Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tamal Love...
















OK, so I mentioned tamales on someone's blog, and then I remembered... I bought everything I need to make tamales over a month ago!

Oh joy, oh joy!

Tamales are one of my fave pocket foods, right up there with gyoza (fried please) and BBQ pork buns (baked with an egg glaze please)

So I'm gonna fire up that crock pot, get that pork a-roastin' and make a go at my first ever batch o' tamales!

Since I can't find a published savory version by Diana Kennedy (author of The Art of Mexican Cooking) I settled on Grandma Salazar's Tamales recipe...

Whoopy-woo-woo!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Have your egg pie and eat it too...

Hey loves!

Eating well does not mean eating tons of fat and other things that are bad for your body. Here are a couple of tasty things I came up with this morning that are also good for you! All nutritional information is from the Sparkpeople.com recipe site. It's pretty neat, you enter in your ingredients, choose how many servings it makes and VOILA! Instant gratification! The best part? It's ALL FREE! No more wondering what that extra half cup of cream will cost ya!

First, breakfast- this is kind of like a pizza, but you use shredded potatoes, and then topped with egg, onion, and cheese. To drastically cut the fat calories, skip the cheese.... Remember that, though tasty, cheese is basically butter fat- That's right- Just like eating butter. Yum, huh? I still eat it, but I remember what it is :) It'll reduce the calories to 140 and halve the fat.

Nutrition info:
Potato and Egg White Pie

8 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 197.3
Total Fat 8.4 g
Saturated Fat 4.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 99.3 mg
Sodium 288.1 mg
Potassium 450.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 1.5 g
Protein 11.8 g
Vitamin A 9.4 %
Vitamin B-12 6.9 %
Vitamin B-6 16.1 %
Vitamin C 28.5 %
Vitamin D 2.9 %
Vitamin E 1.6 %
Calcium 14.9 %
Copper 5.4 %
Folate 7.0 %
Iron 6.3 %
Magnesium 7.5 %
Manganese 8.0 %
Niacin 4.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 6.5 %
Phosphorus 18.9 %
Riboflavin 13.5 %
Selenium 12.6 %
Thiamin 6.7 %
Zinc 7.2 %



Ingredients:

1 tbsp butter
3 medium potatoes
12 eggs
1 red onion
1/2 cup non-fat half and half
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cheddar cheese

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the potatoes, and grate. Squeeze out the excess water. Squeeze the potatoes as hard as you can... Add in paprika and pepper. Crack and separate 1 egg and add to the potatoes, reserving the egg yolk for something else, or throw the yolks away.

Coat a large, over proof frying pan with the butter, and turn up heat to medium high. When it is very hot, ad the potatoes in an even layer across the bottom. Fry for 2 minutes, and then turn heat down to medium.

Meanwhile crack and separate 8 more egs, reserving the yolks for another recipe (or discard) and put in a mixing bowl. Add three whole eggs, the half and half, milk, salt and garlic powder, and beat well. Add to the frying pan, making sure that it is distributed evenly over the potatoes. Slice the red onion thinly, and spread over the top. Put the whole thing in the oven, and bake until the egg is just about set. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, and bake until brown.

Serve with a fresh tomato and green tea, and you have an excellent low calorie, nutrient rich breakfast.


Steak sandwiches:

Nutrition Facts

8 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 235.2
Total Fat 6.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.4 g
Cholesterol 32.3 mg
Sodium 481.2 mg
Potassium 397.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 17.1 g
Vitamin A 0.0 %
Vitamin B-12 26.9 %
Vitamin B-6 19.6 %
Vitamin C 1.5 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 5.6 %
Calcium 2.1 %
Copper 8.8 %
Folate 8.4 %
Iron 15.2 %
Magnesium 13.6 %
Manganese 48.4 %
Niacin 21.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.7 %
Phosphorus 21.7 %
Riboflavin 12.5 %
Selenium 43.0 %
Thiamin 12.2 %
Zinc 15.8 %

Ingredients

Beef, round steak, 1 lb
Onions, raw, 1 medium (2-1/2" dia)
Canola Oil, 1 tbsp
Bread, whole wheat 8 slice
Salt, 1 tsp
Red Wine, 3 fl oz
Flour, white, 1 tbsp

How to:

Put the oil in a frying pan, and saute the onion until soft. Slice the steak thinly and cook until done. Add 2 servings of veggie boullion and a cup of water. Let simmer for a bit. Mix the wine with the flour, and add to the mix. Stir well and cook until thickened.

Spoon over a piece of bread and eat. I like to eat this with celery or a nice salad. You could use chicken or pork too, I just used beef since it has the most fat.


There you go... two things that can be the base of a great meal.... add however many veggies or fruits you'd like and you'll have a great day!

Ciao loves!

-e
I'm on a mission. For a number of reasons:

1. One of my MySpace friends regularly posts about the effects of what we eat, and helpful articles about beer guts and the hidden smell of our immune system. THANKS!!! It's very cool that you put that stuf out there.

2. MY own personal use. I am ALWAYS looking for the cheat... Because, well, I love to eat.Getting older, and it doesn't come off as fast as it used to... The more efficient I am about structuring my macro-nutrients... the more I get to eat. Hence the non-fat mocha with WHIPPED CREAM!!! I can take it *in* the drink, or on top. I like it better on top. Go figure.

3. I've known more than one person with an eating disorder, whether they eat too much or too little. It is a small hope that posts about food here will help people to have a more positive relationship about food instead of a mere lack/overabundance of control over it.

SO, if any of you fine friends out there just love a dish, and would like to see if you too can have your cake and eat it too, feel free to send me the general recipe, and I'll see what I can do so you can:

1. Eat more of it
2. Make it less regrettable post-holiday

*DISCLAIMER*

This does NOT apply to holiday treats. Discipline yourself, but do not mess with tradition. That's what the repentance of the New Year is for, and I'm not about to mess with that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vegetarians, BEWARE!!!!

Though I know how to cook for the most discerning vegetarian, I am most decidedly an omnivore...

This is what I call "funny"



This makes more sense if you know that I ablsolutely adore wild game... well... and sheep. I will freely admit that there are many times when moose is much yummier than foie gras.

Annndddd... this pretty much sums it up....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Squash....

Today, I finally cooked up the remainder of all the pumpkin I peeled on Monday. Impressive, how well this stuff will keep in a cold room. Were it not quite the end of November, I'd pull in the rest of the pumpkins on my porch. Yes... I actually eat them.

I have seen pumpkins being thrown out as soon as Halloween's done... whole pumpkins, ones that weren't even carved into jack-o-lanterns. It's as if folks in this country can't think of anything to do with them besides soup and pie. Don't get me wrong, pumpkin soup is good, and the pumpkin-tomato type popular in Europe is really tasty. There are so many ways to eat this wonderful winter squash, however, and it baffles me that one of the most economical sources of beta-carotenes is overlooked like this.

This is what goes through my mind looking at the remaining 25 pounds of pumpkin on the deck...

Pie!!!!!!!!!
Au Gratin
Ravioli
Pumpkin Bread!!!
Pancakes!
Pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies!
Croquettes
Roasted with potatoes and garlic
Plain, pureed

This is just what comes off the top of my head. This is a very flexible fruit, and more people should take advantage of it. If anyone has a pumpkin recipe I should know about, please send it my way.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Fun!

There's a ton to be recreated here in this blog...

At the risk of going out of order, I'm starting with the most recent first. Why? I rarely use recipes (I view them the way Captain Jack Sparrow views the Pirate Code) and it's easier to remember what I did ;)

The kitchen has been literally on fire (well, if flambe counts as on fire) and I've been turning out lots of goodies. Pumpkin and winter squash in general are going to turn up often, as it's the season, and I have six very large pumpkins to eat before the squirrels get to them! I also liek to buy the really colorful squash at the grocery store to break up the monotony, and because they're cheap. Plus, I get to have my cake and eat it too, as the seeds are usually vigorous and are more than happy to grow next year!


Over the weekend I made a Gorgonzola/pumpkin au gratin. This time I followed a recipe from the old 1960's copy of The Joy of Cooking. It was, like many of my cookbooks, originally my mother's, and I have loved to bits... three bit to be exact. I've tried various gratin recipes, and this one is good, but I think it requires egg, since the starchiness of the potato is missing. You could always add more flour, but I think it makes a meh custard compared to the richness of real egg. It also needed more Gorgonzola. I usually use Rouqefort, but my roomie dislikes all blues save for Gorg, so I improvised. I also had waaaay more pumpkin (about twice the amount) than was called for in the recipe so I had to improvise.

Anyhoo... the amended recipe runs something like this:

Enough deseeded, peeled, thinly sliced pumpkin to fill a deep dish pie pan
Flour for dredging
Milk or cream (2-4 cups depending on your pie pan!)
1 egg + yolk or 2 eggs for every 2 cups
1/2 cup of flour for every two cups of liquid (can use leftover dredging flour)
6 ounces crumbled Gorg (if you like it mild) or Roquefort (if you dig the stinky cheese!)
White pepper and salt to taste
Paprika for sprinkling on top
a kettle full of hot water for the water bath

Cut open the pumpkin, take out the seeds, and cut into 1 1/2" to 2" wide sections. Using a veg peeler, peel the outer skin of the pumpkin off. Make sure you have a firm grip... I sent my son into hysterics by-

1. Missing the garbage can completely, as the skin requires a tad more force than the average carrot.
2. Occasionally, in an effort to vigorously peel the pumpkin, I'd launch the piece, peel and all into the garbage can or the far side of the kitchen.

Slice the wedges into 1/8" wide (max) pieces until you have enough to fill your pie pan. My roommate doubles as a food processor (he works at a restaurant) but a mandolin or the slicing attachment of any Kitchen Wonder Gadget (mine's a Kitchen Aid) will work too. If you don't have any of these, you needed to practice your knife skills anyway, right?

Dredge the slices in plain flour, salt and pepper lightly. Grease your pie pan, and fill with a layer of the dredged pumpkin pieces. Crumble some of the blue cheese over top, and layer another round of pumpkin until just covered. Repeat until the pan is full, slightly mounded in the middle (it'll sink later as the moisture in the pumpkin cooks out)

Combine the egg, milk and flour in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add salt and white pepper to taste. You should season it like you season your gravy. The sweetness of the pumpkin and the strong cheese taste call for a little pepper (I like quite a bit) and the paprika ads a little more depth and some color to the top. Put pan into a 350 degree oven on a jelly roll pan, and fill pan with hot water. Bake for an hour or until almost set. It will be pretty wiggly, but it will set once it's cool.

Other veggies that work well with this are other squash, yams, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets...


I then turned to my baklava, but that will have to wait for another day, when I have the pictures :( I was taught to make it gooey though, with crisper than crisp layers of filo in between. Ooooh was it hard to wait for it to cool..... but that story is perhaps for tomorrow.



While I was busy with this, the Nino set to work on French Onion Soup. Now this is a labor of pure love... He HATES onions. But he made it for my friend and I because we like it, and because it's in his Jaime Oliver cookbook. Isn't he just sweet?

He was amazed at how long it took to caramelize the onions, and that they had that much sugar in the first place. At some point he lost concentration and blitzed out to Good Eats for awhile.


We then turned to Chicken Marsala, and used a recipe from the Cook's Illustrated New Best Recipes cookbook... I am growing to love this book. The pie crust recipe alone is worth the price... and there's those Triple Chocolate cookies... No pictures of this, since we ate it before I had time to take a picture, but there you have it. By this time the filo pastry portion of the baklava had finally cooed, so I poured the honey syrup in and we dug in.

Anyhoo, it's waaay past midnight, and the moon is so bright it may as well be daylight, so I'm wrapping up to go look at it for a bit and turn in.

Ciao!


-e

Oh dear....

It's occurred to me that NONE of the blogs I've posted have been making it to the server...

SO sorry :(

What brings my attention to this neglect? Someone created a link from foodbuzz.com to this humble little blog. Also noted, it's somehow earned the tag of "scooter" WHY?!?!?! Were I to buy something two wheeled and mechanically driven by petrochemicals, it'd be a MOTORCYCLE... why scoot when I can ZOOOOOM!!!!!

Anyhoo, things have been active in my kitchen, and I promise I'll start putting up posts!

Take care, Loves-

-e

Monday, October 20, 2008

*sigh*

I'm so happily exhausted... and I'm not done yet. Spent all day doing "find the career" stuff, and then picked up the Nino, then did the homework deal, decided to go to the library, and then bake an apple pie. We got hungry while waiting for crusts to chill, and we have a ton of apple peels I don't want to waste, sooooo....... HAM STOCK! with some of the lovely hammy/bacony bits being sauteed along with onions and yams. By the end of the night we end up with these beauties...



I've since took the pressure down on the beans, only to find they weren't *quite* done. Those little beauty navy beans are going to be baked beans and ham-n-bean soup when the grow up! While I'm waiting for them to cook, I throw a couple of salmon steaks in the oven to take advantage of the heat, and now I'm writing this blog!

I may do an expando version of this later, but the pressure cooker's been hissing away for awhile now, and I'm T.I.R.E.D.

TAKE CARE LOVES!

Time to check on dem beans!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sad Stories Bite

So I get home tonight after having a really great time at the Renaissance Fair, and decide to make myself some eggs. A few shallots, some tomato, and it's all very nice. WHile the eggs are steaming away in thier pan, I look at some plums that are going really ripe and think "cobbler"

Or is it Brown Betty?

One has oats in the crumbly crunchy stuff, and one doesn't. I decide to make one with oats. SO I mix the following:

Plums
Cornstarch (cause I'm not patient enough with the flour... I just don't want to deal)
sugar
lemon juice
nutmeg
cinnamon
oats

All kinda thrown in. I butter two individual baking crocks and split the plume mixture between the two. Then I mix:

butter
sugar
oats
cinnamon
flour

And you have to have the flour in this part. It would just end up all weird being only oats.

So then I'm left with what to do while I'm waiting for this stuff to bake and turn golden brown and crunchy and hot and good.

So I decide to finish a book. Now I can't tell you what book it is because telling you that it has an unhappy ending would sour it a little. Not just any unhappy ending, but an ambush of an unhappy ending. Here we are, thinking that all of these people who had suffered so much were finally gonna be happy again, and in less than 15 pages it all goes to shit and folks are being ripped away from one another.

I guess that's how it would feel if it happened to me in real life, but in real life I would also have counselors and folks to say things were alright and maybe even have an idea of how the story went on.

This story was just abruptly cut off after the word "disaster" was spoken. Or I guess read. I feel slightly cheated that it ended this way, so I'm writing about it now. My sense of unfairness has been piqued and so now I feel compelled to communicate my disappointment as the timer for the Cobbler/Betty stuff goes off and demands I divert my attention.

Poopy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Happy-Go-Sicky

So I've got strep throat! For the first time ever!

Up until now I've always been bullet-proof when it comes to this crap... in fact I was thought to be a carrier- which means I can get it, but it doesn't do anything to me and I don't become a disease-ridden pus-throated menace to society.

Until today. I guess the combo of getting a li'l older plus a whole weekend on hot pavement kinda got to me. I'm still trying to figure out from who I received this lovely opportunity to re-discover myself.

In the meanwhile, bad tonsils= steroids, antibiotics, ginger ale and ice cream!



I'm still hella excited that they actually had rum raisin at my local Target. Perhaps there's a britophile buying the ice cream flavors, because I was in the midst of sulking about the lack of Caramel Bunny Tracks when I saw Sticky Toffee Pudding in the Haagen Daz area. I looked a little farther south and there it was!

Rum Raisin Ice Cream.

As far as I know, Haagen Daz is the only ice cream maker on a national scale that makes this stuff. Even so, it's rare. The last time I had a regular supply of Rum Raisin ice cream was in Portugal in 1995!

Yum, yum, rum, rum.

Then a caring relative came by and dropped off a six-pack of Canada Dry ginger ale in BOTTLES! Another blast from the past.the really cute 10 oz. bottles.... and andily recyclable... though I might just save em for extra bevvy bottles for lunch- since they have plastic caps too and won't de-ionize my water.

Anyhoo, I've tried getting extra sleep and it's not working at all. My body just gets really antsy and I'm fidgeting all over the place. I get back on the computer, and I'm tired. Hmmm. Were it not for this fever I'd go outside and garden until I'm pooped out.

GRRRRRRRR!!!!!

Wasted days are hateful...

So I'm logging onto the work network after this to get some crap-o-la done that I would be doing were I there.

That's it for now... will post more when I'm over this crap and have a moment to breathe....

love,

-Mochi Bunny

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Now for Something Completely Different!

Hello all,

As you may already know, my friend, Lauren Bookatz and I are in training for two cycling trips to benefit organizations that have a huge impact on the lives of many people. The first ride is organized by the Colorado Chapter of the National MS Society and takes place on June 28-29. The second ride stretches from San Diego to San Francisco, and goes from July 4th to July 20th.

We've already made a considerable amount of investment in time, money and pure sweat to make these trips a success. But what we'd really like is to give some deserving organizations a huge help up in the process. All of your donations go directly to the organization for which you earmark you funds, as we are paying all other expenses out of pocket.

A quick synopsis of the rides and the non-profits we'd like to support:

June 28-29: The MS 150

We're using this as a training ride for the longer California Coastal Tour. Both Lauren and I know someone personally that has MS. We'd really like to contribute to the research dedicated to ending the devastating effects of MS. The National MS Society simultaneously funds research for a cure while also helping people who currently live with MS lead more fulfilling lives. More than 400,000 Americans live with MS, and your support can and will make changes in their lives. I don't know if you know much about MS, but it can strike at any time, and often unpredictably, making it doubly difficult for people to adjust their lives to MS. Help by making a donation - large or small - to fight MS. or join me on the day of the event? Become a participant and side by side, as teammates, we can work together to raise the funds to make a difference . We will be riding with Team KBCO, and we need $300 each to qualify to ride. Click here to view my personal page and make a secure, online donation , or you can double the benefit by allowing me to make a contribution through my employer on your behalf. Lauren's personal page has a different link, to please contact her if you'd like to contribute to her sponsorship as well.

July 4-20: The California Coastal Tour

This is an event organized by Lauren and I, with much needed support from our friends CJ (as the kind and willing support wagon driver.) Josh (who's graciously donated time in training and getting our bikes in proper shape) Rick (who works at Rack Attack and did a fine job getting us set up for the trip) and Philippe (who has been helping me with my hydration issues.) We will begin our odyssey in San Diego, and finish up in San Francisco for a total trip of 625 miles. We've had lots of suggestions for great organizations, but the following three stuck out due the impact they have on the communities they serve as well as the impressively low overhead that they've managed to create. Our goal is a total of $2500 for this ride, and we know we can reach it if everyone contributes to these great causes. If you'd like to donate funds for this ride, please send them to either Lauren or myself, with instructions as to how you'd like it divvied up between the following organizations:

The Shelter Box program run by the Rotary- This organization provides shelter boxes to people in dire need of basic necessities such as a roof over their head and potable drinking water. They've helped folks from China to New Orleans, and are often first on the scene due to their dedication and effort. It's approximately $1000 to put together each shelter box, so that is our goal for this trip for this organization. Best of all, less than 10% of the funds generated by this organization goes to overhead while they literally save countless lives with their services.

Project Heart- This is an amazing organization that , like the Rotary, literally lives by the effort put forth by an almost entirely volunteer staff. They provide everything from employment to school uniforms to medical care for impoverished families in Africa, giving them a hand up instead of a hand out. By helping these families find a way to support themselves, they provide an invaluable gift to many in a community ravaged by AIDS and unemployment. Our goal for this organization is also $1000, as it will greatly help people in dire need of what we take for granted every day. I only have printed information at this time, but I will forward the correct link ASAP.

Lastly, a local charity, So All May Eat, is another great organization, providing hot, tasty meals on a sliding scale to all those who enter the door. Any hungry person is welcomed in with respect and dignity, and served nutritious, mouth-watering meals by their friendly and dedicated staff. The goal for this charity is $500.

Thank you for taking the time to read this rather lengthy email, and if you know of someone who may be interested in supporting us in this grand endeavor, please forward this email on. If you'd like to contact either of us, the best emails are :

Erin Nelson- idosync@mac.com, 720-495-2668
Lauren Bookatz- lbookatz@yahoo.com 720-320-6966

Most importantly, we'd like to stress how thankful we are for your support and encouragement in this trip. It's pretty lengthy, but we really believe in the causes we're supporting, and just want to do our part in giving back to a world that gave us such wonderful lives.

Sincerely,Erin Nelson

Please visit my other blog for more info:


http://erikaibikes.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 12, 2008

There are many, many things in the world out there that are delicious- food, people, rooms, toys...

lotsa things.

Here are a few that have caught my eye recently:



Yeah.. where the heck is this guy on the Food Channel?!?!? His bio says he's been a judge on a couple of things, but I have never sen Govind Armstrong before in my life.

Then there's this little beauty...



The La Brea Bakery- Pastry.... how can you go wrong. I love this woman's feel for food.

Wowzers!

Then there's my profile pic, some really pretty raspberries, and the Chipotle Tabasco sauce I spilled on my kitchen floor. Last, but not least for the day is the bloody Mary that I drank just now.

It's going to be a poorly written ending this time around folks, but it's either that or never get this house clean :)

Ciao!

-e

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bento (continued)


So I have my little blue bento box all packed and ready for tomorrow. Actually, it's the one I got for my son, but I can't find the bottom of my beloved red bunny set! They have tons on the internet, but they are all 15 times the price I paid for my pretty little bento ($1.50) SO if any of my good friends would like to get me the red bunny version of this cute little box for my birthday (the band I have on this blue one is the matching bento band...$1.00) I will love you forever and ever, because it's a crap-ton to order through e-bay.

Pooey.

Anyhoo, without further ado, here's my Urara dragonfly bento made by Sheep Lube, a division of Putrifresh (I swear, I did not make this up) all ready for tomorrow's hungry:

From left to right we have couscous, with lotsa fresh basil, a bit of summer sausage, made with chicken broth. It is delicious, and was my almost-midnight snack just now (looking at finished bento for an hour makes ya hunger!) Next are raisins, carrot sticks, and sliced pickles. At first, I wandered around my kitchen wondering where-in-the-hell all of my cupcake liners went to, when I came up with something brilliant! There's a cabbage in there, so sturdy and invincible, that it started to grow roots long after it's been sawed off it mama plant, loooooong after it'd been purchased, much less looked at by myself. And it's still fresh and perky. SO I figured cabbage leaves would make perfect little dividers for my raisins and pickles. Finally, in the portion usually reserved for napkins and chopsticks, I have piroutte cookies. Yummy yum-yum.

So yeah.. my lunch. If I can stick to what's in my bento box, I should be losing weight here shortly. Just have to stay away from the kitchen....

*sigh*

May Challenge and bento

I just realized that tomorrow is the LAST day of the month, and, aside from being PAYDAY, it also happens to be the day before the next Daring Baker Challenge is revealed. There are now almost 800 folks in this group. Pretty impressive considering that less than two years ago it was founded by two women who merely wanted to compare notes!

After having bailed/failed/nailed the last 6, I'm kinda surprised that they still let me play, but I think I'm finally in the groove, and, barring any more disasters (The fingers are in anti-hex mode as I type) I'll start in on them much, much earlier. Then I'll merely suffer the torment of wanting to post my lovely accomplishments on the web.

But there are still two I haven't done for 2008- Lemon Meringue Pie (January) and the Perfect Party Cake (March). I have all I need for the Party Cake, so that's likely to be done first. Not horribly sure about the Lemon Meringue. But this is so seriously fun that I thought I'd reward myself for good attendance by joining a cup-cake group later on in July....

IN the meanwhile, a new culinary obsession is slowly cultivating- bento. These unbelievably cute little lunch boxes are packed with all sorts of treats that would make any person feel loved. I doubt that I will EVER get to the point where I'm cooking everything fresh every morning unless I:

1. Find that wonderful man and get married, and stay home to take care of any new little ones.
2. Get so unbelievably good at this that I can do it while I get ready for work and corral my son into some semblance of school-worthiness.

First on the agenda.. finding really cute, but inexpensive bento boxes (my son loses things like you wouldn't believe)

Anyhoo, will keep you posted as I forge along.....

-

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fish-n-chix!!!!!




SO my darlin's, the cheesecake pops challenge went by pretty easily, even with having the wrong type of pans and all.

They were a hit at my friend L's BBQ, and went real, REALLY fast, which is good because I think I made myself ill eating all of the scraps while making them. I'll have to content myself with this little description until tomorrow when I can find my camera cord and post all of the "during" pics, along with the pics from the BBQ and the finished product.

IN the meanwhile, thank you Daring Bakers, for such a wonderful challenge!

-e

Monday, March 10, 2008

Daring to Dream...

A fairly new ktchen is almost a reality... included are a double convection oven, a kitchen island, a side-by-side fridge, and additional cabinets and counter space...

All I need is my landlord's approval, and I will have this....

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Relax...

I love many of my Thursdays. I call them Fake Fridays, as I have the next day off. I get home, finally, after some minor disturbance regarding my car's state of repair, pulling into my driveway in the rental car. My friend L is coming over soon, and I'm expecting the Nino, and E is about to arrive. I've put out a cheese plate, and have some potstickers out and ready to heat up in the frying pan. The door bell rings, and it's the Nino and Grandma C, wanting to know if he can stay over there for the night.

I start to prepare the hummus I need to make for this week. Much of my cooking is by feel, ideas coalescing from various sources. Maybe it's from a cookbook, or something I saw on the Food channel, or perhaps something I saw on another blog. I love my cookbooks, but unless it's the art of baking, rarely do I use recipe. Often, whatever's in the pot somewhat resembles my meal: eclectic, flavorful, and often dictated by what's lying around.

So, my "hummus," or as I say, Garbonzo Spread Stuff. If you are expecting that tahini, hummus-y taste, you might be disappointed. It's like carob... if you want something tasty, it rocks, but if you're looking for a substitute... well it isn't :) BUT my hummus-stuffing friend L said she loved it. I'm sorry that I can't give you exact amounts, the ones I list are guesses as far as herbs and such go...

Garbonzo Spread Stuff-

1 can garbonzo beans ( about 2 1/2 inches in diameter... not very good with the ounces stuff either)
4 cloves garlic ( probably why L likes it so much.)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt- add more to taste
1/4 cup olive or grape seed oil (oh, the blasphemy! But grape seed was all I had tonight)

Put the can contents, beans, water, and all into a small frying pan or a larger sauce pan, and bring to a low boil. Just enough for thing to look exciting. While this is heating up, crush the garlic cloves open with the flat of a knife or a water glass, then rough chop into a few pieces. It doesn't need to be fancy, 'cause it's all going in a blender in the end. Toss these in the pan and stir things up a bit.

Then add your spices, order absolutely does not matter. Curry blend doesn't matter either, as long as you can smell that cumin. If you can't, add a pinch of cumin too. After this, add as much paprika and salt as tastes good, but be careful...it does not take much since you used all of that great salty bean juice from the can! Cook until garlic is soft, adding water as necessary to keep things from getting dry.

After the garlic has gone completely soft, you're ready for the blender. My son has a Magic Bullet blender that he graciously allows me to use (it was a Christmas present from Grandma L) and it works wonderfully for this. Anyhoo, pour the oil into the blender, add about half of the beans and all of their pan juices (yum!), and about another 1/4 cup of water. Blend until smooth. Add the rest of the beans, and more water if the consistency is not correct. When it's all smooth and has the texture you want, dump it into a container and grab those peppers!

SO next on my list was chicken and baked potatoes. Someday, dear friends, I will remember to take at least blurry, ill-light pictures of what I'm making... but it's all put away now. I even washed all of the dishes! I'm a big fan of baking meat in foil packets. It's perhaps the most wasteful part of my cooking :( I try to make big batches to make up for this un-eco habit. SO, after putting a large sheet of heavy duty foil on a large cookie sheet I put the following in it:

3 large Franken-chicken breasts- about 2.5-3 pounds (yikes!)
3 cloves garlic, squashed out of their skins and chopped into about 4 pieces each
A solid sprinkling of paprika
Sprinkling of oregano, salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 350 F

Fold the edges of the foil together and place the Giant Chicken Packet in the middle of the baking sheet. Around the edges I put 4 wrapped potatoes that were just stabbed by a fork a few times to make sure they didn't blow up. I also though about little packets of carrots, but by this time the week was falling away from me, and I'd had a few potstickers and a glass of wine... so I didn't care about carrots anymore. I was in "relax" mode with a very good friend! Put into the oven for 60-80 minutes or until you handy little thermometer reads 180 F in the thickest part of the chicken breast.

After chicken, (and potstickers, and edamame, and cheese and crackers) I was stuffed. I was failing to remember basic things, it was so good. Now I'm failing to remember what I meant to type, so I'm sure that means I should go to bed and get lots of sleep. That way, when they tell me at the dentist's that I need another root canal, I have a bigger context to relate to *grin*

Anyhoo, thanks for reading and I hope you al have a great day!

Love,
-e

Mixed Emotions

I am this clost to getting a new KitchenAid mixer...

I am clutching my Bed Bath and Beyond 20% coupon tightly...

Oh if only they had the one I want....


In other news, my son's school has one of the coolest projects EVER! They found a company that will publish a book by each child FREE OF CHARGE! Oh yes, that's right. And guess what we're gonna do? That's right... a cookbook. And we can cheat, as long as we scan it in *grin* so I can use my Photoshop and teach the Nino how to play with pixels, and we get a great book in the process.

I hope we can order extra, because the grandparents are gonna looooove this!

-e

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dorie Greenspan

OK, so I'm trolling through the Daring Baker's Blogroll, and admiring all of these VERY talented blogger/bakers, and feeling very ashamed/embarrassed by my apparent lack of blog savvy. Wow, do I have a lot to learn!

Around the B's, I come across Marye's contest for a new tagline! Oh, and hearing Dorie Greenspan's name littered across 20-some blogs helped in this too. Because that is one of the prizes that Marye, of Baking Delights, is offering up for spreading the good word about her contest. Dorie's Paris Sweets cookbook! She is very keen on getting responses!

So here I am, with 4 minutes left on the battery, fitfully, frantically complying with the requirements for such a beautiful book!

Alright... 1 minute to spare....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bread!!!!! French Bread!!!!

It's the end of a looong three... no four...wait... nope 5 days that I've been hacking the Lung Twins out in small pieces. When I laugh, I sound like that wheezy dog Mugsley from 1970's Cartoon Land. It's guaranteed to crack my son up every time he hears it. Cracks me up to, which results in more Mugsley-wheezes.

But at long last I have resurrected myself to put up pictures of my loverly French Bread from February's Daring Baker's Challenge! And what better challenge in the Month of Love than the staff of life itself?

So....

First in this adventure comes the kneading. All truly good bread in kneaded, then left to sit to develop all the wheaty goodness. BUT the original makers of French Bread must've been angry bakers indeed, as the process of kneading involves literally slapping the dough on on the counter, roll it over, whirl it through the air, and slam it down AGAIN, over and over for several minutes.

Such angry, angry, bakers. After many many angry kneads, the dough begins to soften, and slowly becomes a glossy, velvety ball of silkyness.

After the rest, and the second kneading, it begins to look something like this:



Pretty, huh? Doesn't it look like the cutest thing nestled in that gingham kitchen towel? It's inspired me to make many bread towels out of gingham, and I have the perfect duvet cover to re-purpose for it :) Here's another picture of it when it's all risen and pretty:



After the rising and and the deflating and the rising again, it's time to shove it in the oven again. I went with the 1/4 cup in the cookie sheet method of steaming the oven. I forgot to turn down the oven after I tossed the water in the pan, so my bread came out a wee dark,

But it was still very, very tasty. In the background, you can see the whole wheat versions ready for their turn in the oven. I think I'll modify the recipie a bit, using a scotch more yeast, and definitely less salt. It was surprising how salty the wheat bread was! ON the plus side, the wheat version was much easier to shape.

The bread got rave reviews from the Nino and everyone else, and was promptly gobbled up. So overall, it was a fantastic success, and I'd say it's something I'd be willing to have a go at again once I figure out how to fit the 2 and three hour rising times into my schedule.

Now.... on to the next challenge-

-erikai

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Passing the Torch

OK... honestly, I had fantasies about donning my apron and getting on with this month's challenge, but weariness and a full week took its toll on me and I wussed out on the idea of baking all night. Plus, I had my kitchen to rearrange. This is occurring section by section, even though it's been 8 months since I've moved in. Yep folks... I've been in this "big girl" house for almost a year now... exciting isn't? I find myself digging in here, really wanted to make this place "mine."

Also part of being a Big Girl has been the acquisition of paid programming. Yep.. Cable. Satellite (I can never ever say read that word without hearing Dave Matthews sing it... sat-el- lite... ) Whatever your name for it, I bought it. Did the full Monty- including NFL ticket. By and large I found that I still don't have time to watch all of this stuff... My son has figured out how to use the DVR and I'm.... well I'm just lounging around trying to figure out how to work the remote beyond "enter number, push enter."

One GREAT thing about it, however, is the Food Network. If I could just buy ONE channel, this, my friends, would be it. We have 200+ channels to choose from, yet both TV's are locked onto the Food Network as if the controls were permanently soldered there. My son has been greatly inspired. Not that he wasn't before we had so much to look at. He grew up watching me read cookbooks in my bed, planning gardens and meals during the day, observing the massive kitchen reorganizations that seem to take place every three months. I make bread, mayo, jam, yogurt, ketchup and all kinds of things that folks (shudder) buy in prepackaged mixes and such. My mini bulk aisle is always front and center with several types of beans, rice, and flour, couscous, homemade granola, oats, three kinds of sugar, little bits of this and that to add that extra punch to cookie dough and a sprinkle collection that would make any 2-year old squeal with glee. I have pans on my wall, pots hanging from a rack, and shelves mounted on what wall space is left. I have 2 refrigerators, and am contemplating a freezer chest (just as soon as I find a really good cheap one) so that I have the luxury of making my own convenience meals and saving every precious carcass (animal or veg) so that I might make beautiful stock at my leisure.

This has rubbed off on The Nino. He would rather make bread than buy it. He wants me to write him a cookbook (squeeeeeee!!!!!) and the reaction he gave to the cake decorating book was nothing less than what you'd expect as if I had given him the biggest, baddest Transformer toy in existence. The kid is NUTS about Ace of Cakes, and also follows Alton Brown, Kitchen Impossible, Iron Chef, and adores Paula Dean and Rachel Ray. He calmly evaluates the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, as "really boring, but a really great cook."

If they cook on TV, this kid knows who they are. This channel has him inspired enough to write, and what 10 year old boy would normally be inspired to write (especially when he has a difficult time writing in the first place)? If cookbooks were an option on the book report list at school, we'd have all 10 reports done in two weeks flat.

What does he want to be? Among the choices are a top notch pastry chef. His kitchen stamina is not incredibly impressive ("Let's get to the fun stuff Momma!") but I think that will progress naturally.

So now we are down to this... What does he choose for his bed time story? Yes, it's a cook book. Jaime Oliver at the moment. As I close the book on the last recipe with his eyelids sagging downward, he asks me about how we can put some of this stuff in his lunch, voice barely audible, fading into that familiar, sleepy slurring sound that parents just love.

It brings me great joy to see this, to know that I've passed down the idea that cooking is not just about filling the belly but feeding the soul.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm back!

After two months of amnesia, I've finally remembered by m email and password, so I'm posting once again. How often will folks visit this blog? Who knows. The Daring Baker membership will surely garner some attention but my hope is that folks of all ilk will find something in here that makes them smile.

So, without further ado, I gues I'd better get busy on the February Daring Baker's challenge... To be revealed on Feb 29th, of course :)

Ciao!

-e

Friday, January 4, 2008

New TOYS!!!!!

SO.... my dad, being the wise man he his, sent a monetary amount sufficient enough fo rme to buy THESE:




The Falling Cloudberries book by Tessa Kiros is amazing. It's beautiful, it's gorgeous. It has food ranging from Finland to South Africa... I had to special order it... I had NO idea that 25 British pounds are equal to $61.95 here in the US... That's one hell of an exchange rate people.... But there was no other way to get it... Amazon doesn't have it last I looked, and neither does Barnes and Noble. BUT our venerable tattered Cover ordered it for me.... Why I love that place... Big enough to do stuff like order anything in the world, yet small enough to remember its home....

The other book "1080 Recipes", by Simone and Ines Ortega, has supposedly been the best selling cookbook in Spain for over 30 years. And no wonder. It has recipes to cook everything...even brains... The translation is fun sometimes, as I come across words like "im-portant" Tattered Cover had it on sale 25% off, so that basically took care of tax. And I was tempted by a Mexican cookbook, as well as Mark Bittman's vegetarian version of "How to Cook Everything" (possibly the only cookbook you'd ever need if you had to pick just one...) but there were enough dollars sacrificed, and I can't justify these things once I run out of gift money.

Add to this that I have *just* gotten back home... The bookstore and its coffee shop are open until 11PM on Fridays...

All this cookbook reading has me hungry.... Stuffing Spanish olives and coucous down my throat as soon as the couscous is ready...

Love you all,

-e

3:03 PM