Monday, May 25, 2009

my kitchen disaster...

pictures first...

this last picture here is a little smokey... if you couldnt tell.

so, i was going to make a pie for my mom.  a banana carmel pie to be exact.  i was very excited about it and found this great recipe.  the recipe called for one 14 oz can of sweet condensed milk (unopened) to be boiled for 3 hours.  yes, unopened.  boiled.  for 3 hours.  so, one hour down i get a text from amanda.  "happy hour at dark star"  long story short... went to happy hour and left the unopened can of sweet condensed milk boiling knowing that i wouldnt be gone too long.  as soon as we pull up to the apartment, amanda calls it.  you can smell something burning from outside... and i was just praying i wouldnt open up my apartment to flames.  luckily, this was all i found.  

i ended up making my mom a pie but it did not involve boiling unopened cans of any kind.  and yes, ive learned my lesson.  alcohol does not trump leaving the oven on.  hahaha.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The powers of champagne and mother combine to bring you, PIES.

My mom and I opted for not 1 but 2 pies this Memorial Day Weekend. The first, a delicious apple pie, the second being a mixed berry.

Homemade Crust:

Makes 2 nine inch crusts
2 cups all purpose flour (not wheat, this is pie, suck it up)
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tbs shortening
4 to 5 tbs cold water

Measure flour and salt into bowl, mix in shortening. Sprinkle with water, 1 tbs at a time mixing until dough almost cleans side of bowl.

Gather dough into 2 even balls. Roll out on floured surface.

Berry Goodness:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 orange zested
pinch salt
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs butter, cut into bits
2 cup fresh blueberries
2 cup fresh blackberries
2 cup fresh raspberries

Line 1 pie pan with crust. Mix together sugar, orange, salt, lemon juice, and butter. Add berries. Toss until coated. ( Our berries were slightly runny and we are pondering adding a bit of flour to this, let me know if you try it)

Kindly dump into pie crust. Lattice second crust over top, crimping edges. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place pie in oven and bake 15-20 minutes at 400. Reduce to 350 and bake an additional 40-50 minutes.


3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour (again, it's a pie, go for the white)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash salt
6 cups granny smiths (peeled and sliced)
2 tbs butter

Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Mix with apples until coated (try one, they're good). Place into pie crust and dot with butter. Lattice top with 2nd crust. Bake 40-50 min. at 425. Prepare for great smells!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

super amazing (and easy) muffins

i have this bulk muffin mix that is very handy.  i use it quite a bit since its already made up and you can always add something different to it.

for the dry mix:

6 cups flour
2 cups oats
3 cups sugar
3 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
3 Tbsp. baking powder

ingredients for the muffins:
1 c milk 
1 egg
1/2 c applesauce, unsweetened
2 3/4 c of the dry muffin mix

in a huge bowl, mix together all the dry muffin mix ingredients. i use a whisk to mix it all together until well blended. store in a container with a lid until used.

to make the muffins, combine 2 3/4 c of the muffin mix with the wet ingredients. spray muffin tin or use the muffin cups. fill half to 2/3 full. bake in a preheated 400 degree oven. 16 minutes for regular sized muffins. 12 minutes for mini muffins.

thats it :)  

ive put things from chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, dried fruit and nuts into the mix when im making these muffins.  theyve all turned out awesome!!

slow cooker chili

i recently went home to surprise my mom on her birthday and acquired a few new cooking goodies.  (i also forgot my camera there so youll have to deal with the camera phone pictures)  one of the things i was very excited about was the slow cooker aka crock pot! :)  the day i returned to louisville, i was in the kitchen cooking.  this was the result...

mmmmmm.... chili :)  i made the concoction that night and put it in the refrigerator.  the next morning i turned it on low and let it cook all day while i was at work.  i was so excited to come home and walk into my apartment!!  the wait was torture but it was worth it...

(basically a little bit of this and a little bit of that)

28-ish ounces of diced tomatoes
(i used one can of diced tomatoes with onions and chilies in them and one can of fire roasted diced tomatoes)
1 can black beans
1 can of dark red kidney beans  
(drain both cans)
1 onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
(the green peppers were ginormous!!!)

i got to use my nicer dicer.  i love this product... like, a lot!  amanda makes fun of me for it but i think its amazing and use it as much as possible!!

2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano 

i think thats it.  you can add more of anything or add less.  you can also add other things like carrots and celery but i dont really like those in my chili.  

enjoy :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hippie Loving Tree Hugging Granola Bars

So, in an attempt to make a cheap snack, I concocted some granola bars. Wine optional, but recommended.

2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat bran
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 ground flax
1 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 handfuls dried cranberries
shaved semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate chips if you're Megan)

Toast the wheat, sunflower seeds, oats, flax, and almonds for 10-12 minutes at 400.

In the mean time, line a baking dish with waxed paper and lightly spray or drizzle with olive oil and prepare for great things.

Bring brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to a slow simmer.

Dump cranberries and chocolate into large mixing bowl. Add toasted goodness and the beautiful syrup you just made. Mix well or you're going to have granola crumbles.

With a spatula, spread across waxed paper. Cover with remaining waxed paper and press down as hard as you possibly can without grunting. You want these suckers to stick together dang it.

Let cool for 3 hours. Mine are currently cooling, I'll let you know what to do next...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

jumbo stuffed shells with broccoli and spinach

im not good at taking pictures yet... i always seem to forget some part of the preparing or cooking process or the finale.  sorry.  i swear im trying to be better....

yummy.  these are soooooo awesome.  :)  

so, on this one i just threw some stuff together... ill list what i used and you can configure to your needs.  this recipe is pretty versatile so you can add or remove whatever you like.

this makes a lot!!  i baked some and froze some for later.
1 box jumbo shells
2 16 oz ricotta cheese
mozzarella cheese 
grated parmesan cheese
frozen spinach and broccoli
speghetti sauce
4 egg whites

cook shells, dont rinse.
cook broccoli and spinach, then chop well.
in mixing bowl, mix all cheese, garlic, basil,
oregano, pepper and veggies.
spread a layer of sauce in a 9x13 pan.
stuff shells with a mixture and place in pan.
i spread a little more sauce over the shells 
and threw on more cheese (of course) :)
bake at 350 for 35-40 min.
to freeze shells -  dont bake the first.  line 
them on a cookie sheet, freeze and then
place them in a container for use at a later date.

mmmmm, i love cheese :)

i will put cheese on just about anything.  you name it, ill probably ask if you have cheese that i can put on it.  cheese makes everything better.  so i decided to make my own alfredo sauce to see if i could pull it off.... 

i did.  :)  i made a meal and took it out to richards moms on mothers day since i couldnt be with my mom.  she loved it.  so did richard.... but he eats anything.  i dont have any pictures but of course here is the recipe.  (i also doubled everything)

1/2 cup cream cheese  (i used neufchatel cheese since its lower in fat)
1 cup milk (i used soy)
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese  (yeah right, i used the shit in the canister you put on your spaghetti)
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp dry parsley

the best way to do this is to use a blender. put cream cheese, milk, parmesan cheese, garlic, pepper and salt in blender. Blend until there are no clumps, pour into saucepan on medium heat, cook for about 10 minutes. while cooking add parsley....

yes, its that easy.  it is a little peppery but i like it that way... and so did everyone else :)

not really anything to do with cooking....

i had a visitor the other day while i was attempting a new recipe....
it might be posted later.  im not entirely impressed with it, i just needed to get rid of a few things that were about to go bad.

anyway.... to the good part.  :)

How it all started

I think the cooking/baking all started in mid-April in an attempt to follow an old secret family recipe for Red Velvet Cake. While I can't reveal the recipe at this time. Give me enough cocktails and it will one day be posted.
I really just wanted you to see how pretty they were.

the best best best no bake cookies you will ever have!!!

basically made up my own recipe... you really cant go wrong with no bake cookies.

1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce (in place of butter)
1/2 cup of soy milk (in place of regular milk)
2 cups of sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tablespoons peanut butter
3 cups quick cooking or old fashioned oats (i used a little of each, doesnt really matter)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons coco bacardi   :)

put chocolate chips, peanut butter (i melted mine a little bit), oats, bacardi and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. combine the applesauce (or butter), milk, and sugar in a saucepan; bring to a rolling boil. boil for 1 minute. combine the hot mixture with the oatmeal and chocolate chip mixture; stir well. drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.  let set for a few minutes before shoving into mouth  :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

gnocchi? no way!!

so, i dont know when amanda and i got the idea that we were chefs in hiding but it seems to be working out so far.  except for the fact that every time i open my freezer, something falls out.... im seriously running out of room!!  but no matter the obstacle, i forge on.... making more food.   :)

last weekend i got this crazy idea that i could make gnocchi.  i honestly expected it to turn out awful and feel so let down that my cooking streak would be over.  boy was i wrong!  im happy to say the gnocchi turned out excellent and i will be making it again soon.  although i felt like it took forever to make... rolling out the dough, cutting it into bite size pieces, pressing each little piece with a fork...  it really turned out to be worth it.  

(i guess im going to start having to take more pictures of the actual process, seems like i always forget until i have the finished product... sorry)

(this is for 2 servings)

fold in the egg and salt with a wooden or plastic spoon or spatula.

add flour slowly, folding with the spatula, until you have a fairly firm dough that doesn't stick to the bowl.

turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead lightly into a ball.

you want just be able to work with the mixture without it sticking unduly- but too much flour will result in gnocchi that are more lead than light.

cut dough in half and roll each half into a long cylinder about the thickness of your thumb.  (ok, this did not work for me.  i broke these up into several cylinders because it was much easier to handle that way)

cut into bite-size pieces and press with a fork for shape.

to cook - put 6 to 8 gnocchi in a few quarts of boiling, salted water (too many at once interferes in the cooking process).

as the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot, remove them with a slotted spoon and put them in a colander over a plate to drain further until you are ready to serve.

you can also freeze them for later use... after forming the gnocchi, place on a lightly floured pan and then put them in the freezer until frozen.  once frozen, transfer them into a container and throw back in the freezer.

oh yeah! the cupcakes!!

the leftover pink lemonade concentrate and leftover strawberry icing....  mmmmm.

the finished product.... pink lemonade and strawberry goodness.

pink lemonade cupcakes with pink lemonade icing... and green sprinkles :)

oh the fun we had making these... 

mmmm... tater tot casserole :)

i love this dish so much... this is the second time ive made it and this time i doubled the recipe.  i also used whole wheat flour this time around because its all i had.  (the cupcake incident left me white flour less.)  :)  added broccoli, red pepper flakes and more cheese this time around...

oh, and one day ill figure out how to upload photos in the correct order.  that will probably be the day i stop having cocktails  :)  dont look forward to that day anytime soon....

Frozen Tater Tots or Tater Rounds
Morning Star Grillers Crumbles, 1 bag
Yellow Sweet Corn, Frozen, 0.5 cup kernels
Cream of Mushroom Soup, 1 can
Water, 0.5 cup 
Salt, 1 tsp
Pepper, black, 1 tsp
Garlic powder, 1 tsp
Onions, raw, 1 cup, chopped

ok, few variations. i hate mushrooms so i used cream of cheese soup. i also didnt have any cream of cheese soup so i made my own.

Homemade cream of cheese soup
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 c unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
10 ounces milk

Heat butter and oil then add flour and salt, stirring to make a roux. 
Add shredded cheese. 
Add milk and stir until thickened.

you can add and take out whatever. being a veggie, i obviously wouldnt use ground beef or turkey but you can sub it for the veggie crumbles. (use a pound of the meat of your choice) 

Cook onions in nonstick pan sprayed with vegetable oil spray for 2 mins.

Add Veggie Crumbles and seasonings to onions and cook for 3 - 5 minutes. 

Transfer veggie crumble and onion mixture to 9 X 9 pan and layer corn over the mixture.

Mix water and mushroom soup in bowl and pour over the veggie crumble and corn layers. 

Arrange tater tots on top and place in preheat oven at 375 to 400 C. 

Bake for approximately 25 mins or until tater tots are golden brown.

this was the only picture i had of this delish dish.  richard and i destroyed it before i remembered to photograph the food the first time.  :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Veggie Lasagna with Fresh Marinara: We drank, we cooked, we tried it once more

Megan and I are neighbors. She lives upstairs, I live down. We are full of bad ideas, but this one might be good. Neither one of us was ever good at cooking until something happened. If you're looking for a magical something, stop, we don't know what it was. Last night, while drinking wine, we decided we should share our vegetarian goodies with all of our friends. So here it goes.

This weekend, Megan and I opted for both cooking and baking. It was an Italian theme I guess you might say. I was downstairs making vegetarian lasagna with roasted red peppers and homemade marinara while Megan was upstairs making delicious Gnocchi from scratch (minus the fact the potatoes came from a box). After a delicious dinner, we made cupcakes, Pink Lemonade and Strawberry. By this time we had probably had too much to drink and the icing turned out to be a disaster. Have no fear, we opted for icing on Sunday, sans wine. Megan will post the cupcake pictures.

Vegetarian Lasagna (as found in Velocity)

Cook 9 Lasagna Noodles, set aside

Rub 4 large red peppers with olive oil, roast at 400 for 20 min. turning once, cool 5 min. Place peppers in sealed paper bag for 5 min. Be careful, these suckers are hot, but have no fear if you drop one, you're going to pull the skin off. Remove. Scrape away skin and seeds.

In an 8"x12"x2" baking dish, or whatever size you happen to have, layer as follows.

2 cups marinara sauce, recipe to follow.
3 noodles
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 peeled, 1/2" sliced eggplant
3 noodles
1 8oz package spinach, cooked and drained
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 noodles
1 cup shredded mozzarella
roasted peppers

Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with shredded mozzarella and crumbled feta cheese. Return to oven and bake uncovered for 30min.

Serves 6-8. What you don't eat you can freeze, make those Lean Cuisine co workers of yours jealous.

Marinara Sauce:

1/2 cup white wine
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbs Italian herb
1 tbs apple juice
1/4 tsp black pepper

Poor 1 large glass of wine in glass and drink while preparing.

Heat wine in large pot, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft (5 or so min.)
Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer 20 minutes. Freeze what you can't use.