Sunday, April 7, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese with Sun Dried Tomato

I based this recipe very loosely on Ina Garten's recipe which I would love to try sometime.  I basically used her recipe as a guide for making the cheese sauce and tweaked the ingredients a bit depending on what I had on hand at home.

Melt a stick of butter, minus 2 tablespoons.  Add 1/2 cup flour and whisk.

Pour in a quart of warm milk.


Put in six cups of grated cheese.  I used half fontina and half sharp cheddar.

Season with garlic salt and pepper.

Take a cup of sun dried tomatos packed in oil and chop after draining.  You can skip this part or substitute with something else like bacon or shrimp.

I used a pound of gemelli, boiled 2 minutes under the suggested time.  I also used Xuan to transfer the pasta from the colander to the baking dish. 

Mix the pasta and cheese sauce.

Top with breadcrumbs.  I made whole wheat breadcrumbs using leftover bread I had.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  

I had it with baked scallops and roasted veggies for dinner.  Even after serving four people I had more than half of the baking dish left over.  If you're not planning on eating a whole pound of pasta (although there's no shame in that) I would cut the recipe in half to avoid having too much left over.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spicy Korean Braised Chicken

This is one of my all-time favorite Korean dishes that my mom makes.  There are many names for this dish including dakdoritang, dakbokeumtang, and dakgamjatang - whatever you want to call it, it's bomb!  The meat is super tender, the potatoes absorb the spicy garlicky sauce, and the sauce is really good over white rice.

I found this recipe on Maangchi's blog and quadrupled it because I had friends over for dinner.

serves 8-10

7-8 lbs of chicken drumsticks (approximately 20 pieces)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup minced garlic
1 cup gochujang (Korean pepper paste)
4 tablespoons sugar
3 medium onions, chopped in large pieces
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large 2 inch chunks
8 Korean green chili peppers
8 stalks green onions, sliced

1. Mix soy sauce, garlic, gochujang, and sugar in a bowl.  The mixture should be very thick.
2. Place chicken, sauce, and onions in a large pot.  Add about 4 cups of water and mix.
3. Cover the pot and turn on the stove to high.  Once sauce starts boiling set the timer to 20 minutes.  Turn down the heat to medium high.
4. Add in potatoes and peppers.  Stir everything with a wooden spoon.  Cover and cook for another 20 minutes.
5. Continue to cook with the pot uncovered to reduce the sauce for about 15 minutes.
6. Sprinkle green onions over chicken and devour with rice.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Arugula and Avocado Salad

This salad is also very good with watercress.  Any bitter salad greens would work well here. 

2 handfuls of arugula
1/2 avocado, sliced
2-3 slices of bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch of salt
fresh cracked pepper

1. Arrange first three ingredients on plate.
2. Drizzle olive oil and squeeze lemon over salad.
3.  Finish with salt and pepper.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photo: Shrimp and Wheat Berry "Fried Rice"

"fried rice" made with wheat berries, yellow squash, orange bell pepper, onion, edamame, corn 
+ shrimp cooked in sweet and spicy sauce 
= lunch for work

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe for very addicting cookies uses boxed strawberry cake mix which makes baking really easy and fast.  All you need are:
  • 1 boxed strawberry cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
The only changes I made to the original recipe were adding less chocolate chips and scooping smaller amounts of dough.  I recommend letting the cookies cool completely before eating them, as they get a lot chewier cooled.  Try them! They are so simple to make and taste so good that you're going to think there's crack in them.  Plus, I can't wait to try tweaking this recipe using Funfetti cake mix. Mmmmm....     

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Photo: Caprese Salad on a Stick

grape tomato + fresh mozzarella ball + fresh basil

I'll be having mine with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are ridiculously easy to make and are so delicious that I literally had five cookies in a row.  Eek.  These are also flourless with only a few ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now.  I slightly modified Claire Robinson's recipe by using half Sun Butter and half peanut butter, and adding a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Next time I'll try adding in dark chocolate! Yup, I will definitely be making these again. 

Add peanut butter/Sun butter, an egg, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

Mix it up.

Make (or try) to make a crosshatch pattern using a fork.  My patterns were looking a little sad.  Apparently though, dipping the fork in water prevents it from sticking to the dough.  Good to know!

Pop them in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes.  I think I probably left them in for 12.

So crunchy and nutty and sweet...mmmm

I was wishing I had milk to wash down the boatload of cookies I inhaled in one sitting!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Slow Cooker Pasta Meat Sauce

This is a good easy dinner for the week when you're too tired to prepare a meal when you get home from work.  I don't know about you but I literally want to nap for hours right as I get home.  I prep everything the night before, put it in the slow cooker,  and keep it in the fridge.  Then in the morning I set it on low before going to work. By the time I'm home around five or five thirty, the slow cooker is done doing its magic and I have a delicious dinner ready with just the pasta left to cook.

The ingredients are a pound of ground beef, a large can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, dried herbs, a small onion, and four small cloves of garlic.

First I dice the onion

and finely chop the garlic.

Then I throw the baby into a hot pan,

and break it up,

season it,

until there's no more pink.

The cooked meat goes into an empty slow cooker.

The onion and garlic get their turn in the same pan...

until the onions are translucent.

I just dump the onion and garlic on top of the ground beef,

along with the diced tomato, 

and the tomato paste.

I carefully mix it all up and season with a little more salt and pepper.

I cover the pot and keep it in the fridge overnight.

After 10 hours set on get a pot of chili! Not really, but it does resemble chili a little.  It's usually too watery so I set it on high with the lid off until it reduces.  Or, when I feel like cheating (and impatient) I stir in a little cornstarch and water mixture to help it thicken.

 I love tomato sauces.

And regular tomatos.

Oh, and all tomato based products.
Have it with a pasta of your choice.  I had mine with whole wheat spaghetti.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mashed Cauliflower

I was pretty skeptical about the whole idea of mashing cauliflower and eating it as an alternative to mashed potatoes but it's actually very good and low carb.  You only need a few ingredients and the best part is, it comes together in a short amount of time and requires little effort.

Begin by steaming a medium head of cauliflower cut into florets until fork tender, about 6 minutes.

Get your add-ins ready: chicken broth, whipped cream cheese, dried herbs, salt, and pepper.  The cream cheese is optional here - I've made it dairy free and it's still very good.

Splash a little broth on the steamed cauliflower and mash it up.

Add a few tablespoons of cream cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Mix.  You can blend up the mixture for a smoother texture but if you don't mind skip that step like I did.

I put the mash into a bowl and put in the fridge covered until dinner was ready.  2-3 minutes in the microwave on high and it was ready to eat.

For dinner the other night I ate the mashed cauliflower with beef ribs, steamed broccoli, and macaroni salad.  The ribs were made by the boyfriend and were excellent, might I add.    

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
chicken broth
cream cheese (optional)
salt and pepper

1. Steam cauliflower until fork tender, about 6 minutes.
2. Mash cauliflower with a splash of chicken broth.
3. Stir in cream cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.
4. Blend cauliflower mixture for a smoother texture.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe Review: "Best Brownies" from Allrecipes

When I realized that I didn't have brown sugar to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, I looked up a recipe for brownies on  Many of their recipes are generally reliable as long as they have tons of good reviews and are easy to follow so I chose one that met the criteria.  Here's the link to the recipe: Best Brownies Ever.  I followed the recipe exactly, but left out the frosting because I thought they'd be too sweet.  

I was hoping for dense, chewy brownies because that's just how I think good brownies should be.  I hate brownies that have the texture of chocolate cake.  Just call it what it is-if it's like cake, call it cake! Anyways, enough of the ranting.

 Here's what I did:  

I began by melting a stick of butter,

adding sugar,

cocoa powder,

and a little vanilla extract.

Then I added in two eggs,

beat the eggs,

and added the flour

along with baking powder.

After mixing it all up, I poured it into a baking pan sprayed with Pam.

This is the brownie going in...

and this is what it looked like after 30 minutes.  I did the "toothpick test" (you stick it in the middle and if it comes out clean, it's done).

After cooling I cut the brownies into little squares.  

There's Wuz standing in the background waiting for a piece.

So the recipe overall was really easy to follow and the ingredients are minimal which is nice.  When I ate the brownies warm out of the oven, the texture was too much like cake for me so I was pretty disappointed.  Being patient and letting them cool completely is worth it though since they flatten a bit and become chewier.  They still didn't have the super chewy texture I normally like but are still pretty good.  

One of the reviews on allrecipes mentioned that overbeating the eggs can create a fluffier brownie so maybe that's something I could keep in mind if I decide to try this recipe again.  Also, the brownies are plenty sweet without the frosting the original recipe calls for.

The verdict:
I give this recipe a 7 out of 10 on the scale of brownie worthiness.

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