What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The end to Butter Misery

LONDON (Reuters) - Ever get frustrated with fresh-out-of the-fridge butter that is too hard to spread?

A UK-based company has launched a portable, temperature-controlled butter dish, ButterWizard, which keeps butter at what it says is the optimal spreadable temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

It has a built-in fan and a chip which together control the temperature, adjustable for different textures, be it super-soft bread, crusty toast or delicate biscuits. "We were trying to find out what people's frustration with butter was. It's either too hard or too soft," said David Alfille, managing director of East Sussex-based company Alfille Innovations Limited.

"ButterWizard heats or cools the butter and you can adjust the temperature to suit yourself."

Nutritionist Fiona Hunter said: "There are over 16 million UK households buying butter on a regular basis, but one complaint I hear time after time is the lack of spreadability of real butter."

"Butter has been part of diet for thousands of years. The important thing is to spread butter thinly," she added.

Thanksgiving in Costa Rica

I made thanksgiving!!! Cynthia, another American in Costa Rica, who also goes to my school, and I made it....we are so proud. Well...this is how it went:

Cynthia came to my house at about noon. We started by cooking my potatoes for the MAshing process. That went lovely. Cynthia and her sister Paola peeled the Yams. For the record, Yam in Spanish is √Ďame. Anyway, they then cooked the Yams while I peeled apples and the crumbly part of an Apple Crisp. Cynthia then made her Baked Mac and Cheese. I privately rejected that as Thanksgiving food but whatever.
Well, my Apple Crisp turned out perfectly and everyone loved it. Everyone being My host family and Cynthia's host family. I liked the Yam pie but no one else did. Everyone got itchy because supposedly yams give allergic reactions. Bull if you ask me.
Cynthia's mom made a Chicken with potatoes and many yummy spices. Don't ask me what spices because I haven't the slightest.
My mom lent us her kitchen, house, and also made a meat and rice dish.
My sisters each made a type of custardy flan thing. Very delicious.
My mashed potatoes were yummy. yay!
We forgot to make drinks so we sprinted to the store to buy sodas....we then served and everything was perfect...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Flamin' Yawn

So, I was craving a hunk of red raw meat. On my way home from work I picked one up. Went home, heated some olive oil in a pan, salted and peppered the hunk, and threw it in the pan. 4 minutes per side. Let it "rest" a few minutes (that seems to be important, at least according to the folks on the food network), and CHOWED DOWN! It was sooooo gooooood!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The First Leftovers Post

So...You are armed with large quantities of leftover turkey. What to do? Here is what I did.

Turkey Tortilla Soup

This started out as Turkey and Potato soup, becauase I had plenty of both. After stripping the bird carcass of most of it's meat, we stuck it in a large pot with some water, and boiled it for a while, effectively removing the rest of the meat, and making an ubertasty turkey stock.

I put some of this stock into a pot with chopped potatoes, onions, turkey meat and a corn. I added salt, pepper, bay leaf, garlic, and cumin. Then, because I didn't know what else to do, I threw in a can of Rotel diced tomato and pepper. After the potatoes were cooked, I scooped them out and threw them in the food processor, pureed them, and dumped it all back into the pot.

To serve, put soup in a bowl, and crumble tortilla chips on top. I prefer to crumble only so much chip at a time, because I like it to have a little crunch left to it when I eat it.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Thanksgiving Post

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope that Thanksgiving treated you well, and that you got to spend it with loved ones. My Thanksgiving was excellent as I got to spend it with my mom, our very own Chiquita. While we ate with friends on the day itself, we prepared a turkey and the affiliated tasty goods so we could have leftovers of our own.

The Turkey:
This was the first time I have ever prepared a turkey. We bought a 12 pound fresh bird from the market (we didn't have the time to allot for defrosting one of those bad boys). We went home, and Mom rested her eyes while I started the bird. I did the rinse and pat-a ritual which I don't fully understand, but who am I to tell the recipe books they are dumb? Then, in a small food processor I mixed salt, pepper, lemon zest and rosemary. I rubbed down my bird in oil, feeling as though I were preparing it for some sort of bizarre muscle show, then liberally sprinkled it with the salt mixture.
I shoved a couple quartered onions in its cavity, and then fretted at length about how I was supposed to "bend the wings up and behind the back to prevent from overcooking." My worry was that I would break the poor birds arms, forever crippling...wait a minute. It's already dead. Twist and bend, and just like that, the arms were doing their thing, and the Turkey vaguely looked as though he were getting ready to sun himself at the beach: arms back and legs kicked up.
At this point, my four recipes all have different ideas about what temperature I should start my roasting at, and then for how long I should cook it. I went with the old preheat to 425, throw the fowl in, and immediately decrease to 325, then cook for 4 hours. I modified this by putting a piece of foil over it like a small tent. It worked. Like a charm. The bird was AWESOME. While it was cooking, we threw caution to the wind and went into town for coffee and shopping.
Once fully cooked (you can tell by wiggling its leg. I don't really understand this concept, but my grandfater, the godfather of turkey cooking, has always checked it this way, and when mom did and said it was done, I wasn't going to question her), pull the bird out and let it rest. It is rather tired.

This birdy siesta is a good time to prepare your cranberry sauce. There is NOTHING like fresh cranberry sauce. And its easy. Boil water and sugar, and add cranberries. Throw in a little orange zest for an extra kick.

We also had a super delicious salad. Mom brought me an EXCELLENT avocado, which we chopped up and threw together with some clementines, pomegranate seeds and pear, tossed with a little raspberry vinegarette. It was so good. The whole meal was awesome. And who knew I could cook a Turkey??

What did YOU do for Thanksgiving? What are you going to do with the leftovers?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Crab Wontons

I made these a few weeks ago. They turned out pretty good, but I would suggest not using quite as much crab as they call for... it was a little too fishy tasting for me.

1 Package of Wonton Wrappers
1 Egg (Beaten)
1 Package of Cream Cheese (Softened to Room Temperature)
1 Can of Crab Meat Drained (Lump-Style) or *1 Pound of Crab Legs
2 Tablespoon of Flour or 1 Piece of Toast
Oil for Frying
Sauce for Dipping

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, the flour (or toast), and the crab meat until well blended. Place one tablespoon of the crab and the cream cheese mixture in the middle of the wonton wrapper. Brush the egg around the edges of the wonton. Bring top corner over and press down the edges to seal. This will make a triangle shape. Bring both corners of the wonton to the top and pinch together to make final seal.

Heat oil in deep frying pan (I used a deep fryer and that worked really well). Oil is ready for frying when you place a wonton in it, and the outside wrapper starts to bubble. Fry wontons until golden brown, approximately 2 1/2 minutes.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mac and Chizzle, fo' Rizzle

I got this recipe from a friend, who I believe got it from a cookbook.

You will need:
1lb pasta (macaroni, rotini, etc.)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 qt milk (4 cups)
20 oz cheese (I used sharp and white cheddar. The recipe called for cheddar and guyere, but thats wicked expensive)
Salt, pepper, nutmeg
Every dish in the house

Boil your pasta.
In a pot that will fit a quart of milk, heat up your milk. Don't let it boil, just let it get warm.
In another very large pot, melt 6 Tbs of your butter (this should leave 2 Tbs).
Once melted, whisk in your flour.
When the flour/butter mix is nice and pasty, dump in all that hot milk, followed by all the cheese (i suggest shredding the cheese-it helps the melting process).
Season with salt and pepper, and a dash or so of nutmeg. Less is more in the nutmeg arena, FYI.
Follow this with all your pasta (this is why the pot must be large). Mix this all together and dump it into a 3 qt. baking dish, AKA your 9x13 inch pan.
Use a bunch of bread crumbs mixed with the last 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and dump on top. I toasted 5 piecces of bread, and in the future, I will likely only use 3 or 4.
Pop that bad boy in the oven at 375 for 30 or so minutes, until brown and bubbly.

Steam some veggies while you are waiting and toss with a bit o' EVOO and salt/pepper.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fowl Curry

Heehee. I crack me up.

Take one cornish game hen (or chicken, or whatever). Put it in your crockpot with a touch of oil. Add carrots (baby, or baby cut, or cut up), potatoes, whatever.

Dump a jar of Trader Joes Green Curry Simmer Sauce on top. Set on low. Cook forever. Or 10-12 hours. Or 14 if your co-workers offer to take you out to dinner with the gift certificate they won to a really good resturant not far from work which means that your curry will have to be consumed the next day.

Make rice in your Oh La La rice cooker. Or the caveman way if you are still living in the stone age. If you left your curry in the fridge because you went out for dinner, heat that in the oven.


The Rice Cooker

This is a rice cooker.

They are cheap.

They are small.

They cook rice perfectly every single time.

You can throw the rice and water together (1:2), hit the button, and forget about it while you prepare your dinner.

It will keep the rice warm while you do what you do.

You needn't worry about burning things.

You will wonder how you ever survived without one.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Lunch for one

Yesterday, after a morning of household productivity, I needed an easy meal, and currently have an excess of leafy greens in my fridge. 'Joy of Cooking' can take credit for my treatment of the veggies, and the tuna was just my using whatever was on hand...

I washed some ruby chard and baby bok choy, shaking off most of the water but letting some of it carry over to the pan, on low-medium heat. While the greens started to cook, I opened a can of tuna, mixed it in a bowl with a squeeze of mayo, some chopped green onions, the juice from half a lime, and salt and pepper to taste. When the greens started to wilt and darken, I tossed in a capful of soy sauce and mixed it around. Pile the cooked greens on a plate, dump the tuna on top, and enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

F-Expletive-Deleted-You Swanson's Chicken Broth!

I got home not wanting to cook so I tossed in some TJs Taquitos. Beef. Good. I rummage through the fridge and doctor up my salsa with some green onions and corn. Then I browse the pantry. I spy a can of refried beans and I have brown rice. And chicken broth. I have a lot of chicken broth. I don't know why, but I do. In fact, I have a can of Swanson Chicken broth that confuses me because I don't buy canned chicken broth. I'm a TJ snob now and if it doesn't come in a box, I don't want it. Cans are so last year.

Moving along. So I've got the taquitos in the oven, my beans are heating and I make rice. I am not a rice cooker-user. In fact, I've never owned a rice cooker. I'm not even sure how to use one properly. I cook rice in a pot. This time, I want to be clever, so I toss in 1/2 cup of brown rice in and 1 cup of chicken broth. I add some taco seasoning, I do my thing. Normally I bring it to a boil, I turn the heat down and put the lid on a bit askew to let the steam escape. This is how I cook rice. This is how I've cooked rice for YEARS. So when I check the rice and it is still uncooked, I'm not shocked, sometimes I guestimate wrong on the water:rice ratio and I added some more chicken broth. Time passes, I'm getting tired of waiting for rice, and eat the dinner without it. Now I'm slightly peeved that my plan of making a complete protein by mixing rice, beans and cheese has failed. I check the rice. Still not done. What the hell, I think to myself, I added the rest of the chicken broth. Note: this is 14 oz can. I let it cook. I check when it's done, I give it a stir. I even go so far as to let it steam itself for a few minutes. I do one final check. It still, was not done.

It's now living in the trash.

I'm blaming the chicken broth. I'm blaming Swanson's high sodium content, but actually I have no idea. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Easy Chicken Chowder

Since it's finally starting to get cool (lol, although it was 82 here today), it's time for soups and stuff. This is a good filling one I take out alot when I'm dredging. Cook it before hand, back some in, put it in the jetboil and 2 minutes later warm chowder, can't be beat. Also good for putting in thermos for work.
This takes about 1/2 hr to cook.
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can boneless chicken breast chunks
1/2 cup nibblet corn (either frozen or canned is fine)
1 large white or red potato
1 cup milk

Peel and cube the potato put it into a pot of water and boil it on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Pour off the water. Mix in the 2 cans of cream of chicken soup and cup of milk. Drain and rinse the chicken chunks and add them, and the corn (if it's canned drain the liquid it's packed in out, you want just the corn, not the juice). Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

It's good with crackers or a grilled cheese sandwhich on the side. Makes about 4 servings.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Laurel's Taco Salad - The vegetarian version....

Alright so it's Saturday night and I've got a friend coming over. I used to be a mean vegetarian cook. The whole nine yards. My boyfriend at the time was vegan and both roommates were vegetarians, so if I was cooking - normally it was meat free. Otherwise I was eating by my lonesome. This unfortunately was several years ago. Now I'm a big meat eater and couldn't actually think of anything worth cooking that was veggie friendly. Ha! So I recalled my tried and true well mastered taco salad recipe. I modified it for m'veggie friend:

1 bag o salad - you're choice - normally I'd say butter lettuce or well whatever you like.
1 avocado diced
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of corn drained and rinsed (unless you're a goof like me and accidentally buy creamed corn and have to use defrosted frozen corn)
1 thing of Gimme Lean ground beef style soy product
1 packet of taco seasoning
green onions (2-3)
tortilla chips
your favorite salsa = dressing
some carrots - diced
grated cheese - I like cheddar

Alright so it's pretty easy to make, first thing is first cook your ground beef, or ground turkey or ground beef style soy. Lemme just say it was my first time cooking gimme lean in a long time. It's dry as hell, so toss in some EVOO or just some VOO or whatever, I also added some water to the taco seasoning so it wasn't so powdery. Let that cook until it's done. Set aside.

In several small bowls - place the rest of the ingredients that are diced. I personally used grape tomatoes and that was good. I also used baby carrots because I was lazy. When dicing the green onions, I use the whole thing. I like the whites and the green parts. Toss that in there. I put each thing in its own bowl. I did this for two reasons, one because it looked pretty, and two because I couldn't remember what my friend liked and didn't like. This is useful if you want your friends to serve themselves. This way they can make their own. Warm up your beef mixture if it's not already and then mix the whole business together and added the cheese, meat and crunched in some tortilla chips. I like to dress the salad with the salsa, but my friend used ranch. Works either way.

Serve and eat. Yay! You will have left overs. We did.

Fat Ass Noodles these are quite delicious, but somewhat time consuming. Sort of.

1 bag of those really really big macaroni noodles. Seriously, the ones that are like 3 inches by and 1 1/2 inches
Ground Beef
2 Sweet Chilis
1 Onion
Worchester Sauce (or balsamic vinager)
Bread Crumbs

Cook the noodles. Cut up the veggies and the ground beef and cook them until nice and lovely. Then, roll the noodles in the bread crumbs. Put a spoon full of the meat/veggies mixture in each noodle. Fry the noodles on each side. Enjoy.

Im sorry but the recipes are sketchy.

Not So Great Pasta

Well, I made pasta last night...and it was a classic example of what happens when you only sort of pay attention to a cooking show, and then try to modify what you DO remember, and you don't have all the ingredients.
Don't get me wrong. It was edible. It just wasn't great.

So, I put some EVOO in a pan with some minced garlic. The recipe doesn't call for any meat, but I had some spicy Italian turkey sausage, so I cooked that in the olive oil. I chopped up some tomatoes and threw them in. About this time I realized that there was waaaaay too much oil in the pan, but what was I to do?

The recipe I saw on TV called for me to toss in some cubed fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. ~snicker~ Well, I threw in the cheese, but didn't think to turn down the heat. And I didn't have basil, so I threw in some chopped spinach.

So there I am with a pot of pasta, some meaty tomatoey sauce with a huge glob if melted cheese swimming in a large pool of olive oil. I did what any college grad home alone would do: I threw it all together, tried to fish out the cheese blob, and ate it anyways, taking the leftovers for lunch today.

My suggestions: Less EVOO, more tomato, real basil, and toss the mozzarella in last. Oh. And add seasoning. And if you see the "Everyday Italian" episode this was in, please, let me know what the recipe REALLY is.

Meatless loaf - mmm mmm good and guilt free

This is one of my favorite things to make. I can't get the recipe to copy and paste for some reason, but if you follow the link, make sure to click on the nutritionl info and note how there is no saturated fat, relatively low calorie, no cholesterol, and then compare to an equal serving of meaty meatloaf. Weight and health management has never tasted sooo good.;skin=morningstar