Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Now With Pictures

I updated my last post with a couple of pics if you're curious to see the spectacle. More coming! They would already be uploaded except my camera unexpectedly needed juicing. Whoops!

Monday, September 28, 2009

She's A Machine!

For those of you who don't know me, I can be rather...stubborn. Mostly I just fixate. To the point of being completely unrealistic. Once I find something I want to do, I'm very impatient to do it, even when there's no way it can be done. Take, for example, the oodles of recipes for breads, cakes, scones, etc. I filed in my "OMG, delicious, must make it ASAP!" folder last week. I knew I wouldn't have time to bake them all, but I was maybe a might bit overzealous when I set my mind to making what I made. Not that I object to spending all weekend in the kitchen and dirtying every dish that I own. On the contrary, that's a weekend well spent! But I had all these pesky other things that kept taking up my time. I managed to get my weekly trips to Costco, Trader Joe's, Jimbo's, and Ralph's out of the way rather early on Saturday. I even managed to stop by CPK to pick up their Moroccan chicken salad for lunch. Have you tried it? It's seriously to die for. Here's the description on their website (uh, with my commentary thrown in):

"Moroccan-spiced chicken breast (it is super flavorful so it doesn't taste like icky ol' chicken) with crisp Romaine lettuce, roasted butternut squash (melts in your mouth like butter), Medjool dates (OMG, yes), fresh avocado (gives any salad +10 to yummy) , toasted almonds (oh man), fresh beets (I may need a moment alone), chopped egg, carrots, dried cranberries and red bell peppers. Tossed with our champagne vinaigrette (as in, not a heavy cream dressing!)."

Also, I need to mention that there's no CPK in Reno. Can you believe that? I was telling my mom all about this great salad when we were there a few weeks ago an
d she lamented that she wouldn't be able t
o try it anytime soon. It's cruel CPK! Las Vegas is not the only city worth visiting in this hot and dusty state!

Ahem, anyways. I just had a lot of other things to do, like buying running shoes that wouldn't give the tops of all my toes blisters, going to Fry's to check out LCD Sony tvs in person so we could find out things like the fact that their XBR9 series is totally different if you buy smaller than 40" (who even needs 240 Hz anyway?), and being social by going out to dinner with friends. Ugh, see this is why I try and have no life. We were gone for 4 hours last night! I could have made scones in 4 hours! Of course, if I have no friends then I have no one to give my baked goods to so that I don't get fat.'s definitely a balance.

All those random thoughts aside, I managed to cook and bake an unbelievable amount of food this weekend. I was a machine! The food terminator, sent back in time to make sure all the food I overbought at th
e store on Saturday morning got cooked and didn't go to waste. In the interest of readability (because this post is long and I haven't even linked one recipe yet), I'm going to do two posts. Today I'll just talk about the baked goods. That's the good part anyway, right?
  • Banana bread, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Thursday left me with quite the quandary. There were three bananas that were too ripe to eat with my cereal for breakfast (which left me feeling very sad because while fujis are delicious with my cereal, bananas just taste right.). They had turned so fast that I knew if I waited for the weekend, they would become too gross to eat, which would have been unconscionable. So I did something drastic. I baked banana bread on a weeknight. I know! Usually my day is so full with working and giving Theo attention and giving Husband attention and giving myself attention (in the form of a nice long walk, followed by a nice, long, hot shower before bed) that there's just no room for anything besides reheating. Thankfully banana bread is a godsend. You just mush, mix, and bake! Easy! Not to mention delicious. It got that sweet caramelized crust around the edges that was dangerously delicious. This bread was good, not to mention it's a fantastically easy and delicious way to use up bananas that are past their prime, but I actually liked the zucchini bread I made a few weeks ago far far better. Then again, I have a weakness for cardamom. And of course, that didn't stop me from eating about a third of it in one fell swoop. I'd be open to trying other banana bread recipes, but I thought this one was good. I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in place of the all purpose flour just to make it a smidge better.
Aside: how cute is little Jacob? He's adorable. But am I a horrible person for already feeling neglected? Yes? Ok, well now that's cleared up.
  • Apple butter, courtesy of and then I do the dishes (the recipe is about halfway down the post). Am I a moron for thinking apple butter had butter in it? I am? Ok, well now that we've cleared that up. This apple butter, at least, is just apples and spices, so don't let the name fool you. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I got. Not in a bad way though. This is kind of like apple sauce, but finer and less watery (and less watery = good). It's like concentrated apple sauce, so it takes on an almost candy-like quality. It's delicious. The spices add a comforting, fall flavor that almost makes me forget that fall where I live consists of 90 degree intensely sunny days. This recipe makes an obscene amount of apple butter. I ate it on pita crackers for a snack yesterday. The picture accompanying with the recipe with a bit spread over a baguette looks fantastic. But I've already discovered my preferred method of ingestion. Picture it! My kitchen, this morning! Greek style yogurt, orange blossom honey, and a few spoonfuls of apple butter. Mixed together it is heaven in my mouth. Seriously. I don't know if I can eat yogurt another way again. This could be a bad thing. Hm. I would half the recipe next time. It made...well I have no idea how much, but it was one of my big tupperwares! Eyeballing, I'd say maybe enough for 4 mason jars worth? More than I can eat without seriously trying to finish it in a timely manner. Anyone know of fun ways to eat massive amounts of apple butter?
  • Chocolate Armagnac cake, courtesy of and then I do the dishes. I'll just admit first thing that this recipe probably would never have caught my eye were it not for the notion that I would get to light alcohol on fire, a.k.a. flambe! And also, this cake has prunes! Husband was skeptical, but I told him to shut the heck up and he would eat whatever I told him to I knew, like the Nutella incident, once he had chocolate in front of his face, he wouldn't be a problem. Of course, I was right. The prunes are chopped up small and obliterated during the cooking, so texture-wise, you're not eating fruit bits, and they add really great flavor. I'm curious what I would think of this cake if I didn't know there were prunes in it. I think they add a sweet depth of flavor that keeps the cake from tasting dry and boring. I used whiskey because that's what I had on hand (Husband is a whiskey man), and I have to say, the ignited alcohol went off without a hitch! It was awesome to sit back and watch the flames while the alcohol cooked away (which took quite awhile actually). My facebook friend says there's something theatrically satisfying about it. I think that sums it up perfectly. Husband was very alarmed when he learned I had done this without him standing by with the fire extinguisher. (He inspected my face to make sure I still had my eyebrows.) I'm actually surprised he lets me turn on the stove by myself. This may sound ridiculous or offensive, but it might not if you had been around for some of my dumber moments in life, as he has been. And also, our stove is temperamental. We've both singed our knuckle hairs off in the past. Ahem, back to the cake. This cake actually reminds me a lot of a flourless chocolate torte my mom makes for passover. Except this one has flour. But just a scant quarter cup. It tasted rich and decedent without being dry or heavy. And the glaze? Well it's chocolate, butter, and sugar, so...what's not to like? I don't think I'll make this regularly by any means. But I'll definitely file it away for a time when I need a quick chocolate cake. Really, everything came together very fast.
Can you believe we're not even to Sunday, the main cooking day yet? I need to gather my strength for that post. It's going to take a lot out of me. And believe it or not, I actually took some pictures yesterday. And I might take one or two more tonight! So check back for pictorial evidence of this gastronomic endeavor! Are you blind? They're there!

Have I mentioned how much I love fall foods? Just wait until I amass my pumpkin recipes! Oh boy!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

But Boy Is It Tasty!

Ratatouille. Besides being a mildly entertaining Disney movie (there, I got that reference out of the way, now let's talk strictly food, people), it is also a vegetable side dish. It ain't pretty, it sounds boring, but boy is it tasty! What is it exactly? It's basically just vegetables, cut up, then roasted, then cooked until they are falling apart, with a little oil and herbs thrown in for flavor. Like I said, sounds boring. But it's all about what veggies you use and what you do with them. I always take that for granted when reading a recipe. It's amazing the flavor you get with various cooking techniques. Just saying.

I was out of town until Sunday night, in Virginia, for my sister's baby shower. It was so much fun!!! But it didn't leave me much time for cooking. Did I mention my awesome sister gave me a Martha Stewart tome cookbook? This one. Yeah, she missed the part where the concept of being showered isn't that you buy presents for the people throwing you the party. Psh.

Anyway, late late Sunday night I ended up banging out one dish. That's right, ratatouille. I probably should have gone for something that didn't involve broiling and roasting and cooking all in one dish, so I could have been done before 11pm. But that's how I roll. I used this recipe from The Kitchn. I took their suggestion and roasted the tomatoes under the broiler before I cooked them, and I think that worked out really nicely. I was on an I'm-really-not-into-eggplant kick for awhile, which I have recently gotten over, and boy was the eggplant in this good! If I wasn't over it already, I would have been after this. As I said, it's amazingly flavorful for being so simple. Boring it is definitely not. And it's healthy too! Seriously it has 2TB of olive oil and that's it, and I 1 1/2ed the recipe, so it's like a million servings. Which means I can eat as much of it as I want. Another plus! The eggplant...the zucchini...the onions...oh man. It all meshes together so deliciously. You gotta try this one. It sounds like a lot of steps, but it was pretty easy. I even accidentally skipped the squeezing the extra water out of the eggplant part, and didn't even notice the difference.

What else am I eating all week? Sandwiches. Bleck! Not the most entertaining foods, but they are easy and relatively healthy. And salads for dinner, again, easy and healthy. And maybe some muffins and scones left over from the baby shower that I smuggled home in my suitcase...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Recipe: Turkey White Bean Chipotle Chili

Turkey White Bean Chipotle Chili

(adapted from Gourmet)


2 canned whole chipotle chilies in adobo

1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I used organic fire roasted, yum!)

2 large yellow onions, chopped

8 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder

2.5 pounds ground turkey (I used ground turkey breast)

2 cups chicken broth (plus another cup if needed)

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons dried orégano, crumbled

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

2 cups fresh green peppers (bell pepper would work if you want to cut down on the spice level, otherwise poblanos would be good)

1 4oz can mild green chilies, chopped

1 tablespoon cornmeal

2 19-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained


Puree chipotle peppers in a blender with a tablespoon of water and set aside. (As a side note, I accidentally pureed the entire can of chipotle peppers, so I have no idea how many I actually ended up adding. I think it was more like 4)

In a large pot cook the onions and garlic cloves in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the onions are softened. Add the cumin and chili powder, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the turkey and cook the mixture, stirring and breaking up the lumps, until the turkey is no longer pink (be sure to do a good job of breaking up the meat or you’ll have big icky chunks). Add the reserved chipotle purée, the diced tomatoes, the broth, the bay leaf, the orégano, and the salt and simmer the mixture, uncovered, adding more broth if necessary to keep the turkey barely covered, for 1 hour. Stir in the green peppers, the canned green chilies, and the cornmeal and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Stir in the white beans and simmer the chili for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the beans are heated through, and discard the bay leaf.

Makes about 8 servings, I think.

This chili is great with corn bread, or even some tortilla chips sprinkled on top.

While I was in Seattle last weekend I stopped at the World Spice Merchants to buy some fresh spices. It was a really neat experience. My nose was totally overwhelmed after smelling all the spices they have in that store. It's amazing! One of the spices I purchased was a chipotle chili powder, so of course I had to use some in the recipe. But there's probably enough chipotle in there that you don't need it if you don't have it. I've seen it at my local grocery store, so it's not super hard to find.

Fresh Vegetables!

I had the good fortune of visiting my parents in Reno at a very opportune time. Not only did their neighbor come home with so many armloads of vegetables from their garden (from their other house in California, Reno has far too many rabbits) that they simply couldn't live without passing some out to their most favored neighbors, but this even coincided with a long vacation my parents were going to be taking in just a few short days. In other words, my parents were given a few bags of veggies with no way of eating them all before they left town, so they sent just about all of them home with me! What did I get? Let's see, there was a whole bag of gorgeous and succulently sweet yellow and red cherry tomatoes, a huge butternut squash, an acorn squash (again, very large), an eggplant, and a big bag of green peppers that were supposedly hot. The story is that she meant to plant bell peppers, but accidentally planted hot peppers. I have no idea what variety they were, but they really weren't hot at all. I ate one and while it definitely was not a bell pepper, it had only the faintest hint of something resembling a flavor trying to be hot. They were very small, so maybe they just hadn't matured all the way? Needless to say I was in heaven. And as luck would have it, most of these things fit into what I was going to make anyway! Here's what I'm stuffing my face with this week:
  • Turkey and white bean chipotle chili, courtesy of me! I have my own recipe to share with you! I borrowed heavily from this Gourmet recipe, of course, but isn't that how it's done? The recipe will follow in another post, so check back! I had a turkey and white bean chili at work a few weeks ago and was stunned by how yummy it was (the work cafeteria is anything but yummy). I decided it couldn't be that hard, and I would try making my own the next chance I got. Being handed a bag of peppers decided it for me. It turned out really fantastic! It definitely has a kick, but not so much that I can't eat it, but enough that my husband doesn't make fun of me when I say it has a kick. He tastes the kick too! Generally he can handle spicy foods much better than me. And the best part is that it's totally healthy. Ground turkey breast and cannellini beans provide excellent lean protein, and the rest is basically vegetables (plus the tomatoes). And what goes great with chili?
  • Cornbread salad, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I was sitting at my laptop in Reno thinking about how I wanted to make chili when, bam!, she posts this salad. Perfect! It's the perfect accompaniment to the chili. I get a few extra veggies in the meal, and I get my cornbread without being so meat and potatoes about it. I really love the lime-buttermilk dressing. It's creamy without being heavy, and the fresh herbs absorb the dressing and stick to the salad leaves, so even though it's rather thin, you still get good flavor throughout. It's rather ingenious, really. Also, remember that bag of tomatoes I got? Every single one of them went into this salad. Yum!
  • Warm butternut squash and chickpea salad, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I've blogged about this salad before. It's my go-to butternut squash recipe apparently, because when faced with a giant butternut squash, this is the first thing that lept to mind. And oh my is it ever delicious! My not liking to chew at its best.
  • Zucchini bread, courtesy of Serious Eats. When I asked my husband if I should make another dish for the week, since it seemed we were rather light, he requested something desserty and baked. I just happened to have saved off this recipe earlier in the week. This was my first attempt at zucchini bread, and I think it was a resounding success! Man oh man is this good. Husband had one bite and asked if it was expected to last longer than a day. It's rather filling, so it did, but it's going fast! I liked the recipe because it didn't use a huge amount of sugar, and half of the flour was whole wheat. It turned out sweet and the flavor is just fantastic from the spices. Have I mentioned how much I love cardamom? It's like happiness in a bottle. It makes any baked good taste ten times better. It's true. Man, now I'm thinking about these chai spiced snickerdoodles I made earlier this year. I might have to make those again. Soon. Oh, and I learned that apparently my loaf pan is rather smaller than a standard loaf pan. There was a lot of extra batter. I overfilled the pan, which all spilled out over the sides (I was expecting this, so I stuck it on a cookie sheet to collect the drippings), and I just had to eat my way through it all when it came out of the oven. Also, the dough itself is delicious. I couldn't let those extra few tablespoons that wouldn't fit in the pan go to waste, could I? Of course not.
So I have to give a big thank you to my mom for sending me home with so much yumminess! If it were me, I totally wouldn't have shared. Mwhaha! I'm looking forward to working that eggplant and acorn squash into something soon. Check back for the chili recipe.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Need Of Comfort

I'm feeling a bit down in the dumps...understandably, I think. So I was in the mood for comfort foods this week. I wanted to bake chocolate cupcakes, but I didn't have time. I wish I had though because I've been having a serious baked goods craving today. Erm, so maybe it's a good thing I didn't. Heh. Anyway, here's what I'm eating this week.
  • Mini meatloaves, courtesy of Food Network. These aren't really mini meatloaves, so much as meatballs, but they are fantastically delicious whatever you call them. First off, I love the baking method. When I pulled the muffin pan out of the oven I saw that the cups had caught all of the fat, so when I pulled the balls out, I didn't have that congealing fat problem later. Also, I love the mixture of beef, pork, and turkey. That way you get a little of each thing: fat, flavor, and lean protein. The texture was juicy and very flavorful. I've been just eating them plain without any extra sauce or carb-like addition underneath or anything. For me, that's big. Next time I make these (and I will definitely be making these again soon), I'll double the recipe. While one is enough for me for lunch (plus lots of veggies), Husband needs more like two, and since it only makes 8, that's not exactly enough food for the week. If I'm really in the mood for a treat, I think it would be fun to do a kind of meatball sandwich with these. Mmmm...messy and bready. And bonus, the link for the recipe also include the nutritional information. Love it!
  • Green bean casserole, courtesy of Food Network. Because what's meatloaf without casserole? Um, still meatloaf, actually. This one didn't turn out so great. I'm really bummed because it looks and sounds so yummy. Green beans with mushrooms in a creamy sauce topped with caramelized onions and bread crumbs. What's not to like? I think this one just took too many healthy shortcuts to still come out good. It happens. The cream mixture ended up just tasting like paste (not like I would know from experience...), or rather, just watery flour. The recipe didn't specify whether to leave the green beans frozen, or thaw them first, so I left them frozen. So basically something frozen was topped with something cooked was topped with something toasted. Obviously, it didn't bake up that well. My main issue was actually with the bread crumbs. The recipe called for toasting them first. What happens when you bake something toasted? It gets more toasted! Yep, it totally burned. And so did some of the onions. This recipe was just a total mess. I do not recommend. I don't think it was good enough to tinker with it. I think it's just a lost cause. Sorry green bean casserole. I really wanted it to work out between us.
  • Curried split pea soup, courtesy of Food Network (and Alton Brown). And yes, all of my recipes this week are from Food Network. You can blame this blog, and the fact that Good Eats is the only thing on tv worth watching right now. This soup I think turned out a lot like his lentil soup. The flavors are good and simple, but a little bland. A few dashes of hot sauce, though, and we have ourselves a winner. There's not much to say about the soup itself. It tastes like split peas, since that's mostly all that's in it. I like that it didn't call for cream or bacon or other boring cheater ingredients (I say cheater because fat is too easy a way to add flavor, plus it adds fat!), that most recipes use. It was creamy and didn't have that metallic taste I think sometimes comes through in the canned varieties. I would make this soup again, but I would want to punch it up with something. Not sure what though.
  • Indian-spiced kale and chickpeas, courtesy of Food Network. Another dud, unfortunately. The kale was bitter, and just didn't come together with the chickpeas. It was hard to even eat them together, since the peas would just run off my fork. Grrr. Also, I don't think the spices really came through. It was pretty bland overall. I don't think this one can be improved upon, either. Into the trash it goes. Sad.
So there you have it. I'll be on vacation next week. How's that for timing? So I won't be posting any new recipes. You're dying inside, I know.