Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not Dead

Just wanted to drop a line and let everyone know I'm not dead. It might have felt like that for a while, but really, I'm starting to recover well. I probably won't be updating for a while yet, but soon enough I'll be back. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Or, Marshmallows and the irony of being dumped on Valentine's Day. Let's start with the marshmallows.

They were on my make list, and in fact I'd planned to make them last month. I even bought a fancy thermometer. It doesn't hurt that I already had all the ingredients in my pantry. Yet, last month did not get ooey-gooey goodness. I thought near the end of the month, but no. Got sick. So here I am, loaded with supplies and perfectly (mentally) photographed squares of pure white dipped in dark chocolate. And here comes V-Day. Perfect. Only not, because I didn't read the part where they have to sit out overnight. No big.

Problem is, they were meant as a gift. And come tomorrow, I'll be left with approximately 20-40 marshmallows and an ex who's making it sound like it'd be better if we never saw each other again. Period. Of course, me being the sensitive girl I am, I've called back to ask if I could still use his power drill. So, possibly, I can still foist them on him, tucked away in plastic inside a box I decoupaged for him.

So the jury is still out on these. They probably won't taste exactly like they're supposed to until they've dried out. So far though, they tasted a bit... funny. I would say chemical-y but really can't since I saw everything that went into them. Maybe whatever it is will mellow out. I'm also anxious to see if the food coloring I added to half will hold up. Also, I had to let the gelatin sit in cold water while I made the syrup. It was actually gelled in a few minutes. I'm assuming that's what was supposed to happen, but can anyone tell me for sure?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winks 2-13-08

The last week has provided a glut of Valentine's recipes that we've all seen. Of course, they all look delicious but I won't be sharing them here. There have been a few that are unique though. Like bleeding heart cupcakes. Somebody has frosting skills!

Also, the owner of a knitting blog I frequent has had some interesting recipes using vegetables in ways I would have never thought about. Avacado cupcakes anyone? Or maybe a slice of chocolate cake with beetroot is more your style. You should seriously check them out, because they look so much better than they sound.

While you're surfing around, check out these two blogs. My mom sent me a link to Orangette which is absolutely scrumptious. Especially her recent Butterscotch Pots de Creme recipe. Simply Breakfast is exactly like it sounds. The photography is wonderful and makes me sleepy and hungry at the same time.

Oh, you know how I kept trying to turn my mousse into tiramisu? Well, I did. The mousse is great, but there's only so much a girl can eat. So I whipped it with a little more cream, powdered espresso, and powdered sugar, then layered it with ladyfingers. I've also wanted to make a cake for Valentine's day, but don't know if I will. It seems like such an effort right now. And don't think I forgot my January challenge. I just... didn't make it. Meh.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bagels and Coffee

Oh, today was a good day. A very good day. Did well on a test, have a teacher trying to sway me into another major, got a sesame bagel with scallion cream cheese and hazelnut coffee from Metro Bagel, the only bagel shop down here. It's been very nice. Plus, I did something today that I've always wanted to do. I signed up for a continuing education class. You know, the ones offered through local colleges where you can learn all kinds of random stuff? Well, the class is called The Art of Coffee Cupping. There is a tiny coffee shop downtown that I've been in once before. It's called The Beanery and is run by a lady who also happens to teach economics at the college. We chatted for a while the one time I was there. Well, now she's offering a two hour class.

"Learn how to observe and evaluate the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. Discover how to identify the essential flavor traits of coffees from different regions. Soon you’ll be able to tell what makes a Kenyan coffee great and how to tell a Guatemalan from a Nicaraguan."

The class is limited to 12 people and I'm going to be one of them. It also happens that my mom slipped me a twenty in my valentine. $15 for a coffee class. It's in May, but I'm so excited that I'm jumping around everywhere. I've always wanted to take a class! Oh yeah, branching out. On top of all that, today is just gorgeous. So excuse me while I go enjoy it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mashed Red-Skins with Boursin and Scallions

I meant to make this with the soup as a side dish, but I got tired. Also, I would have had to wash dishes just to get a clean pot, and we all know that wasn't going to happen.

To start: Boursin is the best cheese ever. EVER! I'd never had it before this recipe. It calls for 4 ounces. The only package they had was a 5.2 ounce, but was probably near 4 ounce when I finally restrained myself from eating it off my chopping knife. (As a side note, I would like to advocate Trojan condoms because damn. If your boyfriend and, say, two of his roomates want to jump in the same condom, I'm pretty sure they could. I feel much safer... now that I tried it out on a box of cheese. I realize I might be crazy.)

Anyways, I'm sure this recipe would have been spectacular if I had cooked the right amount of potatoes. I accidentally cooked too many and it spread the Boursin flavor too thin. I compensated by adding more (salted) butter and some cheddar. They were too soft as well, since I forgot to check them, and they turned out mashed instead of smashed. We don't care about that though, do we? But hey! 2+ pounds of potatoes used with just a few pounds left and I discovered the holy grail of cheeses.

Smashed Red-Skinned Potatoes with Boursin and Scallions

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Chicken and Rice Soup

During the height of my illness, my dude had to bring me drugs. Along with it came two cans of Cambell's chicken and stars soup. Now, there will always be a special place in my heart for their chicken noodle (except the double noodle which was evil), but chicken and stars ain't cutting it. And it was really sweet after all. Not like I could ask him exactly what he thought I was going to do with two cans of chunky, grease-flavored water. So I ate them. And the entire time I ate them, I wondered why the hell I was doing it.

So now that my sickness is mostly gone and I don't have to go for fast food twice a day, I made my own chicken soup. Though admittedly it's not that great. I'm starting to question my Joy of Cooking and it's take on what chicken should taste like. I think some of the authors may have been stoned. And yet, leaps away from Cambell's. I won't add the recipe, because I don't recommend it and I'm sure there are better ones out there. I will, however, say that the yellow grease on top mixed nicely with blue food coloring to make the rice look like mold. It's funny for me at least.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Wednesday links. It's something I've started on my other blog as a way to share my favorite bits of inspiration with my lovely readers (aka decluttering my favorites list, but this sounds better doesn't it?). My internet recipe lists are getting uncontrollable. Fact is, they've been like that for a while; I've just kept my mouth shut. Mostly, I get an idea and go on a rampage, saving recipes left and right for future use until they get lost again. Still, here are my latest bits of tasty.

One of my cookbooks, that I will talk about later at great length, inspired me to think of mint in a new way. Most Americans are afraid of it. We don't really know what to do with it except pair it with chocolate, but so many other cultures have mastered it. Sparing you my extended list of "foreign" recipes, here are a few Western dishes that are floating around.

French Potato-Mint Soup, the simplest mint potato recipe, potato mint salad, a very interesting pepper-mint limeade, and the classic mint julep. Okay, okay. Here's a potato-mint chaat that I had to throw in. From what I can find, chaat is like a street vendor snack.

Since I've still got those red potatoes and I'll need dried mint for several recipes out of my mystery cookbook, you might be seeing some of these soon.

Speaking of potatoes! Here's one for garlic potatoes, lemon-butter potatoes, crock-pot creamy cheesy potatoes, buttery baked reds, lemon-lime roasted reds, curry potatoes, mediterranean reds, roasted with lemon-caper sauce, skewered and grilled reds, and crushed reds with buttermilk.

Also, I've been tagged here for a 5 things meme. I'm not going to post the rules, namely because I don't have anyone to tag after this. Unless you'd just like to, in which case knock yourself out.

1. Roadkill is one of those things that makes me do a double-take. The first time I'm all, "Oh how sad." The second time I'm wondering if anyone would see me double back and pick it up. I love bones. I love those displays of organs in science buildings. I can't think of anything cooler than having a few jars of brains on my bookcase. Dissecting things is like crack after you get over the guilt. In short, I'm a mad scientist waiting to happen. Or an animal necro.

2. I love Indian music. In fact, most of the music I listen to is entirely incomprehesible to me. Without understanding a damn thing, I can usually pick out a hindi/urdu song from a tamil song or a teluga song. Youtube has become my one true love because you can find the clips from all the Indian film songs there. Feel free to browse my favorites. There are many.

3. I don't like to drink anything alcoholic or hot with my food. Sure, a cup of coffee with a pancake can be nice. Or maybe a beer with my chicken wings. But for the most part, no. The only thing I think about with a beer or coffee is a cigarette. Which always reminds me that I can have a cigarette or two with coffee since, you know, I quit smoking.

4. I have turned into the weird cat lady. Not that I always wasn't, but in the last few years... They get to walk all over me. I talk to them like real people. They are my babies. I am their mommy. It is disgusting, but just how daily life works around here.

5. I am a guard dog about my personal life. I share what I want, when I want to. Otherwise, I don't give people my phone number, I don't answer the phone unless you leave a message and I know you, and even then only if I feel like talking. I am not a slave to my phone and I feel no obligation whatsoever to become so. I make my own decisions about my life and do things that I want without regard to other people, and god forbid you ever try to stop me. I bite. Hard.

Is anyone else on blogger? Is your spellcheck not working either? I don't think I've had too many mistakes over the past few posts, but this is starting to annoy me.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse with Bananas

Remember when I said I've been jonesing for chocolate dessert? I finally caved. Big time. This just looked SO good that I had to try it immediately. This is the first time I've been able to use my Bon Appetit cookbook. It promises to offer recipes that are "a sophisticated twist on a beloved classic... that will be delicious the first time out." Well, mousse isn't brain surgery, but this was very easy. The only downside was that I had to buy nearly everything for the recipe. Seriously, the only things I had on hand were the water and rum. Considering that it used up nearly all of the ingredients, this was over a $15 recipe. Not too much considering, but still. It pains me, the pantry cook that I am.

Also, under the category of things I should know by now, I'm not that big a fan of mousse. Yes, it's delicious and perfect for a light dessert, but I'm from the South. We don't really do light desserts. This was insanely rich. Insanely. Rich. It was a rumball in a cup. Next time I would (lord, forgive me) cut back on the chocolate by maybe 3 ounces, cut out 1 cup of whipped cream, and add 4-8 ounces of cream cheese. I might also play around with espresso liquor in place of the rum (I just made tiramisu again, didn't I?). The richness of that would be easier to digest with a little more sweetness since the original recipe showcases balls to the wall chocolate. Now that I think about it, I did use all bittersweet chococlate- perhaps a semi-sweet mix. As an aside, has anyone seen the tiramisu flavored mascarpone? It's an interesting idea. The recipe was also a bit confusing, so these are the steps I followed.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse with Bananas
Bon Appetit

12 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/3 c chilled whipping cream
1/3 c water
1/4 c dark corn syrup
5 T dark rum
8 oz mascarpone cheese
3 bananas

Stir chocolate, 1/3 cup cream, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over med-low heat, stirring until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Let cool until lukewarm, stirring occasionally- about 20 mins. Whisk in rum, then mascarpone. Beat 1 cup whipping cream in a seperate bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold into chocolate. Whip the last cup of cream, fold in.

Peel and thinly slice 2 bananas and arrange in servings cups. Spoon mousse on top, cover with plastic wrap, and refigerate at least 4 hours. Garnish with last banana before serving.

Makes 8 servings

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ground Beef Stroganoff

I'm not exactly sure where it came from, but there is an old Rival Crock-Pot cookbook on my shelf circa the 1970s. It mocks me with its bright orange cover and the promises of delicious food with minimal gruntwork. I've just been wary of endless meatloaf and olive on a toothpick recipes. Yes, those are in there, but I found there are actually many that I would cook without being held at gunpoint. Hence, more stroganoff.

Does this compare to my grandmother's? No, but few things would. However, I will say that I've had three bowls today so the tastiness here is nothing to sneeze at. Speaking of which, what the hell does that mean and please don't sneeze on any of my food. Oh, guess what? I didn't even process the onions. Nope, just left them in big chunks. Of course, it helps that the slow cooking pretty much made them melt, but still. Thought that counts. See? I'm getting better.

Ground Beef Stroganoff
Rival Crock-Pot Cookbook

2 lbs ground beef
2 med onions, chopped (I just used one)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4-oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (I omitted this)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c beef consume or boullion
3 T tomato paste
3/4 c sour cream mixed with 2 T flour

Brown ground beef in large skillet; add onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute until onion is golden brown. Put in slow cooker with all remaining ingredients except sour cream mix. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3 hours. Stir in sour cream 1 hour before serving. Serve over noodles or rice.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Chewy Saucepan Blondies

I've been craving dessert here for the last two weeks or so since I don't have much in the house. I found a recipe from a Land'o'Lakes butter carton in my stash(!) for these and I had way too much unsalted butter on hand. When they say chewy, they're aren't kidding. Part of it could have been my fault. My brown sugar ran out after 2 1/2 cups, so I threw in 1/2 white sugar and dumped some molasses on top. Also, I had to use my huge cassarole pan to bake them in and they barely covered the bottom. The pre-bake texture is like overcooked fudge or overr tempered chocolate. It's still similar after baking, very chewy and much thicker than a normal brownie. I actually like the texture, just not for blondies. Good caramely taste. I won't use this again though. I used up all my extra chocolate pieces that were laying around, hence the streaks. See how sad?

Chewy Saucepan Blondies

Land'o'Lakes recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 T vanilla

2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c chopped pecans (optional)

Heat oven to 350F. Melt butter in a large saucepan over med for 2-3 mins. Add brown sugar and mix well. Cool 5 mins. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Add pecans if you want.

Spread batter in a lightly greasted 13x9 baking pan. Bake 22-27 mins or until set.

Makes 36 brownies

Friday, February 1, 2008

Broiled Lemon Garlic Chicken and Dijon Potatoes

This should be routine about now since I've been on a chicken and potatoes kick. It's easy, it's relatively cheap, and there are tons of possibilities. Of course, I've realized that all these flavors tend to meld together to create "roasted chicken" flavor, so I think I'll be getting away from this relatively soon.

The marinade for the chicken was from Joy of Cooking, but I decided against broiling in favor of roasting because, naturally, the potatoes were under the chicken. I ran out of lemon juice a while ago and only had one lemon. I compensated by topping off with citrus Smirnoff. I couldn't tell a difference. Plus, with no lemon there were no lemon potatoes. I used the rest of the dijon mustard from the marinade and just slathered it on. While everything was good and tasty, it had, inexplicibly, an undercurrent of peanut butter.

Broiled Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade
Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary edition

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 T pressed or minced garlic
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix and marinade for at least one hour. Coats 3 1/2 to 4 lbs of meat. It can be reduced later on with the drippings for a sauce.