Monday, November 9, 2009

Afghani Fried Brown Rice

I was looking for something special to do with my fancy bag of brown rice. This wasn't it. I'm sure the actual recipe is delicious. However, I skimped out on making the ras-al-hanout because the recipe only called for 1/2 tsp. Half a teaspoon! Most of the recipes I found for ras-al-hanout makes at least 1 cup. Great if I wanted to use it again. Not so great when I don't want to add more stuff I'm not using to my spice drawer.

Ras-al-hanout is a very popular spice in North Africa and thereabouts. However, it looked very like masala with extra pepper. So that's what I used instead. Add that to the fact that I didn't caramelize the onions enough and it turned out very bland. It ended up being the base for a few burritos, but that was about it. Sigh. Maybe some other time. It was pretty when it was cooking though.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Oatmeal Crisp

Do apples make anyone else angry? I mean, they're gorgeous, shiny little things. They're lovely during the rest of the year, but in fall they just shout the joys of cinnamon and flaky crust and all things holiday. But they piss me the hell off. Every once in a while I get a little giddy and say, "Hey! Why not pick up some apples with the rest of this fruit?" forgetting how evil they really are. I, of course, am reminded at the worst of times.

You're probably wondering what I'm talking about. You see, I'll go off somewhere, on a car trip or to work or anywhere it's inconvenient to get food. Then I'll wait until I'm hungry before realizing I have an apple. A beautiful, shiny, delicious looking apple sitting right there. Logically, if you're hungry and you eat an apple, it should cancel out the hunger, right?

Hunger + Apple = Not Hungry

My equation looks more like this.

Hunger + Apple = 2x(Hunger) + Betrayal + Flashbacks of all the other times this has happened

It's like eating celery. You burn off more calories eating the stuff than the celery actually has in it. I specifically bought 4 apples to make a crisp with. After eating one and feeling BETRAYED by it, I happily took my very sharp knife to the remaining three. They were frightened. They should have been.

I chose one of the simplest crisp recipes I could find. This used simple ingredients. I left out the 1/2 cup white sugar and used a little less oatmeal and flour. Overall, this was tasty. Not my favorite. Of course, this apple pie I made spoiled me for most everything else apple, so take that into account.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

broccoli slaw

This was one of those quick, sort of healthy with what you've got recipes. I've been craving broccoli slaw for a few months now, ever since I saw the TV spot Deb from Smitten Kitchen did about cole slaws. With a head of leftover broccoli, I decided to finally make it.

I chose Paula Deen's recipe because bacon was a mandatory ingredient for me. Despite leaving out the raisins (didn't have any), this was great. I just wish I'd had more than one tiny head of broccoli. I'll need to make it again soon with much more.

Sorry for the quickie. It's busy around here and I'm a little tired. Let's see how tomorrow goes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Zucchini bread with blueberries

Just in case you were wondering what happened to the rest of the blueberries from the buckle. Now you know. This was nice, very moist, not overly sweet, and not too rubbery. Maybe I'm strange though, I like a bit of rubber to my quick cakes. There have been some cakes that are so moist or fluffy that they just fall apart. A bit of rubber now and again isn't the end of the world. It's just the end of being forced to eat off a plate and not with your fingers.

Moving on.

I used this recipe as a base and made a few substitutions. In fear of making it too dry, I stuck with the recipe and used half whole wheat flour instead of going whole wheat all the way like I originally wanted to. Apple sauce was used instead of oil, the brown sugar was decreased to one cup. I increased the cinnamon just a little and threw in about 1 cup of blueberries. Isn't it pretty the way the blue and green contrast with the brown. You know, in an "I'm totally not thinking of mold right now" kind of way. I thought so too.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Crepes are one of those things that, for an American, can seem terribly fancy.

Oh, a crepe! So much better than those big, lumbering pancakes!

Pancakes are kind of dopey though aren't they? No skill. You just take a premixed lumpy mess of a batter and dump into a hot pan. With crepes, you're dealing with a thin batter to make a thin layer of goodness. We can already see that this will be more of a challenge. And like anything else, it's easy by the second or third time you've done it, but most of us don't get to hone those crepe skills. The last time I made one (possibly the only time as well) was in high school at a french club crepe party. I got to use one of those crepe makers that look like a smooth, waffle iron wand or something. It's hot and dangerous and you have to juuuuuuust barely dip it in the batter or you've fucked up. Good times.

So when I was over at Baking Bites again, I was reading about her trip to France. Now, the crepe vendors are apparently very popular. You can get them for lunch or snacks or what have you, and they cook them with sweet or savory toppings. Now, when I think of crepes, I think breakfast, maybe dessert with some Nutella (mmm... Nutella), or the cheese blintzes they make at IHOP. But duh! Savory toppings on a crepe sound divine. So I made them.

I decided to follow her example and spread my crepe batter thinly in the pan, then top with an egg, followed by sweet ham and creamy havarti cheese. Very very tasty. I can't believe I've never had it before. Plus, because the crepes are so thin, it takes just minutes to whip one up.

However, in the spirit of sweet crepes, I also enjoyed them stuffed with mild cheese and berry compote topped with sour cream. And, yeah, with Nutella. Hello!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bok Choy, Leek, and Yellow Pepper Saute

Sometimes what you need is something simple. Something a little healthier than you might be getting, but quick and very uncomplicated. This was it. Schlepping around Simply Recipes always gives me ideas, but this recipe was what I needed to make. Immediately. In all honesty, I went out to the grocery store about half an hour later and started right when I got home. The recipe called for very few ingredients, all of the pantry stuff I had on hand. When all you need to buy is fresh vegetables, you know it's going to be a good night.

You needed baby bok choy (I could only find the regular), an onion (I chose to use a leek), and yellow peppers. This was my first time getting to play with a leek, though I've wanted to for ages. I felt so very in the know when I cut it up. You chop, then let it sit in a bowl of water and swish every couple of minutes. It lets the sand that gets trapped in the layers sink to the bottom of the bowl without having to kill yourself washing. See? Cool.

Once the leek was sauteed and lightly carmalized, it was so mellow and sweet and vaguely reminded me of cabbage for some reason. The sweetness of the yellow peppers came out nicely as well. All together it was very tasty. I ate it as a side dish the first night, but turned it into some quite tasty omelettes the next day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mixed Berry Clafoutis

Alright. I finally jumped on the bandwagon a million years too late, but still. Here is my first clafoutis. I'm sort of seeing why it was all the rage. Easy, delicious, not too sweet, not too heavy, super easy, doesn't take too long, and did I mention easy?

Now, the recipe called for 8 ounces of fresh strawberries. While I did have 2 pints of strawberries slowly dying in my refrigerator, most of them were not good. So I did what I always do in these situations. I improvised. First I scoured my pantry for any fruit-like things to use, but none looked good enough. But then! Hidden in the back of my freezer, several opened and unopened bags of frozen fruit. Don't ask how long they were in there, you don't want to know. But thawed and thrown in the batter in all their mushy, freezer burnt glory? Heaven. I used probably three times as much fruit as was called for, but where's the harm in that, really?

It was light and eggy and fruity. Perfect for breakfasts and snacks. Also, ridiculously easy. If you check out the recipe, you'll see that the batter itself is whipped up in a blender. Then you pour it over the fruit and bake. Even dead tired, I didn't feel inconvenienced making this. You can't go wrong, and I'll bet you'd have to make a concerted effort to mess it up.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blueberry Buckle with Lemon Syrup

Whilst wandering around The Wednesday Chef one day, I saw this recipe. Nothing really caught my eye; it wasn't striking for me or anything. However, with my fancy whole wheat flour taking up expensive real estate in my refrigerator, I was keeping my mind somewhat more open to ideas. It wasn't until I found a Baking Bites(a great place for inspiration) buckle using whole wheat that I connected the dots.

Thus the buckle was created in my kitchen. However, the "buckle" part never happened. My suspicion is that the whole wheat didn't allow it to rise enough for the fruit to pull it back down. Plus, the whole wheat negated some of the sweetness, rendering it more of a coffee cake than before. Not that I minded. It was lovely for breakfast or for a snack. I used the flour/whole wheat flour ratio used on Baking Bites for this one in case you needed a reference.

Despite the fact that I dirtied up an extra dish thinking I needed a huge one for the not so huge amount of mix, this turned out pretty well. The cake was moist but not overly sweet, the blueberries (mine were frozen) held up well, and the lemon syrup was tangy and sweet. My experience with berry desserts is low mostly due to the fact that when I think dessert, I think chocolate. But this is much more versatile and started getting my ideas going. There will be more in the future.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Alright, everyone. It's November, and around here that means NaBloPoMo. I can't guarantee that I'll actually be able to pull it off here as well as the craft blog because I'm about to graduate and am running around like crazy. But here's to hoping.

So let's kick November off with something awesomely awesome. I've never made lasagna before. Really. I can hear you booing me, so knock it off. Usually, it's bland and rubbery and craptastic. I've never understood why so many people liked it. But like the eggplant parmesan I'd never tried before for the exact same reason, I decided why not? It won't kill me.

I might kill myself for not trying it sooner though. OHMYGOD! I love lasagna. Lasagna is where it's at. Lasagna is where it always should be. /crazy-love

I decided to use the simplest recipe I could find that still sounded good. This recipe fit to a T. As far as substitutions go, I used ground pork instead of beef with about 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds thrown in because I couldn't find italian sausage to add. I omitted the sugar, used a mix of cottage cheese and ricotta, and (of course) forgot the egg for the cheese filling. But no bother. It still came out delicious. And I ate it all. ALL. That's a feat in itself for me.