Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yin and yang

So, my garden is full of the liberally maligned arugula. It's getting more and more peppery as it gets older, and it's a little too strong to eat very much of it raw.

I love chimichurri on steak. I wanted to make a chimichurri inspired garnish for the porterhouse we were having for dinner tonight. But, with the arugula, which was too peppery to have raw. So, I sauteed onions, diced small (too bad I used the shallots last night!)in olive oil and butter and added finely chopped arugula. I added red wine vinegar and garlic and pepper. Yum yum!

So, does arugula get more conservative cred if it is paired with steak?

I ended the meal with a great combination: a yummy red Spanish wine and chocolate zucchini bread.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chicken soup

Picky revived the camera, so I wanted to post a picture of this beautiful soup I made in the middle of last semester. A friend from school turned puppy dog eyes on me and told me "I'm sick. Take care of me." So, I made her (and the family) my basic chicken soup recipe, but this time with shells and spinach instead of egg noodles and cabbage.

It was delicious, and she gave me caramel apples in return when she felt better! That's a good trade.

On vacation and cooking again!

And, my camera seems to be working again! Hooray, more crappy pictures!

Tonight was yummy. I made the cheesy broccoli and rice casserole from Cook's Country magazine. I substituted shallots for the onion. Sorry the full recipe isn't available. You make the long grained rice like risotto in half and half and chicken broth, and precook the onion (or shallot) and broccoli before baking it with a crumbly breaded topping.

I served it with shrimp skewers (S's favorite) and chicken wings (Z's favorite).

Picky even had two shrimp!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Experiment that paid off

I bought some acorn squash, planning to roast them with sugar and butter. But, tonight I got a wild hair (is that how that saying goes?) and decided to cube it up and add it to pasta. It was delicious. Peeling and cubing even half an acorn squash is a royal pain in the arse, however, so if you can get it already prepared, go for it.

So, I will try to remember everything that went into the dish. It was really tasty, even though Picky did his best to hide his worried face when I said I was putting acorn squash in the pasta.

I sauteed the cubed, peeled acorn squash (1/2 of a large one was all I could handle, but a whole one would have been better, in retrospect) in 2 T of saved bacon grease (if that grosses you out, just use butter) and 2 T of butter
I added half of a diced onion
Just over a pound of mild Italian chicken sausage, whole
and few handfuls of mild rainbow colored mini peppers, cut into thin rings

After the sausage was browned on both sides, I added a few T of concentrated tomato paste, a few T of diced garlic, 1/2 cup of chicken broth covered it and let it simmer

I made a pound of angel hair pasta

I added cup of water when the sauce reduced, and cut the chicken sausage into bite sized discs and put them back in the sauce and made sure they were cooked all the way through. I sprinkled a T of flour over the sauce and sausage and added a cup of sour cream and salt. I tossed in the pasta and put lots of fresh grated parmesan over it. Yum yum, and everybody ate it. S picked around the squash (you can't win 'em all), and Picky had three helpings!

It's a sign!!!

It's a sign from above.

Sarah Silverman, The Great Schlep worked!

My husband bought a loaf of challah bread, a traditional Jewish egg bread, at our local grocery store. This store is west of Fort Lauderdale, and it has total Jewish grandparent cred. I have run into more than one Holocaust survivor there.

Well, when I opened the loaf yesterday for breakfast, lo and behold, one of the pieces bore a striking resemblance to a certain presidential candidate. I decided to go ahead and toast the bread, and my piece of crap eccentrically cooking toaster oven came up with this browning pattern completely on its own.


I probably should have saved it, maybe should have tried to make a run of the talk show circuit or I could have sold it on eBay. But, I ate it with butter and blueberry preserves. Obama toast is just too tasty to resist!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I love this recipe!

I found a recipe for butterflied chicken over potatoes that I love. Roasted chicken with crispy skin is total comfort food for me. And, it's something I totally do not have time to make. I made it with TWO chickens last night and it still only took 50 minutes to cook. I throw carrots in the bottom with the potatoes.

Ironically, I was looking the recipe up online last night to use again, and read the intro a little more carefully. It's from my favorite cookbook, the New Best Recipe, which I have. On my shelf.

I highly recommend it. With the carrots added, you have your main dish, starch and veggies all done with little to no hands on work.

Z's birthday meal

So, on the morning of his birthday, Z asked for macaroni and cheese and bacon. I had to add peas, because I am like that. Picky asked three times if Z asked for the peas. I almost threw peas at him.

It turned out really yummy, and it was actually quite popular. So was the ice cream cake!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Z's birthday

Z's birthday is tomorrow. I am bringing cupcakes with green icing (his request) to his school. I am also getting an ice cream cake for dinner. I am not baking either. I have a quiz, two written exams and a practical exam this week. I think I can deal with store bought.

I asked him what he wanted for dinner tomorrow night. Here are his suggestions:

String cheese
Eggs and bacon
Nachos (the he said "S likes those!!")
AND cake!!

Uh, I have no idea what to make him for dinner tomorrow night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Progress at 11 a.m.

I think the worst of the storm is over. We lost electricity for about 5 seconds.

The oven is heating for the almost no knead bread. I am going to put the quest muffins in right after, while the oven is still hot. The chocolate zucchini bread is fantastic. But, we are out of sugar! The horror! How am I going to make the chocolate chip banana muffins?

I may have to hunt down an open grocery store.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hurricane bake o rama

We have the day off tomorrow because of Tropical Storm Fay. I will do what I always do on a storm day. I will bake my ass off.

Tonight's plans: Make some no knead bread dough to rise overnight.

Plans on the agenda:

Chocolate zucchini bread
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Quest veggie muffinsand of course, the no knead bread.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Total Le Crueset Action

I fell in love with a retro flame colored Le Crueset pan almost a year ago. My mother in law was with me when I bought it.

Well, she just gave me her collection of Le Crueset from the 70's that she doesn't use anymore. There are three more pieces not shown, and corresponding lids to almost all the pieces. I am in enameled cast iron heaven!

Thanks Mama J!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Yet I do it again!

OK, I am caught up with the Next Food Network Star. (Thank you Tivo!) Aaron rocked this show! His food has always been consistently great. As has Shane's, and it breaks my heart. I can see why he was eliminated. This isn't Top Chef. It's a show about being a TV personality, and he is not an extrovert. Too bad, because he seems like a phenomenal chef. He should go to France for a few years, then comeback and be their French Iron Chef. You don't have to talk too much on that show.

I am rooting for Aaron now. Out of the final contenders, I think it will be Aaron or Lisa. Adam has the best personality for it, easily, but he just isn't a good enough cook. Kelsey has an OK personality and is an OK cook, but I don't see any of the judges really rooting for her. She is too little and cute, and always seems younger than the 19 year old that was on the show.

Aaron and Lisa are both good chefs. Aaron is so likable when he is just interacting, I hope he can pull it together when he is doing a demo. Lisa is not nearly as likable or adaptive. I guess there is a snobby fusion element to the Food Network audience the she would fill. She would definitely balance out the Nearly Home Made fiasco they have on now.

OK, I swear I am done.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I can't believe I'm doing this

I'm blogging about a reality TV show. *shudder*

I love The Next Food Network Star. I am rooting for Shane. I can't believe he is only 19! He is an incredibly good cook. And, he's a cutie pie. I can't believe he used to be grossly obese. I like some of Lisa's food, and I thought I would hate her designer diva attitude, but she has softened up a lot. I like Aaron's food a lot, but he sucks in front of the camera. Too bad, because candidly, he is funny and unique.

I am really disappointed that I never got to see The Gourmet Next Door. I really liked Amy last season.

OK, I'm done, I swear. I should be sleeping, really. And to top it all off, while I was watching the show and dreaming of taking a year off of school to go on the show, I was eating buttered pasta. Yeah, fancy fancy chef. They should give me a show or something.

Edited to add: Ack! I just went to the food network site to read more about the last season, and there is a link to Shane's exit interview! No!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Islamorada Fish Restaurant

This is my favorite restaurant. Picky and I ate here on a rare private date while we were in the Keys. Thanks, family, for baby sitting!

Picky got a mahi fish n' chips basket. I am not picky (note the name of the blog), but I generally do not enjoy mahi. I am always happy when he can order some fresh mahi when we are out, and this is as fresh as it gets. You watch the boats come in as you eat.

I got blackened Florida lobster tail with roasted garlic, over a Caesar salad. It was divine.

Notice both pictures have bites missing. Whoops! We were hungry and I didn't think of taking pictures until we both had some to eat.

Since we've been back

I made a great spread on the spot when my sister in law and her friend came over with their kids to swim in our pool. I love cooking informal food for a group like this. So much less pressure than dinner, to me.

I made some delicious mojo chicken wing drummettes and sliced mild Italian chicken sausage on my new panini grill pan. (Thanks MIL! It worked great. Works well for bacon, too! Now I just have to make paninis...) We also had shrimp skewers, mostly for S, who has been asking for them.

Dessert was also for S. Mango shortcakes, with homemade vanilla whipped cream. I followed the Cook's Ill Best Recipe recipe for strawberry shortcake. But, Z is allergic to strawberries (which he feels the need to tell me every time we eat) and S loves mangoes. I picked up four beautiful mangoes from Robert is Here farmer's market on the way back from the Keys, and they were taunting me. They turned out so good, even Picky, who normally doesn't like fruity desserts, scarfed his down.

I actually think this is a good photo. Am I crazy? Am I improving? Look back at the photos of the frittata and the boar...not bad, right? (Ignore the biscuits and gravy and the cheesecake...)

Father's Day dinner was good, but suspiciously similar to last year's. Ribs, peppers, shells and white sauce (instead of mac and cheese), chocolate brownies.

Where to begin?

Just because I haven't put up any posts on here in a little while, it doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking. Like a fiend. I went to Sugarloaf Key to stay with my in laws and cooked the entire time.

Most of the stuff came from Paula Deen's new all chocolate special edition cooking magazine. Why did I buy it?

Here are some of the highlights.

This is the flourless dark chocolate cake. I thought it looked so pretty puffed up out of the oven. It is supposed to fall, however.

I served it with a white chocolate sauce (recommended in by Paula) and with a dark chocolate sauce, in homage to the Two Chefs restaurant in Miami. That is how they serve their chocolate souffle. I thought it was much better without the sauce, it was so sweet. Next time I make it it will be sauceless, maybe with whipped cream or berries, and I may reduce the sugar a bit.

This is an awful photo of the malted chocolate cheesecake. It was excellent. The crust (which contained a box of whoppers, chocolate graham crackers, and butter, was way too hard. But, I used a 9" springform pan instead of a 10", and probably didn't reduce the amount of crust material enough. Or, whoppers could make hard candy like crusts no matter what, who knows. I will have to get a 10" springform pan and find out! Bummer! *adding to Christmas list*

I also made creme brulee, but that is so old hat I don't even take pictures anymore. I have perfected the art of not scorching the tops as much. Yum! The other stuff was normal breakfast and dinner stuff. I made tilapia with a recipe that Picky's mom supplied. It was very similar to my tilapia and greens recipe, but instead of the greens on top, it called for a crust with breadcrumbs, parmesan and potato chips. It was tasty. Picky's mom made johnnycakes, like her mom used to, in that kitchen, every time she made fish.

Picky took camera phone pictures of our fancy lunch out. I will post those later.

A new twist on an old muffin

You can teach an old muffin new tricks. My latest makeover for my chocolate chip banana muffins" happened at about 9 p.m. before the last day of school, when I realized that I didn't have any chocolate chips. Huh? I always have a plethora of chocolate chips. I had already started making the muffins, so it was too late to switch. I split the batch in two, and added cocoa powder to one half. I put it in two ziploc bags and cut the tips off to make bobo pastry bags, and squeezed them into the cups together.

Sorry for another horrible picture. I need to read an article on food photography.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Obscene food porn

I made biscuits and sausage gravy from scratch for breakfast today. I am going overboard with this vacation cooking thing. This is my first time cooking with shortening *shudder*, I think. I bought the "0 grams of trans fat" per serving variety by Crisco (I wanted to organic shortening by Spectrum, but forgot to buy it at the health food store, and they didn't have it at the local grocery store). I think it may be zero grams as a technicality, since there are partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. Anyway, the biscuits were obscenely good, and the trace trans fats may be worth it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I have been cooking like crazy since I got out of school for the summer. Even during the weekend right after, when Picky's folks were here and we went out for every meal, I managed to drag everyone back here afterwards for crème brûlée.

I made chicken soup yesterday with broth from scratch, and chocolate chip pumpkin loaves. I baked a loaf of almost no knead bread today and can't stop munching on it. I need to save the rest for sandwiches for tomorrow's lunches.

I made a scrumptious wheatberry salad today, with sauteed red onions and wild mushrooms. I have had three servings already, and it was supposed to last the rest of the week. I am taking a break for dinner since I am so full from munching all day, and Picky had a luncheon after work.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Berry nice dinner

I cannot resist rhubarb.

I am supposed to be studying. Finals are coming up. I am two weeks from being done with my first year of med school!

But, when I was at the grocery store yesterday, they had rhubarb. I couldn't make it with strawberries, because Z is allergic. I love the raspberry rhubarb preserves from Robert is Here, Florida's quirkiest fruit stand. So, inspired by those, I decided to buy raspberries to go with the rhubarb. I had already grabbed some blackberries because they were a good price and looked delicious.

Tonight we had a wilted spinach salad with red onions, pomegranate balsamic dressing, toasted slivered almonds, goat cheese and the blackberries. After a fish with brown butter course, we are going to have these tarts. I threw in some blackberries, too. The constant chilling steps were annoying. Let's hope it is worth it. Pictures to come.

ETA: Picture up! Hey, my photo isn't half bad this time. Random!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Crossing my fingers

I have an experiment in the oven.

I browned a pound of crumbled Italian pork sausage. I microwaved a bag of baby spinach for a few minutes, in batches, and squeezed out the liquid. (Awesome trick, might I add.) I chopped up the spinach and some white onion.

I drained the pork and wiped out my Le Crueset pan. I sauteed the onions in butter, added the spinach and some diced garlic, sauteed it lightly, then turned off the heat. I had preheated the oven to 400.

I added cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese (a yummy aged American one I found - so tasty!) and four beaten eggs. Into the oven it went.

What should I name it? Spinach pork frittata pie thing?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Not a boring return

I made wild boar tonight.

No, for real!

My neighbor is a native Floridian (like Picky and me). He has hunted in central Florida for years. Today he gave me some wild boar that he shot with a bow and arrow.

I just had a recent conversation with someone about "eating meat that you know", so I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is. I just took a parasitology and mycology test in med school today, so it seemed fitting to eat some exotic wild meat with a questionable refrigeration history. (My neighbor swore he kept it on ice the whole time).

I butterflied the tenderloin (pictured) with a mojo marinade and fresh homemade mojo on the side (a Cuban orange juice and garlic sauce) on my cast iron grill pan. It was worth smoking up the house - it is a beautiful night tonight anyway, and now we have the windows open. Everyone loved it. After the kids had a bath and a shower, they saw me eating the cold leftovers of the boar, dipping it the sauce. They clamored for more - and ate it cold, too. It was a big hit. I think it helped that our neighbor shot it with a bow and arrow.

The hindquarter (picnic butt?) piece that I got is cooking on the stove right now, pulled pork style.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mmmmmm taco night

I am on spring break! I finally have some time to cook.

I wanted to use my latest batch of roasted hot sauce, so I made some key lime chili marinated chicken, sauteed some sweet peppers and onions, and served warm tortillas, fresh shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and we made our own soft tacos. Yum!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Since I can't drink a beer...

I am cooking with beer. My brother, sister-in-law and nephew were in town this week, and I bought some fancy white beer for them. They are gone, and i like the dark stuff. Besides, I am studying. Always.

So, I am making Sweet Italian pork sausage from Whole Foods, with shredded Napa cabbage, onions, garlic, salt and pepper and a Hoegaarden. It smells divine. I am resisting adding peppers or any herbs. I usually make sausage with tons of fresh fennel tops and bottoms from the garden, but I feel like dressing it down tonight.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Foodie plus Picky equals...

Foodie plus Picky equals organic milk (I bought) on the Cinnamon Toast Crunch (he bought) for the kids' breakfast this morning. Our kids are going to be warped.