Monday, April 27, 2009

Thai Chicken Salad

Yesterday was so hot so I wanted to think of something that didn't need a lot of cooking. I found this Thai Chicken Salad and got the ingredients. Then it ended up being so hot I didn't even feel like eating. I didn't want the chicken to go bad (how long does that stuff last anyways?!?!) so I made it tonight even though I didn't have time until 11pm. I had a few bites just now and I think it'll be a great lunch for tomorrow and probably the next day too. I don't think it's very Thai really, but I love peanut butter so I'm a fan. Mine looked absolutely nothing like the picture, partly because I omitted the noodles. Mine is basically a bowl of cabbage, carrots, and cucumber, with chicken on top and doused with peanut butter sauce. I can't be bothered to take a picture though because it's really almost bedtime. This should be a good standby for hot days in the summer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Evereyday Food Magazine - April 2009

April's issue contained tons of recipes I want to try and sadly I barely made any before May's issue arrived. (Partly due to the fact that my April issue got lost in the mail and was almost 2 weeks late and partly b/c I've been busy!) None-the-less -- here's my recap:

Recipes I made:
The "In-Season" food of the month was Asparagus, so there were several recipes using asparagus. Here are the ones I didn't manage to try:
Among the "5 Great Meals for Under $10" I flagged, but didn't get around to making:
They had a section on "Unbeatable Egg Suppers" which I'm all about since I've always loved eggs for dinner! I flagged the whole section but never made any of them:
They also had a section on making cookies that you normally buy in the store. Here are the one's I flagged to try:
Finally, here are the remaining misc. recipes I wanted to try as well:
(I know - it was a good issue! I flagged a lot of it! Just means more things to try later! Let me know if you make any - I'm especially curious about the ones I didn't try yet.)

Dinner: Quiche, Chicken, and Salad

Last night for dinner I made a few things (and dirtied several dishes!) for my roommates, Rajeev, and I. In all the excitement, I completely forgot to take pictures - we'll have to settle for other people's pics.

Asparagus, Leek, and Gruyere Quiche
I love quiche of all kinds and have suggested it to Rajeev on several occasions, but he never seemed into the idea. Finally the other night I declared that I was making quiche (once I knew my roomies were going to join us for dinner and it wouldn't be just me eating a giant quiche in case he hated it)! Aside from being really yummy, I like quiche because its so easy to make and people always think its hard! I'm sure it gets harder if you make your own pie crust - but I have yet to do that, so for now - easy peasy. Asparagus is the featured "in season" food in this month's EDF so I made the quiche recipe in that section. As expected, it was not a big deal to make and super yummy. (How could something that something with that much cream and eggs not be yummy?)

Oven Fried Chicken (aka - do it yourself Shake and Bake)
From my Help My Apartment Has a Kitchen book that was gifted to me when I graduated from college, I found a recipe for Oven Fried Chicken. It claims to yield the yum factor of fried chicken without the take out container & without the frying. The recipe might as well be called DIY Shane & Bake. You basically throw bread crumbs & seasoning (I used garlic powder, oregano, & cayenne) into a zip-lock, put the chicken in, shake away, and then bake it. (Smells of an 80's gimic, if you ask me.) When the chicken came out of the oven, shake and bake chicken was exactly what I had - but it tasted good so I'm not really complaining.

Mediterranean salad with Green Beans and Goat Cheese
To round out the meal I made this salad (swapping the feta for goat cheese since that's what I had at home). It was ok. Everyone liked it but me (I should have known since I don't like raw red onions), but we ended up with leftovers that needed to be thrown out because between the pre-mixed in dressing and the juice from the oranges it would have been super soggy.

Overall - the 3 went together for a pretty good dinner. Too bad there isn't a pic of them all on 1 plate. Oops!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Engagement Cupcakes

Another week, another batch of cupcakes! Clearly I'm on a cupcake kick here. I wanted to make something to celebrate Maura's engagment and my big idea was cupcakes with rings on them. Sarah! happened to be in town for a few hours so she helped me make them. They didn't come out as good as we planned, but for the first try they are not bad. We experimented with a few different designs but ended up with rings and flowers.
I originally wanted to use rock candy for the diamonds, but didn't find any at the store. Sarah thought of using silver balls to put on the band, which would look like Maura's ring, but we didn't find those either. Then we wanted to make the rings look like they were in a ring box, sticking out of the cupcake. But there was no good way to attach the jewels to the fondant because it was too soft. Next time someone gets engaged we'll perfect all of the above! But for this time we settled on fondant rings with crystallized ginger stones. And Sarah made some awesome flowers too. And that's our cupcake story for this week!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Carrot Cupcakes

I'm so proud of my carrot cupcakes! I kept seeing pictures of cupcakes with cute little carrots on top and then I was determined to figure out how to make my own. It was quite a process, but I did it. The carrot cake recipe was sort of a combination of the one Uma used from EDF and this one from the Food Network. I of course did the cream cheese frosting too, because why would you ever pass up on a chance to eat frosting!?

As you can imagine, the carrots were the tricky part. Here they are after I had made them, a day early, before I put them on the cupcakes. I did some research on fondant and discovered that fondant you buy in stores allegedly tastes terrible. But fondant is pretty difficult to make. But then I found out about MMF - marshmallow fondant. I wouldn't say it's easy, but it's definitely doable, and I'm sure next time will be better since I'll know what I'm doing. This blog did a great job explaining how to make MMF. Basically you melt marshmallows and add a ton of powdered sugar and it turns into a playdough consistency. Except mine was really sticky, but with the help of corn starch and crisco, I managed. And I think the carrots came out so cute! Hehe I can't wait to EAT THEM ALL!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs!

Happy Easter!

The soup kitchen, where I volunteer sometimes, jazzed up meal service today for Easter. We had brightly colored table clothes and flowers on every table, plus 500 dyed eggs! My 12 are mixed in there somewhere.

Chocolate covered matzah

Even though I don't keep kosher for Passover, I decided to make chocolate covered matzah in honor of Passover. This was my mom's recipe I think. It's so tasty!

1/2 lb matzah (I used like 4 pieces)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
8 oz. chocolate chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and lay matzah on pan.
Melt brown sugar with butter in a saucepan.
Boil until mixture coats a spoon.
Brush matzah with brown sugar mixture
Bake in 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes (watch closely, it burns easily!!) until it starts to bubble.
Cover with chocolate chips and put back in the oven until the chips start to melt (like one minute). You can put nuts on top if you like.
Spread the chocolate to cover the matzah.
Put in the freezer or fridge until the chocolate is solidified.
Break into pieces.

Note: I had a little bit of extra brown sugar mixture leftover, so you probably could make more than 4 pieces.

Asian Fish in a Packet

One of the best presents I have ever received was a handmade cookbook from a friend of mine who is a superb cook. (For God's sake, she makes her own cheese!) Last night I made one of the recipes, Asian Fish in a Packet (from Moosewood cookbook). It was so easy and fast and there was virtually no cleanup!

I got to use lots of ingredients I don't normally cook with (haddock, sesame oil, baby bok choy). The recipe calls for cooked rice, and to save time I used Trader Joe's frozen brown rice which cooks in 3 minutes in the microwave.

Ghetto Warning-Pea Soup

So I had a bag of split peas and a new hand blender, and was excited to make Curried Split Pea Soup by Alton Brown. Well I made it, and it was fun to use the blender. It didn't look great, and definitely thought it needed some kind of garnish.

I was a little hesitant to eat it and kept making all kinds of disclaimers to Brianna that she didn't need to eat it, and I would try it first. Much to my surprise, it actually tasted pretty good. It was actually rather delicious.

However, the leftovers looked absolutely appalling, like nasty green sludge in tupperware. It sat in our fridge for at least a week and nobody ever touched it again.

When I dumped it out into the sink, it scarily retained the shape of the tupperware!

Friday, April 10, 2009


Happy Passover! This is the charoses I made, mainly from this recipe but not exactly. I love charoses, it's the best part of passover. Apples, walnuts, cinnamon, honey, and wine. How can you go wrong with that!? You can't. Some people make it in the food processor so it comes out minced but not me. Grandma used to always make it in bigger chunks like this so I do too. Plus I don't have a food processor and chopping it like this already takes enough time. She probably made it this way for the same reasons. Anyways, it's yummy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rainbow Cake

Yup. Its a cake. And its rainbow. And I made it.

My latest obsession is Google Reader. If you don't use it - you should. And you should share the things you read with me. One of my Google Reader friends is a guy named Elliott that I worked with at a summer camp almost 10 years ago. We lost touch and then we discovered that we did TIE a couple of years apart (he first) thanks to the TIE listserv. As a result, he's in my Google Contacts and therefore shares his Google Reader reading with me. He posted "Taste the Rainbow with a Rainbow Cake". They got it from Omnomicon. As a result - I made Rainbow Cake!

I didn't use the "diet recipe" that calls for diet soda instead of eggs, oil and water. I used regular cake mix. Here are some pics from before it was done:

It got rave reviews from everyone that tried it, including many of my co-workers, but my favorite comment came from Rajeev (who was tasked with cleaning up after me - thanks again rajeev!). He said: "I feel like I'm cleaning up after a 5 year old thats been painting all afternoon!" That's exactly what my bowls looked like when I was done.

Carrot Tea Cake

Since Louisa asked about it, here is the recipe for Carrot Tea Cake that was in the March 2009 issue of Everyday Food Magazine.

-0.5 c. unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for pan
-1.25 c. all purpose flour, plus more for pan
-1 tsp. baking powder
-0.5 tsp. baking soda
-0.5 tsp. salt
-0.5 tsp. cinnamon
-0.5 tsp. nutmeg
-0.5 c. packed dark brown sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp pure vanilla extract
-1 c. packed grated carrots

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 5 x 9 (6 cup) loaf pan. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in carrots. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 mins. Let cool in pan 5 mins. Turn cake out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

They recommend making and frosting it with a cream cheese frosting. I didn't bother with that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Everyday Food Magazine - March 2009

By now you should have long since figured out that almost everything I post about comes from Everyday Food Magazine. I heard about EDF from my friend Monica, who's a new reader of Gastrofabulous as of today! (Hi Monica!)

One of the things I look forward to at the end of each month is my new issue. As soon as it arrives, I devour it, reading every recipe and flagging all of the ones I want to try. I rarely manage to make them all in a month (almost never!), so I'm going to try posting a recap each month so you get to see other recipes

So far, I've tried to following recipes out of the March 2009 issue: -Rustic Marinara Sauce (we added sausage, peppers, onions, and mushrooms to their recipe)

-Carrot Cake (I never bothered with the cream cheese frosting they recommend)
-Cornmeal-Crusted Fish Sticks
-Whole Wheat Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Veggies

-Balsamic Rosemary Vinaigrette & Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

Recipes I flagged but haven't gotten around to trying yet (maybe you guys will post about them!):
-Emeril's Turkey Bolognese
-Smokey Beef Tacos
-Avocado-Red Onion Relish
-Corn and Tomato Salsa
-Fudgy Skillet Brownies
-Pear Tart Tartin
-Spinach Salad with Salmon
-John's Pecan Lace Cookies (didn't one of you post something similar recently? Louisa?)
-Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chunk Cookies

PS- I couldn't find the recipes that aren't hyperlinked. If you want to try one, I'll send you the recipe, just let me know!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Carrot Habanero Soup

Hello Gastrofabulous! Thanks Louisa for inviting me, I've been meaning to post for a long time and I've finally found inspiration! I absolutely love this bright orange soup because it is spicy and brings a lot of flair to any dinner as a side, or as a centerpiece for lunch. If two whole habeneros is too intimidating, you can pierce them with a fork and let them simmer with the rest of the ingredients, then fish them out before putting everything into your food processor/blender. This recipe comes from my favorite cookbook, Cowgirl Cuisine by Paula Disbrowe.

Carrot Habanero Soup
serves 8

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound carrots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1-2 habanero chiles
1/4 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1 medium sweet potato
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt

Garnish with sour cream/plain yogurt and cilantro leaves

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add leek, onion, and carrots and saute for 7 minutes until tender. Add garlic, ginger, and habaneros and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up browned bits.
2. Add stock and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer 30 minutes until veggies are tender. Stir in OJ, cumin, and coriander.
3. Let soup cool slightly. Place half of carrot mixture in blender and process until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture into a medium bowl or pitcher and repeat the procedure with the remaining carrot mixture. Press the puree through a large fine sieve into the pot and discard any solids that remain. Stir in the honey and salt and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle into bowls and top with yogurt and cilantro.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Roasted Chicken & Asparagus

One of the tips in the March 2009 issue of EDF is to tuck some butter and herbs under the skin of chicken before roasting it for a fast dinner. I decided to try it tonight with rosemary and thyme. It was OK. Given that it's probably not that healthy and didn't result in something insanely yummy, I probably won't bother with it again. We'll see. One combo they suggest is butter with chili powder and lime zest. I might still try that one. Let me know if you do.

As a side, I made Asparagus with Creamy Mustard Sauce. Initially when I tasted the sauce on its own, I thought it was too bland, but there's something about the asparagus that blends perfectly with it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Balsamic Pork Chops and Green Beans

Let the lesson for today's post be: Read the entire recipe before you decide to make it!

This evening, after plans for dinner with friends fell apart, I came home and contemplated what to make for dinner. For me, an opportunity like that usually involves paging through my collection of Everyday Food magazines for items I've flagged and skimming them to see if they seem like the appropriate amount of effort for the evening. I settled on Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops (from the March 2009 issue) and Green Beans with Cider Vinaigrette (from the June 2008 issue). Only after returning from the store (with the only 3 ingredients I needed to buy: pork chops, green beans, and garlic -- not bad considering I hate recipes that require me to misc, items that will sit in my pantry / fridge forever with nothing more than a pinch used), did I realize that the pork chops required an hour to marinate (I wanted to eat asap!) and the beans are actually served cold (not what I was looking for on this cold rainy night!).

I managed to improvise and still have a pretty good meal. A couple notes:
  • The pork chops need to be marinated in a Balsamic Rosemary Vinaigrette (also from March 2009). I didn't bother with the blender - too many dishes to clean. I just pressed the garlic into the mixture which I combined in a cup with a spoon. Way easier.
  • Since I didn't want cold beans, here's what I did: I steamed my beans with some pressed garlic on top. Meanwhile I mixed together more pressed garlic and the other ingredients. (I substituted Red Wine Vinegar for the Cider Vinegar b/c I don't need another type of vinegar in my kitchen - I have 3 already!). Once the beans were done I dumped them in a bowl and mixed them with the vinegar / mustard mixture. It worked out pretty well. I'd make them again.

Catching Up

In late November / early December I was cooking and taking pictures for Gastrofabulous a ton - I just never got around to downloading the pics and posting about them. So - to catch up - here's a few of the things I made:

Penne with Bacon and Green Beans
adapted from Everyday Food - June'08
(they called for Spaghetti & Pancetta - I used what I had in the apt)

Seafood Risotto
from Everyday Food - April 2008
(I couldn't find the recipe online, but if anyone wants it I'll be happy to type it up - it was really easy and yummy!)

Balsamic Skirt Steak & Polenta
from Everyday Food - March 2008
(ditto about not finding the recipe online / willing to type up for anyone)
I toot my own horn here - this was one of the "fanciest" meals I have ever made and it was EXCELLENT.