Monday, July 25, 2011


It's time for another Merry Monday simple recipe!

I just made this for the second time a few days ago, sooo good.  Quicker and easier than the loaves of bread I make (which are also quick and easy... here's a recipe for that)

1 pkg yeast
1 c hot water ( I microwave tap water for 1 min)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
herbs (oregano is my favorite, I also use garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, basil, and sometimes tarragon or rosemary)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 3/4 cup flour (add last)

I stir everything together with a wooden spoon, when it gets thick I knead it.  Cover with a towel, stick it somewhere warm, rise for 20 min

Grease a 9x9 pan with some olive oil and stick it in the oven at 450 for about 15 min. 

You can even press some shredded cheese into the bread before you stick it in the oven.

Great next to some soup, or slice a chunk in half and make a sandwich!  Yummy.

Sandwich and soup!  and chips and guac...of course...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mouth-watering Carrot-Zucchini Cake

I got my guidelines from this recipe.  Then, being me, I changed it. Of course.

First of all, no way did I want to make that much cake.  So I cut the recipe in half. 

2 eggs
5/8 c vegetable oil
3/4 c sugar
(according to the recipe, it should have been 1 c...but I don't like sugar...)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c flour
(according to the recipe, it should have been 1 c...but I figured with less sugar I should add more of something else.  And I didn't precisely is highly possible that I put in more than 1 1/4 c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
(I just poured a little bit in my hand...may have been more than 1/4)
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
"1 1/2 c" grated carrot and zucchini
(definitely didn't measure that either...2 larg-ish carrots and 1 medium sized zucchini)

I used a fork to beat everything together in a glass bowl.  Poured it into a greased 9x9 pan.  Put it into the 350 degree preheated oven (Which was at 325 when I put it in...stupid oven.  I turned it up to 375 and I think that got it to 350.)  Set the timer for 45 min, but thankfully checked after 30 min because it was DONE!  If I had waited til 45 minutes were up it would have been burned.  And that would have been tragic. 

yeah...I took a bite first

 where has the cake gone?

I'm totally eating a second piece right's that good.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cool, Refreshing, Delicious, GREEN

Let's be serious now, if it's not GREEN, does it really LOOK cool, refreshing, and delicious?  ok, maybe I was kidding when I said let's be serious.  But, I do think the color helps...don't you think so?

The last week or so has been very frustrating...Last Wednesday-Sunday I worked 3 8hr shifts and 2 10hr shifts, and let's just say, it was exhausting.  I thought I would have 3 days off to enjoy myself, but instead, I ended up finding out on the morning of the 3rd day that I was, in fact not going to have that day off.  Back to work I went for another 3day stretch of 8 hr shifts (except yesterday's was over 9 hrs b/c I went in early to make soup...).  Thank goodness it's over at 11PM tonight, and, if I'm really lucky, I will have FOUR days to myself.  Time to relax, ride my horse, sleep, run as many miles as possible before I have to taper off for my 1/2 marathon on the 7th, and COOK!  (I had bought groceries in anticipation of cooking a lot on my last few days off...and somehow I didn't quite manage to cook all of it, and then had to work so much more, some of the food went bad and had to be tossed.  Very, very, sad. 

Ok, rant over, back to the issue at hand.  Refreshing-ness.  It has been incredibly hot and humid out lately (which certainly is NOT conducive to time spent in the kitchen...too bad that's what my job is, and I've been practically LIVING in a blazing-hot kitchen!) So today, even though I still have to go to work, I just couldn't wait for my days off to do some cooking of my own.  I had the kitchen-itch.  And since it's so hot, I didn't want to make, and therefore have to eat, something hot.  I had a vague memory of learning about an easy sorbet recipe that I wanted to try.  After some pondering I was pretty sure I had gotten in from an Oliver's Twist episode.  (oh, hello google-search.  find me Jamie Oliver's sorbet recipe please)  Basil-Lime Sorbet

No, of course I'm not blogging about me following someone else's recipe.  I just needed some...guidelines...and besides, I don't have any limes.  So much for lime-zest. 

Cucumber Avocado Basil Sorbet with hint of Lime
(doesn't that long-winded name have a nice ring to it?)

I don't know why Jamie Oliver thinks a wine glass is a unit of measurement, but hey, I have wineglasses. 

One wineglass of sugar and one wineglass of water go into the pot.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes, with some crushed up basil stems.

Chop and puree 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 avocado, and a bunch of basil leaves.  Add a dash of lime juice just for the heck of it.

When the water/sugar is done simmering, fish out the stems, and let it cool for a little while.  Then, stir in the puree.  Let it sit for a while, stirring every now and then.

Strain out the cucumber seeds, bits of stems, chunks of leaves.  Use a pestle to mash as much as possible thru the strainer.  You don't want seeds and stem chunks, but you do want as much flavor as possible!

(this is all that was left when I was done mashing stuff thru the strainer)

Pour into a plastic container, and put it in the freezer.  Try to remember to stir every 30 min or so until set.  Hmm...I'm supposed to remember to STIR every 30 min...that could be hard... one of those 30 min breaks between stirs will most certainly be spent running.  It might turn into 40-45 minutes...

Oh, how I hate waiting to know if I have achieved culinary success or not...I won't find out until right before I leave for work! 

Alas, I am headed to work and the sorbet has only just started to form something thicker than liquid.  Interested to see what I find when I get home around 11 tonight...will it be sorbet, or italian ice after not being stirred for over 8 hrs...?

11:15 PM: Finally!  I am home from work, showered, and ready to find out what happened to the green "science experiment" I left in my freezer...and we have...Success!  It's cold, it's the right consistency for sorbet, and it's yummy.  A lil too sweet for my tastes...but that's just because I'm wierd and don't like sugar.  Definitely using way less sugar next time...  If you have a sweet tooth, use a 1:1 ratio of water:sugar.  If me...use less sugar!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Chips (the successful version)

If any of you have been following this blog since I started in in saw my post about the failed sweet potato chips I made.  Well, I finally got around to trying again. 

Also, I'm writing this post as a contribution to Merry Mondays check it out for more quick recipes.

Peel and clean a sweet potato.  Using some kind of peeler, make thin strips of any shape/size. 
My peeler has ridges and looks like this:

(don't I have the most awesome cutting board?)

pour some olive oil over the chips and make sure they all get coated.  Then, throw them in a bag of seasoning.  (I used a gallon-size ziploc bag...I'm sure a smaller one would be fine.  My smaller ones are too small)  For seasoning, I used garlic powder, onion powder, mustard power, basil, and italion seasoning bread crumbs. (It really doesn't take much, I think there was less than a tablespoon of seasoning in the bag).  Shake the bag til all the chips look coated.

Put the chips on a non-stick baking pan.  It's ok to have overlap, it creates a nice blend of crispy chips and softer chips.

(wow, the difference between using and not using the flash on my camera...)

Bake for 5-7 minutes at 450.  You will want to check the chips at 5 minutes, and be very careful if you bake them longer than that.  They can burn very quickly!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pink Hummus

All these hours working at the Pub...and so much of the food is hot, who would want to eat it in this weather?  I'm trying to do a special on Thursdays, something cold, refreshing, and delicious.  It would be much more fun if more people knew I was doing a special and actually came in and ordered it...but oh well.  2 weeks ago I did a pesto pasta salad, and ended up throwing half of it out a week later because it was going bad. 

This week, I decided to do hummus.  Beet hummus. 

Start with a pot.  Open a can of beets, and put about half the beets in the pot.  Dump the entire contents of 2 cans of chick peas into the pot (juice and all).  Heat on stove until simmering.  (Just like the directions on the chick pea can say)  Strain the chick peas and beets, dump them in a food processor.  You can save the juice if you want, in case you decided your hummus is too dry.  (I have used the juice before, this time I did not). Add some olive oil to the food processor, process it up.  Add a good squirt of Zatarains Creole Mustard, a couple shakes of mustard powder, a couple spoonfuls of garlic, and a shake of onion powder. Process it up some more...until really smooth.  Chill and serve.

For those of you in town...this special will be available today.  And tomorrow, if it doesn't all sell today...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sopa del Día

I think I've found a new solution for un-appetizing leftovers...turn them into soup!  Strange solution, considering I'm not really a fan of soups...but perhaps they are growing on me.  Never as a stand-alone meal, but they're not bad along with a sandwich...

So, a week or so ago, I made that marinated chicken thing with barley and lentils.  There was A LOT of leftover barley and lentils.  I don't really like lentils, and I had hoped that mixing them with barley would help, but it didn't really.  I tried to eat those leftovers, and I choked down some of them, but they just were not appetizing.  At all.  I hate to waste food, so I really didn't want to just throw them out, but it was clear that I was never going to eat them. 

Yesterday, I was thinking about what to eat for dinner, and what to do with those horrible lentils and I about soup?  If I'm lucky, I can find enough tastier things to put in the soup so that I won't even be able to taste the lentils!

Chop and steam carrots and green onions with butter. 
Add some water, garlic and herbs/salt. 
Add some heavy cream, a big spoonful of sour cream w/chives, and a generous squirt of Jack Daniel's Mustard.
Put barley/lentil mixture in the blender, blend with water til smooth.  (I also poured in some apple-cider vinegar...just for kicks...)
Add barley/lentil mash to soup.  Add water and/or cream until desired consistency is reached.

Doesn't taste so strongly of lentils, although I can definitely still taste them.  Now it tastes too strongly of mustard...guess I should have gone a lil easier on that.  Though I suspect other people wouldn't mind the mustard-taste nearly as much as I do.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Experiment of the Day

Oh how I love experimenting.  There's often 2 kinds of experiments that happen when I cook.  The planned ones, and the unplanned ones.  For example, I'll plan to try a new recipe, but what I don't plan is getting started with half the ingredients in the bowl and then realizing I'm missing something I need.  Then I have to find an experimental substitute. 

I have too many bananas to count in my freezer.  I almost never eat all the bananas I buy before they get too ripe, so I always stick the uneaten ones in the freezer, to make banana bread.  But I don't always get around to making that bread... Today, 2 of those black, frozen, bananas got turned into banana cake.  But not just any banana cake.  I found a recipe for "Sour Cream Banana Cake," and it sounded interesting, especially since I just happened to have some sour cream in my fridge. 
Here's the recipe:
I did cut this gigantic recipe in half.

Of course, when I took the sour cream out of the fridge, it turned out it was "Sour Cream with Chives."  Oh yeah, I remember how when I bought it, I thought that sounded way more interesting than plain sour cream.  But that was before I knew I was going to make a banana cake.  Not sure that chives and bananas go together but...oh well.  Too late to turn back.  Instead of the 1/2 cup of sour cream, I did slightly less than 1/2 cup, and then filled the cup the rest of the way with heavy cream.  Just for fun. 

The result?
 It kinda cracked in half when I took it out of the I broke it into 4 pieces, threw them on a plate, and slapped some melted chocolate chips on top.  Very elegant. 

Oh, and if you're can't taste the chives. Thank goodness.  I mean, I like chives, but...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wine and Dine

There are so many nights when I intend to cook...but then change my mind at the last minute.  Sometimes it's too late by the time I get around to dinner, sometimes I'm too hungry to spend time cooking, sometimes it's too hot to be in the kitchen, sometimes I'm just get the idea.  There's been a lot of salad/sandwich meals lately...  Tonight, I actually had no excuse. 

I've been wanting to make Sweet Potato Soup for awhile, I've only done it once before, but I loved it that time!  And of course, I wanted to make sure I cooked my sweet potatos before they turned out like the last ones I bought...

So, I made some soup.  I chopped and steamed radishes, carrots, and green onions.  Added my usual mix of herbs/seasonings and heavy cream.  Added mashed sweet potatos and the water I boiled them in.  Also ended up adding extra water from the tap.  Tonight's soup ended up a lil too sweet-tasting.  Not quite sure why...but I do think it has too much cream and not enough sweet potatos. 

Of course, it's not a real meal without I cooked up some stew beef in a skillet, chopped it up into pretty small pieces, sauteed some chopped zucchini, and made some de-licious beef & zucchini quesadillas.  And of course, I made some guacamole!

And, you can't wine & dine yourself without some wine...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adventures in Marinating

Let's start with the finished meal...
(Chicken, Green Beans, Barley & Lentils)

I've never really marinated anything before.  I've always been more of a spur-of-the-moment cook, not so prone to planning things out ahead of time.  And for good reason...

Never marinate anything unless you KNOW exactly when you'll be cooking it. 

I put the chicken in the marinade around lunchtime one day...thinking maybe I would cook it that night?  Didn't end up having time to cook it until the next night.  Let me tell you....leaving chicken in apple cider vinegar for, oh, 30+? hours, maybe longer... really not such a good idea.  I mean, the marinade was a good idea. Apple cider vinegar, some Jack Daniel's Mustard, garlic powder, various herbs...should have been pretty yummy.  But...after all that time?  I baked the chicken...served it up...ate it...and all I could taste was vinegar.  That chicken had waaaayyyyy too much time to soak it up.  I should probably save marinating for a stretch of days when I'm NOT working.  So I have no excuse not to cook it after letting it soak for LESS than 24 hrs.  Maybe less than 12.  Man, that vinegar taste was strong.

 Gotta cut it open to make sure it's cooked all the way through.  How else can you be sure?
Looks so yummy...