't want to burn any to the bottom of your pan.

Once boiling, add in your raviolis.  According to the recipe I followed, you're supposed to cook them three minutes less than directed on the package.  I imagine this is so they don't get mushy.  Don't sweat this... I didn't time mine.... I was doing dishes and I turned around and they had floated to the top.  This was a clear sign to hurry up and move on to the next step. Typically, when raviolis float, they are done cooking.



Attention!  We've got floaters!

Reduce heat a bit and add zucchini's.  Cook on medium heat until they are firm/tender/soft.  Not too soft... not too firm.  Fine balance.  (As you can see here, I clearly need a BIGGER saucepan.)  (And someone to clean up this splattery disaster on my stove.)





Add fresh ground pepper to the soup and serve.  Ta-da!


This homemade soup was wicked easy to make... and what I love most about it is that you can tailor to your tastes.  Love Zucchini?  Add more, add less.  If the soup feels to thick, add more broth.  Mix up your herbs to add different flavor.  Go nuts kids, it's your show.  It was a perfect creation for a leisurely Sunday.

I got five separate servings of this.  I separated into tupperwares and froze two of them for a later date.  If you decide to freeze, fill up to the top of the tupperware, leaving about a cm or half inch free.  This will allow the soup to expand a bit (which it will), but not so much that it forces itself out of the tupperware.  But it also reduces the space for freezer burn, so you can keep it frozen longer.

Total calories:  Approximately 1,200 - five servings: 240 each.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Here's a treat for you....

My podmate treated me to this scrumptious link today:

Food Gawker

This is like porn for us foodies.  Talk about inspiration and droolworthy....  Each photo is linked to the recipe/site. 

I love when things in life get efficient.

Browse and enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is my go-to appetizer.

I usually have these ingredients in my refrigerator, and my guests always love it. You could make this recipe spicier by adding more hot sauce and some crushed red pepper. Obviously you can make it less spicy by using less hot sauce.

Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked, cubed chicken breast
8 oz of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup of blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup of hot sauce (I always use Frank's)
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese


I always use Philadelphia cream cheese. I have dabbled with generic brands and reduced fat options, and I have always been able to taste a difference. Also, they don't seem to blend as well. I hate when my cream cheese isn't well blended.

I have made this recipe many times, and I have used many different options for the chicken. I have used baked, fried on the stove, and even canned. I prefer not to use canned chicken, but if I am in a time crunch, I definitely use it. I cooked the chicken on the stove this time because I didn't have a lot of time, and I didn't have any canned chicken.
Prepare yourself for the easiness?! Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. If the cream cheese isn't blending well, I sometimes get out the hand mixer. Cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

This is the finished texture. No photo could do this dip justice. Let it cool for about 10 minutes. I usually put this dip in a mini crock pot. This dip should be served warm. Serve with chips, crackers, or celery sticks.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna

I love Ahi Tuna.  I love it more at restaurants... but if you want to make it at home, it's pretty easy.  A little intimidating because it is best served rare/raw/pink, but it's nothing even a beginner can't handle.  I buy the frozen stuff because it's more affordable.  I am not yet too refined that I snub my noise at frozen fish.  I get it - it's definitely better, but this sista is on a budget.

Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna:
Fresh or Frozen Ahi Tuna
Olive Oil
Egg
Parmesan Bread Crumbs

Quickly rinse your piece of tuna and pat dry.

Lightly whisk an egg in a bowl.

Pour some bread crumbs into another bowl.  Feel free to add a bit of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Like an assemble line, thorough dip the ahi tuna steaks into the egg, ensuring that you coat all sides thoroughly.  Then dip into the bread crumbs, also making sure you cover all sides.







Ready!

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat until hot. You know it's ready when you flick water into the pan and it sizzles.

Tsssssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....................

Slightly too charred..... I call it "Crusted".
Place ahi tuna into pan to sear for several minutes on either side.  Once you place in the pan, DO NOT MOVE.  This allows for better searing and creating a char.

Full Disclosure:  I left mine for too long.... and the pan smoked.... and I set off my fire alarms.

TWICE.

Nothing says Kitchen Amatuer than standing on your bed waving a bed pillow in front of the fire alarm.  Groan.

Flip and sear on the other side.  The middle should be pink.  Pink = Fabulous.  Enjoy!

Satisfying!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I absolutely love spicy food. It feels like a fun challenge for me to eat the spiciest thing on the menu at restaurants, and I add hot sauce to a lot of recipes.

This Buffalo Chicken Pizza recipe did not require me to add any spice! It was pretty hot.

Now, whenever you make pizza, you could make your own crust. I have made it from scratch for other pizzas, but I was short on time for this meal. It was just easier to use a purchased crust.

Ingredients:
2 cups of chicken breast, cooked and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup of hot sauce (I always use Frank's)
8 oz bottle of blue cheese salad dressing
1 (16 inch) pizza crust
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
crushed red pepper

Combine the chicken, melted butter, hot sauce, and red pepper. Next, spread the blue cheese salad dressing on rolled out pizza crust. I love blue cheese dressing. Hot sauce and blue cheese are always a great combo.

Be careful if you shred your own cheese. I had a little accident. There goes my hand modeling career...

No cheese was contaminated in this accident.


Add the chicken mixture and shredded mozzarella.


Cook at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Isn't that quick?

Finished pizza!! Doesn't that melted mozzarella look delicious?


A trick for reheating pizza-- don't use the microwave. Reheating pizza in the microwave leads to soggy pizza. To regain the crispy crust, toss the leftovers on a cookie sheet or pizza pan at 425 until is starts bubbling again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marry Me Mac & Cheese

Sometimes I get so inspired by an idea that I just can't fathom not doing it rightthatsecond.  I have limited patience.  I am impulsive.  I am okay with these traits and believe they should be embraced.  Especially when they lead me to the dish I am about to share with you.

Remember the fabulous picnic I had recently?  Believe it or not, not all of the cheese was consumed in the original picnic (that would have been a miracle).  I have had three blocks of cheese stankin' up my fridge for a few weeks now.  And believe me, when you live in 350 square feet, cheese stankin' up your fridge means cheese is stankin' up your entire studio.  It needed to be dealt with.  And since I value my pennies these days (meaning I would not throw it out), I went to the intraweb for some inspiration.  Once I came across a Mac & Cheese, I browsed several recipes.  I didn't find one that I thought fit perfectly, so I used them more as a guide.  I could not wait to get home and put my ideas to work.  So I didn't wait - I went home and cheffed it up over my lunch hour.  Impulsive much?

Marry Me Mac & Cheese
1.5 cups of Milk
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
2.5 cups Soft Cheeses - cubed
1 Tbsp herbs
8 oz pasta shells

Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan.  Watch closely - the milk should not boil.  Make sure the pan is big enough to accommodate all the cheeses later on.  I splurged with whole milk because there's not anything even remotely healthy about this and whole milk makes things taste better because it's thicker.  

That's right kids - I'm living on the edge with my whole milk.  WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Somebody hold me back!

Delicious Blue Cheese
Note about the cheese:  you want to use soft cheeses.  Cheeses that will melt well. Parmasean is not an example of this.  I used a gouda, a blue cheese and a Mobay.  Oh, what's that you say?  You don't know what Mobay is?  NEITHER DID I.  Despite growing up a second and a half away from Wisconsin, I don't know jack about cheese.  Especially not fancy cheese.  I stood in front of the cheese case at the Trader Joes for an extraordinarly unecessary amount of time pondering.  In the end, exhaustion won out and Mobay happened to be within reach.











Mobay... moldy crusts removed.
I WIN!  Even if on a technicality... 


Once the milk is near a boil - add flour and whisk.  Keep whisking.  Do not let sit.  If you keep whisking, the mixture will thicken up a bit and you want this.  Takes about a minute.  You'll know when it ready because it will be thicker and fluffier.

Now, reduce the heat to low and add in your cheese.  Keep stirring as the cheeses begin to soften.  Keep stirring until all the chunks are melted.  The blue melted first in my cheese, so my first tastes were sort of nervewracking... leading me to believe that I possible had created a lethal cheese combination.  But once it's all melted and smooth, take a taste.  Isn't that AMAZING?  Don't you at the very least want to date yourself?  I did.  Mine was so damn good, I would have proposed to myself right then and there.  I love cheese. And my genius self.






Step 1


Keep working it....


Exactly!


Pour over your shells of choice and into a glass baking dish.  I chopped up some bay leaves and threw in some rosemary and thyme.  Other good spices would be sage, but I didn't have any on hand.


Toss in the oven at 375 and bake for about 25 minutes until the shells have browned a little bit on top.  If you are out of time, you can make ahead of time and refrigerate until you're ready to bake.  Making it right away is probably better though as the cheese breaks down a bit if you cool and then reheat in the oven.  Don't get me wrong, it's still really good, but I have a feeling it is not QUITE as good as it would have been if made right away.



Divine.  Delicious. Easy.

Give it go!  This recipe is merely a guide - jazz it up with your favorite cheeses and herbs!  Such a major upgrade from the typical box cheddar stuff - but barely more work.


What cheese would you use to make your own version of Marry Me Mac & Cheese?



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pepperoni Pizza Quiche

It is almost wrong to call this dish a quiche because it is so pizza-y. It's very savory and delicious. I have always made it for breakfast, but it could definitely be eaten for lunch or dinner.

This was another recipe that I had prepped and brought in a cooler to the BF's cabin. I mixed the evaporated milk, egg, flour, basil, and garlic powder before making the trek to northern Wisconsin.


Ingredients:
1 unbaked 9-inch frozen pie shell
2 cups of shredded Italian-blend cheese
20 to 30
pepperoni slices cut into quarters
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
3
large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


Start by layering 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 of the pepperoni quarters on the frozen pie shell.
Next, add the egg mixture. Then, top with the rest of the ingredients. The egg mixture definitely leaks over the edges of the pie shell. I'd definitely cook it on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. If you have extra veggies in your refrigerator, add them to the pizza toppings. The BF's mom had some extra green onions. I placed those on top.


Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Do the knife test.

My only regret is that I didn't make two. The recipe supposedly serves eight, but it didn't seem like it was filling enough for our group of six adults.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hypochondriac or Hoarder?

I do not get any television channels, but I watch a lot of television shows that are available online. I am currently on a Hoarders kick. Have yous seen it? It's disturbing.

First of all, I do NOT recommend eating while watching Hoarders. I was gagging tonight when they were removing cat carcasses from the home of an extreme animal lover hoarder.

This photo (below) shows me watching Hoarders on my computer while cooking.

Another hoarder that they showcased was a food hoarder.

This got me worried.

I am not a compulsive shopper for clothes, but when I go to the grocery store, I am a coupon queen who is easily persuaded by "buy 1, get 1 free" advertisements..





Here is my fridge. Now, I think my fridge would be acceptable for a family, but I live alone. Cause for concern?

I am very freakish about expired food, so I think I'm safe. Anytime that veggies and fruit look droopy, I bag them up and throw them in the freezer. It's difficult to know what can be safely frozen and the correct procedure for freezing food. My favorite website to use for these questions is Stilltasty.com. I use this website at least once per week. Did you know that you can freeze eggs?!?! It is challenging to cook for one. I even have containers of chicken broth in my freezer thanks to Stilltasty.com. I look forward to thawing the chicken broth again this winter to make a soup.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Breakfast Pizza

Do you like fruit pizza? How about breakfast?

Well, this recipe combines the two.

I love this pizza, and I have made it at least five times now. It's to the point where I could complete the recipe by memory.

I first found out about this recipe while watching Giada on the Food Network.

The ingredients are simple. Have you cooked with mascarpone cheese? If you haven't, I recommend making this recipe to become familiar with the ingredient. That way you will be able to participate in conversations with food snobs.

I'm a big fan of prepping. I'm a planner. When I made this recipe recently, I had all of the ingredients chopped and ready to go. Who wants to spend all of their time in the kitchen when you have beautiful scenery like this? Hmmm.. watching a beautiful sunrise while fishing or slaving away in the kitchen?

Before leaving for a weekend at the lake, I mixed the Cinnamon-Sugar mixture (recipe for this mixture). Have you ever scraped the seeds out of a vanilla bean? If you haven't, please make this recipe in order to contribute to the food snobbery.

Next, I put two cups of berries in a container. I added all of these ingredients, butter, a lemon, cream, and store bought pizza dough to our cooler of beer.

When you are ready for breakfast, preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the dough onto a pizza pan or baking sheet. Brush the melted butter onto the dough. Then, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Cinnamon-Sugar (<-- Why is this a proper noun, Food Network?!) mixture onto the dough. Bake until it looks golden brown. It doesn't need to look pretty at this point (See photo). You'll be covering up the dough after it cools. Next, mix the mascarpone, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cream. Skip the lemon zest if you don't have it. I have had this recipe both with the zest and without. Spread this mixture onto the cooled dough. Then, you can get creative with the placement of the berries. Sprinkle the rest of the Cinnamon-Sugar mixture on top. This is seriously one of those recipes that you cannot screw up. Recommended drink pairing -- Coffee and Kahlua

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recipes & Copyright Protection

As a librarian, I try to be aware of copyright laws and what students can legally photocopy.

I have wrongly assumed that recipes were protected under copyright, but according to U.S. copyright law,

Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.

How often is there substantial literacy expression in a cookbook or recipe that you access electronically? Rarely. Do you know what this means?

SHARE! SHARE! SHARE!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Super easy tuna melts

These tuna melts are super easy and really delicious.

They are perfect for busy people. I do not have a toaster. Do you? I do not really see the need for a toaster. I start by toasting my English muffins in the oven while it preheats. Preheat your oven to 375 and toss in the English muffins (or use your toaster). The tuna mixture (below) will serve about 4 people and about 4 English muffins. I usually eat one English muffin per meal.




Here are the ingredients for the tuna mixture:

2 6 oz. cans of tuna
4 tablespoons of Mayo
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
2 teaspoons of vinegar
2 teaspoons of mustard
2 tablespoons of chopped dill pickle

Mix these ingredients, and spread on the inside of each toasted English muffin.



If have have tomatoes, put a slice or two on the English muffin. If you don't have tomatoes, it's not a big deal.

Put shredded cheese or a slice of cheese on top of the English muffin and mixture. I use whatever cheese I have in the fridge. This time it was Swiss and cheddar.






Then, put in the oven for about seven minutes. This photo does not do it justice. The flavors from the pickles are really strong.