Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Red, Brown and Blue! How... American...?

Ever since I was young, my dad would go on the ocassional trip into the Canada. Each time he would bring home Canadian candy. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was chocolate covered Smarties. (YUCK!) My favorites are these malted candy bars I can never remember the name of. But they're in French and they're in a big pale yellow package! This time he brought me some Canadian Raisinettes! YUM! =)

On a semi-unrelated topic, I just recently started following Peas and Thank You, a really awesome vegan blog! Now, I'm not a vegan but somehow stumbled across her blog while perusing one day and couldn't stop laughing at her stories about her adorable girls. She had hooked me! I signed up to recieve updates.

Yesterday morning at 4:30, nature woke me up in that unpleasant way it has gotten into the habit of doing. As I stumbled back to my room and flopped back onto my bed, I checked my email. Hooray, an update from P&TY! It was for vegan brownies. "Mmm... brownies..." I muttered into the pillow. Crap, I don't have applesauce. It's ok, I'll use tomato sauce I thought as I drifted back to sleep.

Fast forward 3 hours. Now fully awake, I still want to make these brownies with tomato sauce. So I did! And with honey instead of sugar, cornmeal for some of the flour, I was a substituting maniac!! And you know what?

They were pretty delicious in my opinion. Addictive even. I ate a whole row out of the pan before lunch. An acquired taste, definitely, but so am I.

Tomato Laden Brownies
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup blue cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned tomato puree (for more concentrated flavor you could use tomato paste)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup raisinettes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together tomato, honey and extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined, then fold in raisinettes. Pour batter into prepared pan, then bake for 20 minutes or until the sides start the pull away from the pan. Cool and enjoy! Or.. eat hot and enjoy!

Monday, June 28, 2010


I finally did it! Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I found a recipe for homemade marshmallows that set up the way it was supposed to, just like her recipe claimed it would!

There's also a special thanks that should go out to my mom. I found some unflavored gelatin packets hidden with the Jello when I rummaged through her cabinets yesterday afternoon. Thanks mom!!


The first time I made marshmallows, I ended up with a new dish - tofumallows.

See? Quite disgusting. Those went in the garbage.

I decided to try the one over at SK. Boy was this a completely different experience! I measured out my sugar and was unfortunately 1/4 cup short. No problem! I'll substitute honey! It's ok, it's ok, this turned out much better than the meringues! I was a little frightened there for a while, though. I decided to multitask and look for a baking dish to butter while the syrup was boiling. Well let me just tell you, that syrup did NOT like being ignored! It promptly erupted all over my stovetop! That'll teach me to use a smaller pot instead of just washing the medium one that was dirty. Well actually, it probably won't. In any case, the marshmallows turned out just fine despite the fact that a third of the syrup was residing on my stove.

These tasted pretty yummy, though I advise you to go easy on the extract if you're using hazelnut. They were a bit overpowering for me!

Springy Fluffy Marshmallows (adapted from Smitten Kitchen and halved)
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water, divided in half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt (which I forgot DOH!)
1 large egg white
2 teaspoons extract (would reduce this the next time)
Mixture of powdered sugar and cocoa powder, for dusting

Oil a baking dish and coat with powdered sugar mixture, making sure to get the corners and sides.

In the bowl of a mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup of the water. Allow to sit while you boil the syrup.

In a medium pot over medium-low heat, cook sugar, honey, corn syrup, remaining 1/4 cup of water and salt, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat to moderate and boil without stirring for roughly 12 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the syrup over the gelatin, stirring until dissolved. On high speed, beat the mixture until tripled in size and fluffy, about 6-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg white until stiff peaks form (whoops I only did soft peaks). Beat egg whites and extract into the fluff until just combined. Scrape the mixture into the oiled baking dish and sprinkle powdered sugar mixture over the top. Refrigerate uncovered overnight. Cut with a pizza cutter and toss in powdered sugar mixture.

A word of advice - don't bring them to your un-airconditioned work and fail to keep them in the fridge. They get all sweaty!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cajun Snickerdoodles

Last week I brushed up on my Cajun cooking. I made blackened snickerdoodles! So deliciously black, crunchy and chalky!


Rookie mistake.. I used Pam non-stick cooking spray to coat the cookie sheet in leiu of butter. Bangs head against keyboard in shame.

Kyle, bless him, still ate them.

We attacked the cookies, picking them apart to unearth what was edible. Those parts were pretty tasty at least! And three whole cookies were saved from the same toasty fate as their siblings!

I'll attempt these delicious treats again soon, this time not using honey and using BUTTER to coat the cookie sheet!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chicken "Non" Marsala

I'm back from my relaxing South Carolina vacation. Sad. It was so nice and sunny and beautiful there. The creepy crawlies definitely enjoyed my stay. *scratch* I don't miss them, though.

Even though I was on vacation, I still managed to do some inventing in the kitchen!

I know what you're thinking... what did I do on a Sunday evening when I got the itch to make Chicken Marsala, but was in a state where they don't sell liquor on Sundays? I substituted like crazy, that's what!

Now this was a challenge to me. To start with, I'd never made chicken marsala before, plus I was trying to substitute the ingredient the dish is named for. Using my "foodie senses" (those are similar to spidey senses, by the way), I picked out a few ingredients that would make the dish my own, but still keep the main components of the original.

I added in roasted plum tomatoes with some olive oil, salt and pepper... those were pretty yummy. They were dangerously close to not even making it into the pan..

Kyle thought the dish was a hit! Perhaps it could have used a bit more salt.. hehe!

Chicken "Non" Marsala
8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless chicken breasts, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup white grape juice
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 plum tomatoes, roasted and diced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Mix lemon juice, grape juice, water and vinegar in a bowl and set aside. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and onion and saute until the onion just starts to turn clear. Add garlic and sautee another 30 seconds. Remove veggies and set aside. Add olive oil to the pan and turn the heat up to medium high. When oil is hot, add chicken breasts and sear about 3-5 minutes on each side or until a nice crust forms. Add juice mixture to pan, followed by the veggies. Cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Add parsley and tomatoes, return the lid and simmer another 5 minutes. If you need to, you can thicken with cornstarch. Serve over pasta and topped with grated asiago cheese!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Go Hawks!!

Who watched that amazing game last night? It was packed full of action and adrenaline.. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole game. 49 years is a long time to wait, but man this team deserved it!

I can just hear my uncle shouting and laughing and cheering like mad. He would have been so proud!

Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, June 9, 2010 - Uncle Jeff, this one's for you!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whip it Gewd!

I’ve been waiting for three months. It finally happened today! Christina Aguilera’s new CD was released! I rushed out to buy it… see…

I love it! Totally worth the wait!

What’s the best way to listen to a new CD? Cranking it in the house while whipping up something yummy!

Now, I’ve been whipping up lots of calorie-laden treats lately, so I decided to switch it up and try some meringue cookies. I realized I’d never actually eaten one, let alone baked one. Up for the challenge, I altered a recipe to use honey instead of granulated sugar.

Now, some came out slightly burnt, some came out a bit sticky, (I need a grown-up oven that cooks evenly...) so they need a bit of work. Let me know if you've got any opinions! I was thinking next time I'd try using some more CoT or even make them with granulated sugar the way they're supposed to be!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Brown Butter Cake with Cherries

This sly cake started out disguised as a white cake but morphed itself into the beautiful brown butter cake with cherries you see before you!

Can you smell it? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone if you bang your nose into the screen trying!

I’ve always been wary of using a recipe with browned butter. What if I happened to burn it instead of brown it? It’s such a fine line to walk. I believe I was successful, though. What do you think?

My initial idea was to frost the cake to give it a little something extra since it looked like this before...

Pretty but lacking, no? Well only after I made the "frosting" with granulated sugar did I realize it had all the texture of sandpaper. It overpowered the cake. So I scraped it off. Unfortunately I couldn't get all of it off! Disaster! I was ready to cry. Now, wait.. I'll stick it under the broiler to caramelize the sugar!

Now that is perfection!

Brown Butter Cake with Cherries

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned
1 egg
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup skim milk
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and diced, then dusted with flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown butter and allow to cool. In mixer bowl, beat egg and sugar until very well mixed. Add cooled butter, mixing until a pasty consistency is reached.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder. In yet another bowl, combine milk and almond extract. Alternating flour mixture and milk mixture, add to paste mixture and beat well. Stop mixer, scrape down the sides and add cherries, mixing just enough to incorporate. Pour into a well buttered and floured bundt pan. Bake 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool completely before removing from pan.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Perch "Stir Fry" over Brown Rice

I love me some homemade Chinese food. Unfortunately I don’t own a wok of my own.


I must get to San Francisco someday to get one. Until then I have to improvise with my normal pans!

I've never been able to find a brand of oyster sauce I like in the grocery store and haven't been able to get up to H-Mart. Luckily while having lunch with mom last week at my local Filipino restaurant, I remembered they have a tiny grocery section. Score!

I always make extra rice since I love leftovers, but you can make less or substitute white rice if you don't like brown. I combined olive oil with sesame oil to add a unique flavor to my dish. One of the best things about stir fry is that you can add whatever veggies and meats you like. I love the flavor of oyster sauce and beef, but I had some fresh lake perch thawed, so I used that! Yummy yummy in my tummy!

Perch “Stir Fry” over Brown Rice

1 cup long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup rye berries

1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup lake perch, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 egg, whisked

Cook rice with rye berries according to instructions or using a rice cooker. I always cook mine by feel in my trusty rice cooker. I pour the rice in and add water until my first knuckle gets wet when I stick my finger in there. Real scientific huh?

In a medium pan, heat oil mixture over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onion, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute until onions just start to turn clear. Reduce heat to low and add garlic. Cook about 1-2 minutes and add in perch, oyster sauce and egg. Cook until perch is done, about 5-6 minutes or until fish is opaque. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Huzzah to Post Number 50! And what a perfect way to hit 50 it is!

My momma needs some cheering up. What do I do? Make her cupcakes! Cupcakes always cheer people up, right?

That’s what I thought! It’ll turn her frown upside down!

I just knew that the recipe I spotted from Cupcake Project for Black Bottom Cupcakes with Goat Cheese would be the perfect thing! I added some cinnamon to the goat cheese mixture and cut the recipe in half so I wouldn’t be swimming in cupcakes.

Hmm… synchronized cupcake swimming… Think it’ll catch on?

Black Bottom Cupcakes with Goat Cheese
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted

4 ounces goat cheese
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Half a beaten egg
Handful of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and baking powder. In a kitchen aid mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, yogurt, extract and milk. Beat in chocolate, then slowly add in flour mixture until well mixed. Fill cupcake liners until 2/3 full. Clean mixer bowl and beater, then return to mixer. Beat together goat cheese, egg, sugar and cinnamon until well combined, then toss in chocolate chips. Top each cupcake with a heaping tablespoon of the mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.