Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tuna Pie?!?

It turned out great but I disobeyed my own rule of halving the fat (AKA mayonnaise) so I will have to try it again with less mayo and see how it changes things! And yes it is in a pyrex pie plate - nothing was clean!
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Tuna Casserole

I decided to make dinner tonight so I can have leftovers for the rest of the week. This was the only recipe on the food network site but I was suprised how many vegetables they try to sneak in. I approve.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Butter Nut Squash Soup

Finally, I got a chance to use my food mill that I got for Christmas and it worked really way to puree the squash and garlic. We tried to follow a recipe but it ended up just being baked, pureed squash with garlic and vegetable broth. Simple and delicious!
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pad Thai

I was wondering around the grocery store this afternoon, looking for an inspirational dinner, and I ended up with a box. I don't why there is a notion in the back of my head all the time that I could never make Pad Thai, or Curry or Sesame Chicken from scratch. When I have cravings for Thai or Chinese or some other exotic food, I never think I could make it as good myself. The truth is that boxes and restaurants have the upper hand because they can add chemicals, flavorings and other fun additives, so next time I make Pad Thai I am going to make it from scratch.
The box of "Pad Thai for Two" I bought only includes rice noodles and the pad thai sauce, so I think if I found a good sauce recipe I could adapt the relatively simple box recipe into a home-made one.


1 egg, beaten
4 chopped scallions
1/3 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
2 cups bean sprouts
Ambiguous amounts of rice noodles, pad thai sauce, cilantro and lime juice...

I need to do some research, but I'll have an answer soon...

An Attempt at French Bread

With the new semester fast approaching, and a new resolution to cook simpler dishes at school so I can focus on my schoolwork, it was only natural to cook up something special this week. With the help of a friend, I tried a French bread recipe that had an amazingly crunchy crust, and an oomph-y flavor that could never be mistaken for store-bought bread. However, I found that between the two of us, we had quite a few misconceptions about bread.
First of all, bread does not need to rise over night in order to double in size. We left the dough rising over night, and found that it would not rise much on the second rising. Second, if the proportions of kneading and rising are off - you end up with really dense bread that separates from the crust. So much has to do with the baker's knowledge of whether the bread looks/ feels/ acts the right way. Many of the people who reviewed the recipe said that using 5 cups of flour instead of 6 cups resulting in more airy bread, and after all the instructions only say to stir in as much flour as possible.
Either way - with tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves it made a most gourmet treat!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Red/ Pink Velvet Cake

I found this nifty muffin tin at the Thrift Store and I couldn't wait to use it - literally two days later I made these! With Valentine's Day coming up I thought it would be fun to decorate these heart-shaped cupcakes. I used a recipe from Emeril Lagasse because a dessert is not supposed to be healthy, it's supposed to taste good. It was pretty straight-forward as far as the recipe (combine dry ingredients, cream butter and sugar, add a little of this and that), but I underestimated how much food dye I needed. The recipe calls for 2 oz of red food coloring, and there is about .25 oz in the little bottles you get from the store. I would have needed eight of those little bottles to achieve the red color typical of this cake, but on the other hand, it is not the red dye that really matters. In fact, I know some people who refuse to eat red food coloring because it is made from ground up beetles. From the websites I read (below), it appears that FD&C Red #1-15 are all made from this beetle and according to the Spice Place:
Ingredients in McCormick Red Food Color: Water, Propylene Glycol, FD&C Reds 40 & 3 and Propylparaben (as a preservative).
Moral of the Story? If you are vegan, vegetarian, or allegy-prone, know what you are eating!

Food is so Beautiful Sometimes!

I saw these heirloom tomatoes at Balducci's and couldn't resist! Can't wait to try them! I hear that they are better for the environment because the seeds can be used by farmers.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010


At Whole Foods today, I found pinot grigio and champagne sorbet.

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Dad's Salmon

The bitter cold outside makes for long afternoons full of talking about celebrities, books and recipes. At 3:30, chicken and dumplings was proposed, before we realized that we had to cook a whole chicken for an hour. Looking at some of the recipes I collected from Real Simple Magazine, we decided on Salmon. But since I was cooking for both my brother and I, we tried to replicate one of my Dad's favorite recipes.
My Dad is very health conscious, so instead of 1/2 cup of butter, he coats the fillets with the spice blend and uses buttery cooking spray.
I also made a Citrus-Scented Rice with Fresh Basil from Southern Living Magazine, which was delicious! It was nothing fancy or special, but it is one of those uncomplicated recipes that is just GOOD.
I have never cooked Salmon before, so it was a little dried out on the thinner parts, but overall I was satisfied.
Citrus-Scented Rice with Fresh Basil

-2 cups chicken broth
-2 Tbsp butter (I omitted the butter, and it was still yummy!)
-1 Tbsp orange zest
-2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
-1 tsp lemon zest
-1 cup basmati rice
-3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

-Stir together chicken broth, butter, orange zest, orange juice, and lemon zest in a large saucepan
-Bring to a boil over high heat
-Stir in 1 cup uncooked basmati rice; cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed
-Stir in 3 Tbsp basil, garnish with orange and lemon slices

Hearts and Stars and Trees - Oh My!

While spending Thanksgiving in Indiana, one of our primary occupations was antiquing. There were a lot of silly hats and commemorative mugs from the 1950s, but every once in a while there was something really special that I just had to have. My had-to-have item was a vintage cookie press. It pretty much looks like a caulking gun with a set of templates for different-shaped cookies. The classic cookie press recipes appears to be the spritz cookie, but there are other variations as well. The box actually includes nine recipes for different flavors of cookies, but all but one used vegetable shortening, which I don't like for multiple reasonings - mostly because it is processed fat - gross!

I will definitely have to try a recipe this week!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


There is something soothing about cooking Italian food. The lasagna, baked ziti, stuffed shells...all slowly come together piece by piece into the most wonderful comfort food. Stirring the sauce, preparing the filling, putting down the layers of pasta and sauce are like a ritual that you know leads to something special and exciting.
After going away and eating nothing but sandwiches and French fries, I really wanted some homemade food, and decided on stuffed manicotti. The recipe is similar to stuffed shells - there is a ricotta filling inside pasta with tomato sauce - but I wanted to add some more nutritional oomph, so I added chopped, cooked spinach to my filling. Stuffing the manicotti was a little tricky with a regular spoon, but a long skinny spoon worked great. A lot of the manicotti was ripped on the side, or all the way through, leading me to cheat a little on one of them and simply open the shell up, lay down the filling and close it again.
It's in the oven now - I'll let you know how it is!