Monday, June 18, 2007

Why Tacos Make Me Happy

If you're like me, it seems that everything you cook from a recipe just turns out sub-par. I would love to blame it on the recipe. Sadly, I'm pretty sure I can't. I've got years and years ahead of me to improve my cooking skills. But it's those days that the simplest of meals turns sour that makes you wonder why you do it sometimes. There's some monster in me that screams when I've gone too long without cooking. To appease it doesn't take much. As long as I get off my ass long enough to trick out a frozen meal or something from a can, I know I'm on the long road to cooking recovery. That's why tonight is a good night. I'm making tacos.

Tacos are something you cannot- absolutely cannot- mess up. It's unthinkable. It's impossible. Thank god. You usually have most of the stuff on hand and prep is reduced to brown meat and heat shells, less if you're going vegetarian. They can be as dressed up or dressed down as you please. And the most incredible part for me: I will actually eat the leftovers. I'm a leftover girl; I love them. But is seems that I usually won't eat them if I've made them from a recipe- especially the Sunday Nighters. I'm going to eat the hell out of these suckers. And that makes me incredibly happy. So happy that I'm attempting homemade mei fun. Winn Dixie finally had the cellophane noodles in and I snatched them.

I found the 101 Way to Make Ramen Noodles Cookbook by Toni Patrick today at Books-a-Million. I have phases with Ramen noodles. I always love them, but I forget they exist sometimes. I feel another creative spurt concerning my crunchy friends coming on. Possibly tomorrow.

I also have reviews coming soon. I promised a Blue Bunny write-up a while ago that I haven't gotten around to yet and something on the Amy's brand of organic foods. Maybe some of my fallback Ramen masterpieces if you're lucky.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Chocolate Stout (Cake)

I seemed to have forgotten a promised cake review. Shame on me. I have plans tomorrow to make a batch of homemade oreo cookies yoinked from another food blog- which will also necessitate a review-and that reminded me of this. The link to the recipe will be provided at the bottom of the post, as always. Anyways, I happened upon this recipe at the perfect time. Earlier that day, I had opened one of my “special” bottles of beer. It was Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It was dark and strong, but not overpowering. It was reminiscent of Guinness in that it had a bitter bite to it that almost completely dissipated once you swallowed. Not as clean as Guinness, but very good. The label informs you that it’s chocolate malt combined with real dark chocolate. Well, my palate isn’t really up to snuff on that front, so I couldn’t say one way or the other. If you like ‘em dark, pick this one up next time you see it.

Another thing to note about this is that it comes in pints. Now, I love my liquor, but unless I’m really trying, I don’t like to drink more than about a cup a day. So this left me with an abundance of beer that I couldn’t in good conscience just toss out. Enter beer cake. The picture on the website makes it look infinitely more appetizing than mine came out. I stumbled upon a million hurdles with this damn cake, and despite some unfortunate texture issues, it turned out delicious. I skipped the nuts because, well, why bother? More chocolate to fill in the space, I say.

I only made a half-recipe. When will I learn that this is bad when it comes to cakes and the like. Also, I resorted, again, to baking it in a bundt pan. I don’t have round cake pans and the other pans were occupied. I had issues with the frosting as well. Normally, I don’t make the “recommended” frosting with cakes because the cake itself is already sweet enough and a bunch of gooey frosting on top sort of makes my stomach flip. My tip: you must make this frosting. The cake is a lot like the beer it’s made with. It’s not sweet- it’s rich and flavorful and deeply nuanced, but it is not sweet enough when you expect cake. Yet, my frosting came out liquid and didn’t set right. Until of course, I put it in the fridge where it promptly solidified into a hard shell.

Nevermind all that. If you want something completely unlike the toothache cakes you’ve always had, try this. You get the sweet, chocolaty goodness that all cakes must have with something much more complex than an old slap of cover-up frosting can give you.
Now you can see how unfortunate mine was. But it tasted good! That's all that counts right?

Monday, June 11, 2007

How Time Flies

Look! It's Monday already! And I have no Sunday dinner to report. I've had family in town on Friday and Saturday, and now without a job, my days all run together. I completely forgot about cooking yesterday. But! To make up for that, I've written up a review for all the chocoholics out there.

If you don’t have a World Market ‘round, get your credit cards ready. I discovered Ritter Sport chocolates about six months ago on an imported candy binge and never looked back. World Market is my most convenient place to stock up, regardless of the fact that the closest one is nearly three hours away. If I wasn’t going to get Ritter on the last trip, the assorted mini box would have convinced me anyway. To my delight I found six varieties stashed in the box, giving me four new ones to try. It is now official, Ritter Sport makes some of my favorite chocolate candies.

There were 2 cornflake chocolates, 1 nugat, 1 marzipan, 1 hazelnut, 1 butter biscuit, 1 solid milk chocolate, and 2 yogurt covered. I must admit upfront that I haven’t touched either of he yogurt. In fact, they will probably shoved off to my boyfriend. I bought a full size of this particular flavor months ago and didn’t care for it one bit. It tasted like sour milk dipped in chocolate- which I suppose it is. But no thank you.

However, don’t let my bad opinion of one flavor deter you. Everything else is delicious. The cornflake candies were ridiculously crunchy after eating the wimpy American alternatives. There are similar butter biscuit cookies out there that might be a match, but this one stands up to the rest of the brand well. I was particularly impressed with the hazelnut and the nugat. Their blend of hazelnut and creamy chocolate tasted almost like a Ferrer Roche, one of my favorites, and the nugat tasted exactly the same. Not sure where I was supposed to find in that nugat, but I didn’t care much given that it tasted so good. The solid milk chocolate is a fine example of the quality. Of course, none of this can beat the marzipan. This was my first love. Dense, nutty marizan is draped with milk chocolate that gives with a satisfying crack in every bite. It nearly tastes like dark chocolate, but I can’t be sure.

If you can’t pass up chocolate, I won’t need to convince you any farther. A good German brand at a reasonable price rarely needs convincing. Go forth.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sunday: June 04

This is the second week in a row that I've been on time. Or as on time as I'll ever be because I'm usually busy too Sunday night to write up a post. This week was low key and high vege. My roomate brought me three absolutely beautiful green peppers and more watermelon than I can handle. She also brought be cucumbers not too long ago that was supposed to be thrown in with the watermelon recipe, but they are currently furry and taking a nap in the dumpster.

Three peppers, three for dinner. It's too good to pass up. So I didn't. I made some improve venison stuffed peppers. I finally got to use that damn ground venison! This is a really easy, rough recipe. Like bruschetta, I'm not sure you need someone to tell you what to do here, but here's a rough guide.


1-2 pounds ground beef or venison (depending on how meaty you want it)

roughly 2 cups rice

1/2 cup tomato pasta sauce plus 2T for the topping

Assorted chopped vegetables or seasonings to taste (I would suggest some Parmesan)

Toppings of your choice

Preheat oven to 350. Brown meat and drain off liquid. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and heat. Core out peppers and stand on bottom in a baking dish. Stuff peppers nearly to the brim. Top with 2T of sauce on each pepper. Top with spices, cheese, or bread crumbs if desired. Bake for 1 hour.

Next came the watermelon. I ran into the same problem last year when my friend brought me about three watermelons. I made watermelon cake, drinks, and ate it raw until I could puke. This year, I have a boyfriend to pawn some of it off on. I also have a handy gazpacho recipe that turned out much better than I expected it to. I adapted it from an recipe that will be added to the bottom of this post. I didn't add the jalapeno, but I think I will if I make it again. The flavors came through very nice and clear, but the spice would have helped to offset the sweetness a bit more. I also didn't use a full onion- like I ever do- so it was a little on the sweet side. But this is fresh, unexpected, and comes together in a snap.


roughly 3 cups seeded watermelon, chunked

1 onion, chopped

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1T lemon juice

dash of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Prep all ingredients, then throw in a blender a little at a time. A blender will probably give you better results than a food processor unless you like chunks of raw onion in your meals. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

For more ideas or for the original recipe, go here: