Friday, October 28, 2011

Stuffed Cucumber

The basics

The basics + mayo & sriracha

Anything hollowed out should be filled with goodness


Even more pretty!

We had a potluck at work and this is what I brought. It was mighty tasty. I just recently had my braces tightened so it was ever-so-slightly difficult to eat, but so worth it. I love mayo. I call it the condiment of the gods. Gee, have I already mentioned this on a previous post? Quite possible. Miracle Whip is absolutely nasty and offensive. Truly. I shudder...

Half the cukes were stuffed with hummus, and half with spicy crab. The crab recipe is mostly mine though I got the idea from Domestic Fits and the hummus was from Life and Kitchen. Looking at the pictures now I see I could have made my hummus prettier. Some paprika would have gone a long way.

I am really starting to cringe at my imprecise measurements. I can't tell if it is annoying to people who would like me to be specific or if it works that they can put as little or as much of whatever ingredient as they want. I really don't measure most of my recipes. When I read a recipe I am more looking for inspiration and getting a gist of what ingredients went in there than say...1/2 tsp. of nutmeg. I get it. This recipe has nutmeg. And that's all I really need to know. Hence why I am a shitty baker. Baking is precise. So for the crab, I got a package of crab from the store, stuck a tablespoon into the mayo jar and plopped two big heaping tablespoons of awesomeness onto the shredded crab. But I don't know how much crab I had. I mean just need enough mayo to coat the crab. And enough sriracha to make it as spicy as you want. I also added a few grinds of salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste. Oh...poo, some dijon mustard would have been good. just a heaping tsp. though.

Spicy crab filling:

Package of crab
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 heaping Tb. of mayo
1 heaping tsp. of dijon mustard
Sriracha and Lemon juice to taste

I peeled the cucumber and sliced it about a half inch thick?? I scooped out the innards with my 1/4 tsp. measuring spoon which works as an awesome melon baller. The first time will feel weird, but you get pretty good at it. Then fill appropriately. I sprinkled the spicy crab with sesame seeds, and the hummus would have looked pretty with paprika.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making a Light Tent

Get a box in the size that you need. The sturdier the better. Cut out holes on all sides except for back and bottom.

Cutting off the flaps on top

Fitting the paper

Paper on all sides

My super ghetto set-up

What I think is a not so terrible picture...but what do I know...

My lights are very warm so the color is a little off, but I can tinker with that in photoshop. I just need some kind of box/set-up where I can control the light rather than literally shining it directly on the's not giving me very good pictures and as the days get shorter I will be working solely with artificial light. Which is really what has been happening the past couple weeks. So hooray. I am not a super crafty person. I go about in crafts in the most basic and fundamental way. If I can do it, anyone can do it.


What's better than a stuffed pizza??

Drizzled in Olive Oil and spices...

The steam was so intense it kept on fogging up my lens

Red Sauce on the side

Did you know you can get pizza dough from the store? Well, yes, obviously. But I mean if you ask the guys behind the deli counter they will grab a ball of dough for you. 1.99! Cheap, right? And it's good crust. This stromboli was good, but it was missing something. I wanted a little more flavor. But still very delicious and so versatile. You can put anything you want in it. Oh, garlic. I should have put garlic in there. What I did put in there:

1 small zucchini
4 green onions
1/2 green pepper
Handful of spinach
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Freshly grated Monterey-Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Chop your veggies and mix with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread over your rolled out pizza dough. Roll the pizza dough into a baguette shape. You can cover it with a egg wash to make it look pretty, but it really does nothing for flavor in my opinion. So I mixed EVOO, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic powder and Williams-Sonoma Pizza Seasoning in a bowl and spread it on top. Besides adding garlic and I would have added goat cheese, or a stronger cheese than Jack. I cooked it at 350 for 30 minutes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roasted Potatoes and Leeks Vinaigrette

Potatoes, Butter



Cooking leeks

Done Deal

A feast! Oh, how I miss cooking with butter. The scalloped potatoes were very very easy to make and very tasty. And it's true, as much as I love olive oil, butter really does make everything okay. The leeks were also pretty good. I love a dijon mustard vinaigrette, I didn't tell case that it had mustard, and he liked it! Both of these dishes were served with a pork loin, marinated in Jamaica Me Sweet, Hot and Crazy, (which is an amazing sauce!).

Roasted Potatoes

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Potatoes, however many you need
6 Tb. unsalted butter, melted
24 fresh or dried bay leaves (totally forgot these)

Preheat oven to 425. Brush pan with butter. Using a mandoline, slice potatoes into 1/8 slices. Layer slices of potato with a bay leaf tucked in at even intervals. In a circle, or in a row depending on shape of pan. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle remaining butter. Bake until edges are crisp and golden and the centers are tender, about an hour. Rotate half way through.

Leeks Vinaigrette

Adapted from Bon Appetite

6 medium leeks
Olive Oil
1 c. Chicken Stock
1/4 c. white wine
1 c. chicken stock
2 Tb. Parsley, chopped
5 sprigs thyme
1 Tb. Dijon Mustard
1 Tb. Red Wine Vinegar
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (I did not include this)

Preheat oven to 425. Trim dark green tops from leeks. Remove first outer layer. Starting from an inch from the roots, halve leeks lengthwise. Rinse, wash, dry on paper towels. Heat butter in oven proof dish (I used my cast iron skillet). Add leeks, salt, pepper. Cook, turning, until light brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until most of it is absorbed. Add stock, thyme, bring to boil and transfer to oven. Bake until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile whisk olive oil, mustard, red wine vinegar, and parsley in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer leeks to platter, drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with eggs and parsley.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whiskey Vanilla Whipped Cream

Cheap Croutons

Cream and Egg Yolks make the world go round...literally

Love me some spice




I've never made bread pudding before. I feel like this could have been better with quality bread. There are a ton of fantastic bakeries in the area. I am almost ashamed that I did not take advantage of it. Almost...
I wanted to make these right away, no time for day old bread!! But really there was...I was supposed to make these yesterday. Oh well.

This was initially a Gourmet's Magazine recipe, adapted by Smitten Kitchen, adapted by Use Real Butter.

5 1/2 c. croutons/day old cubed bread
6 Tb. melted butter (am also ashamed to admit that I had barely a tablespoon of butter available, recipe of shame!)

3/4 c. packed pureed pumpkin
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar, I used way less, maybe 1/4
2 eggs, 1 yolk
1/2 tsp salt
smattering of appropriate spices
2 Tb. rum, whiskey, bourbon, whatever you fancy
1 Tb. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl combine croutons and melted butter.

In another bowl add the second half of the ingredients. For the spices I just what I had on hand, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg. than pour on croutons. Toss to combine. Pour into non-greased baking dish/ramekins. Bake for 15-25 minutes depending on size of dish.

Whiskey Vanilla Whipped Cream

1/4 c. whipping cream
2 Tb. powdered sugar
a shot of whiskey, rum, bourbon, whatever
vanilla bean seeds from one bean

Pour in blender, blend.

These measurements are ridiculously imprecise. I am totally guessing as to what I put in that blender, so if it turns out wrong, tweek your measurements. I would say it probably had a little too much whiskey in it and surprisingly not enough sugar.

Grey's Anatomy Garlic Soup

The absolutely most amazing thing you can do with garlic

Raw vs. Roasted

Adding the Cream

Final Concoction

I watched about four episodes of Grey's Anatomy while making this soup. I don't think it should have taken that long, I think I would just stop what I was doing to laugh, or cry, or pee. I am currently not consuming as much alcohol as I used to, but I like to drink something during my evenings. So, we bought a gallon of apple cider and I drank a ton! And therefore, peed a ton. By the time my soup was done my taste buds had been soaking in cider for hours I don't think I was able to properly taste it. I did have the soup for lunch today though, and it was pretty strong. Good, but strong.
Since I was on my feet for over three hours I got lazy at the end and didn't properly blend my soup so it was, er..chunky. But not necessarily in a bad way. Next time I make this I would like a creamier, thicker consistency.
Also, I would love to toss in the Parmesan while it's cooking, and blend it into the soup.

Grey's Anatomy Garlic Soup

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)

splash of olive oil

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter

1large onion, sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme (it called for fresh, but I only had dry)

18 garlic cloves, peeled

Enough chicken broth to cover (3ish cups)

1/2 cup whipping cream

Parmesan Cheese, for garnish

Lemon juice (forgot this!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish, drizzle with EVOO, salt, pepper. Cover with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, 45ish minutes. Cool. Peel.

Melt butter. Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent, 6ish minutes. Add roasted garlic and raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, enough to cover the garlic and onion. Cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Blend. Return to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer.

In your bowls, add the soup, top with a sprinkle of lemon juice, parmesan and fresh salt and pepper.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Easy Tuna Salad

I always keep cherry tomatoes around

I could have totally taken a more flattering picture

So remember, I can't cook rice. I think people have realized that some people (like me) lack the rice-cooking skill. Yes, even with a rice cooker. So they made frozen rice that I can toss into my non-stick pot, that is awesomely portioned for two servings and cooks in 5 minutes. Amazing. So I don't have correct portions for this recipe. All I have is:

1 bag frozen rice, cooked, chilled
1 can tuna
2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. dijon mustard
olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste

Toss together. Done.

A word on ingredients. I am so happy to finally realize the awesomeness of foods I don't like. They can impart flavor while not making your dish taste like one flavor, provided you don't go crazy with it. I think Star Anise is super nasty. But I've cooked with it in thai/coconut sauces and I put it in my cider and it's amazing. Coconut, also nasty by itself, but I've made coconut sauces that I go gaga for. The only spice I am leery of is cinnamon because deep down I truly feel that it does make your whole damn dish taste like fucking cinnamon. And surprisingly I like it. I just don't want every damn bite tasting like it. But really, the point of this narrative is that if you think you don't like something, try it anyways, I think you will surprise yourself. Or, end up throwing away tonight's dinner. Either way, good times!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best Breakfast Ever

This breakfast is both dreamy and healthy. I highly recommend trying it for something a little different. A guilty pleasure. :) I take McCann's Quick and Easy Steel Cut Oats and I put it on the stove per directions. Halfway through the cooking (3ish minutes) I add fresh or frozen cherries depending on the season, and Theo's Cocoa Nibs. After it's done I top it with more Cocoa Nibs. Heaven. And no, I don't think there is a flattering way of taking a picture of oatmeal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gnocchi, Chanterelle and Peas in White Wine Cream Sauce

The basics: Garlic, Shallot, Butter and Olive Oil

Add Chanterelle Mushrooms



Staring at last nights dinner at 0800 is making me drool. This dinner was so good. I was trying recreate a meal that I had at Fresh Bistro in West Seattle and I rocked it! And by the way Fresh Bistro is an awesome place. This is were Casey and I went to end our detox. Not to say that it is unhealthy. I didn't use any specific measurements, just what I felt needed to be there for my taste buds. I was also consuming a significant amount of wine while making this so my measurements were definitely imprecise.

A few cloves of garlic
1 shallot
a large handful of chanterelle mushrooms
One package of gnocchi
A scattering of powdered sage and thyme (fresh or dry, I only had dry on hand)
Peas (couldn't find fresh at the store) :(
Heavy cream, as needed
White Wine, as needed (I purchased one of those tiny bottles of Barefoot's Pinot Grigio)
Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano

Soften garlic and shallot in pan with butter or olive oil, or both (as was my case). While it is softening boil water in pot and add gnocchi. When gnocchi floats it is done, should take less than 5 minutes. Drain water and add olive oil to the gnocchi pot and brown gnocchi on high heat.
Meanwhile add mushrooms to garlic and shallot. Add white wine, cream, herbs and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano to taste. Keep on stirring, adding cream, wine and cheese while it evaporates and thickens. Add as little or as much as you want. Cook until the mushrooms are as soft or crunchy as you like and add the frozen peas. Stir for a minute or two for peas to thaw and warm, and add gnocchi. Coat gnocchi with sauce, serve and top with freshly ground black pepper and more cheese.

So damn amazing. I am so glad I made 'too much' (as if there is such a thing?!) and have leftovers in the fridge for lunch.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Photography and Pear-Vodka

No indoor lighting at home

Spotlight is substituted..

What's that? I purchased a lightbox?

Oh, no. I tore up an anthropology bag.

I never realized how much I would fall in love with photography. I never realized how much one picture could tell a story. Even if the story is simple, a mere moment. I have really come to appreciate good photography. I am enjoying the journey more than the final result. I am not that great of a photographer, and that is okay. It's really the journey that matters. I love learning something new every day. I used to be ashamed at my older photographs, and now, they are funny, but also something the learn from.

The Pear-Vodka is another recipe from Jen's Use Real Butter.
I only had comice pears, which according to Jen is one of the two best pears to infuse in vodka. It is extremely delicate. It comes wrapped up to prevent bruising.
I peeled, and cubed the pear and topped it with vodka in an XOXO POP container. More pictures to come.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Homemade spiced organic apple cider

Cinnamon is pretty

Blend the apples

Press through cheesecloth

Play with the leftovers

Add some rum and enjoy

I love apple cider. It is by far one of my favorite things to make because it is so easy and so delicious. Much better than store brands. Plus, store bought apple cider tends to spice it up like crazy. I was bummed when during our trip to Woodinville Case and I went to a cider farm and their cider was pre-spiced. Maybe I should have gotten some anyway...

If you've read my earlier posts you probably get now that I am a fan of subtler flavors. Do desserts really need two cups of sugar?? I actually like tasting some of the other ingredients in my food. I even found a recipe calling for sugar in homemade cider. What?! This stuff is pretty sweet. Apples are pretty sweet. And this is coming from a girl who could eat two chocolate croissants every day. So I'm not anti-sugar or anything of the sort. I do like sweet things.

Enough with the rant. My apple cider consists of four steps:
1. Core and cube apple, no need to peel. That sounds like a pain.
2. Blend. You may need to add some water to get it going
3. Press through cheese cloth. It helps if you have two people
4. Heat with spices. I used two cinnamon sticks and cloves.

For spices you could also add star anise (which I would have, had I had some on hand).
For the cloves I rinsed the used cheesecloth, cut off a square and made a pouch for the cloves, than tied it using a strip of the used cheesecloth.
I used five apples for two people.
Sometimes threads of the cheesecloth can get into the cider. Just run it through a fine mesh strainer.
It's awesome without rum and awesomer with it.
If my cider looks pulpy it's because I accidently let it sit on boil for an hour and it got crusty on the side. OOops. Don't do that.
Also, I used organic apples. If I wasn't I might've peeled them. (I actually I wouldn't because I'm lazy like that. But it's something to consider.)